Sunday, June 20, 2010

Keep Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'

Anyone who's read my blog regularly knows I'm a bit of a gamer. My roots go back to 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and I even dabbled a bit in Star Frontiers and Top Secret. More recently I've been playing Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game™ and Rifts® with plans to possibly start playing in the World of Darkness system. The one thing all of these games, and others like them, have in common is dice. Even though the main premise is to create a character and develop a persona for that character, there are situations that just can't be role-played. Combat is the most typical situation (roll to see if you hit your target, roll to see how much damage you did to the target, etc.), but there are others – e.g., you can't just tell the Game Master, “I kick down this door” and that's that; dice are rolled to determine if you were successful or if the door was just to solid for you to kick down. Anyone who has ever played, or seen played, a typical role playing game knows that the dice used are not (necessarily) the typical 6-sided cubes found on a Vegas craps table. Pictured below is my current collection of dice:

As you can see from the photo, the aforementioned cubes are present, but there are several others ranging from 4-sides to the famous D20 (20-sided die). During my off-again-on-again “career” in D&D et.,al. I've owned several sets of dice. Hell, I practically used to collect them* and at one time I even owned a couple of 30-sided dice, although I'm not quite sure why I bought those other than the novelty of them. The interesting thing is, the above set of dice never come out of the bag anymore. With my group being flung from North Carolina to Texas and even all the way up to Michigan and our getting together using online tools such as OpenRPG and Ventrilo, we use virtual dice these days. The dice buttons in OpenRPG that allow us to “roll” for combat attacks and damage serve their purpose I suppose, but sometimes it just doesn't quite feel the same, you know? I love that my buddies and I found a way to continue playing even though we live hundreds of miles apart from each other, but I still miss breaking out my dice bag every week. It also has me wondering about the accuracy of the virtual dice versus the real thing. Now, it's been fifteen years or more since I took that class on Finite Mathematics (and for that matter, I withdrew from it), so I'm not going to attempt to calculate probabilities of rolling a 20 on a D20, blah, blah, blah. But what I did do was roll my favorite real D20 (that would be the purple one in the picture above), the virtual D20 in OpenRPG and a virtual D20 in an app called Dice Bag on my MotoDroid ten times each just to see what kind of results I'd get:
  • Real D20: 11, 17, 5, 10, 2, 4, 10, 9, 1, 10
  • OpenRPG D20: 3, 15, 20, 11, 1, 7, 19, 2, 4, 17
  • Dice Bag App: 19, 19, 6, 16, 1, 11, 8, 14, 20, 4
Ok, so I really don't know what any of that means, but it was a fun experiment to do. Seems like the OpenRPG rolls seemed the most balanced ranging from low to high, while the Dice Bag rolls were a bit overpowered and the real D20 stayed pretty average. Interesting how all three gave me a 1 once while the real D20 was the only one not to come up with a natural-20. Either way, be it plastic, metal, or virtual, I'll keep rolling the dice.

~ JC

*NOTE: I used to own a lot more dice sets than I currently do. During my fundamentalist-right-wing-Christian phase of life, I probably trashed or burned them. Sad, eh? That I'd allow a religious group to so influence me that I'd believe a game could do me spritiual and mental harm? But that's a whole separate issue (hmmm.... maybe another blog topic for the future? We shall see).

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