Never touch another man’s dice

Informant: “There’s minor traditions that lots of gamblers have and stuff, like you never touch another man’s dice.”

Collector: Is that observed in D&D [Dungeons and Dragons]?

Informant: Yeah, in general, it is. And you almost never reach over for somebody else’s dice. You know, you have your little pile in front of you. If someone needs to borrow one, it’s ok if someone hands you one, ya know, but you don’t go grabbing at other people’s things like that.”

Collector: Is that something you observe?

Informant: “Yeah, yeah, I would say 99% of people that play it…”

Collector: Did you ever make that mistake and then learn not to?

Informant: “[laughs] You know, most people do because of a perceived unluckiness in that if you do that, it, it, it is…I want to say it almost always ends up being a horrible role, you know, somebody else’s dice, especially without permission. [laughs] It always ends up with the worst possible thing that could happen. [laughs] And I don’t know if that’s actually what happens or just everybody notices it, you know what I’m saying? [laughs] But I’ve seen it many a time from some newb that steps up on the mound.”

My informant is a 44 year old male who often plays board games and role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. I imagine he observes this superstition not only because he believes it has an effect on luck but also because it shows respect for other gamers. It speaks to a larger culture of mutual respect and commonly accepted ground rules that exists within gamer culture, one which allows game-playing among lots of people to function smoothly. I find it really interesting that those who take another’s dice are the ones punished with bad luck. In this way, this superstition serves as a warning to keep everyone in check.