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There are some weird, recurring numbers in gaming.

One of those numbers is six. You might see it on a d6. You might see it on a +6 magic sword. You might see it in the number of useful NPCs in town, or the number of buildings on a given map. If it isn’t five, it’s six. Why?

We have some magical numbers that recur in our cultural consciousness. One of those numbers is sixty. Wasn’t I just talking about the number six? Wait for it… six is a factor of sixty. Ah, the connection begins to form. Why sixty?

There are sixty minutes in an hour. Why is that significant? Well, there are three hundred sixty degrees in a circle. Why is that significant? Well, six sixties is three hundred sixty. What does any of this mean?

You can pretty much blame the Babylonians. What are you talking about?

See, the Babylonians used base-60 for counting lots of things, and their counting system persists to this day. As it turns out, using base-60 was really useful for counting things that were really big — or something like that.

This has some effects on gaming, in our dice, levels, and modifiers.

Sixty has a bunch of factors — two (thirty), three (twenty), four (fifteen), five (twelve), six (ten), ten (six), twelve (five), fifteen (four), twenty (three), and thirty (two) — not counting the obvious one (sixty) and sixty (one).

Base-60 is great for planning things, like dividing plot elements into a one-hour block of television programming, or how many adventures should make up an adventurer’s career to epic, super-stardom.

One hero, twelve adventures! Huzzah!

Really, your choices of game system can be determined based on how many “levels” in your adventurer’s career are accrued during a single adventure.

How about one? That’s pretty old school. You’re between levels eight and ten when you’re done (fourteen if you do lots of extra credit work).

Is it two? Well, you’re probably sitting pretty at 3e or Pathfinder.

Is it three? Well, you’re a shoe-in for 4e.

If you want to advance 4-6 levels per adventure, you’re probably looking at a typical JRPG — take a look at Final Fantasy or Shin Megami Tensei. Also, lots of MMORPGs are closer to this because they want your money.

Why twelve adventures? Well, there are twelve months in a year, and a typical gaming group has difficulty doing any one thing more than about a month at a time. After 4-5 weeks they get restless unless they’re earning levels.

Incidentally, this is one of the reasons 4e levels you every other week.

There are a lot of places where the numbers two, three, four, five, six, ten, twelve, fifteen, twenty, and thirty come into play, which you’ll no doubt start noticing now that I’ve pointed it out to you.

Pretty soon you won’t be able to ignore it.