Romans Used 20-Sided Dice Two Millennia Before D&D

Annoyingly casual journalistic license, but amusing anyway. Why would a glass die with unidentified non-Roman numerals bought in Egypt in the 20s be called Roman?

Romans Used 20-Sided Dice Two Millennia Before D&D


Many of us geeks take great pride in the ability to recite the history of role-playing games based on the 20-sided die, but what about the history of the die itself? Apparently it predates the original Dungeons and Dragons by almost two millenia.

Christie’s, auctioneer to the rich and famous, sold a glass d20 from Roman times. It was included in a collection of other antiquities that sold in 2003. The markings on the die don’t appear to be either Arabic or Roman numerals, but it’s probably a safe bet that it was used in a game of chance. As the auction catalog notes that several polyhedral dice are known from the Roman era, but remarks, ” Modern scholarship has not yet established the game for which these dice were used.”

I wonder – how do you say “critical hit” in Latin? (Ed. note: “maxima plaga”)

The seller acquired this die from his father, who picked it up in the 1920s in Egypt. Sounds like the beginning of an Indiana Jones movie, doesn’t it?

And on that note, haven’t got a copy yet, but I have to check it out:

D&D 4rth edition has just released:

What interests me most about the new rules are the online tools, called (and sold) as DnD Insider. Check this out – about time, eh?

D&D Character Builder, a program that helps you create and manage your D&D characters. This program allows you to create a character for any D&D game, walking you through the process of rolling the dice and assigning your game statistics, as well as creating a visual version of your character using “paper doll” models and “drag and click” selections of armor and weapons. At the end, you can save your character and print out a character sheet, as well as go to any D&D tournament and call up your character for use, or use the character at the Virtual Gaming Table (see below). With this package, you get to create and store up to 10 different characters or up to 10 different versions of one character (your character at different levels), or some combination of the two.
•Exclusive D&D-related novels and short stories written by your favorite authors
•Real-World D&D Search Engines (find D&D gamers, game stores, tournaments, and events in your area)
•In-Game D&D Search Engines (find feats, spells, magic items, and other D&D-related topics)

Digital Gaming Table, a program that allows you to play D&D using the Internet as your kitchen table, with a viewable play surface, dice rolling, virtual miniatures, and voice chat. Now you don’t have to wait for your home gaming group to get together to play a game of D&D. You can still play your weekly face-to-face game, but now you can also play two or three more times a week by finding a game at the virtual table. Or, you might want to reconnect with your old gaming pals who long ago moved away-now you can all play together again on a regular basis!

How geeky is this? And this? And this? 😀


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