Some of the players are lifelong gamers, who would be doing the same thing if they were on the outside. Others hadn't even heard of D&D until getting locked up. But faced with a dearth of creative outlets, donning a metaphorical robe and wizard hat quickly became a welcome diversion.D&D has become so widespread, some correctional facilities even have specific rules that address it. For example, if you are unlucky enough to become incarcerated in the Idaho State Correctional Institution, you are probably not going to be passing your time rolling D20's. From the correctional institution's 2014 Handbook:
Even in states where RPGs are allowed, restriction on the use of dice can complicate gameplay. In an effort to crack down on gambling, most correctional facilities in America don't allow offenders to use or create dice.Yet as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. Necessity and, as the case may be, boredom. In their efforts to circumvent the ban of dice, prison players have come up with a variety of ingenious ways to make rolls—everything from making the illicit dice themselves to designing intricate spinners out of batteries and paperclips.
The following activities are prohibited. Participation in any of these prohibited activities will result in disciplinary action.
• Gambling or games of chance
• Manufacturing of dice, dominos, chess sets, cards, or any other form of games
• Role playing games (e.g. Dungeons and Dragons)
HANDMADE DICEWhen plastic dice are banned, a common work-around is to simply make one's own. Depending on the resources available, there are a seemingly endless number of ways to go about it.For those with friends and family on the outside, the easiest way to get started is to ask a someone to send a dice template. A D6 template might get flagged in the mailroom, but a D20 template isn't likely to be something the CO's will recognize.Joe, a former Massachusetts inmate went for the template approach: "We had origami dice patterns mailed in along with the trial 5th rules. Not having glue we had to improvise with the things we could get on canteen. Stickers on shampoo bottles are surprisingly useful. Maps were done on cardboard boxes we would get from inmate workers. On searches they would wreck our dice for gambling, so the templates were important."
When glue's not available, there are plenty of sticky alternatives that can be found in prison, like jam or toothpaste."Jail toothpaste is cheap and turns to glue when it dries," says Joe. May Holmes-Roys, who spent time in the Washington State Department of Corrections, used a similar process: "We made dice out of card stock, toothpaste, and toilet paper. Rigorously tested, rolled right 85% of the time."
"I never ran or played in a game where the PCs had to escape from jail or prison. Too on the nose. Come to think of it, we tended to avoid the trope of being in a dungeon filled with monsters as we were already in a dungeon filled with monsters." — Micah Davis
MAPS, MINIATURES, AND CHARACTER SHEETSFor some groups, the drive to get creative goes beyond the fabrication of dice. While materials like miniatures, maps, and character sheets are usually permitted in theory, finding the resources to create them isn't always easy. "4e was the worst for prisoners." says Micah. "Gotta have maps and minis for everything."While incarcerated in a Massachusetts jail, Joe found a way to tackle the challenge: "Minis were made by using a chapstick tube to punch holes in flip flops, and use the circular punched out bits that we would mark for our characters or monsters." As with any good play session, they made sure to stock up on gamer fuel ahead of time, "We would always binge snack on cookies and chips while playing, but as we didn't have soda it was always tea or hot chocolate when we gamed."