I always hear Golem’s voice when I think about Dice Goblins, those players whose eyes glaze over when they stare at their collections of polyhedron jewels. Clear, solid, glass, stone, metal, it doesn’t matter. They hoard their treasures like jealous dragons. A new campaign--new dice, a new character--new dice, a new level…you get the idea.
There’s a goblin at every table. Each session, with feverish eyes and a slack-jawed grin, they show you additions to their collection. They roll them over and over just to hear the clickety clack, measure the odds, and see their jewels tumble across the table. Sure, every now and then a particularly naughty D20 goes to dice jail, but it is a temporary incarceration. The goblin doesn’t care about the numbers. They don’t care about the attacks and the skill checks, the crits and the nat-ones, no. It’s the sound, the reflected light, the joy in something as simple as tumbling dice spinning in their heads. There’s a metaphor here, but it somehow escapes me.
I have been gaming a long time and I can categorically say I am not a Dice Goblin. I don’t care about the colors or the clarity or the superstitious power we attach to a particularly prolific D20. It doesn’t really matter that much to me…but…
As I write this, I’m resisting the urge to glance about my office, my little corner of this Gaming world. On top of my bookshelf sits a cup full of six-sided dice from my years playing Warhammer. Some are plain, some are shiny, but it is the ghastly green and brown ones, bearing the colors of the god of plague and pestilence, those are the ones that hit the table. Afterall, how can you play a Nurgal army without some really ugly dice?
I try not to look down at the Magic the Gathering playmat I use as a mouse pad where sits a D20 the size of a small egg. Heavy black metal with veins of neon green like tentacles (have I ever mentioned how much I love tentacles?) I spent a Christmas Amazon card on that one, and I was so happy when it arrived. At least I was happy until it rolled below five again and again and again. Now it sits, a monolithic reminder that all that glitters is not…you get the idea. I wonder if I should get rid of it. No, I can’t.
I’m not going to look in the closet where I have a large jar full of D10s, throwbacks to my obsession with Chaosium’s D100 system. This jar was a constant companion through my favorite old school TTRPGs, Stormbringer and Runequest. Each pair has a history of hits and misses, triumphs and failures, epics forged with every roll. They are…precious.
Everywhere: on the floor, in game boxes, behind rows of books and modules, strewn about crouching miniature dragons forged from pewter, resin, and Legos, little glittering treasures from a lifetime of gaming. There is even a set in my son’s room. Nothing special, just gray and black acrylic, but I kind of want them back. He has no interest in gaming, yet when I ask him for his dice, he gives me a “Not a chance,” look, and I see that same goblin gloss in his wide eyes that I see when I look in the mirror.
I can’t live in denial any longer. Yesterday, a package arrived. Two sets of sharp cut resin, but they look like colored glass glittering in the glow of my ring light. One set, green with flecks of crimson and gold, reminds me of fey lurking in shadowy nooks of a dark green forest I created many years ago. The other, dark blue with splotches of black, whispers of Outer Gods floating in a void of dead stars, reaching from beyond with leathery tentacles to snatch the souls of the unwary (I know…again with the tentacles).
I open the individual bags. I roll each jewel, one by one, testing the fates, calculating the trends, counting criticals and fumbles and damage and my eyes narrow and widen with each clickety clack.
Sigh. Ok, I’ll say it. I might be a goblin.
Bryan Henery has worn a lot of hats in his life. He has been a Muay Tai boxer, a sky diver, a yoga teacher, a travelling bohemian (translation—surf bum), and currently works hard corrupting young mind as an English teacher at a state college near you. Despite his mercurial career choices, for forty years, two constants have dominated his free time: writing fantasy fiction and playing TTRPGs of all types. And he loves wine…a lot.
I have been told that I have graduated to being a Dice Dragon, as I have about 200 sets of dice, most are resin, but I also have glass and metal. One of my kids gets me a new set for Father’s day and on my birthday, I also have a monthly dice subscription. I’ve also been told that I was born a dwarf and these are the jewels that I scowl the realms for. My current obsession is sharp edge jewels, I want one of each set, but my financial advisor tells me I can’t lol, I keep looking for that one set to to rule them all.
Can confirm you are a dice goblin now.
I have see you buy dice.. you are infact a dice goblin. I have graduated from dice goblin to dice dragon as I have a hoard of dice.