And for my last dice-related toot (for now): all the dice in the world don't help if you don't have some way to conveniently carry them around and a place to conveniently randomize them.
This is a combination dice box and dice tower I have, held together by magnets. (Foolishly I forgot to put a pair of inserts into the tower part that widens it, but as-is it rolls all normal-sized dice.)
The 易经 (I-Ching) divination's oldest known traditional method (yarrow stalks) is painfully time-consuming. People are lazy. Thus coins (not depicted), tiles, cards, and dice have all been used.
For dice, some use a pair of d6s with procedures to badly emulate d8s while others just use a pair of d8s. Cards and tiles have all 64 易经 combinations available. All use an extra d6 to figure the "moving lines", however.
In your games if you have divination, consider its history for added depth.
This pair, which you've seen before in my gem dice series, are made of, left to right, "egg yolk opal" and "yellow jade". (Translated names. Not sure what the actual names in English would be.)
Making the table could be a problem. How do you get those characters on it? One option, naturally, is to just freestyle copy them. If, however, you're like me and can't draw a straight line without a ruler ... all of these dice have impressions.
Pencil rubbing copies them beautifully.
There's two approaches to using dice like these (this pair are wood with gold and silver coloured inlay). First approach is to go hard in on the authentic, get a book on the topic of Mo divination, and then roll the dice for real and look up the meanings. This may not be viable for all, however.
The other way is to make up your own tables in a 6×6 grid with the interpretations in game mechanics and flavour text at the meeting points.
Divination has a place to play in any fantasy game, likely. Some games even put them into their game mechanics. Chivalry & Sorcery's second edition had several mage types that did divination and (naturally, being C&S) had detailed mechanisms for them.
Using dice with alien-looking symbols can be a great way to accomplish this. These are Tibetan "Mo" divination dice. This set is cast in brass.
Dice are mind-bogglingly ancient. "Knucklebones" were used as randomizers from before recorded history. Throw sticks with anywhere from 2 to 8 sides have been also used since the days of ancient Egypt.
Given the Chinese love of gambling, it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of ancient dice. They come as knucklebones, throw sticks, cubes, and even what we'd call d14 and d18s in modern parlance.
This is a reproduction d18. (I'm still hunting a d14 reproduction.)
@zdl I ought to take That One Guy from the D&D group who consistently rolls 3+ 18s for stats at home and just clean up. Unless they've been *lying*...
When playing Big-Small, the bet to make that drains you of your money the slowest (house edge of ~3%) is "BIG" or "SMALL". The rest range from a house edge of ~8% to a house edge of over 47% (!) when playing on the doubles line.
This combination playing mat as the coin/prawn/chicken/etc. game across the bottom as well as a more meaty gambling game whose name translates to "Big-Small" (named after the two prominent characters) at the top.
Big-Small is played by throwing three standard pipped dice and consulting the payout table in a very straightforward, quick way. Unlike the other games, this one is not break-even. Over time the house collects money.
Can you guess which of these games is played in casinos…?
When I got these Chinese Chess dice, I had no idea about this gambling game culture, so, while I was researching, I came up with a silly little game that proved to be oddly challenging, but quite fun.
Play Chinese Chess, but each turn you roll a number of these dice; harder games roll fewer. Whatever pieces show up on the throw are the only pieces you can choose from: you must play one of what's rolled OR you play one soldier (the only non-depicted piece).
The first toot's game is the most common variety, generally played with 3 dice (though any number can be used) and featuring images from agriculture (coin, prawn, chicken, fish, crab, and gourd).
The second toot's is also pretty common, featuring the zodiacal animals and generally played with 3 pairs of dice (again, any number of pairs can be used).
This toot's dice (I got them without the board because I didn't know better) is the same as the first, only with Chinese Chess symbols.
The picture in the previous toot plus the one in this one are one such variety of game. The rules are dirt simple and the game is, over time, break-even. The dice have pictures on them, and the playing mat have the same depicted items. You put money on one or more spaces and roll the dice. If your symbol doesn't show up, the money goes to the house. If it does show up, you get your coin back plus one extra for each matching symbol rolled.
Gambling is a huge part of Chinese culture that has been (ineffectively!) suppressed dozens of times over its history. So large a part of the culture is it that Spring Festival, the single most important event each year (and the source of the largest annual human migration in all of history) has gambling games associated with it.
Today's posts cover those games.
"You rolled … off-angled box with lines? … headless yak? … impressionist drawing of a GM screen? … damage!"
"Weird-Ass Chinese Playing Cards" supplemental. I got this deck of money cards last night. They're plastic and use a very old style of markings. They're also nicely sized to carry in a pocket or purse without being annoying.
Further, unusually for the style, they're just flatly numbered instead of requiring inference for some cards. For the cash and strings suits (in order from the bottom) you *can* work out the count, but having numerals and suit names is a life saver!
These can be purchased here: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005002565086515.html
Probably elsewhere too, but I'm not about to go digging that deeply. 😜
So what we have here today are the finest d4s ever made. They are the perfect d4s.
1. They roll very well: a bit better than d6s, in fact, but not crazily like d24s, d30s, d60s, and d100s.
2. They are distinctively visible, unlike the d8s numbered 1-4 twice.. (Don't ask about the time I kept rolling 1d8 for damage and cursing never getting higher than 4 …)
3. They're instant conversation starters when you break them out to newcomers for the first time.
This is my last post with literal gem dice. The first picture is a gaming set, again, made of unakite (which is basically just fancy granite). The second...
Is a pair of Tibetan "Mo" divination dice (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mo_(divination)), one in "egg yolk opal" and the other in yellow jade (a low grade of jade).
I have several sets of "Mo" dice which I will be sharing in the future because I happen to think they're wonderful ways of giving flavour in games.