You may be familiar with just the traditional 6-sided die. And when someone says "dice" that is the image that comes to mind. However, those who play Role Playing Games (RPGs) such as Dungeons and Dragons are familiar with a number of other variations:
The common shorthand for each is dX where X is the number of sides, so the traditional 6-sided die becomes known as a d6.
It occurred to me that when I reach a point where I am not sure what to do next in my genealogy research, letting the dice decide might be appropriate, or at least fun. So I came up with a system using a d20, and two rolls. (A d6 doesn't have nearly enough choices.)
First Roll - Selecting an Individual
To come up with 20 options, I started with the 16 Great-Great Grandparents, numbers 16-31 ahnentafel. So if 1 through 16 are rolled I allow myself to choose the ancestor listed, collateral descendants, or one of their ancestors.
I've listed mine below, along with their Ahnentafel numbers (binary and decimal)
1 Samuel Newmark (10000 – 16)
2 Rose Cantkert Newmark (10001 – 17)
3 Moshe Leyb Cruvant (10010 – 18)
4 Minnie Mojsabovski Cruvant (10011 – 19)
5 Selig (Dudelsack) Feinstein (10100 – 20)
6 Annie Perlik Feinstein (10101 – 21)
7 Morris Blatt (10110 - 22)
8 Beila Wyman Blatt (10111 - 23)
9 Abraham Deutsch (11000 – 24)
10 Sarah Weiss Deutsch (11001 – 25)
11 Israel Lichtman (11010 – 26)
12 Betty Adler Lichtman (11011 – 27)
13 Samuel Van Every (11100 – 28)
14 Abigail Stuart Van Every (11101 - 29)
15 Ebenezer Denyer (11110 - 30)
16 Sarah Hartley Denyer (11111 – 31)
I rounded out the 20 with four remaining categories:
17 Paternal Grandparents
18 Maternal Grandparents
Roll 2: Action
(I came up with ten actions, so I repeated each one. But a d10 could be used. Or maybe you can come up with ten more.)
1. Google Search (google.com ; books.google.com; news.google.com; groups.google.com)
2. Subscriber Site Search (e.g. Ancestry, Footnote, GenealogyBank)
3. Search for online databases in related locales that are new, or you may have missed.
4. Check Source Citations (Verify all data on individual in your database has a cited source.)
5. Interview someone about the individual (or write down your own recollections)
6. Write to a cousin descended from the individual
7. Transcribe a letter/document from, to, or about individual
8. Research the time/place the individual lived.
9. Scan photos/documents related to individual
10. Blog about the individual
11. Google Search (google.com ; books.google.com; news.google.com; groups.google.com)
12. Subscriber Site Search (e.g. Ancestry, Footnote, GenealogyBank)
13. Search for online databases in related locales that are new, or you may have missed.
14. Check Source Citations (Verify all data on individual in your database has a cited source.)
15. Interview someone about the individual (or write down your own recollections)
16. Write to a cousin descended from the individual
17. Transcribe a letter/document from, to, or about individual
18. Research the time/place the individual lived.
19. Scan photos/documents related to individual
20. Blog about the individual
Naturally, if you roll a combination that results in an impossible task (e.g. You don't have any letters to transcribe relating to X) roll again.
If you don't know where the closest store is where you can find a set of dice, you can find them online. Gamer's dice are usually sold in sets of 7: a d4, d6, d8, 2 d10s, a d12 and a d20. (the 2 d10s are numbered 1-10 and 10-100). You may be able to find many uses for these die for things in your life you are willing to randomize a bit.
Example, with a d6:
1) Do laundry
2) Clean bathroom
3) Feed dog
4) Feed kids
5) Check Email
6) Hit the snooze bar
If you feel 20 choices isn't enough, they do sell d100s.