Friday, September 6, 2013

Discussion: Custom Dice Sets: FATE vs. Star Wars

I find myself thinking about dice a lot lately. Now, this is pretty easily explained: two of the games I am in right now use specialty dice. The first game is FATE, more specifically the Dresden Files. The second game is Fantasy Flight's Edge of the Empire.

Now what is interesting about these two games is their approach to dice, how they work, and what that means for me not as a player or a GM but as a consumer.

See, regardless of system a good set of dice seems to be about $10-$15. That means the question that is left over is what exactly are you getting for that money. In FATE, at my last purchase, I spent $15 and ended up with 12 dice or 3 sets of 4. One set of 4 is all the dice a player needs to play the game, so in other words for $15 I get enough dice for 3 players. In fact, shy of a need to own all the dice, I currently have enough FATE and FUDGE dice for about 9 players total, I shouldn't need to buy another set of FATE dice ever. I mean, when am I going to have more than 9 people playing, and if I have that many why can't someone else buy some dice, right? However, in Star Wars the story is quite different.

Currently, $15 gets you one set of Star Wars dice. The down side though is that this isn't really enough dice for even one player. See, one set of dice gets you 2 yellow D12s, 2 Red D12s, 4 green D8s, 4 purple D8s, and so on down the line. However, after the first session or two it won't be unusual for someone to need  3 yellow dice - or 3 red dice - or more. Now, to get around this Fantasy Flight has released an app for both iOS and Android where for $5 you get a die roller app. It is even a good die roller app with dice for Edge of the Empire (presumably Age and Force and Destiny as well), the X-Wing mini game, and normal dice as well, but it still brings up an interesting dychotomy.

See, to me, what I take from this is that Fantasy Flight wants people to buy the App over the normal dice. Granted, there are practical concerns involved in the pricing as well - probably more than I acknowledge - but when my choices are to buy 2 or more sets (at $15 a pop) for one player, or pay $5 for an app and be covered for the whole thing, it seems an obvious choice to make unless I really really want physical dice.

On the other hand, it is nigh impossible in my experience to get FATE/FUDGE dice in sets of less than 3. The dice literally sell bundled with enough dice for other people. In a FATE game if only one out of three people buys dice, the group has enough dice. In Star Wars, everyone has to share. Neither is necessarily bad, but it is still interesting to note. It is also something to take heed of if you are looking to get into one game or the other and can only choose one.

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