Rolling dice on the trail?


If you wanted to play an RPG on the trail (hiking, backpacking, picnic-ing, etc.), how would you set it up so you could roll dice in a non-aggravating way? I know dice-rolling software is the obvious choice, but let's just ignore any electronic solutions for the sake of argument. And let's say no diceless systems, too.

Best thing I can think of is a box, like RPGs often used to come with. Keep it near the top of your pack if it isn't stuffed too fully, or on the outside wrapped in a layer or two of garbage bag. A bit of tape stored in the box for emergency repairs in the field.

The up side of this is that it dovetails well with the old BECMI-style separate 64 page saddle stitched books for player and referees form factor. Which happens to be the one I'd use to keep weight down for a "go anywhere" type RPG designed to be played out of a backpack with a bunch of newbies. The box stores the game when you're not playing.

The down side is I'd have no idea where to buy such a box, or which manufacturer to trust for quality, assuming there are any manufacturers who sell retail. Buying an old RPG just for the box would seem like an expensive way to get a sturdy cardboard box.

I was also thinking about a box made of a light metal like aluminum, and lined with a bit of felt inside so it doesn't make a huge racket every time somebody makes a roll. It would hold up better, but probably be much more expensive. On the other hand, it might be easier to source a product like that.

I suppose an expert could try the "I roll on my hardcover PHB" method.


Edit: I just tested the "I roll on my hardcover 1e Deities & Demigods" method. It worked best with the book opened, pages up. The paper was a "faster" surface than the cover, and the opposite page formed a fairly effective backstop. Problem is the angle, which would need to be adjusted every time a different person is rolling, which would mean significantly slower play, and everyone pawing your nice hardcover down there in the dirt. I suppose a small piece of ground sheeting would solve the dirty pawing problem, though.

Edit2: I just discovered, which seems to be a good start. They sell game boxes.
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Guide of Modos
Game boxes? Your first rule, no electronic solutions, was a good one. Let's try another one: the solution must involve a normally-accepted piece of camping gear.

Like a ground mat. If you can create a valley in it, then your die result is what you get when it stops rolling at the bottom of the valley.

I like something a little more dangerous though. The axe-shake. Make a dome over your hatchet with your hands, and put the die to be rolled under the dome. Shake thoroughly. As long as the die doesn't roll once you peek inside to see what's on top, that's your result.

Wild Gazebo

Important: Dice thermos. Have a small thermos to use as a dice cup...shake and flip...lift the thermos off the lid...check the result of your roll in the thermos lid. Has worked for me many times.


Go to a game shop that sells CCGs. They'll have plastic cases for holding decks of cards. Get one of the bigger ones that'll hold 3-4 decks worth, and that'll be a decent sized rolling box. It's plastic, so it won't get ruined if it gets wet, and it'll have a top and bottom half to hold all the dice in. Line the inside with felt if you want to cut down the noise.

Nice and simple cost is about $5 I reckon.

If you get one of those transparent collector cases, you could leave the dice inside and roll them without ever taking them out of the case! Like a hand-held pop-o-matic bubble.


Hey, I never even thought of rolling them inside a clear, closed case. That's pretty good. Otter/Pelican boxes are very common backpacker gear anyway. When you want to play you just take out the stuff you were carrying in it and throw in your dice. That's genius, thanks.

Throwing your dice into your food cup is a pretty good idea too, except the sound would drive me nuts PDQ. Otter/Pelican boxes are typically lined with rubber or something on the inside. My Pelicans are, anyway.

Just checked it with my Pelican 1050 (about 7"Wx4.5"Dx3"H) and you can roll a single die with a side-to-side motion and it makes barely any sound. Even %tile dice make very little sound because the case muffles it. Hell I almost like this for the tabletop.
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