d100 Things the Crows Brought You

1 A penny (shiny and new)
2 A silver half-dollar
3 Roll of quarters
4 Liberty head dollar coin (solid gold, minted 1832)
5 Dollar bill (crumpled and torn)
6 $5 bill (crisp)
7 $20 bill (worn and folded in fourths)
8 $50 bill (folded into an origami crab)
9 $100 bill (disconcerting stains and a few tiny dots of blue dye)
10 Pizza crust
11 Slice of pizza (half-eaten)
12 Slice of pizza (whole, still hot)
13 A whole pizza
14 Broken lightbulb
15 LEDs
16 Seaglass
17 Aluminum roofing nails
18 Steel hex nut
19 Twist of copper wire
20 Marbles
21 Acorns
22 Bones
23 A tiny skull
24 An earring
25 Mood ring
26 Diamond ring
27 Dayglo paper clips
28 Broken zipper pull (bright blue enamel)
29 A molar
30 Foam earplugs (neon orange)
31 Glass beads
32 Shell buttons
33 Smooth river rocks
34 Keys
35 Car keys (remote fob works)
36 Car air freshener (mountain pine)
37 Plastic toy horse
38 Tiny glass bottle of colored sand
39 .38 snub-nose revolver
40 Lotto tickets
41 Sunglasses
42 A fifth of whiskey
43 Bucket hat
44 Blue tie-dyed banadana
45 Bouncy ball
46 A tiny stuffed bear
47 Kid's sneaker
48 Shoelaces
49 Bottlecaps
50 Hotwheels car
51 Prism
52 Snail shells
53 Black pearl
54 The "friends" half of a best friends necklace
55 Silk ribbons
56 Artificial flowers
57 Chicken nuggets
58 Mozzarella sticks (still hot, in a paper take-out box)
59 Werther's originals
60 Dead mice
61 Coupons
62 Fishing lures and bobbins
63 A 10" long curly fry
64 Grasshoppers
65 Rolex (fake)
66 Rolex (real)
67 Jingle bell
68 Cornhusk doll
69 Magnet (neodymium, extremely strong)
70 Silk handkerchief (has your monogram)
71 Silver bangle
72 Bullet casings
73 Bullets
74 Dice
75 Miniature pumpkin (4" wide, adorable)
76 Pinecones
77 Fresh flowers
78 Crayfish claws (blue)
79 Waffle fries
80 Half a donut
81 Batteries
82 Ceramic resistors
83 Vacuum tube (new and unused)
84 An eye
85 Desiccated treefrog
86 Spiders
87 Cigarettes
88 A cigar
89 An ounce of weed
90 Doll head (porcelain, staring)
91 Lego blocks
92 Tiny springs
93 Baby snake (live)
94 Peanuts
95 Candied almonds
96 Switchblade
97 Keychain swiss army knife
98 a gold chain
99 A ruby (pigeon's blood, 17ct)
100 A crow chick

