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Old 06-14-2019, 10:38 AM
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Prison Question: Playing Dungeons & Dragons, With Dice????


I've read that Dungeons & Dragons is big in prisons. Makes sense; these guys literally have nothing but time, and D&D is a time-consuming exercise.

How is this handled with regard to the dice,* a crucial part of the game? Are the prisoners' dice kept in a locker, away from the cons, to be brought out when they're playing? Are they allowed to have them in their own lockers? Or do they just use numbered scraps of paper or something?

*For those not familiar, the most basic D&D player needs seven dice (six in a pinch) to be able to play. A 20-sided die (d20), a d12, two d10s (you can get by with one), a d8, a d6, and a d4. Cheap ones are made of low-grade plastic and weigh like a gram, so it would take hundreds of them to make a decent slock (a sock with weights, such as quarters or padlocks, at the toe, to be used as a weapon).
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Old 06-14-2019, 10:48 AM
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Prison dice
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Old 06-14-2019, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by HeyHomie View Post
I've read that Dungeons & Dragons is big in prisons. Makes sense; these guys literally have nothing but time, and D&D is a time-consuming exercise.

How is this handled with regard to the dice,* a crucial part of the game? Are the prisoners' dice kept in a locker, away from the cons, to be brought out when they're playing? Are they allowed to have them in their own lockers? Or do they just use numbered scraps of paper or something?

*For those not familiar, the most basic D&D player needs seven dice (six in a pinch) to be able to play. A 20-sided die (d20), a d12, two d10s (you can get by with one), a d8, a d6, and a d4. Cheap ones are made of low-grade plastic and weigh like a gram, so it would take hundreds of them to make a decent slock (a sock with weights, such as quarters or padlocks, at the toe, to be used as a weapon).
ObOldSk00lGamerPedant: You don't need any d10s. Roll a d20 and disregard the high digit (treat both 10 and 20 as 10).

A lot of old timers remember when all the dice were Platonic polyhedra.

Reading DPRK's link, I find it amusing that the inmates apply shiv technology to making dice. Beating swords shanks into plowshares dice, I guess.
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Old 06-14-2019, 11:32 AM
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There was actually an article in Dragon magazine once about prisoners who were forbidden from playing D&D or receiving a subscription to Dragon. The prison's rationale was that some games included maps, and maps were already contraband in the prison. Also, prisoners weren't allowed to have leadership positions over other prisoners, and the guards figured that a Dungeon Master was some kind of leadership position.

Of course, the real reason is because D&D involves playing a thief who backstabs guards so he can steal the treasure. The prisoners probably thought, "So these guys are the heroes in this game? When I did that, I got 20 years!"
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Old 06-14-2019, 11:38 AM
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I suppose that this is a factual question, but it could lead to so many other topics, and since we have a forum specifically for game discussions, let's move it there.
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Old 06-14-2019, 11:40 AM
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I wonder what alignments prisoners tend towards playing? After all, plenty of good folks here on the outside like to play morally-questionable characters. Does it work both ways?
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Old 06-14-2019, 12:29 PM
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I wonder what alignments prisoners tend towards playing? After all, plenty of good folks here on the outside like to play morally-questionable characters. Does it work both ways?
HeyHomie is Chaotic Good, both IRL and in all of his D&D characters. So I may yet wind up in jail for running afoul of the law, but not actually victimizing anyone.
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Old 06-14-2019, 12:32 PM
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I'm confused. Dice are contraband, but the players play openly at a table just for them? Do the guards just look the other way, since they aren't actually gambling?
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:51 PM
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I'm sure it varies from prison to prison. At some, the guards probably don't care even if the prisoners are playing craps for cigarette stakes. At some, they'll crack down on the craps, but look the other way for D&D (or maybe even openly allow it). At some, they'll openly play D&D, but use workarounds like spinners or draw-bags instead of dice. At some, they'll keep the D&D games on the down-low to prevent the materials being confiscated, and just make new dice when they get caught. Or probably mixtures of those, depending on which guard is on duty.
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Old 06-14-2019, 11:41 PM
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I wonder what alignments prisoners tend towards playing? After all, plenty of good folks here on the outside like to play morally-questionable characters. Does it work both ways?
Well, I've never been to prison, but I've been to jail*. I tend toward chaotic neutral, for the moral flexibility.



