For as long as I can remember, I and my fellow tabletop gamers have argued that it is not possible to have too many dice. It is known. This is The Way. It is only logical. Yabba dabba doo. And so on.
What I think we may have meant is, it is not possible to acquire more dice than any one of us would be happy to own. Obviously, if you can’t open your front door, you have too many dice. But how many dice tips it over from “this is cool” into “dude, you are a hoarder, but for dice” is unknown.
So about 10 years ago, I began a project to find out if it is possible for me to reach a point where I thought, “No, I don’t need that. I have enough dice.” Over the decade, people have given me various amounts of dice at conventions and personal appearances to support my research. (It’s been awesome to receive dice that come with stories of heroic battles, Wheatonesque probability breaking, dice that are almost as old as I am, dice from special events, OG color-them-in dice, and so many others.)
In addition to accepting these contributions, I pick up sets of dice the way I always have. The annual GenCon dice set, for instance, or the occasional “OH WOW THAT IS SHINY I MUST HAVE IT AND THREE OTHERS JUST LIKE IT BECAUSE OF REASONS” purchase from a game shop or random vendor.
Since the project began, I estimate I have collected a few thousand dice. Maybe around five thousand? I haven’t looked too closely because this is one of those very scientific studies that are about vibes, not numbers. These studies are very popular among think tanks.
The study remains ongoing. I did a vibe check this morning, and again just now. After measuring the vibes, I do not yet have too many dice. Looking to the future of the study, I suspect I could have two or three times this many dice, and still feel like there was room for more. If I acquire dice for the rest of my life at the rate I have acquired them the last decade, I will likely approach some value of “okay, maybe this has gotten out of hand” around 2060.
But now that I have all these dice, what do I actually do with them? Mostly, I just look at them and think about all the games they represent, all the hours of collaborative storytelling and strategizing, all the time spent around tables making memories with friends. I feel good about my game room being the place these dice live, now. I mean, from one point of view, it’s all just hunks of resin or metal, right? From another, though … I don’t have to tell you. You get it. For me, it’s humbling, and it’s an honor, to sort of keep watch over these polyhedral symbols of time well spent and remembered.
Okay, that’s nice, Wil, but what do you do with them? Looking at them isn’t doing anything.
Sometimes, I pull out a couple fistfuls and see how badly I roll random dice when there is nothing at stake (quite badly, as it turns out). If someone needs dice for some reason, I pull out what they need and let them keep it. It’s a version of paying (rolling) it forward.
Last week, though, I found something new (and obvious) to actually, physically, deliberately do with them. I was playing Galaxian in my arcade, and I had this idea to sort some dice into shapes and colors, and then use them to lay out a simple 8-bit sprite. (I had this fun idea about stop motion animation that keeps pitching itself to me. It’s getting a lot of support in the room, but I’m not sure it can pass a full vote.)
Because it’s what I’d been playing, and because it’s incredibly simple, I assembled a Galaxian guy, and I gotta tell you that I really, really like how it turned out.
My next attempt will be a slightly more complex sprite. It’s bigger, with four colors, and if it works … well, maybe I’m gonna make a lot of these things. I guess we’ll see.