Friday, June 20, 2008
3d6: The Cube
It’s all about the dice. Amazingly enough, I’m finding that my favorite die in the bag these days is the plain ol’ d6. It’s not simply the nostalgic feelings I associate with throwing handfuls of the little cubes while playing Titan and other wargames. There’s something about the simple elegance of the classic six-sider; it’s symmetry of form, it’s stackable nature, it’s use of pips instead of numbers, it’s transcendence of our own hobby. It’s the only one in the dice bag that is bigger than the game we use it for. Virtually every game I can think of, besides D&D and it’s descendants, uses the ubiquitous six-sider. The little cube that could.
D&D broke from standard hobby form and brought about a dice revolution in gaming. The d4, d8, d12, d20, and later, d10, were unleashed upon the gaming world due to D&D’s popularity. So now we have all these funky polyhedral dice to help us determine outcomes in role-playing games. Those multi-sided, unorthodox, colorful plastic dice at one point were synonymous with D&D for me. I know that I always looked at the d6 as the red-headed step child of my collection. In fact, most of them were scavenged from other games. They just didn’t seem to fit. I never really appreciated those cubes before. Now, I realize, that these building-blocks of gaming actually stand above, not below, those other Johnny Come Lately's of D&D in the grand dice pecking order.
I know that I am in the minority in this antipodean preference I have found myself forming since I converted to OD&D this year. Honestly I’ve been trying to think of ways to make an all d6 version of D&D, but I’m aware that this is not a new idea; and in fact there are plenty of solid all d6 games out there as I type this. D&D has strong wargame roots, and it’s rules basis was formed from Chainmail, an all d6 (as if there was any other kind at the time) game.
I’ll never throw out my other dice; well, maybe I’ll toss out those damned d4’s…I never liked those, at all.
The odd bit is that most of the things I enjoy so much about the d6, as far as it’s game uses, could very well be replicated with the other dice. Which brings me back to asking myself WHY? The only thing I can surmise at this point is that I enjoy the simple perfection of those little cubes; how neatly they sit nestled together perfectly in my dice box. Or maybe it’s the pips. I really can’t put my finger on it.
Something magical happens with those dice when you’re asked to roll three of them together, though. So magical that I’ve rolled close to 150 stat lines for characters in my upcoming campaign. That means I’ve picked up, shaken, tossed, and recorded almost 900 3d6 rolls in the past few months. And they say familiarity breeds contempt? I say bull hockey. Now, anyone reading this that thinks I’m a nut job…you’re probably correct. It’s my time, and I’ll waste it any way I damn well please. I just might roll another 20 characters to bring my total over 1,000 and shake my dice filled fist at the nay-sayers.
I know one thing’s for sure, when D&D finally passes on into that great favorite local gaming shop in the sky, the little cube that could won’t skip a beat.
~Sham, Quixotic Referee