I must admit I can’t remember if I ever did use the 20-sided dice correctly whilst playing Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. I knew of a concept of THAC0 which was to be modified by something or other, to decide whether you ‘hit’. But to be brutally honest – all the pen and paper sessions during my youth (and currently the only pen and paper sessions of my life) were generally weighted towards getting the players to level 20 as quickly as possible and then going on to create strongholds and single-handledly vanquish dragons. All in the space of a 6-hour session.
Stefan and Stefanie Stormblade, two human fighters, being rewarded instantly with enough XP to immediately progress to level 20 (I forget the detail – don’t suppose it’s important) and through some chance meeting to gain the complete and utter trust of the ruling Elite of Darokin. Probably via that little collection of villages where the halflings live.
In no time at all the d20 had only really become a means of deciding whether the Orc being attacked would be hit successfully, or in about 5% of cases, his head would be removed from his shoulders. Probably with one of the several vorpal blades found whilst travelling as level 1 greenhorns.
When you are twelve years old (with completely non-serious friends) and you start to get immersed in the magic stemming from the late Monsieur Gygax, you don’t really want to go through the rigmarole of heavy role-playing. I should know, I have eye-witness accounts.
You want to rise from obscurity in the course of the afternoon to be the most feared and trusted warrior in the land. You want to use your spoils of war to build a huge rock stronghold, raise an army, and commission an armada to travel with your sister across the seas to Alphatia.
You order them to bow in front of you as you make landfall, they immediately sense your heroic presence. Perhaps it’s the bag of holding filled to the brim with magical swords, picked earlier that afternoon out of the equipment list in the hardback tomes that sit in the middle of the bedroom floor. Enough treasure to outfit each of your hired arms with a full complement of deliciously savage and arcane weaponry. The dungeon master indulging you without restraint.
And then you dream of taking to the stars, and find someone somewhere to make you a huge wooden butterfly capable of magically exiting the planets gravity well.
Four, six, eight, ten, twelve and that iconic twenty sided dice. The destiny of your character in the rolling and spinning forms, apparently.
But the contract for your fate has already been signed by the conjoined imagination of four small friends.