Dice Rolling Without Dice: iPhone & Android Apps

While we think nothing actually compares with physically rolling dice, from time to time you find yourself caught without your dice on hand. Maybe you forgot them in the rush to make it to the game on time, or maybe you got into a pickup game on the spur of the moment and don’t have your dice with you.

If you have access to a computer, you can always use a virtual dice roller on a website — including our WordPress dice roller plugin (which you can play with over on the lower right sidebar). Just go to the website from your laptop or smartphone and roll away. It’s not nearly as satisfying as rolling dice, but on the bright site the virtual roller will often do some of the math for you.

However, in the age of the iPhone or Android smartphone, sometimes using an app is easier than going to a website. With that in mind I’ve been digging through dice rolling apps and I finally settled on Dice Shaker D&D as my favorite dice rolling app. The app has awesome graphics and physics of the dice actually rolling. You can customize the color of the dice, the background of the rolling surface, and of course can roll any number of dice. You can see the dice results and the app will automatically total the dice for you. Here’s a video of it in action:

One of the things I really like about this app is that you can create 5 different rolling surfaces — each with its own background and dice — and easily switch between them. This means you can easily save dice pools in different places and just flick back and forth. One surface for your attack, another for your damage with one weapon, a third with damage for another, etc.

The app does not do any kind of factoring of bonuses or special calculations for various games — thus if you’re looking for a dice rolling app specifically for World of Darkness games or Earthdawn, you’re probably better off searching for an app built just for that game (which I have not yet done — but I have to assume they’re out there, especially for Android which has a lot more apps). I do not, alas, have any kind of tablet, so I was not able to dig through or test tablet apps — if anyone has a suggestion for tablet apps, please leave ’em in the comments!

Of course, while the dice rolling app is a great solution to use in a pinch (and kind of fun to play with for a while), it’s just not gaming without dice. Nothing can quite match the fun and irrational sense of control of actually rolling your dice at the gaming table.

6 Responses

  1. I use Mach Dice on my iPhone and it’s great. The physics work well, you can roll by shaking, and the dice change angle slightly as you angle the device for a cool semi-3D effect. And it does FATE dice too.

  2. I will say that if I had an iPhone, I would totally use that as a DM. I’m forever sorting out dice pools behind the screen, and tend to run out of one particular kind. It would be SO handy.

  3. Variations on dice rolling have been around as long as I can remember, and I’ve been gaming for over 30 years so I’ve seen my share. Call me an old fogey, but I never understood replacing physical dice for most situations back then and I don’t understand it now.

    Not only does tossing dice have a tactile quality that the electronic versions just don’t have, but everybody else involved gets to participate in the anticipation of an important roll. Who hasn’t cheered at a game when a timely number has come up, or groaned at a poorly timed miss?

    While I like rolling dice, I think the tendency to rolling giant piles of d6s in various games (I haven’t RPG’d much lately, so it’s mostly miniature games in which I see it) is a bit silly as well.

    Wow, do I sound like a crotchety old man or what? :-)

  4. I found a new dice roller app for Android and I think I like it better than rolling real dice – Especially when you need to roll 10 or more dice. This adds up the results for you, which helps keep the game moving instead of wasting half the time on mental math.

    Custom sound effects can also be assigned for different dice results, which is good for laughs.

    The app is called CritDice. It can be downloaded from Google Play here:

    Enjoy! :)

  5. Check out DiceShaker (diceshaker.com)

    It doesn’t have the graphic dice that roll, but you can easily roll d4, d8, d9, d13, whatever you want and in any quantity.

    It’ll total the dice for you but the coolest thing is it speaks the total! That’s pretty neat when you’re sitting at a gaming table and your app announces the roll … especially when it’s a really good or a really bad roll.

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