Thursday, November 21, 2013
Mentzer Basic Cover to Cover: Dice
Anyway, our next section in the Mentzer Basic Players' Book is a half page on dice. It's written for a complete beginner. It starts by explaining that dice is the plural of die. That beginner.
Well, as I've mentioned before, it was written for, in modern parlance, complete noobs.
Anyway, we get a description of each die, a bit of advice on how to roll and read the d4 in particular, how to get a d% by rolling the d10 twice, and how to get other dice combinations.
Dice notations are also explained. This section also mentions how to calculate non-die ranges, such as d2, d3, and d5.
With the advent of the OSR, there's been a lot of discussion about this sort of "dice tutorial" appearing in game books. Do we need it? Can we leave it out? What if someone picks up a retro-clone as their first RPG? Do only experienced gamers tend to collect these modern, typically self-published offerings? Are we somehow neglecting to grow the base with the next generation if we leave this sort of thing out?
Looking at my own offering, Flying Swordsmen, you can see that I split the difference. I didn't include this sort of thing in the book itself, but there's a note directing readers to my blog, where I did write up my own little dice tutorial and "what is role playing?" bits for someone who happens to stumble across Flying Swordsmen without having ever played another RPG that uses polyhedral dice, and without someone more experienced to show them the ropes. In the internet age, that seemed to be the best course for me and my publication.
But back in '83, when this set was being produced with the express purpose of getting it out onto mainstream retail outlets and into the hands of kids and adults who were not already part of the gaming scene, this sort of thing was absolutely necessary.
So I don't knock this section any points. In fact, I give it full points for not leaving anything to chance - right down to the initial explanation of die/dice.