“Now wait a minute! These aren’t an RPG product,” I am sure some of you are thinking already.
You’re right. These were made as solitaire/party game. Rory’s Story Cubes were designed to be a story-telling board game for 1-12 players. There are 9 d6s with a total of 54 different images. The Story Cubes are a multi-award winning product, including Dr. Toy “10 Best Games Winner.” There are many different ways to play this game, and I am sure you will find more information on board game review sites (such as https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/20545/rorys-story-cubes).
So… how do these relate to RPGs and Writer’s Block? (Review & Usage Notes)
1) Random Quest/Narrative Plots
2) Character Backstory
3) Full Adventure Writing (Writer’s Block)
Even I find it difficult to decide on what the next adventure I want to write will be. Sometimes, it is hard just finding a starting point to build from. That is where these story dice can help.
Taking another roll, I have: a little boy with a demonic shadow, an eye, greek tragedy masks, an abacus, a walking cane, a sheep, a house, a key (again), and a flashlight. Quickly a story idea pieces together in my mind.
A small village experiences a great mix of despair and prosperity. Children are going missing at night even when safely locked up at night. An old, mute shepard’s flock of sheep seems to grow in numbers almost daily. This influx of sheep makes the man as well as the town richer. Though the old man can barely walk, the town grows suspicious of him. The problem is that no one can prove how he is kidnaping the kids and changing them into sheep. The adventurers are charged with uncovering the truth; unbeknownst to the old man, his prayers for prosperity were answered by a shadow demon.
Can you see where the dice fall into that short synopsis?
It really took me much longer to write the idea than to think it up. The best part, I had to stop mid-writing to help someone, and when I came back, the dice were still there to remind me of my basic story idea.
Art — The graphics may be simple, but because of how easy it is to identify all 54 images and that they can be used for virtually any genre of storytelling, these get an “A” from me! 9 points
Readability — These dice easily spark the imagination with easy to decipher pictures. The rules for the game itself are simple and very straightforward. 20 points
Mechanics — Because of the different ways to use these dice (both for the game and your own usage) the mechanics are mostly left up to the user. The rules are customizable and there is nothing you have to memorize. 15 points
Stand-alone-ability — Well, seeing as how this is a stand-alone game that can be played alone or with up to a dozen friends (probably more) I really can’t take anything away from this product. 15 Points
Originality — There are other dice and randomizer-based story games abound. I really haven’t followed the trends nor know what came first. Based on this history of Rory’s Story Cubes, it started with the faces on a Rubic’s cube and changed to dice after some playtesting and events. This probably the only area I feel that I can legitimately steal some points away from. 8 points
Overall Score — 87 out of 100 points
Now you might be thinking, B+? Well, I was trying to be conservative, but this simple-seeming product (not even designed for RPGs) really set the bar high. What the dice lack in originality, they more than make it up for in other areas. It is no wonder that Rory’s Story Cubes won several toy and game awards. Make sure you grab some from your favorite local shop. For those that would rather order them, you can find them on Amazon and a plethora of toy and game sites online.
Have you used Rory’s Story Cubes before? Let me know what you think of them.
I also challenge you to craft up a character based on either dice results found in the review. I’ll share my favorites next week. Be sure to sign up for The DM Doctor’s e-mail list. I will be announcing this month’s giveaway on Friday.