See what I did there? I used the Writing Rule of Three to enforce my point. Orators and rhetoricians have used threes to great effect:
- "Never, never, never give up." -- Winston Churchill
- "Read my lips: No New Taxes" -- George H.W. Bush (special double emphasis version)
- "If today I stand here as a revolutionary, it is as a revolutionary against the Revolution." -- Adolph Hitler
Threes are very popular, and very powerful. So much so that a 2nd Edition AD&D game setting called Planescape created a world where the rule became the law, and then expanded upon this by making two other laws, thus forming a perfect triad of cosmological law:
- The first principle, the Rule-of-Three, says simply that things tend to happen in threes. The principles which govern the planes are themselves subject to this rule.
- The second principle is the Unity of Rings, and notes that many things on the planes are circular, coming back around to where they started. This is true geographically as well as philosophically
- The third principle is the Center of All, and states that there is a center of everything — or, rather, wherever a person happens to be is the center of the multiverse... from their own perspective, at least. As most planes are functionally infinite, disproving anyone's centricity would be impossible. In Planescape, this is meant philosophically just as much as it is meant in terms of multiversal geography.
- Saving Throws: Fortitude, Reflex, and Will.
- Base Attack Bonus: Good, Average, Poor.
- Core Books: Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, Monster Manual.
But when I created my "The Light, the Dark, and the Gray" post (again, note the three), I realized how the two axes of Ethics (law vs chaos) and morality (good vs evil) created nine possible alignments, When I started looking, I found nines everywhere! Which makes sense when you think about it, because nine is really just three in triplicate.
- As previously stated, nine alignments: Lawful Good, Lawful Neutral, Lawful Evil; Chaotic Good, Chaotic Neutral, Chaotic Evil; Neutral Good, True Neutral, and Neutral Evil.
- Nine size categories: Fine, Diminutive, Tiny, Small, Medium, Large, Huge, Gargantuan, Colossal.
- There are actually nine forms of unique dice used in D&D. In addition to the standard d4, d6, d8, d10, d12 and d20, there is the d3 (half a d6 and used for unarmed strikes), the d2 (half a d4 and used for several small-size weapons) and the d1, aka the single point of damage that sneaks in through a variety of different means, usually through wording like "damage may not be reduced below 1 hit point."
- Important weapon data: Simple, Martial, or Exotic? Smashing, Bludgeoning, or Piercing? Damage, Critical multiplier, and Range.
- Before Third edition introduced zero-level cantrips and orisons, spells went from level (power) one to level nine. Everyone knows that all the best spells are ninth level.
- And I know this last one will be met with suspicion, when you look at my Compass Rose of Character Classes, there are nine distinct positions.
Since I have to force a conclusion here, I will end with this: D&D has, from the beginning, been about numbers and symbolism. I think it would be neat to create a campaign world -- even an entire cosmology -- where the Law of Nine was apparent and important. However, I don't know how I'd do that without making it just a multiple of the Law of Three.
But this isn't just an excuse to pad my postcount with blogfodder. I actually am working on a campaign world, more for fun than anything else, and I'll try to work Nines into it somehow. If you have any ideas on how to implement this, please leave a comment below... I'd love to see what similarly deranged minds can come up with.
Now playing: Sisters of Mercy - Nine While Nine