I have five sets of dice for gaming, and four of them are currently crammed into a small bag, which is now bursting at the seams. Thankfully, someone else out there has solved the unwieldy dice-bag problem – Lyndsay Peters, Owner of Dragon Chow Dice Bags. Lyndsay was kind enough to spend some time with me for an interview. In the interview, she discusses how she started her business, the origins of her mascot, Chompy, gamer superstitions and why she never stopped playing Dungeons & Dragons 3.5.
Can you please introduce yourself, and discuss how and when you were introduced to gaming?
I was introduced to gaming around 9 years ago in high school. I joined a circle of nerdy friends and they taught me how to play D&D. It was around the time 3e turned to 3.5e, because I remember that I was the first one to get the 3.5 books. I played a Cleric.
We played d&d off and on, and in the post couple of years I’ve discovered board games. I’m really loving board games now, too. I like how easy it is to introduce my family members to games like Settlers. Next up, I’ll be teaching them Carcassonne.
I’m in a regular d&d 3.5 game on friday nights. I’m a grognard, it’s true.
For those not familiar, what is Dragon Chow Dice Bags? Could you tell me how you went from playing in D&D games to starting your own business?
Dragon Chow Dice Bags (www.dragonchow.com) are my handmade creations. They’re dice bags with a flat bottom that are also totally reversible a double benefit as you get two fabric designs and there are two seams keeping your dice safe.
Your dice aren’t as likely to tip over on the table while you’re gaming because of the design. I stock a lot of unique fabrics, including fandoms like Doctor Who, Firefly and Star Trek too.
I started making them because I was really tired of going to the gaming store and only finding dice bags that would tip over and had a fabric selection that I just didn’t find appealing. I know gamers like to personalize things, and I knew I could make something to serve that interest. This is why I also do custom orders. I just love it when I get a custom order bang on. There’s nothing better than knowing there’s a happy geek in the world because of you.
What an inspired idea! How long did it take to get Dragon Chow Dice Bags up and running once you had that “a-ha” moment to start making the product? And how did your mascot, Chompy, come into the equation?
Why, thank you! Getting the dice bag sales started wasn’t too bad. I was actually already running an Etsy shop selling purses and wallets at the time. At first I sold them on my old shop while I was still perfecting the design. Once I had the design down and the dice bags gained popularity, they moved to their own shop and then to dragonchow.com where they can be found today! Sales slowly built with the help of my many friends on Twitter.
Chompy was a funny story. One day on twitter, somebody listed a lot of popular D&D bloggers and me, saying they wanted to play D&D with all of us. I felt a little out of place on the list but it wasn’t something to poss up; one of them was The Angry DM, and I decided I would threaten to kill his character. We started exchanging playful threats. I was in the craft store and happened to pick up a squishy dragon and tweet him the picture. Angry DM then said he wanted to keep him and name him Chompy. It was a funny idea, and I ran with it. I take him around with me now for photos, and he’s always at D&D night. He’s also been to Egypt and the UK. Chompy has more fun than I do sometimes.
That is a funny story for Chompy; I enjoy when things happen organically like that. Do you have additional plans for Dragon Chow Dice Bags or is the store where you want it to be?
Well, someday becoming the Supreme Dice Bag Empress is always a goal in life. Currently, I’m interested in making Dragon Chow Dice Bags bigger. I’ve become more efficient, which has increased my stock availability. I already have wholesale agreements with three friendly gaming stores. I would like to be in more game stores, and perhaps one day large enough to have distribution through one of the big game distributor companies that supply a lot of the game shops around North America. One year if I make enough to finance a trip and vendor table at GenCon, I will be very happy. I’m interested in growth, but I hope it continues on the gentle slope it’s been this far, because I’ve had time to adapt and think carefully about what decisions I should make.
Growth this far has meant the introduction of the Tall Pencil Strap Dice Bag, which I really like and use at my own gaming table. It has also meant that I have grown my little studio into more of an office, where I can streamline my shipping and get a lot of good work done! I also have introduced polyhedral dice sets from Koplow Games, which is also where I get the free d20s that I send with every dice bag.
It’s great that your business has continued to grow, and it sounds like you have some bigger plans in store for the company. I recently wrote an article about my love/hate relationship with my dice and how I thought one was evil. I think many gamers have strong beliefs about their dice, bags and other gaming accessories. Do you think you have tapped into that superstitious side of gamers with your dice bags?
