Dice Necklace

As we’re coming up to Black Friday & Cyber Monday, it’s worth taking a look at one of the cool gift items: dice necklaces.

I’ve seen several different types of dice necklaces out there, by I think the coolest one so far is this lovely one for sale on Chained Creativity.

dice necklace

When you look closely, you can see that the cage that encases the d20 is just a series of rings fastened together, but it forms a really attractive bit of jewelry. The maker of this necklace makes them with all kinds of different d20s inside — just poke around her store a bit.

For other awesome geek gifts, ThinkGeek is filled with awesome stuff as always, and for non-geek shopping, you can check out Wayfair Coupons — it’s kinda like Amazon for home stuff, but with better filters making it easy to find stuff.

Stained Glass Dice

There are a decent number of awesome craft gamer products out there, and thanks to Etsy, a lot of those cool craft projects are available to buy. One of the cooler looking ones I’ve seen recently is stained glass dice.

Stained glass dice

You can buy these stained glass, hand-crafted dice over at DiceyDecor’s Etsy Store — as cool as these things are (and they’re really cool) they are too ginormous to roll, and I suspect they’d probably break if you did try to roll them anyway — the description on the Etsy store stresses that they are not intended for game play.

So these are strictly a decoration, rather than something you can actually game with. But a classy decoration, I think we can agree.

LED D20

One of the most delightful holiday gift products you can get the gamer in your life is the Critical Hit LED d20 from ThinkGeek. This is a large plastic d20 that blinks red red you roll a natural 20.

led d20

The LED d20 is totally awesome; however, in practice it’s not terribly practical. The die is awkwardly large and all the electronics inside make it pretty clearly unbalanced. You need a good amount of space to roll it (I’ve found the best way is to spin it in the air, since it won’t roll much on the table).

For day to day gaming the Critical Hit d20 it’s terribly practical; however, for special occasions, for GMs running one-off con games, and for showing off it’s awesomeness to your friends the LED d20 is a pretty sure-fire hit for any gamer.

Artisan Dice: Dice Manufacturer

I just recently discovered the amazing Artisan Dice (thanks to a comment here). This are individually machine crafted wooden dice made from fancy woods. They started as a kickstarter project trying to raise $300 to get going, and ended up raising over $90,000!

artisan-dice

These dice ain’t cheap — right now it looks like they only sell sets of 4 six-sided dice (either regular d6 or Fudge dice) and on the cheap end they’ll cost around $30 for the four dice, and upwards of several hundred dollars for a set of four, depending on the type of wood that you want.

But holy gods, these are gorgeous dice and are absolutely worth drooling over! We can only hope that as they get up to speed they add more kinds of dice to their capabilities and start producing full 7-dice sets. Update: They apparently do sell polyhedral sets; however, I haven’t yet found where on the site you can see and buy them.

From the info on their site, it looks like they’ll sell to game stores; however, they will not sell to any online dealer. So the only place you can buy their dice online is directly through them.

I suspect that if they continue to be successful, they’ll have to make a decision whether they’re a custom dice shop, or if they’re a manufacturer — manufacturers aren’t afraid of retailers competing with them, in fact the more places that carry your product the better (because you sell more and make more money that way) while the custom shop takes a much larger cut for themselves and deals in vastly smaller volumes, and doesn’t sell to stores. Note: see the comments for a discussion with Artisan dice about selling online vs offline.

Dice Randomness Tested

A great post over at Awesome Dice examines how randomly RPG dice really roll. They rolled Chessex dice and GameScience dice in two tests: one of 10,000 rolls of a d20 of each, and a follow-up confirmation test of 1,600 rolls each.

Their test showed that none of the dice rolled completely true, but that GameScience rolled more true than Chessex. However, they also stressed that the difference is incredibly small. You would have to roll over 1,000 times before you saw a difference, and even then the difference would be only 5 or 10 off from expected.

I think overall this test shows that our gaming dice all roll pretty good, regardless of the manufacturer. You can read their full write up of the test here.

Where to Buy RPG Dice

RPG gaming polyhedral dice really didn’t exist until the launch of Dungeons & Dragons in 1976. While they are far more common today, RPG dice can still be hard to come by — after all, you still can’t walk into the drug store to pick them up.

There are two basic options: get ’em from a game store, or buy your dice online. I’m going to list a few online stores a bit later, but if you have a game store in your area, you should absolutely hit that up instead.

Friendly Local Game Store

If you are at all involved in RPG gaming, you need to find out if you have a friendly local game store at all near you. If you do, you need to buy your dice and games from them!

Local game stores are where gamers come together to meet, where they discover awesome new games and — most importantly — where new gamers are created! But in this age of internet discount sales, friendly local game stores are dying out. Here’s how it goes:

  • More and more people buy their games online for cheaper from retailers who don’t have the overhead of retail space and employees.
  • Game stores make less money, and can’t stay in business. There are fewer and fewer game stores (this is already happening!)
  • Fewer new gamers stumble into game stores and spark their imagination with worlds of gaming. Fewer new gamers are created.
  • With fewer gamers, less of all games are sold as older gamers retire.
  • Publishers sell fewer games. This hits larger, professional publishers hardest (the ones that actually have paid game designers) and they publish fewer games, fewer new things and instead just make more of the same. Over time there are fewer publishers.
  • With fewer publishers taking less chances, there are fewer games for all of us.
  • Everyone loses.

