Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Catching Up With Griffin Mountain: Dark Season

Hopefully, with this post, we'll have caught up to the present with the happenings in my RQ6 Griffin Mountain game, but I can't say for sure. When I started my last post, it was supposed to bring us up to current, but by the time I was done with Earth Season, it felt like it was getting too long. Since my last post explained a lot about the "rules" for the game and such, this time I should be able to jump right in.

Dark Season, Year Two

It's been a year since the previous session, and in that year, the two remaining rite brothers have passed their trials. Little Bull is now Tuathal who is called Tiger Crusher (remember that from back in Sea Season?) and Little Fox is now Ead who is called Ghosttamer (Ead is also cozying up to the shamans of the Cult of the Honored Ancestors). The rite brothers helped a new hunter pass his trials, and he is now Cassan Tuskfinder.

At the cusp of Year Two's Dark Season, the hunters found themselves returning from Dangerground again, and again they found themselves surrounded by bonfires on their horizons. This year, though, things were different from last. This year, the clan's hunters needed to harvest the yew trees that would make the rite brothers their new bows (or spears in the case of Ead Ghosttamer) on their way back to the clan camp. Also, this year, they were followed.

When the bonfires appeared on the horizon, at first the hunters took little notice, as nothing untoward had happened the year before. But when the horizon lit up with dozens of torches and the light of those torches began to descend on the hunters' camp, the hunters packed up what they could and took flight. The torches followed them all night and to the next morning. They had reached Rodi's Gap, that place that separates Dangerground from the East Plain of Balazar, and the Labras Trailseer, leader of the clan's hunters, told the rite brothers to make for the yew grove and keep that sacred task, while he and his hunters drew whatever subhumans pursued them away from the clan and the brothers and hopefully lost them.

As it turns out, however, a small group of the pursuers followed the young hunters as they ran through the forest for a day and a night. As they searched for the elusive yew grove, Tuathal called out to animals of the forest, and they sent a guide in the form of Father Thrush, the spirit-chieftan of those birds. Father Thrush led the boys in their flight away from their as-yet-unseen pursuers toward the grove, and in the grove they made their stand.

Broo. It was the Broo. The goat-headed beastmen, warped by Chaos, fanned out to come at the boys from as many angles as they could. Three Broo against four young hunters. The fight was brutal and harsh and by the time one of the Broo went down, Ead Ghosttamer drew his flint axe to take down another when the two Broo still standing could smell the aching, cloying smell of death and decay that the disease spirit bound to the axe emanated. Immediately, the Broo backed off, believing that if these beings had truck with disease spirits, they might hold Malia, Chaos Queen of Disease and Mother to the Broo, sacred. And if they had struck down one of the Broo's number without the axe, what could they do with it?

Hoping for an ally among the Balazarings, the Broo laid down their weapons and offered tribute. The men may take what their fallen comrade had (turns out, the Broo kept some sort of small metal disks for some reason -- yes, the hunters have never seen coin) as a gesture of good faith, but a true offering of friendship would be coming in the future. The lads praised their good fortune as the Broo retreated.

While this encounter meant they had to explain to Cassan why things had happened the way they did (they plead ignorance), the young hunters gathered their yew branches, looted the fallen Broo and even took his head before making their way back to the clan camp.

Again, it looks like my telling of this particular tale has run a bit long, and so I won't be getting to Storm Season today.  From a rules vantage point, the Earth season marked the first time that all of the rite brothers were able to spend skill points on the skills that are prized by the Found Child cult and thus start earning their way toward Initiate rank in that cult. +PJ Muszkiewicz had been carefully statting Ead toward Initiate rank in the Honored Ancestors shamanic cult, but wasn't quite there yet at the end of this session. Similarly, +Gabriel Perez Gallardi & +Craig Brasco started focusing on Found Child skills, hoping to work their way into Initiate status with that cult as well since their primary focus is on hunting.

