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.

Roll the Dice

Roll the Dice poem tattoo
Photo by LargoPoet

I’m not much of a fan of poetry — typically I’d prefer not to have anything to do with it to be honest. But I recently came across this awesome poem by Charles Bukowski that is, at least tangentially, dice related, and it seemed appropriate for the Awesome Dice blog.

Not only that, but when I was looking for the poem to post here, I stumbled across this photo of a woman who had, it appears, the entire dice poem tattooed onto her arm (though it looks like she switched the girlfriends/wives line for boyfriends/husbands, appropriately).

I like the sentiment here — something that all gamers can probably appreciate — if you’re going to roll the dice, go all the way. Go for the called shot, the disarm, the head shot. Go for the crit and who cares about the fact that you need a natural 20 to succeed, we’re rolling the dice and every time we do, we have the chance to do amazing things. And the thing is, we succeed more often than you’d think we would, in those moments when it’s most important we pull of those awesome feats that become stories around the gaming table years later. But those feats can only happen because we’re willing to take that chance in the first place, to roll the dice.

Roll the Dice
by Charles Bukowski

if you’re going to try, go all the
otherwise, don’t even start.

if you’re going to try, go all the
way. this could mean losing girlfriends,
wives, relatives, jobs and
maybe your mind.

go all the way.
it could mean not eating for 3 or
4 days.
it could mean freezing on a
park bench.
it could mean jail,
it could mean derision,
isolation is the gift,
all the others are a test of your
endurance, of
how much you really want to
do it.
and you’ll do it
despite rejection and the
worst odds
and it will be better than
anything else
you can imagine.

if you’re going to try,
go all the way.
there is no other feeling like
you will be alone with the
and the nights will flame with

do it, do it, do it.
do it.

all the way
all the way.
you will ride life straight to
perfect laughter,
it’s the only good fight
there is.