Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Ads of Dragon: 20 Plus

As every gamer knows (or ought to know), the D10 is a late addition to the menagerie of dice. Until its appearance, we made do with D20 numbered 0-9 twice. I'm pretty sure I didn't lay eyes on a D10 until I got a copy of the Moldvay-edited Basic Rules, though it's possible I saw one before then. At any rate, by the time this ad appeared in issue #63 of Dragon (July 1982), D10s were well established in the hobby.
So it's fascinating that Gamescience was not only still selling "percentile D20s" in 1982 but was in fact touting its ability to serve as a D10, D20, and D100 (and D2, which is even weirder). Mind you, I owned several games, like FASA's Star Trek, that included Gamescience 20 Plus dice in their boxes, but those were pretty much the only occasions where I saw them being used instead of D10s. Though I nowadays prefer percentile D20s, I didn't back in the day and I'll be the first to admit that my current love of them almost entirely an affectation.

23 comments:

  1. What is with the guarantee to last more than 2 years? I don't remember that being a problem back then.

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  2. What is with the guarantee to last more than 2 years? I don't remember that being a problem back then.

    I've seen a number of older dice literally shatter upon hitting the table after a while. Some of the early dice were decidedly fragile.

    Though I nowadays prefer percentile D20s, I didn't back in the day and I'll be the first to admit that my current love of them almost entirely an affectation.

    In a hobby full of affectations, I think this one is fairly minor :). I just got my first ever 20+ die last week, and I like the idea of them. I don't know if it's some sort of subconscious aesthetic reaction to the fact that they're Platonic solids or what, but they just seem "right".

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  3. I remember some advanced wear happening rather quickly. Although with weekend long game sessions, the dice did get a workout.

    These are really the best design for dice. The only flaw being the "Red one is the tens"

    "No, the white one is tens. It's always been..."

    Don't have that problem with the D10 percentiles.

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  4. I've got two '20 Plus' dice that I've had for years. They're my absolute favorites.

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  5. I wish I still had my original 20+ die. I loved it.

    I recently despaired of ever getting another, so I bought some 20-sided d10's on ebay. They really confuse the younger gamers around me!

    But I think they roll better, probably because they're regular polyhedra and not mutants.

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  6. aah, so THAT'S what that dice is!!
    I got a few in a bulk lot on ebay a while ago

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  7. I'm pretty sure these dice were appearing in Call of Cthulhu and Lords of Creation boxed sets throughout most of the eighties.

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  8. I think that the Ads of Dragon series is a really interesting way of rereading the old Dragons. It reminds me of watching old VHS tapes of the Movie of the Week, where half the fun is watching the old commercials.

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  9. I remember getting mine from ElfQuest RPG (don't look at me like that - Real Men like Pini's elves, after all). Apart from the regular use, I wanted to get something special out of the configuration, and eventually realized that these dice were great to be used as 'exploding' dice or d(infinity): Normal numbers: just what it reads; With + sign: roll again and add to previous. Although the only time I recall using the mechanic was determining daily Wind Strenght...

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  10. I'm sure I have one or two of these in the old Crown Royal bag. Always preferred d10s for percentile rolls, though.

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  11. I had to stare at that picture for 10 minutes before I could figure out how it could be used as a percentile die. Am I dumb or it just not obvious?

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  12. @Erin: Any d10 can be used as a single-digit percentile die. In this case you just ignore whether or not a "+" is present and treat '0' as zero rather than ten.

    What I don't get is the comment of "without useless 1's or 2's" Whuh?

    All the original dice my friends had were made of a softish plastic and became distinctly rounder over time, so wear was definitely an issue. We also definitely had several d20s which just listed 1-0 twice and you needed to fill in with two different colors of wax pencil before using...

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  13. The 20 Plus is a favorite of mine, and I think I acquired most of mine in Chaosium and Yaquinto RPGs, if I recall correctly. I just wish Koplow made them, too.

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  14. Never had one. I only roll Chessex.

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  15. @Yobgod: I think the "useless 1's or 2's" refers to the first digit of the numbers 10-20, which would have to be ignored if you wanted to use d20s numbered 1-20 as percentile dice.

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  16. does anyone know what these were used for?

    http://www.dicecollector.com/D30_OPAQUE_SHARP_SOLID_ARMORY_01.jpg

    it's a d30 with 0-9, -0-09, and +0-+9

    I've have some of these and they look pretty old school, like roughly armory/early gamescience era.

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  17. "The world's only D-2, D-10 & D-20 All In One"

    Isn't every d20 also a d10 and a d2?

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  18. @J

    I have a one of those -- clear with white numbers. I think they were marked that way so you could use them as d30s or percentile dice. I'm not positive, because it was years ago and I never really used my d30s for actual gaming, but I think the intention was that the minus numbers meant "add 20" the same way the plus numbers meant "add 10."

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  19. My buddy Theron has a d20 that he kept in his pocket throughout his gaming youth, and it took on an almost perfectly spherical shape.

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  20. Every die type is normal die type is a d2.
    Having a d10 that is also a d20 is a little handy.
    For a while I liked to roll the 20 sided D10's as the tens digit and the measly d10's as the units digit in a d100 made it easy to resolve the age old "so which digit's is 10's again?" issue that came up before there was a 10's die.

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  21. I have one of these, it's my favorite d20 and I still roll it to this day... I've had it for around 30 years.

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  22. I recently purchased a pound of gamescience dice, and got several of these. What I found to be strange though was a d6 labeled as 2,3,3,4,4,5. No idea what that would be for.

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  23. I’ve seen the d6 numbered 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5 called an “averaging die”. If I recall correctly, the idea is that if you roll one of these with a regular d6 you get roughly the same range as 2d6 (range 3–11 instead of 2–12) but with a smoother probability curve. It can be a drop-in replacement for 2d6 unless you treat rolls of 2 and 12 specially. I’ve seen the occasional game that used them but can’t remember a specific example.

    I love my d20+ dice. I have two from “back in the day” and have recently acquired a bunch more. My “true” d10s have all been moved from the “in use” bag to the storage box.

    I’m thinking of trying to find a d30± so that I can use it for the ones digit and a d20+ for the tens digit when rolling d%.

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