Rotting Toes: An #Orcish Dice Game #DnD #4e CC: @Erik_Nowak

Yeah, this game is probably fair.

This is a guest post from DM extraordinaire, Erik Nowak. I was one of the players in this game and have used Rotting Toes in the last season of D&D Encounters. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

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In a recent D&D 4E session set in Neverwinter, the players needed access to the city’s orc-controlled River District. They approached a gate guarded by several bored orc soldiers. Some of the orcs were lightly dozing, while others were gambling, playing a dice game in the dirt. It was to be a simple role-playing exchange: the orcs act tough and demand 10 gold pieces per character to enter their territory – either the heroes paid, or they act tough and refuse and a fight breaks out. Instead it went like this:

“Can I make a check to see what game they are playing?”, one player asked.
[Rolls a skill check; super high result, of course.]

I responded, “Um… sure. It’s called, uh, rotting toes.” That sounded fittingly orcish.

“How is it played? And can we join in?”

“Sure, the orcs are happy to take your gold.”

Then I found myself in a pickle: I needed a dice game! I don’t know any dice games other than craps, and I didn’t want to use that.

So I made one up on the spot.

The first thing I thought of was the old school AD&D method of rolling for ability scores: roll 4d6 and drop the lowest die. I started there and was able to tie it in with the name by thinking that the die-dropping represented a toe rotting away from a diseased foot. Then I made the rest up right there and let the players have a go!

History

The game has its root in the story of an orc warrior who was suffering from a wasting disease of the foot that resisted magical healing. A shaman of Yurtrus, the orc god of death and disease, told the warrior that his fate was in the hand of Yurtrus alone, and the inscrutable, silent god would do as he pleased, unmovable by deed or prayer. All the other orcs could do was bet on whether or not the warrior’s toes would rot off.

(What happened to the orc, you ask? His toes all rotted off. Then his foot, followed by the rest of the leg. Then he died. Orc tales don’t have happy endings, people.)

Pictured: Someone who didn’t take the feat, Skill Training: Math.

Playing the Game

To play rotting toes, you need 4 six-sided dice and a group of several players with coin, one of whom is the Hand of Yurtrus, or “the Hand” (the dice roller). The role of the Hand switches to a new player each round.

The Hand places a bet, typically 1 gold piece. Other players place bets on whether the Hand will lose or win (“rot” or “not”). The Hand has three chances to roll doubles in 2 separate throws of the dice. If 2 throws yield doubles, the Hand wins, and the players who bet on a loss lose their coins, which are distributed evenly amongst the Hand and the players who bet on a win. Otherwise, the Hand loses, and his coins, plus the coins of the players who bet on a win, are evenly distributed amongst the players who bet on a loss.

Order of Play

1)      First Throw: The Hand rolls 4 dice, looking for any set of doubles. Regardless of whether or not doubles were rolled, the lowest die is removed from play (a “toe” has “rotted away”), and the Hand rolls again.

2)      Second Throw: The Hand rolls 3 dice, again looking for a set of doubles.

  • If doubles were rolled previously, and doubles are rolled here, the round ends and the Hand wins.
  • If neither throw yielded a set of doubles, the game ends and the Hand loses.
  • If doubles were rolled in one of the throws, play continues to a third throw with the lowest die removed from play.

3)      Third Throw: The Hand rolls 2 dice, again looking for a set of doubles.

  • If doubles were rolled previously, and doubles are rolled here, the round ends and the Hand wins.
  • If a second set of doubles is not rolled, the Hand loses.

Playing Rotting Toes in Your Campaign

To play rotting toes in your D&D game, have a PC take the role of the Hand and place a bet. Allow other PCs to make win or lose bets as well, but these bets are optional.

The Hand then rolls the dice until he wins or loses, as outlined above. For ease of use, I didn’t bother recording the number of actual rotting toes players or how each one of them bet. I simply said that when the Hand won on a 1 gp bet, he gained 2d4 gp to represent the winnings taken from the pot. Anyone betting on the Hand to win gains the same amount. If the Hand loses, any PC who bet on the Hand to lose gains 2d4 gp.

Cheating

One character in my game – the rogue, of course – asked if he could cheat. I allowed for it, but due to the number of eyes on the dice, it would be difficult to do unless the cheater brought his own weighted dice – which the orcs would never allow! To cheat, the Hand throws the dice and makes a Hard DC Thievery check. On a success, the Hand may change the result of one die thrown. A failed check makes the other players suspicious, and the DC for future checks increases by +2. A second failed check confirms the players’ suspicions, and will get the thrower ejected from the game (at best), or attacked. When playing with orcs, a Hand caught cheating is very likely to be killed immediately.

Additionally, it is a little-known fact that when playing with orcs, winning too many times as the Hand will also arouse suspicions of cheating, whether the winner actually cheated or not. Typically, if a player wins more than 3 times in a row as the Hand, he is given a savage beating – even if there is no evidence at all of cheating – just for being “too lucky” and making a mockery of Yurtrus’ judgment.

Follow Erik @Erik_Nowak
Follow me @GSLLC

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One response to “Rotting Toes: An #Orcish Dice Game #DnD #4e CC: @Erik_Nowak

  1. Pingback: Ghost Tower of Inverness, Part 5e @1d4con #DnD #RPG | Frylock's Gaming & Geekery

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