Moving into the Storm Season, when the clan battens down the hatches against the constant blizzard-like conditions, the players prepared for something close to down time... if they can only get it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Catching Up With Griffin Mountain: Earth Season

I've gotten pretty far behind on my posts about my relatively impromptu Griffin Mountain sessions. Just to restate the premise, the idea was to introduce players to both the Griffin Mountain setting and the RuneQuest 6 rule set gradually. We rolled up PCs at our first session and figured out a few things about them through the round robin "tell me something about someone else's character" method that I like to employ (I've found that this gives my players a little more "buy in" with the other PCs' parts of the campaign and a bit more willingness to cooperate). We used a similar tactic to let the players flesh out some details of their clan and its religious and political life.

The PCs in the game started as would-be hunters, juvenile members of the clan who are undergoing their rites of passage into the clan proper. After they rolled up their attributes (RQ actually calls them attributes, so I have to un-train my brain that wants to call them "Ability Scores," a term I prefer) and made sure there were at least 80 points distributed among all seven, they spend 100 skill points on their Cultural skills (Primitive culture). We didn't touch Career skills yet. In fact, the PCs didn't even have Careers yet. The idea was that after they had a chance to play their characters a bit, they'd get to choose how they develop and see what Careers they naturally gravitated toward. At the end of each season of play (with one session equaling one season), I awarded them 20 skill points to spend on Career skills (with some exceptions; attaining certain goals during the session might "unlock" other skills).

The players' choice of Careers was nice and diverse: +Craig Brasco decided that he wanted his character to be a Beast Handler, +PJ Muszkiewicz decided that his should be a Shaman and +Gabriel Perez Gallardi wanted his to be a Thief. Notice that none are straight-up Warriors or Hunters, which I think is pretty cool. Despite their lack of combat superiority, remember that by the time that Earth season came around, they had already taken down a juvenile saber cat (smilodon) on their own. So, while not complete combat monsters, these dudes are no slouches.

Earth Season

Back in the Sea season, Sick Ape had attracted the attention of a disease spirit. At the end of the Fire season, Little Fox took the risk of calling the spirit out and entered into spirit combat with sickening thing. In the end, Little Fox almost lost and was about to be possessed when a last-ditch effort turned the tide (he remembered he had a Luck point or had done math wrong or something) and he bound the spirit into his flint axe. Now the rite brothers had a powerful fetish on their side.

Dangerground: Yeah, it's like that
Were they still brothers, though? Sick Ape -- now named Dougal, who is called Cunningblade, having put away his milk name -- had passed his tests and was now a hunter of the Gaidresing clan, but Little Fox and Little Bull had not. During the Earth season, these two were allowed to travel with the hunters, though, and help them as they might. The big pressure was on Dougal, though, for he must find prey for the clan to hunt. Through a series of unlikely circumstances, Dougal found the tracks of barking deer near a stream and cautiously approached... only to fail a Stealth check at the last moment and send the deer into a literal barking panic. The tribe swooped in and struck, including the rite brothers who were around as sort of squires for the huntsmen. All in all, though, it worked and the clan brought in a pretty solid haul, which boded well for Dougal.

This hunt had occurred in Dangerground, that perilous plain that separates the kingdoms of Balazar from the unknown lands beyond. While the clan's hunters -- including the PCs -- were off not only hunting but also avoiding the alien inhabitants of the plain. Though they avoided contact with these foreign things, they had heard rumors that the Dangerground were home to foul subhumans like Broo or even worse, Trolls. The hunters tried to keep a low profile for safety's sake, and seemed to have done so, until the very last night of the season, when bonfires were lit on their horizons, as if a warning against staying any longer.

