Over at the awesome Laughing Ferret blog a conversation has been developing about dice rolling and wargamer superstions. Starting here and in response to my comment there (where i discussed an aptly eeerie run of fortune a player had in the Conspiracy X rpg i was running) it continues in a more focussed post
As my reply would be another fairly lengthy one i thought it better to put into a blogpost:
While fairly rational (though open-minded) on reflection i do have my share of irrational eccentricities.
If i’m using my own dice then I don’t like other people rolling the same dice i’m using that day, not even before the game. And sometimes if someone does pick them up to look at them and especially if they roll them, i tend to then carry those dice in my hand a while to kind of re-imprint them or something along those lines.
Most of my dice i’m happy to let others borrow (when i’m not using those particular dice) but not my favourites or any that have been assigned to particular forces, characters or NPCs, though in some cases that might be less superstition and more just possessiveness.
When i’m needing an improvement in rolls or to make an uncommon roll i’ll often hold one or more of the dice (when playing buckets-of-dice games like Warhammer 40,000 i usually pick out a few at random or favourite ones from the set) and fidget with them. Not sure if this is meant to improve the luck or just fidgety behaviour 🙂
I also sometimes leave/stack my dice sitting with the highest number facing upwards.
I’ve started themeing my dice lately, i got custom chessex dice for my Warhammer 40,000 Tyranid army and intend to do the same for my Warhammer Vampire Counts and i picked out an appropriate dice for each of my war rocket fleets (most of the fleets i let others use too along with the dice i associate with them but not my Imperials and the red, purple and gold d10 i use with them) but this isn’t about them rolling better, it’s just cool 🙂 and i would keep using the themed dice over others no matter how badly they roll.
Rerolls i almost always use the same dice while others have said over at Laughing Ferret they use a different dice for the reroll.
Certainly i’ve mentioned in several of my war rocket reports people swapping dice when they start rolling poorly, something i’ve done on a few occassions (particularly as a player in warhammer fanatsy rpg when my rolls were miserable for weeks and my character was swiftly approaching death) but this isn’t something i do much.
And of course there was the case of Woz and his odd rolling technique that worked surprisingly well in his first game of War Rocket with my transparent grey d10.. but deserted him entirely in the multiplayer game where his son joined in. And then the second game where he rolled 4 10’s in a row with his brand new dice blasting my fleet to smithereens.
I also have thought in the past that when i’m more confidant and concetrating on the result i want to get, or the result i want my opponent to get, that this seems to more often occur… but then that could just be confirmation bias.
And of course statisticly there are going to be clusters and runs in small sets that even out into a nice bell curve in sufficient numbers. It’s interesting in a passtime structured around a framework of maths and probability like wargaming and roleplaying games how easilly we can fall into such habits and thinking from small numbers of events, though proper scepticism means we shouldn’t discount the notions that attitude and intent can effect seemingly random events untill we test them. Proper scepticism is neutral to all claims and tests them to find what is so.
Another thought occurs to me.. maybe there’s a skill element to dice rolling rather than it being purely random, (there can be to coin flipping, bored at school i found i could rather reliably flip a coin to get a desired result after some practice)… it could be unconcious and therfore the psychological element could still be a factor. I wonder if the results from hand-rolling on a table would be very different from using a dice-tower?