*No D&D in that case, but it could have been worked up if I'd been there longer. My gaming experience in jail pretty much involved "Let's slaughter the new guy at chess!". It was like playing several incarnations of my dad for hours on end. Those guys had a lot of time to play chess.

Last edited by scabpicker; 06-14-2019 at 11:45 PM.
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Old 06-15-2019, 02:45 PM
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Reminds me of high school. I played RPGs with some buddies in the library during lunch. Dice were disallowed at my school so we made chits (just equally-sized pieces of paper with numbers on them) we pulled from a hat. It worked better when the game only needed one kind of die.

Itís a bit disturbing (but maybe appropriate) for high school anecdotes to be so similar to prison anecdotes.
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Old 06-15-2019, 09:26 PM
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D&D and other RPG's weren't common when I was working in the New York prison system. I can only think of a handful of times I saw or heard of prisoners playing one.

To my recollection, handmade spinners were the usual substitute for dice.
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Old 06-16-2019, 10:00 AM
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Itís a bit disturbing (but maybe appropriate) for high school anecdotes to be so similar to prison anecdotes.
When did you go to high school? I was there in the late 1980's, and we openly got away with shit that would get you sent to prison today.
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Old 06-16-2019, 11:12 AM
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When did you go to high school? I was there in the late 1980's, and we openly got away with shit that would get you sent to prison today.
Huh? What were you doing in high school that would now be considered a major felony?
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Old 06-16-2019, 11:58 AM
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Huh? What were you doing in high school that would now be considered a major felony?
Not me specifically. But there was the kid who wore a revolver-shaped pendant to class; perfectly acceptable then, likely a felony now if not a misdemeanor. Lots of kids showed up with pot. White kids got it confiscated, black kids got the cops called on them. Nowadays, white or black, that kid would probably go straight to jail. Fighting with other students, usually detention, nowadays, again, likely jail. And so on.
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Old 06-16-2019, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by HeyHomie View Post
I've read that Dungeons & Dragons is big in prisons. Makes sense; these guys literally have nothing but time, and D&D is a time-consuming exercise.

How is this handled with regard to the dice,* a crucial part of the game? Are the prisoners' dice kept in a locker, away from the cons, to be brought out when they're playing? Are they allowed to have them in their own lockers? Or do they just use numbered scraps of paper or something?

Back in ye olden days where Choose Your Own Adventure books were big, some relied on something other than the 6 siders any home would have - Lone Wolf for example ran on d10s. But the book had to be self-contained, so the author found ways to produce a d10 with printed paper : you can make do with making a grid of any number squares you want (as long as it's a multiple of TheDiceYouWant-sider), each numbered 1 to 10 (or 1 to 20 etc..., as your ruleset requires). Close your eyes and put your finger on the page, there you go, random number. Or close your eyes and flick a pebble onto the page, to avoid players who'd memorize where the "good numbers" are. You could also produce a number of different grids for the same dice, close your eyes, flick at random, point to number to avoid that "knowing the grid" aspect.



Another good way to emulate a d10 is with a big book. The Bible's good for that : lots of pages, typically too thin to "mark", and of course every inmate can demand a Bible. Flip the book at random, look at the page number. If the 10s are even look on the left page, odd look the right page. The unit digit is your final result. You can also do d8s and d6s that way, just "reroll" if you land on too high a page. Once you've got a d10, you've got both a d100 and a d20, which covers many bases and systems.
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Old 06-16-2019, 08:03 PM
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If you've got the math skills for it, you could also do <page number> modulo <size of die>. Like, if you're rolling a d6, then page 542 would be a 2, because 542%6 = 2. And if you were rolling a d8, it'd be a 6.
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Old 06-16-2019, 08:44 PM
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Not me specifically. But there was the kid who wore a revolver-shaped pendant to class; perfectly acceptable then, likely a felony now if not a misdemeanor. Lots of kids showed up with pot. White kids got it confiscated, black kids got the cops called on them. Nowadays, white or black, that kid would probably go straight to jail. Fighting with other students, usually detention, nowadays, again, likely jail. And so on.
A revolver shaped pendant might get confiscated. But do you really believe that anyone would be arrested, much less sent to prison, for wearing one?

