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Jeff's Gameblog
Thursday, 4 March 2004
SFBM issue #1: dice
Star Fleet Battle Manual is so old it was written prior to the the development of the modern d20. Back in the day, d20's were labeled 0 through 9 twice. (I believe it was Lou Zocchi, author of SFBM, who eventually developed the "true" d20 we know and use today. Or maybe he came up with the true d10. Or possibly both.) The SFBM rules call for you to use a old-school d20 inked with one set of 0-9 black and one set green. (What, you didn't know dice used to come uninked and you had to fill in the numbers yourselves with crayons or pens? Sheesh. Kids these days have no sense of the history of their hobby.) Anyway, under the rules as written, "Green 6" and "Black 6" were two very different results. To my eyes ths green/black stuff looks like an attempt to get 20 results out of the old "double d10" that Zocchi had to work with.

The thing is, I can't figure out whether I consider using these odd old dice to be a feature of the game or a bug. On the one hand rewriting the rules to use straight d20 rolls would not be difficult. The rules need a bit of a rewrite anyway (but that's a different blog entry for another day). Eliminating the wonky dice cuts out one more thing the newbies have to get used to.

On the other hand you can still get old style d20's on the internet. I'm pretty sure the RPG.net shop has them in stock. Inking in green or black over pre-existing white ink should not be a problem. As a bit of an obsessive completist, I couldn't exactly pat myself on the back that I had a complete SFBM set unless I also had the wonky dice. And here's the big kicker: weird, customized, archaic dice are cool.

There I said it. Anybody who's been to a roleplaying game at a convention should immediately know what I'm talking about. Gamers have this really strange connection to their dice. That's why you can get gemstone and goldplate dice from crystal caste. That's why I have a special skull-and-crossbones dice bag. That's why many gamers own five or ten times as many dice as they need. (As an aside, this deep affinity for dice contributes much to the marginalization of diceless games, I think.)

So at this point I'm not sure which way I'm gonna go on this issue. I may end up getting/making the funky dice and then not using them. I dunno.

Posted by jrients at 3:37 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, 4 March 2004 4:05 PM CST

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