The brave knight kicks open the door to the bandit hideout, only to be felled with a volley of arrows! Hurt and bleeding, he beseeches the cleric in his party to lay on hands and heal him of his wounds. It's easy to heal a wound in a Tabletop RPG, but in the real world we need heroes just as brave to help those in need. With this in mind, Donate Life America, the nonprofit keeper of the National Donate Life Registry, is here to bridge the gap between roleplayers and organ donation, as they've created a custom set of gaming dice with tiny hand-painted organs & tissues inside: The Healing Dice. We spoke with David Fleming, President and CEO of Donate Life America, and the Creative Directors at The Martin Agency who developed the dice, to help share this story, show off these amazing new dice, and herald the launch of a new sweepstakes where you can win your own set of healing dice (if you're a registered organ and tissue donor).
How Did The Idea Behind The Healing Dice Originate?
David Fleming, the President and CEO of Donate Life America, says the organization's mission is all around saving lives through organ, eye, and tissue donation, and to do so as creatively as possible. "With the growing audience and cultural movement in TTRPGs," explained Fleming, "we saw an opportunity to reach new audiences with a lifesaving message that fit perfectly with the games they love."
For Kim Nguyen, Creative Director at The Martin Agency (who partnered with DLA on this campaign), the goal was to create something that fit neatly into the world of TTRPGs, "but also gently nudged people to become registered organ donors. So we came up dice with organs in them! If you like TTRPGs, you get it immediately. If you don’t, that’s ok, they’re still really cool dice."
Isn't Pairing Organ Donation with TTRPGs via The Healing Dice a Little Odd?
To this question, Nguyen and Kat Placentra, another Creative Director at The Martin Agency, laughed. "A message just for tabletop role-playing gamers about organ donation is kind of odd. Like what is this organ donation non-profit doing here," they explained. But as they dove deeper into the world of TTRPGs, they found a wealth of themes that made sense for Donate Life America. "Life and death, healing through selflessness, teamwork and storytelling, it’s all woven into this world."
For Fleming, those parallels between gaming and real life hit home. "There are struggles and stories in the game realm that reflect all of our struggles and stories in the real world," said Fleming, "and in gameplay and the real world, our survival often depends on collaboration and the generosity of others. The lives of others are sometimes literally in your hands."
What Was It Like Seeing The Healing Dice For The First Time?
Seeing the dice in person (The Martin Agency sent along a set for us to check out), I was really blown away by the production. The set includes a standard set of seven TTRPG dice and an additional d20, with a unique, hand-painted organ encased within each one. The Lifesaving d20 has a heart inside it, the d4 has an eye, the d6 features bones, the d8 depicts lungs, the two d10's have a pancreas and intestines, respectively, the d12 has a liver, and the additional d20 has a set of kidneys. Each of these organs or tissues provide lifesaving support when donated, but we wanted to hear from the team what it was like to see these dice in production for the first time.
Placentra explained that incredible moment. "We were pretty sure organs would look cool," Placentra said, "but once we started working with the artists who handmade and painted each organ they really came to life... A lot of craft went into making sure these dice look great, and feel good in your hands! For Fleming, "Seeing the finished product - with the Donate Life blue & green colors adding extra shine - took our breath away."
To Close Out And Speak To The Mission Of The Healing Dice, How Can Organ Donation Help?
For Nguyen and Placentra, the ties to the TTRPG world serve as a key analogy. "Being a registered organ donor is like being a real-world healer," they explain, "And all you have to do is fill out a form online. One organ donor can save the lives of up to 8 people. It’s a selfless act, and it can truly change so many lives."
And though it is, of course, a personal decision to register as an organ donor, Fleming makes a strong case. "More than 100,000 people are currently waiting for a second chance at life," Fleming explains, "and you can help. It is as easy as taking 1 minute to register your donation decision at TheHealingDice.com. Your decision could save and heal lives, and also relieve your loved ones of the burden of that decision at a time when they will be grieving. The act of registering to be a donor is one of generosity and honor, something we think healers across all realms will understand."
To learn more, sign up as an organ donor if this message speaks to you, and enter for your chance to win a set of these dice, there's a new website all about The Healing Dice now live. Any registered organ, eye & tissue donor can win, and the sweepstakes opened on Monday, February 27 and finishes March 27, with winners announced throughout March.
A set of The Healing Dice used in the creation of this interview was provided by The Martin Agency