Dungeons and Dragons dice are the most commonly used dice in the worlds of RPG gaming, and in fact D&D dice are the basis for dice used in most other games. Before Dungeons and Dragons came along, it was generally accepted that dice were played with six-sided dice. While other polyhedral dice have been around throughout history, they’ve generally been used historically in more esoteric religious/magical roles.
But Dungeons and Dragons changed that, bringing what we now consider the standard polyhedral dice into the forefront of the gaming world until they are no ubiquitous with RPG gaming — if you see someone with polyhedral dice, you know they’re a gamer.
The Standard Dungeons and Dragons Dice
Dungeons and Dragons is played with six varieties of polyhedral dice. These D&D dice have become the cornerstone of gaming:
- d4: the four-sided die is often fondly referred to as the caltrop, or the pyramid dice. It’s shape is such that it always lands with the point facing up, and lost dice stepped on by bare feet late at night are something almost every D&D gamer has experienced.
- d6: the standard cube-shaped dice that all the world is familiar with are also used in D&D.
- d8: the eight-sided dice are used heavily throughout D&D
- d10: ten-sided dice are used heavily throughout D&D, and a combination of two 10-sided dice can make for a roll of 1 – 100. Special versions of 10-sided dice are commonly made and called “percentile” dice with numbers from 01 – 00, that are rolled along with a standard d10.
- d12: twelve-sided dice are used fairly rarely, both in D&D and other RPGs that make use of the same dice
- d20: the twenty-sided die is the signature dice type of D&D, being the most used die and the one used to determine all attack rolls and saving throws. The d20 was so common that in the 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons revamp the mechanics of the game were referred to as the d20 System.
Dungeons & Dragons Dice Sets
The current standard dice set for D&D dice is the 7-dice set. This set includes one each of all of the D&D dice, plus a percentiles d10.
In the 80s and early 90s a 10-dice set was popular for D&D dice, that included all of the dice in the 7-dice set, but had 4 six-sided dice instead of just one. The logic behind this dice set was that multiple d6 were needed frequently in D&D.
The Dungeons & Dragons character creation method (the most common one anyway) involves rolling 4 six-sided dice. In additional multple d6 were used for some weapon damage rolls and for the signature wizard ability, the fireball spell. Almost any long-term Dungeons and Dragons player would eventually need multiple six-sided dice, and many would need them often.
Despite the logic behind the 10-dice set, it faltered in popularity primarily because the largest dice manufacturer, Chessex, pushed the 7-dice set. In relation to the 7-dice set on game store shelves, the 10-dice set appeared far more expensive. In order to compete on price point other manufacturers had to emulate the 7-dice set, giving the minimum dice required to play D&D and no more.
Of course most game stores, as well as most major dice manufacturers, sell loose dice that allows gamers to buy a dice set and then supplement it with additional matching dice that they feel they need (usually d6s and d4s, which are both dice that are used in multiples fairly often in Dungeons & Dragons).