Monday, December 15, 2014

Gamers and Granola

In addition to my robotics class I am also in charge of a Dungeons and Dragons group for our middle school after school program.  Yes, yes, King of the Nerds, I know.

It looks like a very fun group, and compared to robotics it is generally an easy class to do.  A little preparation and a lot of improv.  No inconvenient Laws of Physics or anything of the sort.

There are of course a lot of dice involved.  Happily my archaeology pal Moose and Hobbes has been doing conservation work on ancient Roman dice found in London.  Her stuff is always worth a read..... Romans....Game Over..

I asked her if the Romans had figured out the classic Dungeons and Dragons 20 sided dice and she immediately put me onto some interesting examples.  Most appear to have been made in Egypt, either in the Roman era or the Greek/Hellenistic era that preceded it.

These usually do not have numbers on them but instead have Greek letters or some sort of occult symbols.  They are thought to have been used for religious purposes.  This is always a go-to answer when archaeologists don't have a clue, but does make sense.  Other than being rather rare and expensive there is no reason they could not be used for D & D right now.  Oh, I also found Chinese examples, 18 siders...

In the face of such ancient continuity it saddens me to report that there will be one difference in the class this year.  In the past I had insisted - for true gamer purity - that we have snacks consisting of Mountain Dew and Cheetos.  This year I am given to understand that this is Not Permitted.

I suppose it is all a by product of the current obsession with preventing childhood obesity.  This is a pet project of our First Lady and I concede it is an attempt - albeit misguided - to work on a real problem.  But mandates without nuance are always an arbitrary foot stomp.  What party of adventurers can be expected to endure and survive the rigors of a harsh and stressful campaign without a fluorescent green strengthening draught of raw sugar and caffeine?

In my role as game master I can but shake my head and intone somberly; "We live in Dark Times. Dark Times indeed."

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