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Playing a RPG.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Look at the shiny, shiny!

As a war gamer and a new RPG player, I feel that dice often go unappreciated.

Without dice, many games would simply not exist. All of the Games Workshop games use dice, most RPG’s and even Snakes and Ladders and Cluedo. Backgammon, Craps and even Poker. They all use dice.

Some ancient knuckle dice.
The earliest and most common known use for the humble dice was gambling. The oldest dice ever known, for example, was found in Shahr-i Sokhta (the Burnt City) as part of an archaeological site in south-eastern Iran. They are even mentioned in the bible. More often than not, these “Dice” would have been knuckle or ankle bones, but they were used for the thing:

To provide one randomly determined integer, within a range, with each of those values being equally as likely.

When we say “dice”, most people will think of your happy go lucky six sided die. Often referred to as a D6. Six sides, six numbers. Simple. This is the most often used die in games today. While this is fine, many games such as Warhammer and D&D often need to increase the randomisation of the outcomes. This usually means that the number of integers increases. Sometimes, in the case of Warhammer, certain symbols, such as a “misfire” symbol or an arrow for determining what direction a “misfired” mortar shell will follow is used.

The most common dice in the role playing world are simple. D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, D20 and D100. That’s a 4 sided, 6 sided, 8 sided and so on…

(D100’s are often based on rolling two D10’s at once to determine the number for the “tens” and the “units”. Usually this takes a D10 with 0-9 on the sides and another with the values 00, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 & 90. For example, rolling a 10 and a 8 would result in 18. 80 and 1 would be 81. A roll of ten or zero on either die is taken as a zero, unless both are zeros or tens, in which case this is 100 (rather than zero). Rolling a D100 can often be classed as a Percentile Roll or a D%.)

Although originally made of natural materials, such as wood or bone, with most things today, manufacturers tend to use cheaper and harder plastics to avoid erosion and to keep costs down. Let’s face it. You don’t want to spend hours or even days searching for your perfect dice, only for them to start wearing away the more you use them, especially if you've just dropped a small fortune on them. On a lighter note, this leads to manufacturers being able to make dice any size and any colour that you can think of. This is where the excitement begins.

Most players can be protective over dice, many don’t care. Some will just buy a random bag and be done with it. Some like to pick out the right sizes, colours and textures. Some even just collect dice. I reckon I’m more like the hoarders than I’d like to think. Having your own set of dice is something everyone should enjoy, especially if you play RPG’s. My girlfriend and I, fully in the knowledge that our group was due to start in a couple of weeks, hit the Internet. If you go to Google and search “Dice”, you will be rewarded with 368 million results. Knowing what I know, I typed in Chessix, a well known manufacturer of Dice and other gaming peripherals. Many players will argue that Chessix are the best, but every player has a preference. As it was, Chessix had plenty for this couple of n00bs, so shop we did.

We got far too excited.

Our Dice! (Sarah on Left, Tim on Right.)
After picking our preferred dice, we waited patiently for them to arrive. And when they did, it was like Christmas. We were like Gollum and the one ring or couple of regular dwarves, playing with their treasure.

But now I want more. I find myself sitting at home and work alike, scouring the Internet, finding “rare” and unique dice that no body will have. In reality, this is just time wasting, but I hazard to say that my first set won’t be my last.

Apparently most players can remember the first roll their precious D20’s gave them. I, for one, cannot, but my ’20 has been good to me so far (except when trying to grapple, but let’s not get into that right now.) and I hope it’s good to me in the future.

So remember folks, dice are not just dice!

They are the sword in your hand, the shield on your arm, the bolter killing Xenos scum and the number of places you can move before sliding down a snake!

Just keep them rollin’!

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