A blog about games, gamers, and various and sundry geek culture-related ephemera and paraphernalia.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Happiness Is An Old Set of Polyhedral Dice!

I'm totally beaten and battered today as I attempt to recover from my family "day-cation" yesterday. (Lots o' water, lots o' fun, but waaay too much sun. I feel like a McDonald's french fry.) As a result, I'm a little unfocused today, so don't expect anything amazing here...

Which brings us to the topic at hand: dice. The day before yesterday, Reis over at Geek Othodox put up a post extolling the virtues of his new dice, and describing the joy he derived from them: "Happiness Is A New Set of Polyhedral Dice!" He also questioned whether it was weird to buy dice for a specific character. Well, I don't think I've met a gamer yet who wasn't also a dice whore. It's an affliction from which we all seem to suffer, so I can totally understand where Reis is coming from.

I normally wouldn't post on such a mundane topic, but when I saw Reis' post, I immediatley thought of the title of my post. You see, just a few days ago, I scored a used Dungeons & Dragons Expert Set on eBay. (With a bonus Basic rulebook and copy of B2: Keep on the Borderlands.) Also included: a set of 11 old-school dice! (The listing claimed there were 12, but I'm willing to let the missing die slide...)

Okay, so they're not the Zocchi dice so many old-schoolers seem to love (but for which I never had much liking - the truth's out!). In fact, it seems that many of my fellow "OSR" bloggers seem to revile the dice that were packaged with the Moldvay/Cook sets. Not me, though. I love 'em. Holding a set of these in my hand induces post-traumatic stress-like flashbacks to my younger years. It's a kind of nostalgic rush that can seldom be matched.

(Sadly, I have not been able to locate a set like those I found packaged with my Basic set back in '81. The d20 was solid red, but the others had kind of a pink-and-white marbled effect. Haven't seen another set like them since the early 80's.)

It was a combination of the listed condition of the rulebooks (amazing - no yellowing, no old-paper smell, only a little staple rust in one of the books; aside from some minor edge wear, these books are pristine) and the bonus of the included dice that compelled me to bid on this auction. Truly, happiness - for me - is an old set of polyhedral dice.

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10 comments:

  1. The first set that came with my Moldvay D&D Basic set were red. I still have three of them. I also have one from a pale blue set from another Moldvay basic box.

    I never bought the Expert box, just the rulebook and module on their own.

    The die I have that are in the roughest shape however are the ones from my first edition Gamma World box. They sat in the box untouched for about 20 years, and then saw heavy play for three months. By the end of the three months, they had no discernable edges left.

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  2. That's cool. :D

    I scored a Holmes box with the original dice, and B1.
    --I am so very eagerly awaiting that.

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  3. @DYson: I never owned the Expert rules back in the day - we moved very quickly from Basic to Advanced. It's kind of unfortunate, really, since I think the Basic and Expert rules together make a great rules set.

    I had a set of blue dice from a later game - or I may have bought them separate, back when TSR sold "Dragon Dice" that were real D&D dice, not that crappy game. They suffered the same fate as my precious Basic set dice: One boring day, my nephew and I decided to play hacky-sack. Unfortunately, we had no "hacky" handy. (You see where this is going, I'm sure.) So, being resourceful lads, we tied up my dice bag tight and started kicking it around. You think three months of play is hard on those soft TSR dice? Try thirty minutes of being kicked around in a bag of other dice (including a set of hard-plastic Zocchis, which emerged unscathed). Ah, the folly of youth. *sigh*

    @Timehsadows: Awesome! I've never owned a hard copy of that book. The Holmes set may have to be my next nostalgia buy. :D

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  4. Best part is you (almost -d8) got doubles, too!

    Very nice score.

    I have a few sets of those and some stragglers from other sets too. I used a tan set back in..err...'81-83, but also mixed in a clear set (diamond) of the precision variety right after that.

    I personally currently prefer the precision edge (Gamescience, etc) sets, and as I noted at GeekOrthodox in Reis' post comments, I tend to swap sets depending on which character I'm playing that session, or sometimes which mood I might be in that day.

    Weird? Yes. Do I care? Nope.

    As far as the dice you just scored, I think my current full sets are tan, light blue, olive green, and yellow. Then I have some more yellows, reds, blues, etc..just not in full sets.

    If I can scrounge up a yellow d8, I'll roll it your way, ok? To complete your double set there.

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  5. I like dice new and old. Just bought a couple sets for no particular reason, including a completely blank polyhedral set.

    But I also like some of the really old ones. My original Holmes Basic Set had no dice, only the laminated chits. (I sure wish I'd saved those somewhere.) But I soon found and bought what I think are the original TSR dice: these. I eventually added a Gamescience d20 and those were my dice for years. If you say "old school dice", those are the ones I think of.

    I have a few assorted dice and sets from the later basic sets (samples here. I think I have the d4 from the pink and marbled set you remember. (Unfortunately, the back of that yellow d8 is really chewed up from something.)

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  6. Gamers love dice. We ran an article exploring dice rituals and superstitions a while back and it still gets a lot of traffic. One thing we didn't look at is dice nostalgia. Great addition to the never-ending dice discussion.

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  7. @yoyorobbo: You know, I hadn't even noticed the rolls! Thanks for pointing that out. As for helping me complete the set, that would be really great of you! :D

    @Jon: I've got that TSR set you mentioned floating around somewhere (probably buried in storage, like most of my belongings). I can't for the life of me recall where they came from, though. I know I didn't buy them separately, so they must have come in one of my boxed games. Gamma World, maybe? That's going to bug me all day now... :P

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  8. @Ameron: I recall reading that article. Now that I see it again, I also recall remarking to myself how it didn't touch on the dice rituals of any of the gamers in my game group. :P (Well, except the "Never Touch Another Player's Dice" rule, which I firmly believe is universal. Heheh)

    We have two long-lived rituals: "Show Me a 20" (essentially the same as your "Show Me a 1" rule, just in reverse) and "Spank That Bad Boy" (holding the die with the desired number facing up and smacking it twice against the table before rolling - maybe subconsciously believing that doing so will shift the die's center of gravity to the opposite side of the number you want to roll; or maybe just to let it know who's boss :P).

    Oh, there's also the "I Hate That Fucking Eternity Shard" ritual. Well, maybe that's more of a condition than a ritual: my players generally loathe when I run games using my Eternity Shard d20 (from the Torg game), since it seems to love making life interesting for player characters. :D

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  9. The dice that came with my Moldvay set were yellow plastic. The dice that came with my Cook expert set were blue plastic.

    Most of these were lost or eaten by the family cocker spaniel over the years, but I still retain a couple, including my original Moldvay 20-sider and 6-sider.

    These dice consistently roll high...the 6 sider just rolls a lot 5s and 6s, but mostly 6s. The 20 sider tends to roll 18s+ though more 20s than any other number. No idea why, though they're pretty worn from the years.

    Needless to say, I generally use my other dice unless the chips are really down...otherwise people start wondering about my dice rolls. : )

    OH...and I purposefully went out an purchased a full set of purple plastics to go with my Labyrinth Lord. It just seemed the right thing to do....

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  10. I love the very faint "chitter-chitter-chitter" when rolling these dice made of the cheap plastic. The "clatter-clatter-clatter" of quality dice just isn't the same.

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