Back at the clan's camp, a growing schism was developing thanks to the rivalry between the two potential candidates for the clan's Grandmother -- the rune priest of the Hearthmother. One of the candidates is Ciana, wife of Labras, leader of the hunters. Seen to be cunning and wise if ambitious, Ciana is a strong candidate, often wining the hearts and minds of the tribe through logic. Eithne, the other candidate, is the eldest daughter of Gaidres, the clan chief. It was her daughter who the tribe sacrificed to Votanki last Sacred Time, that his tribe may grow in number and that he might bless the secret grove of yew trees he showed the tribe's ancestors. In her time on earth, Eithne has seen much sorrow -- with the death of her child at the hands of the tribe and her father's crippling during a hunt two Earth seasons ago -- and known much privilege -- as the daughter of the clan chief (Gaidres Flinttooth) and the grand daughter of the tribe's high shaman of the Honored Ancestors (Maon the Ancient).

Among the hunters, the word is that is right for Labras Trailseer, leader of the hunters and Rune Lord of the Found Child, to challenge Gaidres Flinttooth for chieftanship of the clan. Though few hunters will tell which of the two they would prefer to follow, the profitable hunt in Dangerground has put Labras on even footing with Gaidres, who had opposed the move to the perilous plain. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

DCC Donnerstag: Emergent Characters & You

The problem was simple enough: +Doug Kovacs was in town and it was game night. I typically run DCC at the +Tap Room Games Night events, and Doug had offered to run something for us instead. But it turned out he didn't have any pregens on him and had left his deck of zero-level nobodies in the car which he didn't exactly want to hike back to, so we came up with a plan. What if all the player knows about his character going into a session are the absolute minimal details? Everything else could come out of play, I suggested. Doug bit and we ended up having a damn good session with characters that started out as just a few lines on an index card and ended up being pretty well-fleshed-out adventurers.

Since that night, I've used this minimalist emergent character system several times in order to go from sitting down at the table to actually fucking playing as quickly as possible. For DCC, I've found that most halfway decent players (or better) only need a few scraps of information to get going:

  • What's their character's class? 
    • In this case, the player is deciding outright, rather than their decision being "informed" by ability scores.
  • What's their profession? 
    • Roll d100 ignoring inappropriate results or reinterpreting them to make sense; this way you know where you started -- the profession -- and where you ended up -- the class.
  • What's their Birth Augur? 
    • Roll d30; note that as of yet, you don't know how big of an effect this is going to have on the character because you don't have a Luck score. 
    • This information can really help flesh out the character from the beginning, especially when its one of the three things you know about a character and that's it. When ability scores get in the way, it's really easy for Birth Augur to get overshadowed by showier stats. 
Everything else gets rolled only when it's needed. You're making an attack roll? Well, you'll need a Strength score (or Agility), so roll it. You're making a Fortitude save? Well, you need a Stamina score, so roll it. You're casting a spell? You'll need Intelligence or Personality, so guess what? Roll it. Now, this can lead to some really screwy characters, such as wizards with a 5 Intelligence and not everyone likes that. Draw two little check marks in the corner of each 3x5" index character sheet. A player can check one of these boxes to assign the 3d6 Ability Score roll he just made to any unassigned Ability Score rather than the one in question and then re-roll. Yes, he can check the other box and re-roll again, but once both check boxes are used up, we're done, folks and the dice are just going to lie where they fall. Players can trade in any left-over check boxes for a bump to Luck on a one-for-one basis. 

Doug used this system (minus the re-roll mechanic; that's a more recent innovation) for zero level characters, but I've used it exclusively for 1st-level PCs. For zeroes, especially if you're running with multiple zeroes per player, I wouldn't use the re-roll mechanism, but that's me. Do what you want with this. 