d100 Things in the Witch's Cottage

1 700lb of confectioner's sugar
2 Black iron cauldron (person-sized)
3 Black iron cauldron (5qt, travel-size)
4 An elaborate wood-fired pizza oven
5 Black iron kettle
6 Silver tea service
7 Bone china painted with birdhouses and daisies (place settings for 6)
8 Fire spirit bound to the hearth grate (burns toast but makes life-changing omelets)
9 Novelty apron (reads "Smokin' Hot" surrounded by flame patterns)
10 A fully-stocked pantry, larder, and icebox
11 Freshly-brewed tea and cakes
12 Homemade moonshine and a still out back
13 Dried herbs
14 A worrying number of succulents and cacti
15 Mushrooms (fresh, dried, growing everywhere)
16 Cookie jar of molasses chews (delicious)
17 Cookie tin of gingerbread men (alive, desperate, delicious)
18 Cookie tin of sewing supplies
19 Golden stork embroidery scissors
20 Silver sewing shears
21 A book of bone needles
22 Spools of nettle thread
23 Hanks of spidersilk floss
24 Skeins of human hair
25 Spinning wheel (ancient, wooden)
26 Spindle (solid gold)
27 Distaff and bales of flax
28 A pretty linen tablecloth embroidered with one of every flower
29 Hand-tatted lace doilies
30 Button eyes
31 An extensive collection of dolls and poppets
32 Marionettes hanging from every inch of the ceiling
33 Nesting dolls (sing when open and beg not to be closed)
34 Extremely detailed anatomical models
35 Skulls
36 A disordered heap of bones
37 Several articulated skeletons
38 Box of teeth
39 Assorted dried hearts
40 Jar of fresh eyeballs
41 A butchered unicorn
42 Dragon's teeth in a wormhide sack
43 Mummified swallows hung as a garland
44 A perfectly normal chicken
45 A kid goat (black, adorable, troublesome)
46 Bats
47 Rats (ensorcelled and acting as servants)
48 Rats (ensorcelled transmuted people)
49 A cat
50 Two cats
51 Three cats
52 1d6+3 cats
53 A cat-sized bullfrog named Jeb (breaks things when he croaks)
54 A bullfrog-sized horsefly named Reggie (can talk, extremely fond of tropical fruit)
55 A vivarium of newts
56 Two obnoxious kids who refuse to leave
57 A tiny elder tree
58 Billhook (rusty, ivory-handled)
59 Iron tongs
60 Blacksmith's hammer
61 Copper nails
62 Scythe (The Scythe, yes that one)
63 Broom (handmade from yew boughs)
64 Broom (refuses to clean and will buck any unworthy rider)
65 Sealskin coat
66 Swanskin cloak
67 Sturdy boots (muddy)
68 Sensible flats (cute)
69 Thigh-high leather platform boots (black)
70 Pointy hat (black)
71 Cloak (enveloping, black, billows dramatically at exactly the right moments)
72 Wardrobe of fine clothes in all shades of black
73 Souvenir t-shirt (reads "I killed the Witchfinder General and all I got was this lousy t-shirt")
74 A copy of the Malleus Maleficarum (margins full of scathing annotations in perfect handwriting)
75 Magic mirror (talking)
76 Scrying sunglasses
77 Crystal ball (sometimes gets bad reception but usually reliable)
78 Crystals (purely ornamental)
79 Piles of scrolls (disorganized)
80 Shed iron teeth
81 Playing cards with sexy wizards on them
82 Oversized birdcage (empty)
83 Candles (a fire hazard worth)
84 Chessboard with talking pieces
85 Unnecessarily complex brass scales
86 Doctor's bag
87 Weird fossils (some move on their own)
88 Chest of pearls (each has a soul bound to it)
89 Jewelry box (carved with trees, cedar, screams when you open it)
90 A delicate cobalt glass vase (turns any flowers put in it blood red)
91 Ivory comb inlaid with amber crosses
92 21 years of National Hexographic back issues
93 Shelves of research notes on the variations in structures of mutated snail shells
94 An orrery of the solar system showing three planets and nineteen moons you didn't know existed
95 An armoire full of borrowed shadows
96 Some really good cigars
97 Bundles of letters from your parents (from before you were born, tied in green ribbon)
98 Dozens of multicolored glass witchballs (were gag gifts, but she likes them)
99 A pleasantly fat toad
100 The witch's body (unoccupied)

