Dice are an integral part of the board gaming world, and every so often someone tries to reinvent them. I say ‘every so often’, but there seems to be a new sort of die on Kickstarter every time I browse on there, and that’s a lot. Not many reinventions works, but one die type that’s got a lot of chatter recently are Rory's Story Cubes.
How to Play Rory's Story Cubes
Okay, are they dice or are they story cubes? Each is a small cube, which you roll and react to the symbol on it, so we’re going to go with dice. You don’t roll just one though, as the basic ‘starter’ set comes with nine cubes, which you gather up, roll in one go, and then use the symbols visible on top to tell a story. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the easiest game explanation you’ll ever see.
Tell a story? Well, yes, these are story cubes, and the idea is you look at your nine cubes, allow the symbols to trigger ideas in your head, and then spontaneously tell a story by moving from one dice to the next, until all the symbols are covered and the story is done.
The beauty of the story cubes is we’re saying symbols because there’s not even a set name or interpretation for the symbols: they are whatever you think they are, and you tell the story to match. However, as the Rory's Story Cubes line has expanded, extra packs of cubes have opened up storytelling vistas: there is a pack filled with ‘action’ symbols, there’s a Dr Who pack which very clearly has Daleks to work in, and all of these extra packs can be mixed and matched.
Just let your imagination go as you free style from one symbol to the next.
Food for Thought
If you’re sat at home wondering what the point of rolling dice and making up a story of no consequence is, there’s a three part answer to that. The story cubes have been taken up by schools as a good way of getting children focused on thinking, linking ideas together and directing stories.
There are even giant sized cubes for easier use in schools. But as an adult, I have found them a great way of warming up before a brainstorming session, and have used them very successfully in this professional capacity. They’re an excellent filler in gaming sessions, and can kill time in restaurants if you’re the sort of person who’d get dice out. I am, what can I say.
I wouldn’t go as far as to use them for writer’s block, as Rory’s suggests, but I’m on board with everything else.
As well as the basic Story Cubes, you can now buy Untold: Adventures Await, which is basically a RPG using the cubes, which a five stage process to make every story work. This is more guided and involved than the basic cubes.
As for the future? Asmodee have acquired the property, while the designers have gone on to create Hub Games Studio and have scheduled a very challenging, brave property. One thing’s for sure: Rory's Story Cubes are the right sort of trigger.