For first-level characters, here's the stuff that I think is important to remember: 
  • Remember that folks get the d4 hit points from the level zero that they never experienced. Since these characters didn't actually survive a funnel, I sort of feel like they didn't earn this d4, but since they also didn't get winnowed down from 3-4 significantly less awesome dudes to one badass 1st-level, I think they just might need the crutch of a few extra hp. 
  • This works great for con games, especially ones of an improv nature, which is a lot of what I do. Because of this, though, I'm not sure how useful the PCs produced by this method would be in a campaign environment. The one time I tried it was by experimenting on poor +Diogo Nogueira, but he seems to have come out the other side no worse for wear. That and the guy is a total champ who rolls with whatever punches I throw his way.
  • Starting equipment can be strange here, and I don't really like to wait for folks to pick gear. Boring. Rather, at the start of the session, I prefer to ask each player what's the one useful thing they've got (other than their d24 starting item roll) or that they recently obtained. So far, no one's been too narrow-minded with this. +Pete Schwab ended up with mildly hallucinogenic and euphoric honey from bees who pollinate a particular breed of lotus. Fucking perfect. Do that. A longsword? That's the best you can come up with? Psssshhhh...
  • You may also want to give folks a few uses of untyped, generic "Dungeon Gear" that they check use to have something like a rope or some torches or (if they're clever) a lantern. Maybe a tent. Grappling hook. Something stupid like that. I don't like to keep track of that stuff in DCC because, to be perfectly honest, it kind of harshes my DCC buzz. 
  • I let wizards, elves and clerics pick 1/2 their available spells and roll the other half randomly. No one takes Invoke Patron & Patron Bond because I treat those as class features. If anyone wants to start with a Patron (and it makes sense), and here's the kicker, use their Intelligence score as the die result, modified by level. Oh, they want to Spellburn on that bond? Well, they're starting off having taken that Spellburn. No free rides, chumps. 
So, there you have it. That's what's been working for me in impromptu sessions when folks don't have characters at the ready. It works out. It's fast and fun and makes finding out more about your character at the table a really interesting experience. Sure, you may think everyone likes your halfling, but what's your Personality score say about you? Bam. 

Finally, I want to thank the folks who let me try this crazy idea out on them over the past few months: +Pete Schwab, Larry +Follow Me, And Die!+Jared Randall+Laura Rose Williams+Andrew Moss+Roy Snyder+Diogo Nogueira+Shane Harsch+Kathryn Muszkiewicz, Robin, +Jon Hutton, Evan, +Tyrus Eagle and probably a bunch of other folks who I'm struggling to remember right now. Thanks for letting me experiment on you! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Inevitable Post Marmalade Dog 2015 Post

Sadly, Marmalade Dog has been over for more than a week now. I say sadly not because I'm only now getting around to writing about it, but because this was a pretty hard con to leave, which is not what I expected at all. Here's my MarmaDog story.

Photo by Roy Snyder
I wasn't planning on hitting up Marmalade Dog, this year or ever. I had vague recollections of the con from when I lived in Kalamazoo in the 90's (which was a great time to live in K-town, by the way), and while I'm probably guilty of romanticizing many details of my early adulthood there, one that I cannot be called guilty of is overhyping the gaming scene there. Frankly, when I was in college, the gaming scene in Kalamazoo was one that I was not interested in being a part of, li'l gaming hipster me, what with its Magic: the Gathering and AD&D 2e (and 2.5e). The closest I got to being involved in the gaming scene was when I got into Warhammer 40k 4e, which meant I bummed around one of the hobby shops for spare lead.

Nowhere in that span of many years did Marmalade Dog ever make a splash in my consciousness.

I had expected, entirely unfairly and based on reports from friends and no first-hand experience, that the West Michigan Gamers Guild was a bunch of Dorito-stained neckbeards arguing over vagaries of rules loopholes in some basement somewhere.

In short, I had no fucking idea what shit was like and made up my mind how shit was based on rumor and speculation. That's bullshit.

However, that bullshit had some staying power, and somehow it lingered in my subconscious.

And then it blended with the general disregard I've seen for the old school at other small cons like MichiCon and WinterCon. Again, this is bullshit.

Going into winter, I had no intent on hitting up Marmalade Dog, despite the fact that it's in one of the coolest cities in Michigan (again, Kalamazoo and the me romanticizing it).

One fact and one fact alone changed my mind: Roy Goddamn Snyder.