d100 Places to Find Items

1 Encapsulated in an adobe wall
2 Strapped to the undercarriage of a car
3 In the glove box
4 Resting inside the exploded ribcage of an adventurer's corpse
5 At the bottom of a well
6 In a time capsule
7 In a riderless horse's saddlebags
8 Bricked inside a section of masonry
9 Held in a statue's hands
10 Sealed inside a giant's false tooth
11 In a troll's pocket
12 Strapped to the cathedral bell's clapper
13 In the cold remains of campsite's fire circle
14 Jammed in a crevice in a cliff
15 In an eagle's aerie
16 Embedded in the wall of a wasp's nest
17 Encapsulated in honeycomb
18 Beneath a loose floorboard
19 Under the bed
20 Inside the mattress
21 In a dead adventurer's pack
22 At the bottom of a glacial crevasse
23 In the middle of an abandoned camp, no signs of a struggle
24 In a cache hidden beneath a loose flagstone
25 Sunk in a bog
26 In the hulk of a shipwreck
27 Among the ashes of a burned-out house
28 In a kid's toy chest
29 In a wall safe concealed behind a painting
30 In a metal box mounted inside the chimney
31 Buried with its owner
32 Caught in a storm drain
33 Buried at the foot of a lightning-blasted oak
34 In the pantry tucked behind cans of soup
35 Sitting in plain view on a bookshelf
36 In the freezer
37 In a cockatrice's gizzard
38 In a pile of dragonshit
39 Lying completely unprotected in the middle of the floor
40 Next to the spare tire in the trunk
41 In your pack, no clue how it got there
42 Waiting at the foot of your bed
43 Tucked into a hollow tree trunk
44 Glued to a giant tortoise's shell
45 Mixed in the ship's ballast
46 Buried 100' north of where the map says it should be
47 In the bargain bin at a thrift store
48 In a steamer trunk in the attic
49 In a hollowed-out book
50 In a snake's stomach
51 Bolted to a weathervane
52 Implanted in a wizard's eye socket
53 In a wandering llama's pack
54 Suspended in giant spider webs
55 Inside a cocoon
56 In a safe deposit box
57 In plain view in a shop's case
58 Inside a chained coffin
59 Sealed in a weighted pot at the bottom of a lake
60 Engulfed by a coral reef
61 Suspended on silver chains in the center of the room
62 Sitting on top of a pressure plate
63 In pride of place as the banquet's centerpiece
64 Tucked in a brigand's boot
65 Concealed in a bale of hay
66 Accidentally dropped in the latrine
67 Lying undamaged in an active forge
68 Lodged in a gargoyle's throat
69 Hovering 6' off the floor
70 Lying inside a salt circle
71 Enshrined on the altar
72 Contained inside a curtain of running water
73 Sealed inside a lead-lined box
74 Decohered into a laser signal and bouncing through a ring of mirrors
75 Encoded into an earworm stuck in a sphinx's head
76 Built into a golem's chassis
77 Floating in a jar of pickled eggs
78 At the end of the rainbow
79 A the bottom of a hiberniculum
80 Hanging over a bottomless pit
81 Floating in a hot spring
82 Tied to a duck's foot
83 In a shoebox at the back of the closet
84 In an old cookie tin
85 Mildly unstuck in time and space, 10" and 20 seconds from where it appears to be
86 Clipped to a cat's collar
87 In a swan's nest
88 In a thicket of poison ivy
89 Transformed into a treefrog
90 Fused to an unconscious adventurer's face and breathing for them
91 In a giant chrysalis
92 Among the goods left in an overturned wagon
93 In the ruins of an abandoned cottage
94 Tied inside a wiggling sack
95 Lost in a gutter
96 In the lost and found
97 In an abandoned storage unit
98 Sitting in line with six identical forgeries
99 Fused to your left hand
100 In evidence lockup

Dungeon Gifts

The Dungeon loves you. It wants you to feel safe, at home in the depths. It wants you to stay.

The Dungeon understands the unknown is scary, so it'll give you new eyes to see it. It'll tell you about itself, pouring the information into your head as gently as it can so you won't be afraid. It wants you to understand it, but it knows these things take time. It's patient.

The Acclimation Process

The more time you spend in the Dungeon the more influence it gains. The effects are well-documented and cumulative so experienced delvers often wear stopwatches or other timers as dosimeters to track their exposure. A normal progression of symptoms is:

Stage 1: Loss of anxiety and fear in total darkness. (Develops after 1 month of cumulative exposure.) [1]

Stage 2: Gain dimvision at 5, 10, 15, 30, 60, and finally 120'. (Each increase in distance takes an additional 2 weeks of exposure to develop after the onset of Stage 1. Total exposure time at the end of Stage 2: 4 months.) [2-7]

Stage 3: Gain darkvision at 5, 10, 15, 30, 60, and finally 120'. (Each increase in distance takes an additional 2 weeks of exposure to develop after the end of Stage 2. Total exposure time at the end of Stage 3: 7 months.) [8-13]

Stage 4: Gain an improved sense of direction. (You always know where north is and don't get turned around or lost in the Dungeon's halls. Develops with 1 week of exposure after the end of Stage 3. Total exposure time at the end of Stage 4: 7 months, 1 week.) [14]

Stage 5: Gain an instinctive partial awareness of the floor plan. (You know where specific locations are in relation to yourself but not the exact path to get there, only the general direction you need to travel. You know even if you've never been to the location before. Develops 1 week after the onset of Stage 4. Total exposure time at the end of Stage 5: 7 months, 2 weeks.) [15]

