Dice Exploder
Dice Exploder
Exploding Dice with Mikey Hamm (KICKSTARTER PREVIEW)

Exploding Dice with Mikey Hamm (KICKSTARTER PREVIEW)


Ignore the lies of previous weeks, the Kickstarter has come early, and you can back it right the heck now. Here’s the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sdunnewold/dice-exploder-a-tabletop-rpg-design-podcast

Today on this beautiful Tuesday I have for you a preview of the Kickstarter’s backers-exclusive episode featuring Mikey Hamm (Slugblaster) talking about exploding dice. Of course, what else could it be?

And while I thought this episode would be a bit of a goof about a goofy mechanic (and it is), it also brought out some of the most thoughtful thoughts on deploying mechanics with precision and purpose that I’ve had on the show yet. We also just have a blast.

Further reading:

Back the Kickstarter!

Back the Slugblaster game of the year edition now!


Mikey on Bluesky, only because I think it’s funny to link when he’s never posted and I wanna see how many followers this gets him.

Sam on Bluesky, Twitter, dice.camp, and itch.

Our logo was designed by sporgory, and our theme song is Sunset Bridge by Purely Grey.

Join the Dice Exploder Discord to talk about the show!


Sam: Hello and welcome to another episode of Dice Exploder. Each week we take a tabletop RPG mechanic and peer behind its paywall to see what rewards await us. My name is Sam Dunnewold, and this week the Dice Exploder Season 3 Kickstarter has launched! It's like two weeks early! Holy crap! If you're listening to this before October 6th, get out there and back it!

Ah! We've got Alex Roberts of Star Crossed, Emanuel Melo of CBR-PNK, Strega Wolf van den Berg of Lichoma, James Wallis of the Ludonarrative Dissidents podcast, Seb Pines of Dwelling, Idle Cartulary of the Playful Void blog, OSR games, NSR games, story games, solo games, character sheets, and the dreaded Dragon Game itself. It's all coming on Season 3.

And because of that, today I have a special preview of a Kickstarter backers exclusive bonus episode that you can get right now if you go and back the show. This episode features Mikey Hamm, designer of the award winning Slugblaster, kickflip over a quantum centipede. We're in there talking about exploding dice. Truly, what else could this episode be about? The show's namesake mechanic.

Now, I thought this was going to be a goofy episode about a pretty goofy mechanic, but it turned out to be a much more in depth conversation than I had devil's bargained for, because the sheer number of different games that use exploding dice brought out a lot of opinions in both of us about how mechanics are like tools, and how designers can deploy them with intention, and how goofy excitement is just as important a tool as quote unquote sensibility in game design.

A preview of the full episode follows, but if you want to listen to the whole thing, check You can get the rest of it right now by backing the Kickstarter and downloading it from the first backers update.

I'll be back here on Thursday as usual with a full, public, regular episode about Blaseball. Until then, back the show on Kickstarter, thank you so much for your support, and here is Mikey Ham with Exploding Dice for about five minutes.

Mikey: let's talk about some dice.

Sam: Mikey, thanks for being here. It is the first ever bonus episode of Dice Exploder. We're, as you say, we're talking about exploding dice, obviously. What else could we talk about? It has to be this. What are exploding dice? Tell me about it.

Mikey: Yeah. Exploding dice. Well, I, I, a lot of times people in rule books also call it open-ended, which just isn't as exciting of a word, but I think it kind of conveys it a little bit maybe more clearly, but Yeah.

If you roll usually like the highest result on a dice, I always think of a d6. That's what pops in my mind. You roll a six, you get to roll it again and add the result, and you can keep going forever.

Sam: Yeah. You can roll infinitely high. You could roll a 666 if the devil is really in your dice for day. You know?

Mikey: That's right. Yeah.

Sam: upper limit. And this mechanic is way too big to be in a single game. Right? Like I, I don't know how. Look, we're gonna talk about how like this mechanic is in, you came up with this list of like 12 different games that I'm sure it's in, like tons of others too. It's everywhere.

Mikey: Yeah. and I'm not, I don't think of myself as a well-researched game scholar either. So

Sam: Yeah.

Mikey: a lot of games use it, especially like in different, I think we'll talk about this, but different types of games and errors of games used it, right?


Sam: Yeah. The shocking thing to me was I remember first encountering exploding dice in Shadowrun second edition when I was like 12 years old and my dad bought me that game from a used book store. It was like highlighted all over the place. I'm sure my dad did not understand the content that was this game.

And exploding dice were in there. And I was like, that's pretty cool. And my recollection was that it was very much something of that like nineties, early aughts era of game design. And then you come in with this list, and it's like Kids On Bikes. Like that's a recent game.

Mikey: Some new stuff.

Sam: Like people are still using this stupid mechanic. It's so weird and bad. I don't know what to like,

Mikey: is where we're, this is, I mean, we might as well underline the premise of this episode is probably gonna be me defending exploding dice against your sort of like general dislike of them. but

Sam: Like the pull quote from this episode is me saying, why would you do this? And you saying, bro, it's cool. You're overthinking it.

Mikey: fun.

Sam: just fucking rips

like exploding dice rule. It's called the, the reason it's in every fucking game is because it's called exploding dice. Do you not need exploding dice in your game? Because I sure as shit do. Like, let's explode 'em. It's the podcast name. Let's do it.

Mikey: I do think that that's why this is one of the mechanics that people know about and, you know, the mechanic that led to the name of the podcast It's just, not very many mechanics have a name at least like not a commonly sort of understood one and most of them aren't nearly as cool as exploding dice.

So, you know, 'cause people say like, you know, you have a roll under mechanic. You know, like things that kind of describe a mechanic well, I guess, but aren't that exciting. And then there are tons of mechanics that like don't really have a name. Like is there a name for like the Blades in the Dark result spread? Probably not. It may, I maybe just Blades in the Dark result spread. Right? But

Sam: Yeah. And then, you know, look, you have Devil's Bargains inside Blades. That's kind of like a cool name for it, but everyone runs out there and renames that and all their hacks to be more flavorful because like devil, it doesn't fit every game, you know? Like people are are constantly doing that. Whereas exploding dice like you're absolutely fucking right. It's called exploding dice. Like who's renaming it? Only losers.

Mikey: And that's the thing, like, I mean, I'm sure that there are nerds nerdier than us who, who have, who know, who know, who know, like names of lots of different mechanics. I think you can even go on like board game geek and like search by mechanic and stuff in the, in the board game realm. But I don't know how much that

Yeah, yeah. Stuff like that. So yeah. Trick taking and all that stuff. So,

Sam: Exploding dice is unmatched in naming. Nothing else like it.

Mikey: Yeah, no, exactly. So.

Sam: Okay, so I'm gonna, walk us through some examples first,


Sam: Thanks, Mikey. You're the best.

Mikey gave his time to me for this paywalled episode and asked for nothing in return. You can find him on Blue Sky at Mikey Hamm. where he has yet to post a single thing. Or you can buy Slugblaster: Kickflip Over a Quantum Centipede from MythWorks. That's Myth. Works. And they're crowdfunding a second edition, possibly right now. I believe they were trying to launch the same day that this Kickstarter launched, so probably run to your phone and get it.

You can find me on all the socials at S. Dunnewold, Bluesky preferred.

Our logo is designed by Sporgory, and our theme song is Sunset Bridge by Purely Gray.

Dice Exploder
Dice Exploder
A show about tabletop RPG design. Each episode we bring you a single mechanic and break it down as deep as we possibly can. Co-hosted by Sam Dunnewold and a rotating roster of designers.