Die of the Dead Designer Diary 11: The Custom Dice is Always Right

This is our first Designer Diary since we launched Die of the Dead, and we have already funded and met both our stretch goals. It has been a wonderful first few days on Kickstarter, so thank you to everybody who has supported us. If you want to check us out please visit us here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/radical8games/die-of-the-dead/ Now, on with the diary…

Because Die of the Dead is a dice game, it felt right that it shouls have some custom dice. After all, what’s a Dia de Muertos themed dice game without a Dia de Muertos die? Personally I’d expect one, but there were also mechanical reasons for including custom dice. I’ve already talked about mitigating luck in dice games being an important part of their design, but additionally giving players the option to pursue these special dice, or ignore them entirely, adds more agency to the players’ choices.

The idea behind these ‘Power Souls’ was that they were more useful than regular souls, but not overwhelmingly so. The simplest way to do this was to use some of the sides as ‘wild’. These would be ‘6’s in those situations players just wanted to roll the highest value. But why not just make them ‘6’s? Well, in other situations players would benefit more from being able to choose other values. In caskets 1 & 2, a player might choose their wild value to be a ‘1’ so as to move the caskets. In casket 3 a player might choose their wild value to be any value, provided it doesn’t make a double.

Very early prototypes had different numbered dice altogether. Initially they were numbered 1,2 & 3, but the lack of variation in results meant we were dealing with totals, which not only slowed down the game, but made some caskets have forgone conclusions (1 die could never beat 4 dice). A lot of dice have the 6 as the wild side, but 6 is already the most powerful value for the end casket, so we didn’t want to remove it. We chose to replace the ‘3’ and ‘4’ with the wild value, because this leaves the high value rolls, but also the 1 (which can be useful) and the 2 so as not to make it too powerful. It can still be beaten, but the luck swings a little more in that player’s favour.

And that’s the last of our Designer Diaries! Hopefully they’ve given some insight into our design decisions, and helped understand Die of the Dead a little better. I will upload some failed designs, which should prove interesting, and so people can get a sense of the things we tried, and explain why they were removed.

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