I considered marijuana when I read your previous post. But history hasn't gone the way you described. Back in the eighties, there was a major anti-drug campaign going on. Nowadays, marijuana is legal in many states. So you were far more likely to go to prison for marijuana back in the eighties then you are today.

I don't think there's been any real change in legal policies towards students fighting. Schools make take it somewhat more seriously and be more likely to suspend a student for fighting. But I haven't heard of the police and courts getting involved.
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Old 06-17-2019, 01:18 AM
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If you've got the math skills for it, you could also do <page number> modulo <size of die>. Like, if you're rolling a d6, then page 542 would be a 2, because 542%6 = 2. And if you were rolling a d8, it'd be a 6.

I'm not doing head modulos every time I hit a kobold in fucking prison.
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Old 06-17-2019, 04:29 AM
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If Kobal2 hits a kobold, does it count as family violence?
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Old 06-17-2019, 08:35 AM
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When did you go to high school? I was there in the late 1980's, and we openly got away with shit that would get you sent to prison today.
Early-mid 90ís (graduated in Ď95).
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Old 06-17-2019, 09:19 AM
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I'm not doing head modulos every time I hit a kobold in fucking prison.
Head Modulos would be pretty cool D&D monsters. The deadly enemy of the neo-otyugh.
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Old 06-17-2019, 01:32 PM
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If Kobal2 hits a kobold, does it count as family violence?
Well, it's heroic fantasy so more like "kinstrife". Or possibly an example of that minority ghetto violence you keep hearing about on right wing news .
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Old 06-17-2019, 01:40 PM
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Well, it's heroic fantasy so more like "kinstrife". Or possibly an example of that minority ghetto violence you keep hearing about on right wing news .
Monster-on-monster violence is holding the community back. Fight the real oppressors who come in to your neighborhoods, instigate the cycle of violence, take the wealth out of your community, and then justify their actions with claims that they have a superior alignment.
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Old 06-18-2019, 12:40 PM
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Not me specifically. But there was the kid who wore a revolver-shaped pendant to class...
Heck, at my junior high school in the 80s we played The Assassination Game, with 'look alike' dart guns, printed hit lists, and with many of the teachers and staff also participating. Nothing like the excitement of drawing on your music teacher in the hallway, only to get a dart to the back of your head from the librarian.
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Old 06-18-2019, 05:39 PM
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Monster-on-monster violence is holding the community back. Fight the real oppressors who come in to your neighborhoods, instigate the cycle of violence, take the wealth out of your community, and then justify their actions with claims that they have a superior alignment.

Thanks for putting Kobold Radio Raheem (from Do The Right Thing) in my head. FIGHT THE PALLYS ! YOU GOTTA FIGHT THE PALLYS THAT BE !


ETA : I need-need 12 earth crystals. Not water crystals, motherfucker-fucker ! Earth crystals ! TWELVE, mother-mother, do you even speak Tiamatese, twelve !
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Last edited by Kobal2; 06-18-2019 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 06-21-2019, 06:08 PM
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Head Modulos would be pretty cool D&D monsters. The deadly enemy of the neo-otyugh.
Sounds more like a Modron variant, to me. Maybe a parasitic version.
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Old 06-21-2019, 09:39 PM
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My career path has actually landed me inside, working at a prison. I'll try to remember to ask a couple of the inmates (in non-specific terms) what their workaround of choice would be (I'm not a corrections officer, and I talk about all kinds of things with them).

I'll post what answers I get tomorrow.
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