Story Dice: app for storytelling fun

Last week, my nine-year-old daughter Jane and I were interviewed on NPR about some of our favorite apps for the family. One of our picks was Story Dice. This attractively-designed iOS app lets you roll virtual dice that have a number of different symbols on their faces. You can select the number of dice per throw (from 1 to 10). Every time you shake the phone or tap the screen you get a new throw of the dice. I'm not sure how many different symbols there are, but I see new ones all the time, and we have played with this app quite a bit.

I imagine there are lots of uses for Story Dice, but our favorite use is to hold family story-telling contests. When we are in the car or at a restaurant, we will roll the dice and each member of the family takes a turn telling a story. The rules are that the story must mention every symbol in the throw, and the story can't be longer than a couple of minutes. Then we vote on who told the best story, and the winner gets something like a dollar, or a bite of everyone else's dessert, or some other similar reward.

Story Dice would be a useful tool for writing exercises, too. It's $2 in the iTunes store.

Story Dice

Just for fun, make up a story using the symbols above and post it to the comments!


  1. I was headed out to the record store yesterday when I saw my car had a flat. It was snowing, but I decided to ride my bike to the store instead. It really started to snow, and visibilty dropped to near zero. Just as I was approaching the record store, a hot air balloon that had been trying to make an emergency landing in the snowstorm crashed into me on my bike. When I awoke in the hospital room, my sister had brought an exotic purple and red betta in a fishbowl to cheer me and help me heal.

  2. We have the analog version it’s called  Rory’s Story Cubes ( You can find them up at Barnes and Noble or your favorite bookstore. My girlfriend’s nephews love creating out of this world stories with them. I’m definitely going to check out the virtual version which would be ideal if we forgot to pack them.

    1. There’s also an official version of Rory’s Story Cubes for the iPhone. I think “Story Dice” is kind of an unofficial ripoff of the meatspace concept, although they may well have created the app before Rory’s had an app.

  3. With my head spinning like a record and breathe so hot it could fly a balloon I rode my bike to the aquarium store to by some fish flavored snow flakes.

  4. The Ballad of Snow Fish

    Let me play you a song on my old LP,
    ‘Bout a fish in a hot air balloon
    Rising up to the peaks from the dry valley
    While the updrafts whistled this tune.

    See, the fish would toll in its big glass bowl
    ‘Til its water got mighty stale
    But up by the peaks many storm clouds roll
    And they drop their snow and hail.

    When the paper girl brought the daily news,
    That fish called through the glass,
    “Please take me, miss!  For I’ve got the blues
    And I want to head to the pass!

    For if I can rise toward stormy skies,
    That snow would be mighty fresh
    And my water be clear like your blue eyes!”
    That made her smooth the mesh

    On her bike’s panniers, to make fishbowl fit,
    And together they wheeled away
    To the verdant plain where fires were lit
    And helium held sway.

    Into the basket, cushioned in straw,
    The bowl sat mighty still.
    When the ballast dropped, the paper girl saw
    The fish rise up that hill.

    And oh! That snow ambrosia was!
    The fish knew naught so nice.
    But its ecstasy was brief, because
    Its water soon turned ice.

  5. I drifted over the countryside, alone.  Well, not completely alone, there was always Edgar, my fish, my only companion, blissfully ignorant of almost everything outside his little bowl. 

    He was the only sign of life I’d seen in days, and I’d brought him with me from the shelter.   He started as a friend, but the truth was, he was starting to look more like a next meal.  Poor Edgar, but I’d gone through the rest of my food.  Maybe giving him that name was bad luck. 

    It was the snow that did it.  Killed everybody, everything it touched.  Every living thing on Earth, for all I knew.  I don’t know how… melt it and it turns into normal, drinkable water, the kind I’ve been drinking for days.  But I knew that if I just landed my balloon and stepped outside of the sealed compartment, I’d be dead in seconds, unless I covered myself head to toe.  Edgar the First, the human Edgar, taught me that lesson, when he risked a supply run on his old bicycle, that went perfectly until he came back, removed his gloves, and absently brushed a few flakes off with his hand.   

    Edgar the Second was his, originally.  I never learned the fish’s original name, but I thought I should take him along as I tried to find some place the snow hadn’t fallen. 

    If I couldn’t find one?  Well, I still had a gun, and a single bullet. I stared into the end, hypnotized by the concentric circles, and almost loaded it, deciding to give Edgar the honor of being the last survivor. 

    No.  Where there’s life, there’s hope.  I took a deep breath, reached back for Edgar’s old turntable to play another record and went back to looking out the window. 

  6. I know the meatspace version well from long use.  When hiking in the mountains with my kids, on the long downhill stretch when folks start to yearn for the car, they each dream up some objects that dad has to include in the story.  The miles pass easily, and I swear the story is even more random that that app.  And free.  But, then, I haven’t ever owned a smartphone.

  7. Some jackass on a bike ran over my vinyl collection last winter, so I rented a hot air balloon and threw fishbowls at him. But it’s cool, I won first prize for inspecting a dragon’s bedsheet.

  8. I remember when I was a kid, I used to bike everywhere. I would bike in the warm breezes of summer, and the bitter cold of winter – to me, it didn’t matter. My bike was an escape – I’d explore the twists and turns of suburbia, even down streets my parents would never approve of. I saw the city for all it was. 

