Role Playing Games with Dreidels

Six d20 dice, with Hebrew letters, gimmel, nun, hay and shin. Three a  blue green mix with gold lettering and three white with black lettering.

Coming up on this past Hanukkah, I purchased some lovely dreidels from Ritualwell. Well, they are dreidels in the sense that they have all the proper Hebrew characters on them, but instead of the spinning top that we all know and love, they took the shape of a d20.

As a nerd, I fell in love as soon as I saw these beauties. Unfortunately, they were out of stock when I placed my order and the store said they were unlikely to arrive by Hanukkah, but then a miracle occurred and they were back in stock sooner than expected. I would be able to spend my Hanukkah playing dreidel with my roommate… using all of my other dice in place of gelt. 

After I received my purchase I was immediately struck by a thought. “In d20 form or in top form, I bet you could make a really cool role playing game using a dreidel. They’re basically just sexier d4s after all.” So off I went to search the internet for dreidel based RPGs.

From The Contemporary Quioxtist, we have a very simple easy to play game that is open ended in it’s story telling. Your character has skill ratings between 1 and 3, which dictates how many dreidel’s they will spin/dice they will roll and a pool of coins to dictate actions. The traditional rules are slightly modified to allow for game mechanics. Shin(add a coin to the pot), a total failure and you lose something; nun (you take nothing) a marginal failure, you fail, but lose nothing; hay (take half) is a moderate success; and gimmel (take everything), naturally is a complete success. 

Next, from Dan Siskin, we have “Maccabees,” a board game centered on the historic event behind Hanukkah. The goal is to lead a band of Maccabees to acquire the oil to light the hanukkiah, while fighting back the remaining foes. This one does cost money, but it certainly looks like a fun game.

Another specifically holiday themed game is “Maccabees and Menorahs.” The rules for rolling/spinning are very similar to the game by the Quioxtist, but this game includes characters created from a set of Jewish values and eight specific sessions that take you through the game, one session for each night of Hanukkah. This has the added advantage of being free and the rules are readily available online.

Image of the Macabees and Menorah's rules. Not high enough quality to read most of the text.

I’m sure there are other games that exist, but these were the first three I found in my searches. There’s also nothing to say you can’t make your own dreidel based RPG, especially if you’re like me and constantly hungry for new RPGs to try. Maybe I’ll make that a project for myself this year, design a dreidel based RPG by next Hanukkah. 

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