Rory’s Story Cubes is a set of dice that, as the game’s title suggests, can be used to tell stories. Created by The Creativity Hub and published most places by Gamewright, the set is designed to spur a roller’s imagination by giving him a set of elements to include in his story. As a game, it is at best “rules lite,” coming more with guidelines than actual rules, such that it might be better classed as a tool or a toy.
Rory’s Story Cubes comes in a sturdy little box that opens up to reveal nine cubes or dice. Each die is a chunky 19mm to a side and contains six images, such as an “Apple,” an “Evil Shadow,” a “House,” a “Lightning Strike,” a “Lock,” a “Parachute,” a “Question Mark,” a “Tower,” and a “Wand.” None of the symbols are replicated, so with nine dice in the set, there are a total of fifty-four symbols to roll, which promises several million different combinations. The idea is to do “Once Upon a time” with these symbols, incorporating them into a story as the roller fancies. So for example, I roll an “Abacus,” “Flames,” “Happiness,” a “Magnifying Glass,” a “Mobile Telephone,” a “Parachute,” “Sleeping,” a “Tepee,” and a “Tower.” So my story might go like this…
Once upon a time, there lived a man called Dave, who could never get a full night’s sleep. He had a really dull job that involved him using an “Abacus” and never gave him time to examine how dull his life was. News that his life was to change came with a call on his “Mobile Telephone” and a dull monotone voice explaining how both the job and the ivory “Tower” of a life he had built around his job had gone up in “Flames.” This gave him the opportunity to examine his life using a “Magnifying Glass” and thus decide to use a “Parachute” to jump from the top of the “Tower.” Dave did. Now Dave does not have an “Abacus,” a dull job, a “Mobile Telephone,” or the need to visit an ivory “Tower.” Instead, every night he can be found “Sleeping” in a “Teepee.” Dave has found “Happiness.”
Now doubtless, you can do better. And you are welcome to try with your own set of Rory’s Story Cubes. How you do that is entirely up to you, as the extent of the rules in the “game” merely suggest that the stories can either be told solitaire or co-operatively. The problem with this is that it means that as a game, Rory’s Story Cubes lacks the structure that would make it game, because this is essentially not only “use the dice to make up the stories you want,” but also “make up the rules to how you tell those stories.” Arguably then, not sufficient enough to make it a game given its need for further input from the participants. Plus, the clue is in the title – Rory’s Story Cubes, not Rory’s Story Dice. After all, “Dice” infers a game, whereas “Cubes” do not.
As a tool or a toy, Rory’s Story Cubes is much better. The images on the dice are large, friendly, and universal. Although due to their size, the dice feel a bit too much to all together fit in the hand, they possess a satisfying weight and heft. They would work well as an educational tool, whether that is in an education establishment, or simply as a means to spur your child’s imagination and thinking.
There is much to like about Rory’s Story Cubes. The dice are themselves physically pleasing and the concept sound. More rules would have made them even more pleasing, but as long as the users or players are happy to agree on the rules as to how they can tell their stories, then they are ready to roll their imaginations with Rory’s Story Cubes.