All you need to know is ROY
I don't know if you know +Roy Snyder, but if you're in the DCC con crowd, chances are you've met him or will meet him sooner or later. Roy is the guy behind Goodman Games having a solid presence at a lot of northern cons like U Con, Marmalade Dog, Con on the Cob and GrandCon. He runs the booth, preaches the word and kicks a lot of ass for the game I love. He's kind of like the "Taco Jon" Hershberger of the north (Burrito Roy?).

Well, Roy lives in Kalamazoo (a fact which, I'll admit, endears him to me even further) and he decided to step up and run a bona fide OSR track at Marmalade Dog. So, when Roy asked me to run some events, there was no way I could say "no." Absolutely no way. Yes, Roy, I will be there and we will make this thing happen. I will bring my particular breed of DCC craziness to your backyard, my old stomping grounds, and tear shit up.

I packed up the truck, put Wu-Tang Clan on the Spotify, and took off for K-town.

Friday, I got there too late to participate in any games before my scheduled event, something that I hadn't bothered to name, so Roy did it for me (good job, Roy!). So, instead, I hung out with +Pete Schwab and just bummed around talking to folks like +Follow Me, And Die! Larry. When it came time to game, things got predictably crazy, but that's what happens when a group of vermen steal crates of telepathic sex dust in the Lucrewarren outside of Ur-Hadad. The crew did a great job of rolling with the crazy shit I threw at them and threw a healthy dose back at me. +Laura Rose Williams+Andrew Moss & +Jared Randall were a blast to game with, along with Pete, Larry & Roy, all of whom made their debut appearances in Ur-Hadad. Afterwards, we all tried to go out for beers, got confused as to which bar we were going to, then got stupid. Well, not all of us. Laura thought she wasn't invited for some reason.

L-R: Roy, Larry, Rob
Saturday, my old pals Rob "Lozareth" Askren (old school WoW players may recognize that name) and Georg Rumpf drove down and ended up playing in +Shane Harsch's Narosia 5e game, after which we played in Larry's 1e Village of Hommlet game (Larry's first con game as a DM!). Then Rob had to leave before I ran the second night of the ongoing DCC plotline that we were jiving on the night before.

It dawns on me that, at this time, I should call out the fact that, back in the 90's, Georg & Rob (as well as our friends Josh and Kevin and sometimes Aaron) were the dudes I wanted to game with. Having them back in the saddle for this con was badass on a personal level and reminded me of why the 90's were such a good decade for me, gaming-wise. Rob looks at everything with the mind of a fantastic DM and he picks apart everything to figure out how to make it better. Georg is quite simply one of the best players I've ever seen, and his ability to come up with a plan that should be common sense to everyone else at the table including me but isn't is astonishing. The dude has a serious facility for tearing a situation down to its raw parts and making sense out of the senseless. These are the dudes I was gaming with in the 90's. Man, I had it good.

Me (checking out Roy's ass), Roy, Shane, Larry, Jeremy, Jarod & Pete
Photo by Roy Snyder
So, the second night of my "A Night In Ur-Hadad" thing went really, really well. Roy was still playing his emaciated minotaur, we added Shane to the players as well as Georg and Chris whose last name I can never remember but I know he lives in the Ace-Deuce. Instead of being about vermen and eropathine, this night was about rugs, thugs and Rob Halford. Yep, it only makes sense if you were there. Afterwards, we hit up one of the bazillion local breweries in K'zoo ("something's" Bigg Dogg Brewery; it was pretty good) and the fun continued. In the end, the con's president stopped by and we jawed a bit about improving attendance (apparently, not everyone knows that G+ is a haven for gamers, wtf?) and the hurdles he has to jump through since the West Michigan Gamers Guild is a student organization. So far, the con hadn't ceased to be a blast for me.

