January 20, 2016

Hermes and Blind Dice

My Hermes Night rolled around again on Saturday. I finally found a suitable offering to make after someone told met that cinnamon is sacred to him, so he got cinnamon-sugar covered waffles. Next time, maybe something a little fancier, but he signaled his approval via die.

It happens that a couple of weeks ago, my wife turned up my old SCA gaming box in the garage, with an assortment of dice, squashed-marble counters, and a set of instructions for period (600-1600CE) dice games. Since I like to find related activities to help me contemplate the gods, I grabbed some dice and started rolling.

First, and without bothering to ask a question, I rolled up four verses in Sannion's Bowie-inspired Oracle of the Masks:

6-2-3 Lady Stardust sang his songs of darkness and dismay
5-4-5 Rebel Rebel, you’ve torn your dress.
1-3-2 You know, you know
2-2-4 Can you dig our groovy feelin’?

Sounds like a good night at the goth club. Which does actually roll back around to another of my projects, via Death Guild, to which I have actually been. (Didn't tear my dress, though.)

From the box, I snagged a set of six wooden cubes on which I'd hand-drawn one number (1-6) on each, and on the other faces eight-rayed stars. I vaguely recalled them as being for a game called Blind Dice, which sounded appropriate, and I plonked down three gambling counters on the altar, then rolled the dice onto it. All stars. Blind dice.

Then I actually bothered to read the instructions for Blind Dice in the pamphlet. Here they are. No author is listed.

Blind Dice

Being a 16th Century Italian Gambling Game

To play this game, you must have six square dice each having six sides. Five sides of each die will be empty -- or will be marked with a fanciful image -- and the other side will have a number from one to six.

One player must be the bank or the house. If more than one player wishes to be the bank, they must roll the dice. The player who succeeds at rolling the highest score will be the first banker.

The player to the left side of the banker begins by putting up a stake of coins (bid, ante, wager). It is the custom to set a limit to the amount that can be bid. This player then rolls all six dice. If no number shows, the player has rolled Blind Dice and loses the stake to the banker. If the dice total 1 through 8, the player has kept the stake. But if the dice total 9 or more, the banker must pay the player who rolled as follows:

9 or 10...........amount equal to the wager
11 or 12...........twice the wager
13.................three times the wager
14.................four times the wager
15.................five times the wager
16.................ten times the wager
17.................fifteen times the wager
18.................twenty times the wager
19.................twenty-five times the wager
20.................fifty times the wager
21.................ninety times the wager

For those who like to know the odds, there is a 34% chance that a player will roll Blind Dice -- no numbers at all. There is a 56% chance that 1-8 will be rolled. The odds are small that you will roll a 21! Therefore, you can see that with any good gambling game the odds clearly lie with the bank or house!

Sounds like Hermes' kind of game to me.

And now I remember why my sack of counters is enormous. And heavy. It was for Blind Dice. Ninety times the wager! Good grief!