Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Dice Oath - And My Love Affair with Dice

Its a unwritten rule in rpg'dom that you never touch another players dice, that is unless you want to pull back a bloody stump!

My love of the many sided pieces of plastic and metal has been a ongoing love affair. From the clear red d6's in my 1st risk game, to the d12s in my golf peg game, and of course to my complete polyhedral set from dnd, I love em all!  One exception wood dice, typically made of lighter materials (especially in the modern era), wood dice have never felt right in my hands and are very un-satisfyingly in sound and bounce when they clatter across the table top...

I still have most if not all the dice I've ever played with from rpg's, boardgames, and even those poker dice from various companies that were typically given away in packs of cigarettes. Hey, I worked at 7-11 at the time and people would just give them to me, I never picked up that disgusting and terrible smoking habit.  

My blue "mud dice" from the first set of dnd with each numeral traced in .05 blue marker, instead of the white crayon, are in good shape and I still use them!  That's them at the top of the article and in the logo of the site with heavy graphic-design filters applied of course! My boot hill dice, the pink and white on the right, from the same era have not faired as well.  

I remember the day when I bought my first "gem" dice at the local hobby store. Back then they were sold individually and you choose which dice that were going to be yours very carefully.  You performed some test rolls, a few incantations for the dice gawds, then of course picked the most vibrant and colorful dice you could!  They would twinkle in the afternoon light like gemstones picked from One Eye'd Willy's Treasure Horde!  You might not take home a full set of one particular color and most often than not took home a hodge podge of colors.  Over the years the dice changed in style and look, but the love was still there.  Initially none of the die sold were "inked" and you had to fill in the numerals with crayon.  My first few experiments with a clear d4 and d8 and a silver crayon didn't provide the effect and easy to readability I was looking for, but rather than just dig out the silver crayon I just went and bought some more dice!  

You can see the various changes to the d20 in the pick above.  The red d20 in the picture were the original d20 gem die you could buy.  The numerals wouldn't be ink'd in and all the edges were sharp, very similar to the game science dice of today.  Also note that all of the "teens" and the 20 are marked with a +, e.g., 18 is +8 and 3 is just 3.  This die also doesn't have its opposing sides add up to 21 like most modern die do now.  Later on the d20 actually got full 10's upon the die and were much easier to read from afar.  No more having players "forget" to fill in a + next to a number or paint one on next to a single digit.  The third is somewhat hard to see as the die itself is the most gemlike out of all three of the dice.  Its been manufactured with the "tumbled" or polished method, and are inked with an easy to read color.  Modern dice typically start out like the red d20 and end up like the yellow d20 because they go through a process similar to rock tumbling and polishing, which gives the dice a brilliant shine and makes them truly look like gemstones. 

Modern dice and their manufacturing process are subject to some controversy because of the random nature of the polishing and tumbling results in edges that aren't "true".  This may lead to some die that rolls high, or some die that may roll low on a consistent basis and thus are not truly random.  As I mentioned before most "quality" modern dice have their opposite sides total up to 1+ the die's total value, so a d20 opposite sides should add up to 21 so the 20 is opposite the 1, the 3 is opposite the 18, a d6 would have the 6 opposite the 1, the 4 opposite the 3 and the 5 opposite the 2.  You can find more info about the polished vs non polished dice via the game science website .  The evidence is hard to refute and I do have a set of those game science dice, and yes I love them too "blemish" and all. hehe.  Here are the two videos from their website explaining the difference between game science dice and those other guys, by none other than Colonel Louis Zocchi the founder of game science!


So after all that dice overload, inspiration hit, and I created the Dice Oath! (adapted from the marine rifle creed)

The Dice Oath
by David Clunie (apologies to Major General William H. Rupertus)
These are my dice. There are many like them, but these are mine. My dice are my best friends. They are my life. I must master them as I master my life. My dice, without me, are useless. Without my dice, I am useless. I must roll my dice true. I must role higher than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must roll higher before he rolls higher than me. I will...
My dice and myself know that what counts in this game are not the fumbles we roll, the sound of our groans, nor the grimacing faces we make. We know that it is the CRITS that count. We will CRIT...
My dice are living, even as I, because they are me. Thus, I will care for them and keep them secure in a warm purple velvety crown royal bag of appropriate size. I will let no other touch my dice! I will learn their weakness, their strengths, their parts, their accessories, from the lowly d2 to the lofty d100 and all that fall in between. I will keep my dice clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will...
Before my characters deity I swear this oath. My dice and myself are the defenders of the game. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of countless lives. So be it, until victory is won and there is no enemy left...
Hope you enjoyed this post and thanks for stopping by!

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