But the next morning, Sunday, as I made my way into K'zoo (I was staying with my folks in South Haven, 1/2 hr west of Kalamazoo), I made some wrong turns and ended up too late to get into any games at the 11a Sunday slot. Rather than wait around to get into games, I decided to hit the road, if only because my beautiful (and pregnant! -- oh, yeah, I haven't said this over here on the blog: we're having a baby!) wife was at home and had the day off and I was getting really lonely for her. Yep, I'm a sap. Still, I'd had two great days of gaming, hanging out with awesome people (many for the first time, but I sure as hell hope not for the last!) and getting in a lot of good, satisfying gaming. It was great seeing friends old and new, and if the con will be something that brings these folks together again, then it's one I'll hit again and again.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Monster Monday: The Boulder Bear

It's been far too long since I posted a monster, about a month! Which is better than how long I went between posting monsters before then, but whatever. In my ongoing attempt to give stats to monsters that have featured prominently in my games and put them out there for others to use, I give you a beast that the Metal Gods players have learned to both fear and love: the Boulder Bear.

Boulder Bear

Init +1; Atk claw +6 melee (1d6+6) or bite +8 melee (1d4+5); AC 18; HD 8d8; MV 30' (60' rolling, see below); Act 2d20; SP bear hug, camouflage, rolling thunder; SV Fort +4, Ref +0, Will +3; AL N.

Slightly too anthropomorphic? 
In the mountains of southern Kuth, a breed of bear has developed unique adaptations to its stony environs. These bears are thought to be related to cave bears and are of a similar size, but have much longer, sharper claws and a smaller, wedge-shaped head, but their most marked difference is the rock-like keratinous deposits that form large clumps in their fur, making the bear look less like any of his lowland cousins and much more like a giant armadillo. These deposits form a layer akin to a shell, connected to the bear by its fur and grant it a high degree of camouflage; when at rest, boulder bears are usually indistinguishable from their namesakes (successful DC 13 Luck or Intelligence roll to tell the difference). This carapace gives the bear its high Armor Class.

Like most bears, if a boulder bear hits an opponent with both of its claws, it automatically initiates a bear hug maneuver, forcing the victim to succeed at a DC 20 Fortitude save or take 2d6 points of additional damage. Further, due to its rocky "shell," the boulder bear can also make a rolling thunder attack when the opportunity permits. Should the boulder bear be at a higher elevation than its opponents, it may tuck itself inside its carapace and roll downhill at its opponents. During the roll, the boulder bear is AC 20 as it covers its vital regions with its shell and moves at 60' per round rather than its normal 30', making this mode of travel the default way for the boulder bear to close the distance between it and its foes. At the end of the travel, the bear may attempt to run over any PCs in its path; all within a 10' by 40' line must make a DC 16 Reflex save or take 1d14 points of damage (no damage on a save).

Boulder bears either live solitarily or in mated pairs; they do not form larger family groups (thankfully) except while raising young. They are the ultimate scavengers of the mountains, subsisting off of whatever roots, grubs, eggs, nesting vermen or other living matter they can find above the tree line. They are fiercely territorial and will be instantly hostile to any adventurers that cross their path. However, they have only a 1-in-4 chance of being encountered awake, making such encounters unlikely unless the adventurers should interfere with the bears, perhaps believing them to the be the boulders they resemble.

[This was a fun creature to introduce to the Metal Gods campaign. At first, I said "boulder bear" as a sort of sideways shift from "polar bear," but then the additional details started to come into focus. It was one player in particular's insistence on calling them "roller bears" that earned them the rolling thunder attack form.]

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Why Do We Even Roll Dice?

Let me state at the outset of this post that it is based on a barely-even-half-baked idea. I'm writing to see where this idea goes and what we can do with it.

Why Do We Even Roll Dice?

There are some easy answers to this question and some hard ones, ones that are crappier and ones that are slightly better. I hope that my answer is of the "hard, slightly better" types. To rephrase the question: "Why is it that in rpgs, we generally use dice to determine the outcome of events?"

