Saturday, June 10, 2006

D20 Old School

Last night when I went to play D&D with some good local friends, I actually scrounged together a sack full of dice and brought it along. This seemed like a big step, for some reason.

When I got there I searched for D20s and I only found two. They were both the old-fashioned "0-9 twice" D20s. One of them (the oldest) had one set of 0-9 inked in in green, and one set in red -- green indicated 11 through 20, of course. The other had 0-9 twice with a tiny plus mark engraved next to one of the sets of 0-9.

I rolled the latter and got a 1+, or 11. I was like "OK, 1, with the plus, that's eleven..." and I got a bunch of hootin and hollerin' about these crazy fancy new age dice with a plus on 'em like a fudge die or something. (I've got a bit of a rep as a Forge nerd among these guys.) I tried to explain about the old 0-9 twice dice, which serve equally well as percentile and twenty-sided, and which were de rigeur before ten sided dice came out and usurped the role (roll?) of percentile dice from the icosahedrons.

They were all "yeah whatever" and the conversation went to other things, but -- is it really that old school to use 0-9 twice dice? I mean, I remember when ten-sideds first came out. Is it so unheard of to use the old kinda dice anymore?

Do these kids today know *nothing* about how "back in my day we used icosahedrons as percentiles, ten-siders, AND twenty-siders, and we LOVED it dammit! Uphill, both ways!"?

hoo boy.


Bankuei said...

You don't know how many people simply dismiss it as crazy the idea of giving xp for getting gold pieces. "It's unbalanced! You could level up without even fighting monsters!"


jhkim said...

Well, but old dice suck. At least mine do. They're made out of cheap plastic and if they had anything like an even distribution it soon changed with worn corners. I'm not sure exactly when d10s were introduced, but it was pretty early in the eighties.

There are a lot of questionable "improvements" which have been made to RPGs over the years -- but it seems to me that dice which actually roll evenly and show what their result is are a pretty clear win.

Anonymous said...

I still have and treasure my original 1979 0-9 d20s. A pink one (sharpie'd with black) and a white one (the original brown marker worn away completely except in a few spots). The edges are worn down to uselessness and the numbers are hard to read, but we really did use them for everything.

And yeah, when I brought out the pink one for a game last year, all but the one other vintage-era gamer rolled their eyes.

Cayzle said...

I love my old school d20s! The unscrupulous would roll and declare that any crucial roll was in the teens. That prompted a house rule that you had to declare before rolling which color was the high numbers. I well recall my war cry -- "Red for blood!" -- shouted before rolling, signifying that the red numerals were the high numbers.

Another trick, lacking d20s, was to roll two dice, one a d10. The other would determine by even-odd whether the d10 result was in the teens or the single digits.

Anonymous said...

Bah! You had dice? We had chits in a coffee mug, and we LIKED ... actually, it was a pain in the rear. Even worse than edge-crumbling dice. Though if you wanted, say, 1-7, all you had to do was discard some chits. So there was some upside.

No, that's a lie. Chits sucked. But until you sent your money order to Lou Zocchi, that's what you had to use.