Dice Magic: Making Magic from Board Games?

Dice Magic: Making Magic from Board Games?

This post was originally supporter-only, posted May 2020.


So I’m working on a story, as you know by now, where the characters are from a world not unlike our own, and play a game much like Dungeons & Dragons. They tell stories as a group, each controlling a character, and roll dice to determine the results of their chosen actions.

Then they are transported into that world.

And on the surface, that seems straightforward. In a Portal Fantasy (which is the kind of subgenre this story falls into. You might also call it an Isekai), usually going into the world just means that magic and things should just … work. A regular magic system, where I interpret the rules of the game they played, and make it into a ‘real’ magic system. Instead of rolling dice to determine whether spells work or not, it’s simply a matter of whether, story-wise, they are able to suceed.

But this story is also kind of a LitRPG (a subgenre of Literary RPGs, where most often characters are sucked into a video game but also it can be TTRPGs). And in LitRPGs, often the mechanics of the original game are in some way relevant.

Now, it’s completely up to me how this will go. And going for a traditional magic system would be easier. It’s already built for me. It’s just there, waiting to go.

But trying to incorporate the mechanics of a dice-rolling board game into a “real” magic system in a way that feels believable sounds really interesting.

And I’ll be honest, I am kind of addicted to dice. I have far too many. I have a small sack of them. They are pretty and nice to hold and satisfying to roll.

Since I was very young, I liked the idea of a magic system that incorporates rolling dice.

So really, at the moment, I’m working on the aesthetics of that? I think I know how I want it to work in the broad strokes.

I want dice-based probability to be a background element of this universe, which the characters are especially aware of, having played the game. I think that may also mean that people have hit points, though how best to deal with that I’m not sure.

A healing spell, for example, may heal 1d8 +2 hit points. You don’t see those hit points. The world doesn’t see those numbers. But I think, in the act of casting the spell, an eight-sided die is rolled, and the result effects how effective it is.

Visually, I’m trying to side how this works. Are there dice-based shapes that appear when spells are cast, for example like within a fireball or the light of healing? Or when casting the spell, do you draw the necessary die in the air as part of the act of weaving it? Or should actual dice appear in the characters hands after they cast a spell which they drop and then disippate into the aether?

I’m thinking possibly drawing the dice in the air as the aesthetic.

But in general, this is much more technical than anything I’ve ever attempted in the past. It’s very silly and probably won’t feature TOO technically in the actual story except as flavour (which is how I prefer to handle my magic in my stories anyway). But *I* need to know it to move forward, so it’s been on my mind.

Plus I think it might just look cool?

And imagine the horror of learning you live in a world so fickle it literally relies on chance to operate …

Anyway! Those are my initial thoughts. I’m sure I will have more to say about it in future. ^_^

Image by GooKingSword from Pixabay.

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