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Tuesday, 9th October, 2012, 03:31 PM #1
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Family Gamers: Of d4’s, feet and dragons…
Hi, everyone. Welcome to my new article for EN World, Family Gamers. My name is Marie, aka Shadowmask here on the forums, and I’ll be your guide through the wacky plane of family and games. My goal is to provide an entertaining window into the vagaries of family gaming with a heavy dose of humor, and you are an integral part of determining whether an article is a crit, hit, miss or epic fail. Criticism, suggestions, and all that jazz are encouraged. On with the show…well, the article, anyway.
How does an unsuspecting adult step onto a d4 at just the right angle to place the pointy-side-up and just the right time for your mother to wash your mouth out with industrial strength soap if she’s nearby despite your age? That question is incredibly pertinent if one plays any of the games reliant upon polyhedral dice. It gains greater urgency if one plays polyhedral dice-based games AND happens to have children with access to the dice bags containing said dice.
First, let me explain an important part of the typical gamer’s physiology. A gamer’s feet are much like dragons in that they have a tough upper surface and a soft “underbelly.” Don’t believe me? Drop a die of any kind on to the top of your foot. It hurts. It may even leave a mark depending on the size of the die dropped. Please notice it does not cripple. Now, let’s examine the dynamics of stepping on those same dice. The pain increases exponentially as the foot arches or leans away from the point of contact at a sharper angle than either the Gateway Arch in St Louis, MO or the Tower of Pisa in Pisa, Italy. You wobble and hobble for the rest of the day. Proof the sole of the foot is akin to a dragon’s underbelly - soft, supple and vulnerable. The d4 takes this excruciating experience to an entirely different level.
For all intents and purposes, a d4 automatically crits on a hit. It targets the nerve that connects one’s foot to one’s eyesight. Yes, that lovely shaft of pain BLINDS any functioning person for 1d6 seconds (no save). The pain forces a Will save to avoid an automatic shift of an otherwise adult vocabulary into the vulgar zone (DC 20 + your age in years, rounded up). This effect lasts for 1d8+3 minutes. If you step on a d4 after midnight, you incur a -2 penalty to the save. Each hour after midnight until sunrise imposes a cumulative -2 penalty to your roll and a +20% chance that the vulgarity indulged in will more closely resemble the F-bomb than any other possible word choice regardless of your native language.
Non-gamers would read that paragraph and ask “What in the %*#&^$%@ is that gobbledy-gook about?” We’re gamers, though, and that mess makes a whole lot of sense to us. If you’ve ever had a d4 relegate your otherwise excellent oratory skills straight into the fluorescent sludge at the bottom of a sewer, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Why does this happen? Children. Well, maybe pets. Nah, definitely children.
Too curious by half and pathologically attracted to anything taboo, a child will dive into a dice bag without thought of the consequences, those usually involving an unsuspecting adult’s feet and a “lost” d4 or three. The shiny, loud, dangerous objects attract the diabolical heathens like honey attracts ants. Let me elaborate.
My husband and I are a fairly normal gaming couple. As such, we decided our children would be introduced to polyhedral dice at a very young age. We were smart and started the kids with plushy d10s. Choking on the real thing would’ve been bad for the parental image. As the children grew up, we let them borrow a set from us as necessary. Then our eldest, now 16, requested a dice set of his own. “Success!” we thought. “We have introduced our children to an endless world of creativity, dragons and heroes. Our eldest has been bit by the D&D bug that will last a lifetime.” What’s not to love, right?
Well, the d4 for one, but that comes later. We agreed he was responsible enough at 8 to have his own set so long as he kept them up and away from the younger children, ages newborn to 6 at this time. (Any self-aware adult will tell you young kids eat anything if given the chance.) For a month, maybe two, he did not break this rule by one iota. Then we got complacent, and he got lazy. Game day came; it was time to pull out the dice and let ‘em roll. And we heard that stultifying question every gamer and their feet dread, “Where’s my d4?”<O</O
“What do you mean, where’s your d4? Don’t you have it?” This was followed by a massive search under tables, chairs and beds. Cushions, blankets, pillows and even mattresses sprouted wings and flew through the air, into walls and out of the rooms. The search then shifted to include behind furniture, in toilets and in drains. Who knew each of us had Superman’s strength and a cast iron stomach? Seriously, do you know what kids do in drains? Never mind what one finds in toilets and the monstrous spiders’ smallest cousins hiding out behind innocuous couches waiting for an unsuspecting arachnaphobe (that would be me) to sit within their reach. I didn’t believe it until my toes curled into my heels just at the thought of the missing d4 finding the soft under parts of my feet.
None of the younger children had incurred any awkward intestinal developments, so we were fairly certain they hadn’t decided a bright, shiny and pointy object would make an excellent snack at some point during the previous few days. And I wasn’t going to go diaper diving to find out at that point. At the end of the day, instead of game time, we had search time. That was followed up by time out, confiscation of the dice family abandoned by its lowliest member, the d4, and copious amounts of tears and apologies.