Stage 6: Gain an instinctive awareness of the area around you to 30, 60, 90, and finally 120'. (You know the surrounding halls, corridor branches, and rooms. Each increase in distance takes an additional week to develop after the onset of Stage 5. Total exposure time at the end of Stage 6: 8 months, 2 weeks.) [16-19]

Stage 7: Gain an instinctive awareness of the contents of rooms and the locations of the creatures around you to 10, 15, 30, 60, and finally 90'. (You know where everything in range is before you see it, including traps. Each increase in distance takes an additional 3 days of exposure to develop after the end of Stage 6. Total exposure time at the end of Stage 7: 9 months, 1 day.) [20-24]

Stage 8: Begin seeing secrets. (You automatically know where secret doors and room are, included magically-concealed features. Develops with 3 days exposure after the end of Stage 7. Total exposure time at the end of Stage 8: 9 months, 4 days.) [25]

Stage 9: Instinctively know the full exact floor plan of the level you're on, then the levels above and below you, and finally the adjacent levels 2 deep. (Each increase in distance takes an additional day to develop after the onset of Stage 8. Total exposure time at the end of Stage 9: 9 months, 1 week.) [26-28]

Stage 10: Instinctively know the full exact floor plan of the entire Dungeon. (You have complete awareness of all the Dungeon's architectural details, even ones you haven't explored yet. Develops 1 day after the end of Stage 9. Total exposure time at the end of Stage 10: 9 months, 1 week, 1 day.) [29]

Stage 11: Lose any desire to leave the Dungeon. You're home. (You live here now. Switch to a tower defense game protecting the Dungeon. Develops 1 day after the onset of Stage 10. Total exposure time at the end of Stage 11: 9 months, 1 week, 2 days.) [30]

This is only an average timeline for Acclimation. The exact speed of the progression varies between individuals, sometimes dragging on or leaping ahead unexpectedly. If you haven't been tracking exposure or lose count of how long you've been under, roll d30 to see how affected you are.

Progression can also shift dramatically based on your experiences in the Dungeon, ebbing and flowing like any other relationship. Roll d30 every time you:

- Are in total darkness
- Are injured
- Spring a trap
- Are ambushed
- Flee
- Have a near-death experience
- Watch something die
- Go without seeing the sun for 3 days
- Make a friend or alliance
- Discover something wondrous or beautiful
- Learn something about the Dungeon
- Find treasure
- Find shelter
- Eat a meal
- Sit by a fire

If the result is 5 more/less than your current exposure level, go up/down 1 step within your current Stage. If the result is 10 more/less, go up/down 1 full Stage.

The Dungeon's effects are reversible up to Stage 10, but recovery takes time. Remaining above ground with daily exposure to the sun and sky is key to undoing the changes caused by the Dungeon. If your goal is to recover you must not reenter the Dungeon before the sun's finished its work.

Reversing your exposure is literal. The effects of the most advanced stages burn away first followed by the Dungeon's earlier gifts in order.

- Knowledge of the Dungeon's levels and floor plan fades after 6 months above ground. (Stages 10-9)
- Specific awareness of Dungeon features subsides after another 3 months. (Stages 8-5)
- Direction sense disappears after another month. (Stage 4)
- Vision returns to normal in 2 weeks. (Stages 3-2)
- Anxiety in the dark returns after a solid week above ground. (Stage 1)

If you reenter the Dungeon before recovering completely you'll begin accumulating exposure again starting from the last Stage you healed to.

Once Stage 11 symptoms appear recovery is impossible.

d23 Retrospective

I haven't been talking about it much, but I've been steadily working on my d23 project since December. (I'm using a hobonichi weeks planner and it starts in December '22, so there's a level 0 in my dungeon.) Up until this month I've mostly kept on track writing one room a day and if I fell behind it was only for a day or two and easy to catch up. Now I think I'm going to change my approach.

At the end of June I took a short break to look back on what I'd done and consider what to do going forward because I was starting to flag.

I work best when I can completely focus on a project, get it done, then move on to the next thing that inspires me. A year-long ongoing project like d23 is the exact opposite of that and after six months it was wearing on me. Having something unfinished for that long got stressful (mildly, but still noticeable) and worse, it split my focus and distracted me from other projects.

