Thursday, February 11, 2010

Decontamination of Polyhedral Randomizing Elements

For Christmas 2008, I received a container of gourmet hot chocolate in my stocking. The hot chocolate was ok, but what really intrigued me was the metal tin it came in. After all, as a gamer and a miniature builder packaging is often the best part of a gift since it can be turned into so many useful items: rocks, crashed spacecraft, ruins, and parts of larger projects. This item was no exception - a roughly 10-inch metal container shaped like a milkcan but bearing a striking resemblance to some of the radioactive storage containers I had used in college nuclear physics. Perfect. But what to turn it into?

After some thought I came up with the idea of a dice cleanser. As a long time gamer I have heard more than my share of dice superstitions, both serious and in fun. My players had been complaining for some time that I, as their GM had been cursing their dice. So I decided the time was right to build a dice cleanser.

As a scientist I went about the process in a very scientific way. The thoughts and studies that went into its construction are best found in article, Dice Cleansing 101 in Knights of the Dinner Table which I wrote after I had completed the cleanser.

It actually began very simply. I decided to paint the can as a radioactive container in yellow and red and then place a piece of a summer camp cabin that I had lying about. The story behind this piece of wood goes back to my college days when I spent my summers as a camp counselor. The cabin was where the male summer staff that were not counseling stayed - lifeguards, kitchen staff, maintenance and counselors that weren't with kids. Most of us were gamers and many of us still game together after almost 30 years - a feat in itself. When Cabin #1 was torn down several years ago I was able to save a piece of it, so I thought that it would be appropriate to be in the cleanser.

I also thought that autographs of people who work in the game industry would also be a nice touch. So I wrote a letter to my friend Lou Zocchi asking for his. For those of you who don't know Lou, you might say that he is the father of the modern polyhedral gaming dice. To learn more about Lou and his dice check out his YouTube video. He and I have known each other for years so I should have known that I would get more than his autograph. What I got was a small package with some very odd dice and a letter explaining that these were Magic Bubble Dice. Lou went on to explain how these might be able to suck out the bad luck of a die. Well, these certainly had to go in the can!

From there the whole project just sort of snowballed: the piece of Cabin #1, autographs, Magic Bubble Dice, a dice monitor, and pictures of dice torture to strike fear into poorly rolling dice. And then, of course, I decided to write an article on the theory of dice cleansing and how to make a cleanser.

For those of you who are inspired to make your own cleanser I am posting the pictures of dice torture for you to print out and place in your own cleanser. (These are only staged - no dice were actually harmed in the making of them.)

The Magic Bubble Dice can be obtained from GameScience, though you will need to contact them directly since they don't carry them on their website.

Happy gaming.

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