    On one such trip, I ventured down a road I had never seen before – its streets were of cobblestone, dusty, and hard on my tyres. The people on the street, too, were different than those I was used to seeing; men with bowler hats and pin-striped suits talked with women carrying parasols. Young men hand-cranked gramophones while old men shooed them away decrying their racket-making machines. 

    As I toured the street, I saw a man with a white, curly moustache standing in front of a pet shop. He smiled broadly as I got off my bike, and walked in. 

    “Goldfish are only a penny today, young man” he said.

    I smiled and shook my head. “I’ve nowhere to put it on my bike – I don’t have a basket.”

    “Well, I suppose you wouldn’t want to carry it anyway. I suspect you’re heading to the fair. Rumour has it they’re offering rides in a hot air balloon! How’s about that! I may just close up early, see what all the hubbub is about!”

    I thanked him, and ran out of the store. Looking around, I could see the hint of the fair over the tops of the low buildings: the arc of a ferris wheel, the smoke from the concessions stand, and a hot air balloon – red with gold stripes – that looked over the town. 

    I pedalled as hard as I could towards what was certain to be the best day of my life, but try as I might, I couldn’t get there. A dead end would stop me, a street would abruptly turn.

    Finally, as I pedalled down one particular alley, the lights of what was most assuredly the fair became brighter – and not a minute too soon, for the night was rapidly approaching. But I soon realized that the lights were not from the fair, but from streetlights, from headlights, from storefront signs. The cobblestone had given way to pavement. I had come back to where I had started.

    As I rode home, I kept looking back. Maybe I could see the balloon once more, if only to prove to myself that it had really been there, but it was too dark.

    I think of that day and that ride often, even now. If only I had gotten the chance to go up in that balloon, to look down on the world that may have only ever existed in my mind.

  9. Bonus round, using the symbols in the top picture…

    He looked down at the bodies.  One, covered in a white sheet, with two holes cut out.  A classic, a ghost.  The other two were much more elaborate, a large dragon.  It must have taken weeks to create a costume that good.  There was a trophy beside them, covered in blood.  He could just make out part of the inscription, saying, “Costume Contest Winner”

    One of the forensic techs was looking over the scene with a magnifying glass.   With some tweezers, something shiny was lifted for inspection, put into a bag. “Looks like there are fragments of another costume here.”

    “Another costume, but no other body.”

    The tech nodded.

    “Looks like somebody…”  He pulled off his dark sunglasses.  “…was dressed to kill.”

  10. Balloonrider L. P. Winter – who is of course a goldfish – hunts down freeriding bicycles in the midwest.

  11. Sadly, the app isn’t available in a Mac version – I asked Ann Adair of Thinkamingo – and according to Ann’s husband, the developer, it won’t run in the iOS VM that comes with XCode due to processor differences. If this would run on my Mac, I’d buy a copy in a heartbeat, as I can see an immediate use for it as a roleplaying gamemaster. I could also use it as an aid to my writing. Perhaps I’ll check out the Story Cubes physical version.

    1. There’s a growing number of gamers using Rory’s Story Cubes® for RPG scenario generation. There’s even a little ‘easter egg’ in the Voyages set for fans of Lovecraft. 
      For some great reference material on using Rory’s Story Cubes® for Solo RPGs, check out 9Qs a blog post by John Fiore over at
      And *cough* the Rory’s Story Cubes® App app came first *cough*. ;D

      By the way, we will be launching an updated Rory’s Story Cubes® App in December that will offer the expansion sets as in-app purchases.

      Rory, of Rory’s Story Cubes®

  12. The balloon catheterization failed for Bill. So he was now housbound, couldn’t ride his bicycle, enjoy a snowball fight or go to the vintage record store. His goldfish was his only companion. His name was Fred.

  13. It was so very long ago, when I was still in a fish bowl, before Ursula Tech became famous for liberating fish from their glass prisons, and setting them free like hot air balloons with no ballast. I remember swimming around in circles, the wishing within me growing bigger than my bowl, the wanting eating at me like fin rot. I had a window with a view of the sidewalk and how I envied the bicyclists speeding by, coats pulled tight around them against the chill of winter snow. They didn’t even seem to notice the miracle they lived in, in which they could choose the records they listened to, and live lives as unique as the snowflakes that floated down gently around them. Little did I know that freedom can be its own prison, and at least fish bowls are safe. 

  14. I’m really enjoying these fabulous stories! Thank you for playing with Story Dice! I wanted to let you know that the Story Dice app is not only available in the iTunes Store, but is also on Google Play, Amazon App Store, and the NOOK App Store. If you love it, we love reviews and stars! If you have suggestions or ideas, we’d love to hear from you. Carry on!

    Ann Adair
    President and Co-founder
    Thinkamingo Inc

  15. I bought a pack of these after noticing that one of them had a chaostar on it. It makes for a very economical substitute for tarot cards (instructions: do exactly what the regular instructions do, but then pretend the story is true).

  16. In life, I was a good detective. But now that I’m a ghost, I’m even better at it. My buddy Draco Smythe was waiting in the office, looking for some sunglasses.

    The only thing about being a ghost is that it makes it hard to pick up clues. That’s why Draco carries my bowling trophy. 

  17. *censored* hot-air balloon *censored* *censored* *censored* frozen bicycle *censored* *censored* goldfish *censored* *censored* record player *censored* *censored*

    “So what do you call this act?!”

    “The Aristocrats!”

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