Days went by. Weeks went by. The d4 truly seemed to have dimension doored into the ether at some point. We forgot about it and loaned our remorseful 8 year old some dice. Life continued on. Then the baby got sick. Sick baby equates with massive amounts of lost sleep. This leads to blurry vision and drunken stumbling. Drunken stumbling opened the dimensional portal and out popped the d4…right under foot.
The dragon roared caustic verbiage while its eyesight shifted into the black/red spectrum of agonizing pain. I realized I still had the baby, who was not best pleased to see her mother transformed into an avatar of Tiamat. I hobbled along until I was able to gently lay my innocent youngest child down to cry her distress to the rafters. Ignoring her strident cries and the other children’s restless shifting, I slowly hobbled my way back to the d4. Cursing it, I dumped it into my dice bag for safe keeping…Where it promptly cursed my d20’s to roll high when I needed to roll low and roll low when I needed to roll high.
What are your stories of dice, dragons’ underbellies and gaming with kids?
Last edited by Morrus; Tuesday, 9th October, 2012 at 06:00 PM.
Tuesday, 9th October, 2012, 03:50 PM #2
Lama (Lvl 13)
My one and only son never misplaced any die. Ever. On the contrary, even at a very young age, he would find the ones I misplaced.
Now that we have a whole load of cats, they constantly want to get into our dice - which we have in small tool drawers, not bags. They are mostly interested in messing with the dice when we are playing. One of the cats uses them almost correctly, so I sometimes let him dice for me. He even manages to keeps them on the table, and I swear he was grinning at me when my elven PC got a 1 rolled by him lately.
The strange thing is, the dice can stand on the tables, momentarily forgotten for a few days, and nothing would happen. Then one day all of the cats, at the same time, decide to host a gaming afternoon on their own, resulting in almost all of the dice choosing different trajectories at astonishing speed.
It was one reason why we got new furniture with less space under them so both less cat toys and less human toys could roll under them. And while we replaced the furniture, we found about 2 sets of dice - not matching color, of course, but still - lots of small change and other stuff we had been wondering where it went to.
Yes, d4s are annoying to step on even if you wear flops in the house. But I find a d20 way more annoying to step on, because it usually ends with me in a less that vertical position. So positionally challenged, I get condescending mreowrs from the feline family members while they try to climb on me. I expanded my collection of made up curses quite a bit since this happened the first time.
I realize it has been a few months since I last slipped or stepped on any die. Which probably means it's going to happen again soon.
Ah, RPGs. Something to die for.
Tuesday, 9th October, 2012, 08:09 PM #3
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
I think most serious gamers know of at least one person who's stepped on a d4. For a while this phenomenon confused me. It then occurred to me that no matter which way a d4 lands it's always 'pointy end up'. I guess you could liken it to something of a 'modern caltrop'.
Thanks for the article! I have too many RPG stories to share at the moment and must get back to work, but thanks for the opportunity to share them!
All the Best,
Tuesday, 9th October, 2012, 08:54 PM #4
Gallant (Lvl 3)
And then you can buy black d4s, to make life just that much more exciting.
Wednesday, 10th October, 2012, 05:43 PM #5
Novice (Lvl 1)
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ø Block Stouthart
I second the comment about cats. One of my friends has an infamous d20 he still uses we christened "cat-poop die" (but use another word for 'poop'... you know the one.) This poor die was swallowed by his cat and he later found it while cleaning out the litter box. Don't ask me why he decided to clean it off and keep it...
Good article shadowmask. Had me chuckling the whole time I was reading it.
Wednesday, 10th October, 2012, 10:10 PM #6
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
@Lwaxy <!-- END TEMPLATE: dbtech_usertag_mention -->: lol Cats are "eeveel" no question about it. What they don't tell you is their nocturnal shenanigans mostly involve plotting how to maneuver you into the vicinity of a d20 attuned to you. Then they laugh behind their paws when your perspective suddenly shifts from normal to "Floor-Ceiling".
<!-- BEGIN TEMPLATE: dbtech_usertag_mention -->@Challenger RPG <!-- END TEMPLATE: dbtech_usertag_mention -->: You're welcome. If/when you get a moment, jump back in.
<!-- BEGIN TEMPLATE: dbtech_usertag_mention -->
@SLOTHmaster <!-- END TEMPLATE: dbtech_usertag_mention -->: Black d4's. That's just plain cruel and unusual. You're a GM aren't you?
<!-- BEGIN TEMPLATE: dbtech_usertag_mention -->
@Stouthart <!-- END TEMPLATE: dbtech_usertag_mention -->: Wow!! Just...Wow! I don't think I could be that brave, even with bleach. Imagine the stories that die could tell. Then again, maybe not.
Thank you for reading. I'm very glad you enjoyed the article.
Last edited by shadowmask; Wednesday, 10th October, 2012 at 10:14 PM.
Thursday, 11th October, 2012, 05:01 AM #7
Defender (Lvl 8)
My cat is boring. She shows no interest in my dice, merely in taking as much of a king-size bed as possible.
Now, my son on the other hand.... He just found my bag of dice from one of the D&D starter sets (probably 3.5) and insisted I open them for him. He immediately took the d20 (of course) but also the d12, showing an old-school vibe I had not expected, since he won't be two until December.
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