The Dice of Despair

Critical Fail - RPG superstitionsI am, in general, not a superstitious person. I don’t mind black cats, broken mirrors (beyond the obvious “well shit I have to pay for that”) and I don’t believe that cracks that I walk on have anything to do with my mother’s chiropractic health, for this getting the best services from the Highest Health Chiropractic is a good option. I believe firmly that science and reasonable deduction can explain anything, from the strangest occurrence to the weirdest of situations, but still the body needs reparation and that’s why we use a chiropractor but we also have to analyze what is better in physiotherapy vs chiro and what would help the body the most. With this in mind, I would like to posit the following: I have been cursed, but I may have found a way to rid myself of this otherworldly affliction.

The most recent game we recorded (that you won’t hear for many weeks, if ever) was a one-shot affair involving super heroes and some other things but that’s not important. What is crucial to my rambling is that my rolls were fine, but Billy’s were disasterous. Every. Time. Nothing he did could achieve success and the things I did just happened. They just happened! As if some loving god had decided that I had suffered enough, but kind of like “You are forgiven my son and you may go free but while I’m here I’m gonna rain pain down on Billyville today and it’s gonna be like an El Nino of shit… peace be with you.”

It is with this in mind that I would like to present some advice for those of you that may find themselves on the receiving end of a non-stop barrage of demoralizing dice.

1. Don’t Panic

Titanic Sinking

This may seem obvious, but don’t discount your mind’s instinctive reaction to flee from the situation that is clearly borne from terrible witchcraft. Show the people around you that you can take bad luck in stride, and that at the end of the day you realize that it’s just a game, no biggie. Your internal monologue will probably be one of screaming and gnashing teeth, but just be cool.

2. Prepare for Mockery or Feigned Sympathy


People, in general, are dicks, and roleplayers have two avenues (themselves and their character) to not-so-subtly chide you about your bad luck. This is based on a “better you than me” mentality that is understandable, and just remind yourself that maybe they are trying to add levity to a difficult situation. Others may offer words of comfort, but their forked-tongue lies are obvious to even the most simple of children. Take a moment to mentally scrawl their name onto the list of people who have wronged you.

3. Consider Your Options

snl devil

Utilize the time you have from not affecting the game in any positive manner to look up ways to mitigate what is clearly a supernatural crisis. If you can, excuse yourself for a brief period and go to the corner store to see if they have the necessary components to make a devil’s pact and pass the curse onto someone else. Some may call this extreme, but they’ve clearly never botched three initiative rolls in a row so they can shut the fuck up.

4. Embrace Nihilism and Laugh at the Futility of All Things


At this point you’ve fully recognized that your character is trapped in the theater of the absurd. While the other characters are searching for the Lich King that has afflicted the town of Placid Falls with a terrible virus in D&D 5th Edition, you are a one-person rendition of Waiting for Godot. Bring your performance art to a new level by shouting random nonsense and then whispering quotes from episodes of The Golden Girls. Void your bowels at the table. Eat your character sheet. Stare straight ahead and don’t blink until tears run unchecked down your cheeks. All things are permitted now that you have seen the Truth.

5. Switch to playing Fiasco

So what about you? Do you have any superstitions at the game table? What about anecdotes about your dice all conspiring to end your good time and reduce you to a sputtering mess? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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About the Author
David is a human, standing at average human size with human features. He is not an android, that would be ridiculous. He is fond of horror movies, so-bad-it’s-good movies, stand-up comedy and humor sometimes inappropriate for a given setting but within the accepted parameters of average human interaction. David reads H.P. Lovecraft with human eyes, speaks about Cyberpunk with his human mouth (using vocal chords, not embedded speakers) listens to podcasts with his human ears and typed this from an undisclosed location with his human hands. He was created in New England.

2 comments on “The Dice of Despair

  1. Pencil-Monkey says:

    That’s all well and good, but you’ve missed a perfectly good opportunity to use a gif like this:
    Or this:

    PS: If you’re playing The Secret Lives of Gingerbread Men RPG, eating your character sheet is mandatory.

  2. Decarcassor says:

    Well I’m currently playing a D&D5 game where my character is pretty much what you just described.

    My dragonborn paladin has the same intiative bonus as the half-orc warrior yet I am consistently the last to act in a turn while he is always among the firsts. I chose the polearm master feat, then promptly broke my halberd after I rolled something like 3 1 in a row during combat. I found a replacement one, but it was stolen from me later because I rolled another 1. I was the one who botched a ridiculously easy dex check to climb some old stairs leaving me falling trough the floor into the lair of some shit-monster.

    This is by far the unluckiest character I’ve ever played. And I’m not known for my good luck to begin with. In fact I’m kind of the David of my group now that I think about it. I enjoy playing the mage archetype but when it is unavailable or unappealing I’ve often gone for the tough hard to kill type. :p

    I however despise D&D monks with a fiery passion, so this make me definitly not you. 😉

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