7/12/2015

Lessons Learned From a "Bad" Review

Lessons Learned From a "Bad" Review
It has been my general experience that we gamers can be a rather resourceful lot, but sometimes we can come up short. The other day I got this review on the d30 Quick NPC Generator I put up for free over at DriveThruRPG:

"Enjoy the ease of using this product, ecepecially when you're trying to create a load of npcs. The only problem that I have is that I have had to modify it because I can't find a d30 anywhere around."

Now I'll admit I took this rather harshly, and personal, because I'm human and can't always see the forest for the trees. You'd think as someone who (usually) likes to review RPG products I'd have a thicker skin.....and usually I do. One of the problems is the short general format of reviews on that site and my natural inclination to assume what is written is the rationale for the rating.

In this case my assumption is that this product was "downgraded" because it was a d30 table. If it was, that would be laughable since it was clearly marked as such. I have another similar review on something else that was clearly intended (as in stated) to be in black & white for a reason and "downgraded" because it wasn't in color. Of course attributing these bad reviews to these issues is a fallacy, just as thinking that these are "bad" reviews.

Usually when you have your product reviewed there are two things you want to be able to take away from the review....and neither one of them is the rather arbitrary "stars" rating. Simply put, what works and what needs work. It is far too easy to forget this simple fact.....again, I'm human.

Thanks to a friend of mine who indirectly reminded me of this fact.

In this specific d30 product case I might have been able to suggest where users could find a d30. Unless I manage to locate a tube of DCC dice I doubt any of my local gaming stores have d30s in stock. I could have put a simple list of online dice vendors that carry d30s. A suitable substitute could have been provided as well.

As I stated initially, we gamers can be rather resourceful. A d30 result could be had with chits, a homemade spinner, or better yet, two other dice. A d6 and a d10 can be used to generate results, but I'd rather go with a d3 and a d10 myself.

Now if you are missing basic RPG dice and don't have a local game store or ability to buy online....well if you can't go online you won't see this anyway......you can always go the old-school prison routes of chits, coin flips, or even make your own dice.

  • Chits are easy...you just get a bunch of same-sized objects (coins, mini bases, etc) and mark them 1 to whatever is you max number. Put them all in a cup and draw one out randomly as needed. Chits can take some abuse so avoid materials easily dinged up.
  • Coin flips are a bit more work. For smaller die types, just flip the number of coins equal to the number of die sides (i.e. a d3 is three coins) and count the number of heads. For larger die types you might want to make a lookup chart where you flip multiple coin types and cross-reference the results (i.e. five pennies, a nickle, and a dime could work together to make a d20...I'll let you do the mental math there).
  • DIY Paper dice is the most work, but might yield the coolest results. You'd need to google this for yourself, but you can download die templates that you cut out, fold, and glue yourself. I'm told that actual prison paper dice usually is packed with table salt to give them some heft and ability to roll. Lets just say I used to know a guy and commission him to make a set for the Mrs. once as a present.
In case you were wondering....
Now some dice......some dice you are going to be SOL. There are some dice I have no clue how you'd manage to replicate outside of using chits. I have a bunch of strange dice collected over the years and I'm not even sure how I'd use these dice, much less how to replicate their use. Now these are only some of my strange dice.....I just grabbed a quick handful for graphic purposes.....

Now back to the main topic on-hand.....I always try to be clear why I rate something the way I do and if I fail in that regard I need to be called on it. I'm hoping that the twelve people who read this will also consider rating & reviewing their RPG purchases on DriveThruRPG (and its sister sites), making the "what works" and "what needs work" clear. I'm sure every publisher would appreciate this......I know I would.