"They’re beautiful, but do you actually use them?”
When I first took a job with Level Up Dice, my family was naturally curious about what it is that I do. I had been working in the gaming industry for 8 years already at that stage, so it would have been easy to palm off their queries with ‘I sell gaming stuff.’ However, that's not me - if someone shows an interest in my passions, I’m going to open those gates up for them and let them walk in as far as they dare.
I went and grabbed a few of my sets to show them off. As they ‘oooh’d and ‘aaaaah’d over them, my aunt came out with a phrase that battered the walls of my sanity:
“They’re beautiful, but do you actually use them?”
Upon reflection, it’s a reasonable question from someone uninitiated into the gamersphere, but at the time, it felt like she’d just asked if my hovercraft was full of eels. I told her I did use them and she asked the ‘two’ of the proverbial one-two punch, ‘why do you need so many of them?’
There are so many strange words in that sentence. Do I ‘need’ dice? Why do I need different ones? How many is “so many”, and do I have “so many”? Am I, by inference, some sort of weirdo dice-hoader? Has my entire life been built on lies? Am I just a crazy cat person by another name? (My cats assure me this is not the case).
Here then, dear aunt, is your answer, in the form of a blog post. This is what I do with my dice, why I do it and hopefully, some logic in the doing for you.
1. Why do I need and how do I use my one-of-a-kind Flame-Touched Titanium set, “Danger Zone”?
Danger Zone is probably my favourite set of dice ever. They are deep metallic blue with purple and gold highlights that reveal themselves when the light hits them just right. They were flame touched as our artisan listened and sang to the sound of Kenny Loggins’ 1986 smash hit of the same name. I own many, many dice, but a set like this sets a new standard in quality and beauty. Also, did I mention that they are one of a kind in the world.
Danger Zone is a set used exclusively by Mick Shear, my Pathfinder Dwarf. His party is composed entirely of evil characters and he’s not a nice person, but he has a very specific set of skills - namely, sundering things. The sound of these dice rolling across a table is like a storm coming up fast out of nowhere. The runic font with its hard edges matches Mick’s character beautifully, as does the cold blue metal of which they are made. They are notorious high rollers and definitely my weapon of choice when storming a citadel.
2. Why do I need and how do I use my 2015 Serpentine Jade set?
Level Up Dice started in 2015. It was a halcyon, heady year in which same-sex couples won the right to marry, Star Wars awakened and I owned a game store in Hurstville, Sydney, Australia. I’d met a colourful chap by the name of Alex at a convention. He sold some really nice dice, and asked him if I could stock them in my store. The first set I picked out was the one I wanted for myself - Jade. At the time, I was obsessed with Legend of the Five Rings, and in particular the Crab Clan. This Clan is known to stud their weapons with Jade, which is poison to the evil creatures of Rokugan. Since then, my jade set has found a new, ironic, home in the Call of Cthulhu game I run fortnightly. Here they service the very forces of darkness they were bought to repel. Jade is an exotic stone that evokes the feelings of opulence and the fascination with the mystical that pervaded the 1920s. These dice in particular have some lovely layering and depth to them, ranging from a grass green up to some white inclusions
Apart from their beauty and aptness for representing the unknowable horrors from beyond space and time in a bygone age, I’m so excited to own this small piece of history. This is one of the earliest sets from Level Up Dice, in the long-defunct Round font, from a time before we increased the size of semiprecious dice to the new standard 16mm.
3. Why do I need and how do I use my Blatron Green Aluminium set?
I play a D&D game where I’m a Dragonborn Bard, Duncan Longtooth, and I play the cymbals. Not every set needs to be deep, some are just right for the job.
4. Why do I need and how do I use my Purple Reign Aluminum set?
Just recently, I started playing the Mechwarrior RPG. My character, Tatiana, is a mech pilot and a mechanic. My very purple set feels great for her, suggesting both her haughtiness with the royal colour and the metallic realities of life full of hot drops into combat zones. They also contrast nicely with the red, white and black Crab CRB-20 she pilots. Because the game uses a lot of d6, I’ve also got a nice pair of mini Vylochine aluminiums to help out where needed.
Could I re-use some of my other dice for Tatiana? Maybe, but then they wouldn’t be HER dice and if I’m not getting into the headspace of the character, what am I doing at a roleplaying table?
5. Why do I need and how do I use my Gold Sandstone 2018 Good Games Exclusive Dice?
There are 100 of these sets in the world. I know, because I commissioned them. I chose the font and material and put them into stores in my previous job. Gold Sandstone is notoriously hard to work with and I’m very happy with the way these came out. The Arabian Nights-style font makes them perfect for the game I use them in - the Dune Boardgame. The dice themselves are useful counters and markers to have around. The pendant from the set, however, makes the perfect turn marker and adds a touch of flair and tactile pleasure to the game that one simply cannot achieve with cardboard.
What about all your other dice? What are they for?
Oh, you mean these?
Well, 7th Sea needs a lot of d10s, and bringing together all of them from my sets creates a magical cornucopia of beauty every time I need to roll! Quit judging me!
I’d be lying if I said that were all my LUD sets, but it’s enough to make the point. We all need a little luxury in our lives, and for those of us who are passionate about gaming, where better to add that special touch?
Get ready for everything you know about dice to be turned upside down by Dice Versa, see you on the 4th for Q&As from the faces of LUD a Vlog and a joint collaboration including Alex, Emily, Justus and Diana, only on levelupdice.net
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