Tuesday, 10 June 2008

d12s and a Statement of Intent

d12s never get the love, do they? d20s have a whole system named after them; d10s are the weapon of choice for the World of Darkness games, ORE, Chaosium's Basic Role Playing and many others; even d8s have some uses in AD&D, but for some reason all d12s ever get is the dregs from the table. You want to work out the damage of a two-handed sword? Okay, the d12 is your man, but that's about all he's good for.

I was thinking about this today, while more generally mulling over dice and their many virtues. I don't think it's remarked upon often enough just how fun rolling dice is. For starters, there is a real tactile pleasure in picking up a fistful of them - d10s are my favourite for this, which is one of the reasons I like ORE - and just chucking them across the table. The weight of them, and the noise they make, patterpatterpatter - it's great. Secondly, as we all know, pleasure is really all about anticipation, whether it's looking forward to a nice big slap-up meal, kick-off at a football match, or building up to "the big night" after the first couple of dates with a new girl- or boy-friend. Now, rolling eight d10s isn't quite as good as the build up to sex, I admit, but it almost is: those few moments from the time the dice have left your hand to the time they come to rest flip all the same sorts of buttons. They just don't flip them quite as hard. Even the potential for disappointment is accurately emulated.

I seem to have digressed. I was talking about d12s, wasn't I? So anyway, yes, I was thinking about rolling dice today and decided, what the heck, I was in Shinjuku, so why not swing by The Yellow Submarine and get a handful? So get them I did; I am now the proud owner of ten new d12s, all sparkling and smelling of newness. The next question is what to do with them.

As you know if you've been keeping up, my new idea is a project I've taken to calling "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." It's basically a fantasy campaign which takes Mallory, MacDonald, Dunsany, White and Wolfe as its starting points rather than Tolkien and Moorcock; "fantastical fantasy," as I like to put it. I'd basically been thinking about running it in using a bastardized form of Risus, but this new brood of baby d12s I'm now parent to have started whispering "Use us! Use us!" in very insistent tones, and I don't think I'll be able to resist them much longer.

So here it is: a Statement of Intent. I'm going to write a new game system entirely based on d12s, for use with my Sir Gawain and the Green Knight setting. If I'm feeling lazy I'll probably just rewire Risus for use with d12s rather than d6s. But if my creative juices are pumping I might very well take a crack at coming up with something Brand New. Watch this space.


  1. The self-confessed "fantasy heartbreaker" Gates & Gorgons uses scads of d12s.

    I've only just skimmed the rules, but I do like how a Thief can be armored in "caution."

  2. Dammit. Nothing new under the sun, eh? Oh well, I'm still going to use them, Gates & Gorgons be damned.

  3. Oooo, sounds neat! I'm a big fan of both the d12 and "fantastical fantasy". The most successful campaign I've ever run (still going strong today after two years!) is Pendragon; I just ran a scenario featuring "goblins" that looked more like creatures out of a Bosch painting.

    My favorite use of the d12 was back in AD&D 2e, where you'd roll a d12+d8 for random encounter tables. 2-20 baby.

  4. Yeah, d12+d8 is a good dice combination; a fairly high average, but big and small scores are comparatively rare: perfect for a random encounter table, basically. Those AD&D guys knew their dice.

  5. Whoo-hoo! I love reading about how people craft new games, especially how they work to make mechanics serve themes and atmosphere. I'm really looking forward to reading more about this.

    - Brian

  6. Thanks for mentioning Gates & Gorgons ! The game rules are actually based on Rafael Chandler's Disciple 12 rules for his Dread First Book of Pandemonium rpg. His site as a free version of the rules for anyone wishing to take a look at them.