I also discovered, after writing every day for six months, that writing every day is not ideal for me. It's good practice for some folks, but I need stretches of time where I don't write and let ideas percolate. I knew that before, but hadn't realized how much I needed that fermentation time.

So with that in mind I've decided to stop slowly grinding away at d23. The one room a day schedule isn't working for me, so I'm not going to stick to it. I'm just going to finish the whole thing now. This isn't a marathon anymore, it's a sprint and I think it'll be fun as hell.

I've actually been having fun doing d23. Despite my brain's complaining it's been a blast and I'm genuinely proud of everything I've made so far. It's been excellent practice for drawing maps and creating concrete-feeling physical spaces, both things I've historically struggled with, and it's made me seriously think about how a dungeon goes together. I know how to organize rooms, add stairs/exits/loops, and why Jayquaying is important. Even so, actually doing the work and making decisions about where things go on the map made me examine those internalized concepts and refine them. I'm definitely better at this now than I was back in December. I also probably wouldn't have started a project this size at all if not for d23.

It's also been nice having a project that's just for me. I started this with no intention of publishing it. d23 is for me. My dungeon for my table to be run by me. I might share it as an ashcan eventually, but that'd be it.

So the plan going forward: Write the last five levels.

My method from the beginning was to get a concept of what I wanted the level to be, draw the whole map, and make an outline of all the rooms at the start of the month. Then I'd write the rooms in detail each day and make a d30 encounter list (or two/three) at the end of the month once I was sure what lived there. It's a solid system so the only thing that's going to change is the speed I work.

I've already got the ideas for what I want to do on the remaining levels laid out, so now I just need to map and write.

Making Traps Fun

Traps are a dungeon crawling staple and honestly, usually not very fun. Your classic traps like poison needles, spikes, swinging blades, and pits are iconic but serve a very specific purpose of forcing the party to be cautious as the explore. They deal damage and your reward for foiling them is that you're not maimed or dead.

That's boring.

Pain is fleeting and uninteresting. Obstacles are engaging. Instead of just doing damage traps should change the game by altering how the players can interact with an area. They should do something beyond grinding the party down.

When you write traps try creating ones that:

  • Have a reward beyond survival. If you manage to not die you can find bits of loot and interesting things left by or on previous victims, or the parts of the trap itself might be useful (or valuable).
  • Add structural interest to the dungeon. Let traps act as new paths or access points for secret areas once they're tripped. (Ex: Pit traps that have an access door at the bottom for cleaning crews to enter. Deadfall traps that have something behind them in the space where the "fall" material came from. Arrow slits and murder holes that you can see through once you find and deactivate them.)
  • Move the party unexpectedly to another section of the dungeon. Elevator rooms that drop you down levels, stairs that turn into chutes and slides, and walls that drop to split the party are classic examples. These introduce the same "will we have enough resources?" tension as a damage-dealing trap, but are more interesting because they create a new situation instead of just pain.
  • Can be reset and used against enemies or have an interesting effect the party can play with. (Ex: Gravity tricks with a magic fall-up pit trap.)
  • Confine but don't injure the person who trips them. (Ex: Falling cages or barred gates over doorways.) The party's unharmed but now they have a new problem to solve.
  • Sound alarms (either audible and obvious or silent) and alert the dungeon inhabitants to the party's presence.
  • Are clearly telegraphed as dangerous, but exactly what they do is unclear so the party goes "What the hell is that?" and has a chance to figure it out.
  • Have bizarre effects like teleporting victims away or forcibly astral projecting them. Something that's just part of the dungeon's tech and is only dangerous because the party's not trained to use it.

There's so much potential for adventuring shenanigans with unorthodox traps. Embrace it. Make them entertaining to interact with and figure out. Make them cause unexpected, unpredictable, immediate problems to deal with beyond massive bodily trauma. (Unless you're Luke Gearing, then keep doing what you're doing. That hallway is beautiful.) Have fun.

