When I was a teenager, four-sided roleplaying dice were made like this:
The faces were numbered. However, due to the shape of the die the face you “rolled” was the one facing the table. You figured out what you rolled by looking at the bottom edge and seeing what number was there. Confusingly, this meant that the side you rolled was the only one you couldn’t see and had every number on it except the one you rolled. That is, the “two” side had 1, 3, and 4 on it.
This struck me as a bit strange and counter-intuitive at the time. I was always unhappy with the design of the four-sided. My own thought was that the four-sided should use a different shape:
Take the standard 4 sided, then select any 2 perpendicular edges. Take these edges and move them away from each other a bit, which will make each face more of an acute isosceles triangle. You end up with this:
This will produce a four-sided solid suitable for rolling, with one side clearly facing more directly up than the others.
For whatever reason I lost interest in the game when I was about fifteen. I didn’t have anything to do with it until about 18 years later, when I started playing again in early 2005. However, I noticed the design of the four-sided has changed since I was a teen:
Now the tips are numbered, instead of the faces. I’ve been to the local
geek store comic book and RPG shop and they don’t have any of the old style dice for sale. I can only conclude they don’t make them that way any more. I wonder when this happened? Knowing geeks, I bet it was a big deal, and I’m willing to go one further and bet there are old-school purists and holdouts out there who shun the new dice. I have no evidence of this, I’m just extrapolating. I know how we geeks can get.
It’s unexpected, since every other shape uses numbered faces instead of tips, but I think the new design is much more intuitive. I had my kids (ages 4, 6, and 8 ) roll them as a test, and they found the new dice to be far easier to understand. All of them understood the new ones, but only the middle child was able to figure out how to read the old style dice.
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