Strange Dice Not Required

I, like many table-top RPG gamers, love dice. Not as much as my wife – she is a serious collector and has a beautiful jewel case filled with the neatest dice you can imagine. In the end, though, it’s an aesthetic decision. Most of the dice we use in our game are surprisingly common. You can get six-sided dice at any gas station. And if you walk into any place that sells collectable card games, you can probably find polyhedral dice. Then, there’s on-line…

So, the connoisseur of fine dice lives in an age of plenty these days. But, then, I saw a new version of a game I’ve enjoyed playing for years is coming out.  A Beta was available so I downloaded and began reading. The first thing I saw was the fact you needed custom dice to play. Not just polyhedrals, but dice with specific symbols on the faces to resolve tasks. And if you didn’t have them, well, that’s OK. You can pay for a dice rolling app to generate the symbols for you.

This crossed a line with me. It’s one thing to get funky dice because you enjoy them, and think they add to the game. I’ve got dice with the 1’s marked as Skulls for systems where bad things happen when you roll a one. And that’s fine! You can still use dice with numbers or pips to play. It’s an aesthetic choice. Emphasis on choice. But with this new system… you don’t get a choice. You want to play – you have to buy our dice, or use our dice-rolling app. Otherwise, it’s all locked down.

It’s a symbol for so much gatekeeping in life – the world becomes pay-to-play.  It’s not enough just to have a stick and a ball. You’ve got to shell out for the full gear set if you really want to play.

And that is what really irks me. I know this world is a capitalist system. We’ve got to cover our costs, make sure everyone gets health insurance. But when you start building into the game a cost for every access point… where does it stop?

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