1d20 Troublesome Inheritances

1 A crumbling secluded estate
2 A business in truly staggering debt
3 An extremely remote private island
4 A ship known to and wanted by several governments as a pirate vessel
5 A hippo farm
6 A funhouse dungeon, no documentation on how to find or disarm the traps
7 Custodianship of an arch-demon trapped in suspended animation
8 Legal guardianship of your distant cousin's baby
9 A golem with unknown instructions
10 The first truly sentient AI
11 A nuclear stockpile
12 A small private army
13 700 millions gold and 6 copper
14 An accurate map to a famous, massive treasure hoard
15 An intensely haunted doll
16 An overzealous dragon's protection
17 Three favors from a fae who wants to be free of their debt as soon as possible
18 All your parents' enemies
19 The family curse
20 A loud and willful terrier

Everyday Obstacles

The things that hold you up on an adventure aren't always the standard adventuring fare like monsters, traps, and harsh conditions. Sometimes it's mundane, patience-grinding little things that can still cause snags.

No matter how powerful and renowned the party is, have them:

- Wait in line
- Deal with red tape and petty bureaucrats
- Run into rude people
- End up in a place where no one's heard of them

Any scenario where the normal methods of sword, sneaking, and social cachet are less effective than usual.

Sight Hounds

Sight hounds are artificial creatures created through a combination of obscure but well-documented alchemic processes. Their exact appearance varies between manufacturers and depends on the mix of sample tissues used in growing them, but most sight hounds look like mid-sized dogs with pointy ears, fluffy coats, curled tails, and large blocky heads. The common feature they all have is the villi array.

The top of a sight hound's head and neck from the top of their muzzle to their withers is covered in a dense pelt of sensory tentacles and villi that let them see and track energy fields and abstract concepts. They have rudimentary eyes at the ends of the stalks to avoid running into obstacles, but most of their vision isn't aimed at the physical world.

Making sight hounds is cheap, but training them is difficult and expensive. It takes a skilled trainer to teach a hound to recognize what a lie looks like, the exact shades of different types of magic, or the nuances of the electromagnetic spectrum. The best of them graft on a rudimentary villi array of their own, replacing an eye and section of skull with the new sensory organ to better understand what their charges see.

Emotion is the one thing all sight hounds instinctively understand. When you're happy, they know. When you're scared, they know. And when you say they're good, they know you mean it.

1d30 Reasons you shouldn't enter the city

1 Outstanding warrants
2 There's a bounty on you
3 There's a ridiculously gigantic bounty on you
4 You were exiled on pain of death
5 You faked your death
6 You pissed off the mob
7 You pissed off the guilds
8 You pissed off the city guard
9 You pissed off the church
10 6, 7, 8, and 9 all at once, outstanding
11 The longstanding grudge between your family and the ruling House
12 The Mayor hasn't forgotten you destroyed their statue and still thinks you instigated the riots
13 An old personal enemy holds considerable power there
14 Your ex still lives there
15 You broke your betrothal and there's a shotgun wedding waiting
16 Your parents live there and you're not ready for that right now
17 Your mentor lives there and you're not ready to face them yet
18 Your family is there, don't want to make them a target
19 Your dog is there, don't want to come back just to leave them again
20 Your fan club's HQ is there and it's incredibly uncomfortable
21 Don't want to get conscripted
22 You're banned for life after the last time
23 You definitely can't afford the bribes
24 You'll be expected to attend Society functions and make endless formal visits so as to not give Offense
25 The Steward will insist you take up your duties of state
26 You'll spark another succession war
27 You'd make a valuable hostage
28 Extra-planar travel makes you nauseous
29 It's not safe to be that close to your phylactery
30 The wards would incinerate you

What's this ominous pile of stacked bones? (d30)

1 A warning
2 A welcome
3 Evidence
4 A warding
5 A boundary marker
6 A trail marker
7 A midden
8 Aftermath of a hunt
9 Aftermath of a ritual
10 An art project
11 A scarecrow
12 A deactivated golem
13 An armored necromancer (just vibing)
14 A napping skeleton (let them sleep, they look like they need it)
15 A pile of sleeping skeletons (adorable)
16 An open-air ossuary
17 A memorial
18 A trophy
19 A sacrifice
20 A saintly relic
21 A roadside chapel
22 A replacement for the menhir that once stood there
23 A nest
24 A hive
25 A home
26 A throne
27 An oracle
28 An inactive portal
29 Aftermath of a spell
30 Aftermath of a miscast spell

Alectile Dysfunction

Sometimes you try to roll a die and it just falls onto the table with a disappointing flop. Sometimes you get too eager and it goes shooting off the table and gets lost on the floor. Don't worry, it happens to a lot of people. But if it's happening often enough that it causes problems in your gaming there are a few things you can try to make your rolls more reliable.

