Using dice for writing books

Through the month of August, I shared some photos of my modest dice collection on social media. I never had an opportunity to gather dice like my friends; living where I did, there was absolutely nowhere to get them, and I’m a tactile person, so I like to see and hold them as a part of picking out what I like. Plus, photos rarely do them justice. Many dice don’t photograph well. Either they look way better in person, or the colors captured can be way off. That said, my ultimate dice wish list would include a set of gemstone dice. Labradorite, to be precise. I probably won’t ever find those in person, so that’s a someday purchase where I’ll take the leap and buy online.

Either way, my dice don’t really get used. I haven’t played anything D&D in… I don’t even know. Not since well before I got married, and that was a good while back. Most of the time, when I use my dice, I use them for writing.

I mentioned as much when I shared photos of my story dice, which I use for creating prompts. I occasionally use those for getting stories un-stuck, too. But most of the time, I use my regular D&D dice sets for my writing. A friend asked how I made that work, so I figured I’d summarize what I told him here, just because others might find it interesting.

It’s pretty simple: I use my dice to determine things that aren’t plot-fixed and set in stone. Chances of success at menial things, or blows exchanged in battle. It helps make things a little more believable if the heroes get banged around sometimes, and having the dice to determine when those bumps and bruises should happen makes things easier for me.

Of course, everything I do is super simplified—no stats, just dice rolls. Depending on what I’m doing, I may also handicap characters in battle by mismatching dice. Instead of D20 vs D20, a more skilled character might get a D20 while their less skilled opponent gets a D12. Or, for my characters who might be sparring and fight at the same level, I narrow the gap: D6 vs. D6, where the blows will be less devastating. Or, to give one a slight advantage, maybe pitting a D8 against a D10.

Really simple, but it’s a great time saver, so I always try to keep my dice handy when I’m working through a scene.

That’s it!

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