So please buy your dice from your local game store if at all possible. And more importantly, buy all your games from the local game store too. Yes, when you buy retails you’re going to pay more than you will through internet discounters, but you are very literally supporting the future of RPG gaming. And by getting your games from a local game store, you’re helping to ensure that there will be more great games in the future.

That said, not everyone has a game store local to them. In fact, if you don’t live near a large city, buying your games from retails is very likely impossible. In that case — go for it and buy your dice or your games online.

Buying Dice Online

There are a solid handful of places to buy your dice online. Some of them are general game stores, and others specialize only in dice. As you might imagine, the dice specialty stores usually have the best selection, make it easiest to find the dice, and have the best dice photos (usually).

The general stores are usually much harder to find stuff, have shitty photos and stuff out of stock; however, they’re also usually cheaper (though in the world of dice you’re talking about saving a buck or less). And of course you can buy games as well as dice.

  • Awesome Dice — sells dice only and my favorite dice store, US and Canada
  • Board Game Central — general store selling lots of stuff
  • Lucky Dice Webshop — UK dice store
  • Paizo — general store and makers of Pathfinder
  • Troll and Toad — general store that is cheapest and the biggest pain in the ass to use with lots of dice out of stock

If you don’t have a game store in your area, any of the above online stores should give you the ability to get the dice that you need at any time.

Eclipse Phase Dice

Eclipse Phase coverEclipse Phase is a great newer RPG that I’ve been playing a lot lately. It’s an incredibly detailed and crunchy game of transhuman space. This is a fancy way of saying that it’s a sci-fi game set in a future in which human minds can be downloaded into new bodies.

So in this game not only are you customizing your characters stats and skill and the myriad of gear available in high-tech games, but you’re also customizing your body (or morph) and all the myriad of possible enhancements.

Eclipse Phase Dice

While I’m a big fan of Eclipse Phase, it’s not a game for the dice-lovers of the RPG world. Eclipse Phase uses primarily percentile dice to handle most situations. The only time that you’re using anything other than percentile is to roll damage, and even then the dice variety isn’t large.

To dice up for Eclipse Phase you’ll just need the standard 7-dice set, but there will be some dice in there that you’re not going to use. The key is to have the percentile dice on hand, and preferably an extra set (or at least an extra d10 or two) for when you inevitably lose a die or two.

Gaming Dice History

The guys at Awesome Dice have a fascinating article on the history of dice in gaming. They put together this pretty cool graphic that highlights the major finds in dice.

History of dice infographic

One of the cool things about this post is how all the information is specifically from a gaming point of view — these aren’t dice that were used for fortunetelling for mysticism — it’s all about dice used for gaming.

I think the coolest thing on here was the ancient d20 from the Roman empire 2,000 years ago. You can see some more information and the sources for all the data on the post here.

Shadowrun Dice

12d6 Shadowrun dice setShadowrun is a popular game in RPG circles, though certainly far less popular than the top tiers of RPG games. Shadowrun uses six-sided dice exclusively, and player are usually rolling a lot of them.

Because of the numbers of d6s used, players absolutely are going to want a lot of six-sided dice for Shadowrun — a standard 7-die set that comes with a single d6 is not going to cut it. Happily dice manufacturers have us covered on this front.

The most common Shadowrun dice set is the 12d6 set (pictured here) that provides a good number six-sided dice in the standard 16mm size. The 12d6 set covers most of the rolls that you’re going to make in Shadowrun; however, the big rolls for the abilities the character is best at will often need 15 or more dice.

Shadowrun players typically will have a couple of different 12d6 sets to have the number of dice they need. However there is another option: you can also get a 36d6 dice set, known as a dice cube. The dice cube provides a heck of a lot of six-sided dice; however, the dice are 12mm dice, which are substantially smaller than the standard 16mm dice.

In the world of Shadowrun the 12d6 sets are more common, though the dice cubes aren’t exactly rare — they are more popular among wargamers however, than among RPG gamers.

Dice Colors

As of course all gamers know, dice come in a myriad of colors. But many of the younger generations of gamers aren’t aware of how different the varieties of colored dice are today from where the RPG industry started.

Polyhedral dice were really first introduced with the D&D boxed set. It came with a set of Dungeons & Dragons dice: these dice were opaque and the numbers were not inked. The colors of the dice from those days were pretty dull and muddy.

Of course the materials to make higher quality dice were already available and used for casino dice. Polyhedral dice are manufactured via plastic injection molding, and it was just a matter of time and experimentation before the dice makers discovered the right mix of plastic polymers that would work with the process and start yielding better looking dice.

We pretty quickly got better-looking opaque dice with much more luster and polish as well as pre-inked dice numbering. Then our dice just started getting better and better looking. Today dice are available in just about any color you can imagine, and in a lot of different coloring styles. These include:

  • Opaque dice
  • Translucent (colored see-through dice)
  • Speckled — opaque dice with specks of another color (or multiple other colors) in them
  • Swirled/multi-colored — opaque dice that swirl or otherwise combine multiple colors of plastic together in one die.

In addition to these basic die types, there are almost any other kind that you can think of. There are dice made of metal and stone that are machined rather than molded, and even dice made of fossils. There are dice that combine opaque and translucent plastics and dice that deliberately inject air into the die to create bubbles within. We have giant dice made of hard foam and patterns for dice made of paper; we have glow in the dark dice in various designs and dice that light up when you crit.

We’ve come a long, long way from the D&D boxed set, and we’re not done yet. I’m excited to see what might come next.