Note: "Problems" means wasting time looking for lost dice on the floor or having to ask "should I reroll that?" It doesn't mean cheating and has nothing to do with the actual numbers you roll. This is about the physics of rolling dice and getting you back to playing the game. It's also about you. If someone else at your table is flinging dice around to the point that it impacts everyone's enjoyment of the game, talk to them about it.

The goal of rolling is to get a randomized number by having the die tumble several times before it comes to rest. There are a few variables involved in that:
  • The shape of the die. A die's center of gravity changes with its shape. More ball-shaped sizes (d12, 20, 30) take less force to roll than pointier dice with pronounced edges (d4, 6, 8).
  • The surface it's rolled on. There needs to be enough friction between the die and the rolling surface that the die's edges catch and it tumbles instead of just sliding along.
  • The space it's rolled in. There needs to be enough of an open area that the die can roll and tumble a few times before it hits an obstacle.
  • The force used to roll.
  • The angle of the throw. A die thrown at a low angle to the table will travel farther than one thrown from a high angle.
If you have the right mix, the physics work in your favor and you get a nice, satisfying roll. If any of the variables are too far off, you run into problems. Start troubleshooting your dice rolling by thinking about your:

1 Force used

This is the simplest one. Are you throwing the dice hard enough? Too hard? Think about the times you've had an issue with the dice and try to see if there's a pattern. (Do pointier shapes flop more often? Try rolling those harder. Do rounder shapes go flying? Ease up on those.) Go get your dice and roll a bit, refresh your memory. It might be as simple as building a new muscle memory of how to throw each die shape. You might also just need to chill and stop chucking the d20 across the room.

2 Throw angle

You probably don't think about it, but what angle are you throwing your dice at? It does make a difference. The angle a die hits the table at determines the path it'll roll. A low-angle throw will travel farther along the table than a high-angle one and high-angle throws are more likely to bounce. Paying attention to the angle you throw at lets you predict how it'll behave.

Rolls off the table are more likely when you have a low angle and a lot of force. Flops are more common when you have a high angle and not much force. Slides happen when you have a low angle throw with force on a smooth surface, because there's not enough friction to make the die actually roll.

Try changing the angle of your throw. It's another facet of building new muscle memory and may help.

3 The space

Is your table cluttered? Be honest. If it's crowded on the table, organize it enough that you've got an open space to roll in. You don't have to clear it off completely, just make an open area that everyone can reach to roll in and make sure it stays clear. Aim for a 1' x 2' clear space and see if having that obstacle-free zone helps.

4 Rolling surface

If the table you play on is smooth, try putting something over it. Test roll on a tablecloth, piece of construction paper, sheet of craft felt, maybe even a carpet sample square. Anything with a rougher surface texture than your usual rolling surface. See if it makes a difference in how much the die tumbles and if it stops before falling off the edge of the table.

Try those changes individually and in combinations. If you still don't see an improvement in your rolls you might want to try some gaming equipment:

Dice trays

These provide a guaranteed clear space to roll in with walls to keep your dice from flying around. The walls also create a backstop for the dice to bounce off of and randomize more. I'd suggest getting a tray with a rougher inner surface like velour, felt, or suede leather so your rolls won't slide.

Dice cups

These are great for playing when there's not much room. Use the cup to shake the dice, then turn it over and reveal them like in Liar's Dice. It reduces the area needed to roll to a spot the size of the cup's mouth and randomizing by shaking inside the cup eliminates problems with the force and angle of throws. I'd suggest getting one made of leather or that has thick padding on the inside to cut down on noise while shaking since plastic can be loud.

A shot glass

Hear me out, it works. Get a shot glass. You want one wide enough that a d20 can sit in the bottom and not touch the sides. To roll this way just drop your die in the glass, it'll bounce around the inside and randomize just as well as it would with a good roll on the table. It also works with a lowball/old fashioned glass. The key is to have a glass surface for the plastic die to ricochet off. The drawback with this method is you can't roll multiple dice at once. The upside is it's ultra-compact and only takes up a shot glass worth of table space.

