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


ktrey said...

I've also often mused about an all d6 version of Classic D&D.

I never liked using 3d6 for To-Hit (too much like GURPS, and the math-on-the-fly could slow down the game), then I remembered that you can get a 1-36 range pretty easily if you treat two different colored d6s as percentile dice.


I used to use these for all my random encounter tables, but completely forgot about the possibility until reading your post.

Sham aka Dave said...

Good points Ktrey. The 1-36 range is an option I'd never considered before, but has some potential uses that I might explore (and wandering monster tables seems like a good place to start-thanks!).

I'm not familiar with how GURPS works at all, but as I noted I think rolling more than 2 dice for to hit or saves might get old quickly.

~Sham aka Dave

Will Douglas said...

The 1-36 range is how I adapted the Saving Throw tables for D&D to an all d6 game.

Only when I described it, people didn't seem to either get it or care.

Ah, well.

-- Coffee

Sham aka Dave said...

Hey Coffee! You've been mentioned here at the Grog 'n Blog a few times. I've quoted some of your thoughts in older posts. I had no idea you had fallen into the depths...err joined the ranks of bloggers.


PS-I'm swillin' some java at this very moment.

Anonymous said...

Hey, maybe that could be your next poll on the site: 'What is your favorite sided die?'

I'm tempted to think it might just be the d20 that would win, but I'm not sure. Personally, I'd vote for the d4 myself. I've got a soft spot for those little fellas.

Sham aka Dave said...

I never liked those little buggers, the d4's. They don't roll, they just 'plop'. Then again, my favored d6's kinda bounce more than roll a lot of the time.

Not a bad idea for a poll. The d20 would be the odds on favorite, I'm sure. Your lil' d4 might do well, since they're so unique.

In the spirit of dice, and odds, if you're a betting man (which I am not, really) we could hold a cross-blog poll based wager...allowing all voters to pick their favorite die, but the head to head loser in the d4 vs d6 wager would have to....uhhh, dunno. Maybe write a D&D related post on a topic chosen by the winner? (As long as it wouldn't require me to purchase any modern D&D material in order to research it).

What say you Arcona, Mr. Four-Sider? I'll put up a poll if you're in (and no, I won't politic anymore than I already am with my 3d6 series for the little cubes of gaming goodness).

Does this sound like it might work? Might be worth a few laughs at the very least.

Anonymous said...

I'm game. Although I've never participated in a cross-blog poll before, I'm still feeling lucky! Let the dice fall where they may!

(or something).

- Matthew

ktrey said...

Poll Please!

But just how granular are you going to get? I know some that still have a soft spot for Icosahedrons numbered one through ten.

And don't even get me started on these new-fangled odd-numbered dice.

Sham aka Dave said...

Ktrey, just keep those dice in your bag, please. My brain hurts just following those links. :-)

Matthew, I just made up the concept of a cross-blog poll, so your guess is as good as mine.

We can settle on the terms as you wish; I can post a poll here, and you can direct readers to my poll to vote...OR we can both make polls and just total the results.

The thing I'm looking for is simply a gentleman's bet. For example; I post a favorite die poll. We both know the d20 will probably win...but! I'm taking the d6 votes, and you're taking the d4 votes. The rest is described in my earlier comment.

There are probably a hundred ways to manipulate and skew the results, but since this is a gentleman's bet (ie, for fun) whatever we agree upon we just roll with it.

Sound good? If so, I'll make a poll and you can either link it, or make a similar poll.

Done and done. Just give me the green light.

~Sham aka Dave

PS-I kinda hope I win because so far I am enjoying your writing style.

Anonymous said...

Yes sir, a gentleman's wager it is. I'm fine just having the poll here (because uh... I don't know how to do them on Wordpress anyway... ahem).

I'll throw up a link to it once it's on your blog. I'll try and get people to vote, but I promise not to influence or sway anyone's vote. It's just a bit of silly fun.

- Matthew