Thursday, April 17, 2008

Making cheap dice

Don't Rest Your Head requires about 30d6 to play with only one player (and about 17d6 for each additional player, if everyone has their own dice), divided into four different colors. So I had to figure out how to make some cheap dice. When I made my first set of Fudge dice, I bought some blank black dice at 75¢ each--which wasn't going to cut to here. (Those didn't turn out all that well either. Sorry, I forgot to include them in the picture though.)

So a couple weekends ago S. and I went to the educational supply store that I knew had a mix of odd dice. I didn't find anything pre-made there that was affordable enough, but we did find a bag of wooden counting units. Remember those from elementary school--the 1s, the 10s, and the 100s? This bag of 100 little wooden cubes was normally $3.95, but it was 30% off, so I got out of there for less than $3 (meaning less than 3¢ per die)!

I didn't have any permanent markers, so I had to buy some of those too. (Doh! Another $5.) I bought the kind with fine tips on one end and ultra-fine on the other. I ended up using ultra-fine for the dice pictured here. (The lone black die in the foreground is an example of fine.)

Due to the wood, 4 of the 6 sides tend to cause the ink to weep a little along the grain. The other 2 sides really suck the ink in, making those numbers seem darker. I was consistent in how I arranged the numbers in relation to each other on the die, but I tried to vary the side and grain orientation I started with on each die. I'm not guaranteeing that these dice are completely random and unweighted, but I figured if I varied each one, the individual differences shouldn't matter much.

Although the different colored numbers are clear in daylight, it was hard to tell the blue and green (and black) apart in dim indoor lighting. To differentiate them, I tried outlining the edges of the green dice (which we use for DRYH's Discipline pool). This was still a little too subtle. S. suggested using a green highlighter, and that worked out quite nicely. I haven't noticed any staining on my hands using these dice.

The picture above shows the finished product, with a penny for scale. The dice are quite small, which is handy when you're trying to roll 10 or 15 at once. They're also very quiet on the table, which is a nice feature. The medicine bottle containing 3 Fudge dice is what we've been using for Huffy rolls. And, as you can see, I still have half a bag of blanks left!

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