Dice towers

There are lots of styles, but the core principle is you drop a die in at the top and it randomizes by bouncing through a series of baffles inside the tower before rolling out at the bottom. It does all the work of rolling for you and conserves table space by using a vertical axis to reduce your rolling area to the footprint of the tower.

They're all good choices and there are plenty of styles available if you want to try them. Like anything else: Expensive doesn't mean better, look for good craftsmanship and quality materials, and consider how you'll store the thing once you've got it. (I try to look for equipment that disassembles or folds flat for easy transport and storage.)

Hopefully some of these suggestions will be useful and help you cut down on chaotic rolls so you can spend your game time playing, not hunting for lost dice. Give them a shot and see how it goes. Good luck!

Alternate Dice Interactions

I like playing around with dice. Figuring out probabilities and how they'll change in different circumstances is fun. It's one of the reasons I used to write systems, they let me implement my weird dice ideas and see how they worked. I'm more focused on writing content these days, so I figured I'd share the interactions I haven't gotten around to using yet. They might as well see the light of day now and instead of waiting for some nebulous future game.

Dice interactions are rules that directly interact with the math of a die roll to alter the outcome in some way. Some common ones most folks are familiar with are:

- Being able to reroll
- Replacing a roll result with a pre-rolled value
- Bonuses and maluses
- Advantage and disadvantage

Anything that modifies the dice rolled or the roll's result counts.

Here are some interactions I'd like to see used widely one day:

Step Up/Down

Alter what size die gets used in a roll. Make an ally's d4 roll a d6, or an enemy's roll use a d12 instead of a d20. (This one's already used regularly, but not enough that I'd call it common. I want to see it used even more often.)


Add a second die of the same size to a roll, turning the linear probability into a triangular distribution. There are already spells and abilities that let you add a specific die size to your rolls to give a variable bonus, but this is more about creating the curve probability than just providing a boost to the roll's result. It lets the player choose to avoid the risk of rolling very low or high and increase the probability of mid-range values. A play it safe strategy.


Add multiple dice of the same size and turn a single-die roll into a pool. Exactly how many dice are in the pool could be determined based on level, abilities, spell effects, whatever. It's not important. What's more interesting is how to resolve a roll like this. A number of successes-based threshold doesn't make sense for a roll that likely originally had a target number to beat for resolution. The two options that make the most sense to me are:

1) The result is the total of the dice. So a pooled skill check would (likely) have you rolling Xd20 and a pooled damage roll would be Xd[damage die]. It could easily end up being overwhelmingly powerful. It would also have the same mid-range stabilizing effect as Twin since it introduces a bell curve. The more dice you add, the more centralized the curve.

2) The result is one value chosen out of the separate rolled values. So if you roll a pool of 3d20 and get 2, 14, 9, only one of those is your result. There are a few ways you could decide which of the values is chosen. The most obvious is to pick highest or lowest, but that would just make this Advantage/Disadvantage with more dice. That's boring. The better option is that the player chooses which of the values they want to use.


Replace the lowest value on a die with the highest so the highest value's probability is doubled. (Ex: On a d4 you'd replace the 1 with a 4 so your possible outcomes are 2, 3, 4, 4.)


Replace the highest value on a die with the lowest so the lowest value's probability is doubled. (Ex: On a d4 you'd replace the 4 with a 1 so your possible outcomes are 1, 1, 2, 3.)

* The probabilities for Bulk/Sap are different from Advantage/Disadvantage. The -vantage rolls are independent, meaning you still have a 1/X chance of each possible outcome in each roll. For Bulk/Sap the highest/lowest value has a 2/X chance of occurring. The significance of the 2/X probability also changes with the die size and has a much more dramatic effect on smaller dice.


Rolls don't have a set die they use. Instead you cycle through the dice in a standard set, either stepping up or down with each new roll. So if you start a session rolling a d20, your next roll will use a d12, then a d10, a d8, d6, then after you roll a d4 you cycle back to a d20.

You can alter the direction of the cycle at any point with abilities/spells/etc to do things like making an enemy go 8-6-4 then reverse direction to 6-8-10 order instead of looping around to 20, or timing it beneficially for an ally.


For enemies only. Each time they succeed add a die to their rolls so they have an ever-growing dice pool. The more they succeed, the more likely they are to succeed in the future in a self-sustaining spiral and get more dangerous as time goes on.