Thursday, March 22, 2018

Pop-o-matic Dice Roller for RPG (and making it more random)

Hi everyone :)

After our fun time "rebuilding" a dice-rolling tray using an old game we found in a thrift store, we've been thinking about other fun things we can create to have fun in our Battle Gaming sessions.

Here's a write-up of one recent idea....

Some of us may have seen the game Trouble.  It's the one where the d6 (classic die) is under a plastic bubble in the middle of the game board.  And, rather than having a chance to lose that die (you can't -- it's under the plastic), you push down on the bubble - there is a pop - and you release and the die is rolled.

It's the apply named "Pop-o-Matic" die roller!

Here's an example of the "Trouble" game we found -- with the Pop-o-Matic in the center.

Well, we got to thinking that it might be pretty fun to rebuild one of those using some other dice.  Or, maybe just cut that one out of the game board with our little band-saw and use it as is.

Then, we got to reading on line.  (We figured, of course we aren't the only ones to have thought of this - and how has it gone for other people?)

RANDOMNESS CONCERNS:

And, that's when we discovered that there are randomness concerns with the Pop-o-matic.  Mr. Jason Knight spells it out nicely in his blog post.

The bottom line issue is that if the d6 is starting with a 6 showing - it is not fully random which way it will be the next time.  Sort of like, because the die is trapped in the plastic bubble it's a bit more likely to come back down with the 6 still facing up.  And, a little bit less likely to flip over and come back down withe the 1 showing.  (The other four sides have a probability which is somewhere in the middle between these.)

Here's a link to Mr. Jason Knight's blog post:
http://blog.jasonknight.us/2013/07/statistical-trouble-with-trouble-board.html

The front page of Mr. Knight's post.

MAKING IT MORE RANDOM - SMALL DICE:

Well, we certainly didn't want to go to the trouble of making something which wasn't very random.  So, what to do.  An idea struck - use smaller dice!!

At first we were thinking to use some of our really-really-small d6's which we've accumulated over time.

But, then at a great swap meet at our Mountain View Game Kastle, we found a super-sale on little vials of very small RPG dice.

They seemed just about perfect.  So, we bought a few.  :)

Here's a look at our vials of little RPG dice!

Then, with our plan in place, we went ahead an cut out the Pop-o-Matics from the Trouble game board.  (We actually had gotten two for just a dollar or two - so we had one to spare in case we messed up.)

Here is our Pop-o-Matic after cutting one out of the Trouble game-board.

We trimmed up the Pop-o-Matic very carefully with the band-saw.  Then, we loaded it with our replacement for the d6.  It was a little bit tricky to hold the metal spring piece in place with the plastic bubble and get it all lined up - but we did manage :)

Our Pop-o-Matic with glue drying....

And, here we are gluing it back together.  As we've posted before - we used epoxy to make sure our rebuilt Pop-o-Matic wouldn't break apart.

Here's a link to our blog-post about the higher fracture toughness of epoxy - compared to super-glue:
http://battlegaming1.blogspot.com/2018/01/superglue-accelerator-carefully-and-not.html

And, with that, we have our finished product.  As you'll see below, we couldn't really decide which of the little vial of dice to put inside -- so we put in all of them.

And, that's pretty cool!  You swirl the Pop-o-Matic around (to create a random initial state in honor of Mr. Jason Knight) and then Pop! the dice - and you have a full set of random results!!

Here's a photo of our finished Pop-o-Matic :)

And, here's a link to our super-short video of us testing it out....
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HexIUI-KMwU

A super-short video of us testing out our Pop-o-Matic!

What next?  Maybe build another one with some other colors of little dice?  (We chose the purple ones we had because of the very nice color contrast.)  Or, maybe make one with very little d6's -- but five or six of them -- so that you have one Pop-o-Matic for games which have multiple d6's to roll.

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