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Thursday, 1 April 2021

[Nice Dice?] Lucky Ducks In A Row-Rubber Duckie Dice Set

When we sit down to roleplay, the one thing we invariably have in front of us is a set of dice. We have been using dice in roleplaying for as long as we have been roleplaying and just about everyone who games has their own set. They are of course tools, tools that we use to determine the outcomes of our character’s actions. Yet we come to invest our hopes and fears in our dice as we play and we place our characters in increasingly perilous situations, but this degree of investment and how it manifests varies from player to player. One player might hold on to one set of dice which he uses for every game he plays, another might build a set of dice he only uses for one character, one player might dump one set of dice and replace it with another due to poor results or character death, and another may simply collect dice. There is an amazing array of dice available in a variety of styles and materials—metals, gemstones, wood, and even moose poop. Then there are dice sets for different games. In some cases, particular dice are required to play particular games. For example, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire from Fantasy Flight Games requires its own set of dice, as does Fvlminata: Armed with Lightning with its ‘Talia’ or knucklebone dice and Free League Publishing’s ‘Year Zero Engine’ family of games such as Mutant: Year Zero – Roleplaying at the End of Days or the more recent Vaesen – Nordic Horror Roleplaying.

In most other cases, publishers manufacture dice for their roleplaying games which are absolutely not required to play their games. If such dice are not required, then what do they add? They certainly do not add to the game itself in terms of play, any more than any other set of dice a player might have in his collection. What they enforce is brand identity, so that if a player has a set of Call of Cthulhu dice when playing Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition or a set of RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha dice for playing RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha, they add to the idea that the players are playing those games, encouraging a degree of immersion, but without adding anything directly to that play.

Released by The Evergreen Burrow following a successful Kickstarter campaign, the Lucky Ducks In A Row-Rubber Duckie Dice Set is a complete set of polyhedral dice. The standard set that we have been gaming with for over forty years. So a four-sided, six-sided, eight-sided, twelve-sided, and twenty-sided die, plus two ten-sided dice for percentile rolls, thus everything that a roleplayer will need to play a wide variety of roleplaying games, from Dungeons & Dragons to RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha. What sets these dice apart from any set of dice is the fact that each die is of clear resin and each one contains a single, yellow, rubber duck. In order to accommodate these ducks, the dice in the Lucky Ducks In A Row-Rubber Duckie Dice Set is larger than the ordinary set of dice. Each one is 26 mm across, which means that they feel bigger in the hand and they are easier to read with consequently larger numbers. Only the four-sided die is different. It is not big enough to be home to a rubber duck, so instead its numbers are replaced with symbols. The one with a duck and the other numbers with the webbed feet that your friendly, cute rubber duck does not actually have.

So why ‘duck dice’? There is no roleplaying game which focuses entirely on ducks, and of course, the Lucky Ducks In A Row-Rubber Duckie Dice Set can be used with innumerable roleplaying games, so there is no obvious brand identity that these dice could be enforcing. Except… there is always Glorantha, and famously (infamously?) Glorantha has Ducks. Anthropomorphic Ducks. Complete with their own culture and beliefs which you can play and encounter as NPCs. So if you are playing a Duck in RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha or 13th Age Glorantha and you bring these dice to the table, you are not only enforcing the fact that these dice are yours, you are enforcing the fact that you are playing a Duck. Duck Dice for your Duck character.

Then there is the fact that ducks are cute. Especially rubber ducks. They are yellow, bright, and cheery. Therefore, a rubber duck dice set is, by extension, also cute. Plus, you get to roll them. How often do you get to see tumbling rubber ducks? At your table? Then, they come with a bathtub display. A clear, plastic freestanding bathtub in classic Victorian style. Which means you have somewhere to store them—on the table during the game and on the shelf after the game.

Ultimately though, like so many sets of dice, the Lucky Ducks In A Row-Rubber Duckie Dice Set is completely and utterly unnecessary. If a roleplayer already has a set of polyhedral dice, arguably, she does not need another. Roleplayers are roleplayers though, and a great many of them like having more dice, different dice, and themed dice, like the Lucky Ducks In A Row-Rubber Duckie Dice Set. And yet, these dice are fun, they are silly, and they are cute, and if you have a set, there can be no doubt that the Lucky Ducks In A Row-Rubber Duckie Dice Set is your set, that they are your dice.

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