A couple observations before we get started:

  • Yes, I fucking love dice. This is not a dice-hater post. Find me at a con and ask me to see my dice bag and see how much love is in there. Yep, I fucking love dice. 
  • Some people don't love dice. I remember seeing a specific request on the U Con website in the run up to U Con 2013 on the "rpg requests" page for "rpgs that don't use randomizers." While I don't feel the same way, I can clearly understand why they do: these folks would rather not leave their rpg fate to the winds of chance. 
  • Yes, you can use things other than dice to get a random outcome. Castle Falkenstein was awesome and I remember it well and I know about Savage Worlds initiative. Someone could also mention the Fate Deck. Sure. You have options. 
Right, now we can get on with the fun part. Let's look at how we use dice. 

  • We roll dice to tell us if a thing happens. Like an attack roll or a saving throw. This can be binary or graded.
  • We roll dice to determine the magnitude of a thing. How much damage done. How far does it go. 
  • We roll dice to tell us what things are like. How high your Strength score is. What your age is.
  • We roll dice to give us ideas that we turn into other stuff. What wandering monster is encountered. Who's in the NPC party. What the random dungeon feature is.
In short, we roll dice to answer questions. 

Clearly, it's not the only way we could answer questions, but it's one that we use. Frequently. 

And we can answer several questions at the same time: "I hit and it's a critical!" Or in WhatevsWorld: "I did the thing, but it's a partial success so I get this particular badstuff, too." Yes, dice rolls are about probability, but they're about meaning, too. We could go about determining that meaning any number of ways.

That poster on the U Con site who asked for games without randomizers. He/she/they/pronoun could have been thinking "I want a game where the answers to questions are determined by the players and the GM!" That's cool. I can see that. An rpg where it's pretty much just "let's play pretend" or where player choice (agency?) is baked right into a success/failure mechanism or something. Maybe there are tokens that each person has that you can spend to get to narrate a particular detail. I don't know. I never even read Amber. But I can see it working. Because I am a question-answering machine, just like you.

Just like my dice.

There's a degree of comfort in the use of dice. We have old and new books full of tables that tell us to roll the dice and here's what you'll get. A sort of divination not unlike looking up that dream you had last night about the legless crocodile that stole all the cotton candy in your "10,000 Dreams Interpreted" book. Or throwing coins on the I Ching or however that thing works. I can roll some dice, look up the result and be confident that the result has meaning in and of itself. But why does just the result have meaning? Can't the roll itself have some sort of meaning? (And I'm not talking about in some ritualistic, fetishistic context, but for reals, yo.) 

I think Dice Drop Tables are alluring for this reason and also completely fucking scary. Suddenly, not just the result of the dice but also where they fucking landed is also important. I can make a table that relies on random numbers no problem; my brain is wired to answer questions like that. But when I see a super-sexy dice drop table by +Claytonian JP or +Dyson Logos or nearly all of goddamn Vornheim by +Zak Smith I get intrigued and then captivated and then lost and then I panic just a bit because my brain is not wired to work that way. This is not how my brain tends to use dice to answer questions.

And why? Why should the placement of the roll of a die matter less than whatever facet landed facing up? Is there something sacrosanct about a goddamn number that makes it more important in my brain than the physical space in which it landed? It's just not a way that I'm used to extracting meaning from a dice roll. In the broadest sense of things, the spatial relationship of dice to each cannot matter any less than the number on them. Why do I let it? 

Our attempts to use dice to answer questions is an attempt to extract meaning from their results. Dice are food for our imaginations. Impartial arbiters of "whether or not." Tellers of fortunes, dictators of woe. We give meaning to all of these things by putting them into our games and making up new bits. And yes, you can do this in other ways, but I'm having a hard time imagining ways that give a more robust array of results, even results that my brain has trouble making sense of. And if there are levels of meaning that can be extracted from a medium that aren't even readily apparent, doesn't that naturally increase its inherent utility? Dice are that medium. We roll them to find out, because they give us more robust answers than other methods of answering our questions and the only limit is our ability to extract information from them.