Kyle Mizokami

Kyle Mizokami
San Francisco, California, USA
April 11
A native of San Francisco, California, I've taken several months off in order to write the book I've always wanted. Now, I ponder finding steady employment again in the face of global recession. First published in Salon, "The Scarlet B", June 8, 2001. Posts are mostly new material, and some material being considered for a book of essays. (See blog link below.)


Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 29, 2008 2:25PM

Love and a Twenty-Sided Die

Rate: 19 Flag

The other day, puttering around in the project room with my wife, I bent down to pick up the contents of a small plastic organizer I had knocked over. A number of small wargame counters from the game "Port Stanley: Battle for the Falklands" had spilled out of the organizer all over the floor, and I wanted to pick them up before the cat took to chewing them. Royal Marines, a Pucara air unit, HMS Fearless, and a grab bag of Argentine infantry units had scattered across the old, dirty rug.

The counters and other things in the cabinet were the last artifacts from another age. They were twenty five years old, and holdovers from the days when I used to play wargames and role playing games, usually by myself. I couldn't bear to throw them away, and I probably never would. From every evaporated interest of mine I keep something--my paintball gun, my fishing rods, an old Apple laptop that I can't even power up anymore. I like having them around, as reminders of old passions, though they do tend to clutter the place up a bit.

I opened the cabinet doors, inspecting the contents. I pulled open one drawer and found I had discovered the Dungeons and Dragons dice drawer, filled with a number of brightly colored, jewel-like dice. These were relics from junior high school, during my time as a Dungeon Master. A Dungeon Master's dice collection was a symbol and extension of his authority, and I had a good collection.

The relics were semi-secret. I had mixed feelings about my past involvement in Dungeons and Dragons. Ten years ago, admitting that you were once into D&D was irredeemably  tainting. Like the fact that you were an enthusiastic participant in orgies, it was not something you told women. Now, for some reason, it's cool to admit that you were once a D&D gamer. I have no idea why, but suspect Judd Apatow and his movies have had  something to do with it.

I placed a finger in the tray and gave the pieces a good rattle. Protected from dust and dirt, they looked like they did the last time I used them...sometime in the mid-Eighties, probably while listening to Phil Collins tapes. It actually looked like I had just put them away.

Most of the dice were made from clear, brightly-colored plastic. Four-sided die were pyramid-shaped--each facet had three numbers, each number pointed in one of three directions. Six sided die--well, you know. Eight sided resembled two four-sided glued back to back. Ten and twelve looked like cheap, sparkling jewels. Twenty and thirty sided dice resembled buckyballs. I still had them all. Numbers were carved into each facet, and highlighted by using crayons of contrasting colors to fill in the number and make it really stand out. I never thought of myself as much of a decorator, but you don't want to know how much time I agonized over what crayon color looked best against ruby-red clear plastic.

I sat on the floor and idly pawed the pieces. I thought about the times when I used to play these games. I had never not been into girls--I'd had a huge crush in kindergarten on a half-Okinawan girl whose father had been in the Air Force. That really did nothing for my socialization around them--I was awkward around girls for decades. Games like these were their own entertainment, of course, but they were also a way to distract myself from the fact that there were girls out there. There were times when, wallowing in hormone-fueled self-pity, I would listlessly push cardboard counters around a map of islands in the South Atlantic wondering if I would ever find someone.

"Here, take this." I said, picking up a twenty sided die and putting it in my wife's hand. Clear and colorless, with strong black numbering, it had been used to compute innumerable fates in mortal combat against owlbears, orcs, and wolf-gods, divine how many pieces of gold should be in found treasure chests, and generally used to wow other gamers.

"You want to give me this?" My wife asked, slightly confused.

"Yep," I said. It felt like a sweet gesture, and it was. But it was a repudiation of all past doubts and uncertainties. Of all those times when I commiserated with Phil listening to that album where his face looks like a big, sweaty orange. It was planting a big nerd flag in the palm of my wife's hand, claiming her and our future together. It was a motivational YouTube video I wanted to show to every geeky, awkward kid out there who was a younger version of myself. Hold onto your dice, boys, and wait for this moment that I had. 


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comedy, games, gaming, geek, nerd, d&d

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I'm not sure about the tags on this one, but the sentiment is nice. Thumbed.
I wonder if there is a fantastically difficult to prove mathematical theory positing the minimum number of colors you need to color-code a 20 or 30 sided dice?
does it say something about me that I almost always dated D&D guys in high school? LOL - thumbs up for the good memories!
I'm listening right now to a great podcast from the Wizards of the Coast up where a WOTC professional DM takes the fellows from Penny Arcade through an adventure using the new 4th edition rules. That, and this post, make me feel like breaking out my own personal dice bag and going dungeoneering.

This post rolls a saving throw of 20, and is therefore granted a +1 thumbs up cloak from me.
I'm happy to say that I still play D&D, and so far nobody has cared to tell me how dorky that is. I keep my original 1st edition rule books out of nostalgia, and still regularly tote around my 27-year-old dice in their battered candy tin.

@icemilkcoffee: The answer is probably 3 for both, but I wouldn't know how to prove it.

Oh, and not to be obnoxious or anything, but two d4s stuck together would yield a 6-sided die. A d8 is back-to-back pyramids. Unless you're using those funny cylindrical ones.
Ahh, yes! I'm sure those dice and that old felt bag are around somewhere. Leitha the Lethal, the druid Meghan, Grace the barbarian warrior, and other roleplay characters, all mine and kickass females with attitudes and great memories. These "women" led me to reading fantasy/sword and sorcery fiction, including Marion Zimmer Bradley's shortlived Fantasy Magazine and her "Sword and Sorceress" anthologies. I still have a fondness for powerful heroines, and great distain for the helpless "screamers" and dolls expecting to be rescued. Believe me, the gaming helped me on a lot of levels.
Whatever you do, don't start playing again. Just don't. If a group of your old friends shows up and tries to get you into their "campaign," trust your instincts and politely decline. Tell them you're, uh, too busy or something. Don't make the same mistake I did, the one that haunts me as I feverishly look up out-of-town adventure game stores every time my fiancee and I travel.
mad_typist: Squee! I love the guys at Penny Arcade. My wife and I met them at the 2008 San Diego ComicCon. Jerry Holkins, who is known as Tycho, knows a bit of sign. Mike Krahulik, or Gabe, drew a picture of Hellspawn for us.

They both run a charity called Child's Play, which donates gaming equipment to children's hospitals. Classy, stand-up guys.
There is a wonderful moment that exists between two people when one gives something so meaningful to the other, who just doesn't quite get it.

There's another wonderful moment later on in life when suddenly they DO get it. I hope you find that moment, too!
Great post, fully thumbed.

Now that you've found your dice, what will you do with them? A die can't go unrolled for long!

Game designers all over the world await your next turn!
SOME women loved D&D, although they may have been accused of playing every character Chaotic Good, no matter what the alignment was supposed to be, because they just couldn't make themselves be Evil...or even Neutral..

[cough cough]

I've heard.
I think the gesture was lovely. You were giving her yourself. That's nice.

I wish I'd played D & D, but I never got a chance to do it.