About the Manual

The Nerd Manual is meant to be both a useful resource for nerds and a guide for the people involved with nerds. If you're a nerd you can find information here that will help you improve your life and perhaps better understand yourself. If you're close friends with, dating, or married to a nerd, I want to give you insight into things nerds do that a lot of people have difficulty understanding.

I hope to avoid offending anyone--either nerd or non-nerd--but please understand that the manual will get into some sensitive topics, stray into contentious territories, and even use stereotypes to illustrate points. It's OK to disagree with something, but keep your comments civil.


Ancient Nerd Artifacts: d20

Met Museum - 20-Sided Die
One of the universal symbols of nerd-dom is the d20--a 20-sided die most commonly used in Dungeons and Dragons and other role playing games. While there are a handful of board games that also use a d20, they tend to be niche oriented and mostly played by...well...nerds.

So, when nerds notice a d20 from the Ptolemaic period in the Metropolitan Museum collection of Egyptian artifacts, we immediately conclude that the banks of the Nile were a hotbed of role playing crocodiles!

OK, not really, but it's natural for us to imagine that a 2000 year old faience d20 must have been part of a really interesting game with so many random outcomes that the Egyptians took the time and effort to construct a die with enough sides to encompass them all. It also leads to some interesting conversations about what the ancient Egyptian equivalent of Dungeons and Dragons would be: Deserts and Drakons? Slings and Serpents? Pyramids and Pythons?

There are a multitude of other dice in the Met Museum collection, but the most common is the mundane 6-sided die, or d6, the same kind you use in pretty much every board game, which means the existence of a d20 in the collection is something very special that makes all of us nerds feel a little bit of kinship with the ancient Egyptians.

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