This game uses unusual 12-sided dice called "Goblin dice."
Such dice are shaped in a goblin's closed fist. This tends to result in grossly uneven sides. The odds of a given number appearing are different for each die.
While the strange shape of the dice makes the game more interesting, it also invites all sorts of skullduggery. Get too used to using them and you'll suddenly find yourself overlooking all but the most flagrant abuses. In this place, the games seem to be far less games of chance than they are games of cheating.
Of course, even I've been known to adjust the odds in my favor now and again, at least with some of the regulars at my favorite watering hole. My tutor was the old man who ran the place. He taught me everything about gaffing a game, from how to feign a throw to how to doctor the dice.
It had been more than a few years since I last played him, but the feel of the die in my hand told me that I still knew the game.
"I blew it again. And I was so close, too," said the Mithra to my left, her head in her hands.
"That's five games in a rrrow, isn't it? With so many chips in the kitty, somebody's going to get a rrreal nice prize," replied the Mithra in front of me.
In the center of the table was a small mountain of ingots. This was not an accident. They were planning to build the pot as high as possible before a member of their trio took it all.
The game was simple. Four players, starting with the shooter, take turns throwing their dice until they get a run.
First, the three other players throw their dice at the same time. The shooter then tries to roll a number that will finish a run. If the shooter fails, the other players each take a turn re-rolling their own die to try to make a run. This continues for three rounds or until someone wins.
If nobody wins after three rounds, the money is carried over to the next round. The kitty can grow very large very fast.
"You'rrre next, aren't you?" said the Mithra next to me.
The shooter collects double from the other players if he wins, but pays out double if he loses.
I knew this was to be the climax of the game.
The first three dice left no possibility of a run, meaning there was no way I could take the kitty this round. None of the Mithra managed to do so either.
In the second round, I rolled a 6. The Mithra followed with 8, 9, and 10. If the last Mithra had rolled a 7, she would have won.
The third and final round was my last as the shooter.
To win, I only needed to roll a 7 on my die, which had shown a 6 before. The die I had been playing with had already shown a definite preference for even numbers. Every throw so far had been even. The odds were not in my favor. If I didn't take the pot now, it was a sure thing that one of the Mithra would end up winning.
The only option was to win.
I steadied myself as I picked up my die and said, "I'm sorry, ladies, but I'm going to have to take the kitty now. No pun intended."
Three pairs of cat-eyes stared at me as I said this.
Which was exactly what I wanted them to do. Taking advantage of the moment, I threw the die. It landed quietly in the center of the table...showing a 7.
The silence lasted only a moment before the crowd began to express their surprise. The three Mithra were on their feet.
"Something's wrrrong here! He's not playing fairrr!"
"That's real nerrrve you've got, pulling something like that here, buddy! Now you'rrre meat. And you'll probably taste good with a side of San d'Orian carrots!"
The Mithra were angry. One of them whistled, summoning several Goblins with a distinctive bodyguard air about them to surround me. Realizing that there was no room for negotiation, I decided that immediate escape was the best course of action.
The bodyguards escorted me out of the circle of onlookers and were immediately set upon by several well-muscled men. I got the feeling they hadn't seen any action for a long time... It didn't take long for the jolly chaos to spread throughout the room, giving rise to sounds of joy and pugilism. Since my goblin friends had other things on their minds at the moment, I took the opportunity to bolt for the door, heading back the way I came. Ahead of me was the secret entrance that the sentry had opened for me. Beyond the half-opened door I could see a woman beckoning me through.
It was the same Mithra who had thrown her die at me before. She and I had spent more than a few days playing dice back at the tavern in Jeuno.
"It's not like you to be so flashy."
She heaved the door shut as I scrambled outside. It had been several years since I'd last seen her, but there was no time for reminiscing. We raced down the corridor to the cave entrance.
"You really saved my hide. Without the die you tossed me, they'd have taken everything I have for sure."
I tossed the die back to her as we ran.
"Just switching dice on those thrrree was something of a feat. Pulling the right number was an absolute mirrracle. But then again, you'd have to be able to do something like that to take as much of my money as you have," she chuckled.
"That was a long time ago. You'd clean me out now," I replied.
By the time we ran out of breath, we could see light shining through the mouth of the cave. We also seemed blessedly free of pursuers.
"Thanks. I can take it from here. You should get back before they start to get suspicious," I suggested.
"I've got no reason to go back," she replied, not even looking at me. "I've earned more than enough money to last me awhile. And I haven't been to Jeuno in so long. I was thinking of heading back to that taverrrn."
"The owner will be thrilled to see you. Say hi for me."
"What? Still no sense of adventure?" she said, smiling in the same way that I remembered from our time in Jeuno.