I play tabletop roleplaying games remotely with my friends. I’ve spoken before about this and I love that we have the option to play from the comfort of our homes, in our pajamas. I love that the programs built for this do some of the complicated math required so number-crunching is lessened and goofing around with my friends is increased. But the one thing I hate about remote playing and dice-rolling with programs is that there’s no dice jail.
For those unfamiliar, “dice jail” is what you do when the dice you’re rolling are giving you undesirable or disastrous consequences and you don’t want to use them any more. You put them away so you don’t roll them for the rest of that night’s game session because they’re misbehaving, or cursed, or whatever you want to call it, and switch to a new set of dice that will hopefully give you more satisfactory results.
I am well aware that it is a superstitious practice. I know very well that setting dice aside for different ones with the same dimensions make no practical difference. Everything is subject to the same laws of physics and rules of chance. But I’ll be damned if it doesn’t feel satisfying to get angry at physical dice and physically punish them for their projected misbehavior.
The dice-rolling programs in remote roleplaying platforms do not allow for that superstitious albeit satisfactory retaliation against chance. There are no physical things to punish or project your frustration on to, unless you want to put your fist through your monitor (which I have been tempted to do when I can’t seem to roll above a 5 for ten straight minutes). If you’re having a rough night of digital dice-rolling, you have to sit there and take it… or do what I do, which is yell at your screen at the amusement of your friends.
Could I use physical dice rolls anyway, and set up a camera to show my friends what I’m rolling? Probably. Does it sound like a lot of extra work that will ultimately make me do all the math the program is built to do? Absolutely. It’s the downside to playing remotely, and if I have to endure it for the sake of convenience and more reliable playtime, so be it. I may pull my hair out, but so be it.
I think a small solution would be for someone more tech-savvy than me to make a little macro or animation program that puts a digital dice into a little cartoon jail cell. Much like the real practice of “dice jail,” it probably won’t make any practical difference, but it could provide some satisfaction when you can’t roll above a 5 all night.