The guys at Q-workshop love designing dice, making dice, and spreading dice across the globe. Seriously. These guys love everything about dice.
Patryk Strzelewicz, owner and founder of Q-workshop, started the company in Poland five years ago while he was still in high school. A local market grew to a national market and eventually, with the help of the internet, Q-workshop went global. Today, Q-Workshop works with companies such as Paizo, Steve Jackson Games, and Chaosium on dice and dice-related paraphernalia.
Since Kobold Quarterly is offering free Q-workshop dice with new subscriptions, we thought we’d ask brand manager Maciej Domagala a few questions about Q-workshop dice and about their international design contest, which runs through September 2009.
Jones: For most people, their knowledge of dice starts at the end of the creation process. Where do they come from and how do they get to our gaming tables? [More…]
Domagala: The idea is the most important thing. Without it everything else is without sense, isn’t it? The idea is essential. The vision. Art. Creating something beautiful. Only after that do we go to designing the actual thing.
And it’s not just transferring the idea onto the closed space of the face of the dice. You have to take more things into account — composition of the design, structure of the dice, colors in the end. You can predict some technical issues when looking at a project, although I’ve learned that there aren’t many impossible things here in Q-Workshop.
We usually create some handmade prototypes before creating the actual dice. If everything is okay, then the magic voodoo occurs and, after some time, we have the dice.
Jones: How do you assess (or judge) dice?
Domagala: Professionally, I treat each and every design individually. Each design is different and deserves to be treated this way.
Jones: What about a particular die gets you excited? The feel? The weight or the bounce or the roll?
Domagala: Ha! As a gamer, its the outcome of the roll of course! And the fun of role-playing most of all. Every gamer treats his dice as something special. I know a few people who treat them as talismans and don’t let anyone else touch them. I do that as well.
Jones: Do you have any dice designs you’re particularly fond of?
Domagala: I really like the Klanarchia die (probably because I designed it).
It is a d10 for a Polish RPG system Klanarchia , which is a dark fantasy horror setting in the future after a great cataclysm. There’s a mixture of mysticism, tribalism and mechanics. And some good rules to it. I’ve been talking to Michał Markowski (the creator) to release it in English someday. Maybe Q-workshop will help him do that.
Anyway, this d10 is designed to highlight [five sides light, five sides dark] the 50/50 chance — 1-5 no success, 6-0 success — which is how it works in Klanarchia. I tried to give it this dark fantasy/horror look.
Jones: What’s the Monster Apocalypse project I read about in a forum somewhere?
Domagala: Some gamers approached me and wanted me to have a look at a thread at monsterpocalypse.com. Some of the players really complained about their dice and so this “custom dice” project came up [see the blue template above]. I designed the dice myself. I couldn’t help it! However, I usually urge people to the designs by themselves (while helping them in the process).
This isn’t the first event like this. We were approached by a few other communities and we created dice for them. The most famous would be the “Orky dice project” over at www.warseer.com. People from Warseer organized, designed, and allowed for something really amazing to happen—namely, these Orky dice. [See below in image with dice cups.]
Jones: What sort of non-dice designs do you all do?
Domagala: We created these leather cups for a community of Blood Bowl fans for their convention Bembel Bowl IV. We call this the Botzliga project.
Jones: With this kind of variety and so many designs, I’ve got to ask about Q-workshop’s overall entreprenurial vision and your business model.
Domagala: We are a young company, still evolving, still gaining experience. We started with an idea, lots of passion, imagination and hope in the outcome.
And lots of work. Lots of work.
Patryk Strzelewicz’s ambition and strength allowed all this to happen. He was still a high school student when Q-workshop started. His father, Dariusz, our production chief, helped Patryk all the way. Beginings are always tough, especially getting a company started. And in Poland it is really, really hard.
Michał Lisowski, our International Department Manager, also contributed a lot to the company. He has visited so many conventions with our dice.
We created dice mainly for the Polish market at first, then abroad. E-bay, internet sales. After some time our web site started.
The forum, that was the place that really constituted Q-workshop in the beginning. It was a place where lots of people and ideas moved around; people shared their designs and ideas. Most of the old crew in Q-workshop longs for those days.
We have been on the market for only about five years, so we are really still babies — learning, trying many things, and observing. And as such, we are very open to new ideas and solutions.
I guess we made the biggest breaktrough in our company with the Cthulhu dice — and the Origins Award for them — the first company from Central Europe to receive this award.
And here we are now working with major RPG companies–Chaosium, Paizo, Steve Jackson Games. We are talking about license issues with many more companies, evolving, gaining experience, putting our ideas to life. We are releasing the Steve Jackson Games’ Munchkin game in Poland, trying something new. Thinking of many more things to do in the world and in Poland.
But believe it or not, we are still working and evolving our dice creation techniques even though we already receive very good feedback and opinions from other companies – and best of all from gamers!
I wouldn’t say that we have achieved everything we could. I would like to return to those times of our forum being a place for sharing many ideas with people. We still strive to create things with gamers in mind, for them and for their gaming pleasure.
As for maybe a bit of hint of major projects that we are working on now – two of them involve the number 7. Just a riddle.
Jones: The Q-workshop annual Dice Design Contest is still open. Do you have any insider advice for prospective dice designers?
Domagala: Right now we are looking for designs of fantasy and SF battle dice, but I also included an open category to catch any interesting ideas that there may be around the world for an unusual dice or a set of dice… or pretty much anything that someone might dream of. This category is a sort of talent search.
We have a Jury deciding on the final results of the contest, including our staff here in Q-workshop, previous winners of the contest – Thomas Pasieka and Shannon Couture – but also some artists, graphics, writers and gamers – and of course Kevin Cook, the Dice Collector. And each of the judges gives notes to the design, the points are summed up in each of the categories, and the winner is chosen.
A steampunk design won the 2008 Dice Design Contest.
Compare these pictures to the projects on the Q-Workshop forum.
My advice for the contest: try to create something you yourself would like to see on your game table.
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