Well, a little bit perhaps. I have a convention table banner that reads, “Dragon Chow Dice Bags: Because your dice roll better when you show them some love,” which sometimes gets a chuckle and sometimes earns me a mini lecture regarding statistics. I think that no matter what you use for a dice bag, you’ll have some type of dice superstition. I really enjoy the way people are about the d20 that I send along to them – I’ll often get a tweet of a customer’s first roll on their dragonchow d20. Some will even tell me when their dragonchow d20 has been especially helpful during a D&D session. So in that way, I suppose I have. When a customer buys a bag at a convention and chooses their d20, they immediately roll it. I’m always nervous it’ll be a 1!
Hah! Watching someone roll a 1 with your d20 is like selling a car to someone and watching it break down right after they leave the lot. What a bad vibe! Shifting back to the games your enjoy, you mentioned that you play Dungeons & Dragons 3.5. What are some of the things you enjoy most in that system? Are there other roleplaying games you play? Have you given D&D 4th Edition a try yet?
Now you’re just getting me into trouble! Yes, I love 3.5. I tried 4e briefly right at release, but I just couldn’t get into it. I love skills and bards, so I went back to 3.5. I love that different editions give us more options to play D&D.
The personalization that skills offer is one of the things I really like about 3.5e. I really enjoy the way Gamma World harnesses 4e’s simplicity, and I hope I get the chance to try Leverage or Dresden Files some time soon.
Don’t worry, I have no interest in starting an edition war here! I have never played 3.5. I played D&D over 20 years ago and then took a long break through the editions. For someone like me that didn’t play 3.5, how would you describe the game compared to 4th Edition. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Gamma World too.
3.5 is much more similar to 2 than 4, in my opinion (I’ve played 2 and 4 each for short campaigns. Virtuoso FTW). Lots of table to choose from, feats and skills are more varied. I haven’t entered the higher level of 4th Edition – I believe we barely made Paragon tier in our game. I can’t say much as to the details, but 3.5 is like a tuned up 2nd edition. A lot of the math is simplified, and the classes have more balance. Wizards ar also now likely to live past 1st level, which is exciting for them. Of course, I see 4th Edition as a simplified and tuned up 3.5 as well.
I think that each iteration of D&D is similar to the other gaming, especially video gaming, that is going on at the time. AD&D very much matches the hardcore puzzles, impossible levels and countless continues of old video gaming. 3.5 offers a milieu of options with a lot of fine detail, kind of like Morrowind. 4th edition has paths of specialization and clearly defined class roles like you’d see in an MMORPG raiding party.
Gamma World is hilarious. You can be far sillier in Gamma World than most people would tolerate in a D&D game. There are so many elements changing at any one time that you can’t sit down and make a Serious Gaming Face. You have no choice but to let go and just enjoy the game. When I played, everyone went through at least three characters. My final character in my Gamma World game was an Alien Felinoid who I decided was Keyboard Cat. Gamma World is a lot of fun. Time just flies!
I agree with you that 4th Edition is “like a videogame” in many ways, but I believe that is a good thing. It really helped me to jump into the game again after such a long break from playing. And it still leaves plenty of room for roleplaying and creativity.
That is an interesting comparison to older editions and the videogames of the time. Some of those side-scrolling platformers were brutal. I’m looking at you Ninja Gaiden – those birds were furious well before Angry Birds came along! (Note: not me in the video) And I will continue to seek out a Gamma World game; I’m not sure if my group will go for it, but maybe one of my players will get motivated to organize a night around it.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing bad about 4th Edition resembling the modern video game style. I think they all do mimic the video games of the era, but it’s more of a brief and interesting comparison than a solid theory.
Is there anything else we didn’t cover that you’d like to discuss?
I can’t think of anything too pressing. Oh, my Tall Pencil Strap Dice Bag is an ENnies submission this year! If you’re in a position to vote for them, I’d really appreciate that! I should mention there isn’t a link for voting. ENnies People’s Choice voting takes place at GenCon, so you have to be there to vote.
What is the best way people can contact you if they want to buy a Dragon Chow Dice Bag?
The best way to contact me if you want a dice bag is to buy one from dragonchow.com, but if you want to make a custom order contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Right now dragonchow.com is closed because of a postal strike, but that should be ending very soon. I can also be found on twitter. @dragonchow is the website’s twitter account, mostly dice bags and Chompy. @GeekyLyndsay is me – food, beer, cursing and all of the other good things in life.