Tabletop Game: Dragon Dice
Dragon Dice logo under SFR
Dragon Dice is a collectible game in which players compose armies of dice representing the units of various fantasy races, their magic items, dragons, and the terrains that they battle over. The game itself is a strategy game with two or more players constructing armies using a point build system and subsequently attempting to either outmaneuver each other and capture the eighth face of two eight sided dice representing the terrain of the world or eliminate all units in opposing armies.
The story of the world is fairly succinct – the game takes place on a world called Esfah, where Nature (Mother Nature
) and Tarvenehl (Have You Seen My God?
) had five children who individually represented and had power over each of the four classical elements and a fifth who represented and had power over death. The first four children, Ailuril (Air
), Aguarehl (Water
), Eldurim (Earth
), and Firiel (Fire
) began collaborating in various combinations to create mortal beings for their own amusement, and eventually got around to creating the sentient races. The fifth child, Death, inevitably got jealous of all of the creation going on and, having no one to collaborate with and being unable to create life on his own, began to assault his siblings in order to use their elemental essences to create his own twisted forms of life. Nature and her children obviously took a dim view of these antics and, while Nature hid her other children away, the various races that had been created began to make war on one another for various reasons. Tarvenehl also took notice of the conflict and created a race completely of his own accord – the Amazons – before taking off, never to be heard from again.
Initially created by Lester Smith and published by TSR in 1995, Dragon Dice transferred ownership when Wizards of the Coast bought TSR and its assets in 1997. Wizards of the Coast produced the last expansion that TSR had developed for the game beyond the starter set and seven expansions that had previously been published. After producing this final expansion, Wizards of the Coast shelved the game indefinitely in 1999 and made plans to dispose of their remaining product inventory in a German landfill. Shortly after Hasbro acquired Wizards of the Coast, the new parent company entered negotiations to sell the rights to Dragon Dice to a group of gamers with business experience who organized a new company to carry on the game – the game is still owned and published by the company that was formed to save it, SFR
Since taking over the reins of Dragon Dice, SFR has produced two additional races, re-issued or reprinted almost all of the previously available dice, created limited run and promotional dice, and has, in an ongoing process, revised the rules to further balance the game.
Dragon Dice contains examples of:
- All Amazons Want Hercules: There is one playable male die in the Amazon faction. He is the biggest melee unit they have, and even sports a very Herculean facial hairstyle.
- All Trolls Are Different: Trolls in this setting are immensely strong and have regenerative properties.
- Amazon Brigade: The Amazons, largely inspired by Classical Mythology appear as an army in their own right. It’s entirely possible to construct an entire army of them, or to include them as an elite ranged combat/maneuver unit in a larger force.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Larger dice are generally representative of leaders of their race, and have the greatest raw number of combat results on any given die. The fact that they also have special abilities that are more powerful than the basic results found on smaller dice is just gravy.
- Possibly related to Asskicking Equals Authority – this is a world in a constant state of war, so it’s sensible that capable warriors and war leaders rise to positions of power.
- Beast Man: The Feral are a playable race of animals who have been uplifted to be sentient tool-users. The art often depicted them as largely anthropomorphic.
- Elemental Powers: Races’ magic is limited to the elemental colors inherent to dice of that race, with most races able to cast two colors of magic – Undead only get black, and Amazons can cast magic based on the colors of the terrain they’re standing on.
- Forever War: Since the game itself is a strategy wargame, the setting enforces a state of perpetual war on the world, primarily fueled by the inherent conflict between races allied with Nature and races allied with Death.
- Functional Magic: All races can cast magic to aid themselves in combat and harm or hinder their enemies. Indeed, given the right results, any unit can cast magic.
- GameBreaker: The most egregious example is a former mechanic called "Charge" that has been removed in later revisions of the rules due to it being considered generally overpowered.
- Giant Flyer: And how! Examples below.
- Dragons, of course - see Our Dragons Are Different, below.
- Frostwings, an entire race of flying monkey men from the frozen north, created by Death as an initial experiment in creating life from inanimate objects (ice, in this case).
- Coral Elves have a cavalry unit that rides a giant eagle.
- Lava Elves, not to be outdone, have a cavalry unit that rides a wyvern.
- Humans Are Special: The Amazons, the only humans playable in the game, are the only race to have been solely created by Tarvenehl, and are specifically adaptable to the terrain they’re standing on (see Elemental Powers, above) in a way that no other race is.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Dragons are immensely tough and strong units that can only be summoned by the use of magic and will attack any armies at the terrain to which they’re summoned (including those allied with the summoner, if present). Two subspecies present – Drakes, who fly (and can fly away from the terrain they’re summoned to), and Wyrms (who don’t fly, but have treasure which can lead to the promotion of all possible units in an army engaging them). Both variants use types of Breath Weapon depending on their elemental affiliations.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Dwarves are one of the core races and, as expected, are Viking-helmed, ax-swinging, long-bearded, master craftsmen.
- Our Elves Are Better: Two subspecies – the Coral Elves, first sentient race of Esfah and expies of High Elves, and the Lava Elves, expies of Dark Elves.
- Our Goblins Are Different: Goblins in this setting are not the low-level Mook of Dungeons & Dragons, but are just as strong as members of any other race.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: When the Swamp Stalkers (war refugees and deserters who had been mutated into a race of snake men by Death) were introduced to the game, they were marketed as cold-blooded and corrupt. In addition, they had (and retain) the in-game ability to mutate members of other races into more of themselves.
- The Fair Folk: Scalders were the final race produced in the original run of the game, under the TSR imprint. They are a race of fairies who either failed to get to their sanctuary before it was sealed off, or were simply having too much fun in the material world to want to be sealed away from it. After succumbing to the corruption and war all around them, they now exist primarily to burn and/or drown anything that can be burned and/or drowned.
- The Undead: They are a playable race in the game created solely by Death using his magics to animate the corpses of the war dead, and come in many flavors - everything from Dracoliches, Liches, and Vampires, down to lowly Zombies, Skeletons, and Ghouls.
- When Trees Attack: One of the SFR created and released races is the Treefolk - a race of sentient, mobile trees and their Naiad and Dryad allies.