I’m going on an Adventure… and I have a pocketful of dice!


Even though  I know it’s a very small collection (so far) here is a picture of the dice I’ve already begun acquiring.

photoSo… the first time I looked at dice I thought “Ohhhhh shiny!!!” and they found a place of honor on my desk where I could look at them and admire them and I start making plans to buy more in other colors and variations.

This is the same principle I apply to shoes so it did not really shock me to find that  my mind went there…. BUT….. at least with shoes I knew what to do with them. The same could NOT be said for my knowledge of dice up until now.  My entire experience with dice had been the 6 sided cubes required for to play Trouble and Monopoly, where I knew you rolled it and moved your little game piece that number of squares.

So what DO I do with them?

This was a shockingly hard question to get answered. Apparently, the function of the dice, whether you want high or low or closest to a target value or which dice you use changes from system to system. So no one size fits all cheat sheet for me this time. The type and number of dice you use to determine the success or failure of that skill check are specified by the game mechanics.

Some systems use dice for varying degrees of relative skill or ability level, so the higher the number of sides on the die, the easier it will be to succeed (in theory). Most systems have the dice tied to damage, so smaller weapons or attacks do less damage and you’re rolling dice with fewer sides to reflect that.

RPG dice have different needs and requirements than the dice of the outside world. RPG gamers need not just more role playing dice than you would need for most board games or a trip to the casino, but lots of styles and colors and set types for their polyhedrals. See, it’s a thing. Everyone needs more.

So what I learned:

  • Never say roll your 4-sided die you say roll your D4.
  • Notations like 3d6, it means you need to roll three, 6 sided dice.
    • When you start to see things like this, 3d6+2… relax, it’s ok, no need to dig out your algebra book just break it down. It’s three 6-sided dice rolled together then you add 2.
    • Dice have been around since ancient Egypt.
      • They have been made out of everything from precious gem stones, clay, bones, stone, semi-precious stone, wood, ivory, dinosaur bone, meteor, lead, copper, bronze, iron, gold, silver, resin, plastic… pretty much everything.
      • People can be very superstitious about their dice
      • If you’re a new gamer, someone will lend you some to use. Gamers are pretty friendly!
      • Don’t ever touch someone else’s dice unless they say so.
      • If your dice start rolling badly it’s ok to set them aside, for the night, the campaign or to even retire them. Probability has nothing to do with fate.
      • Some players only use specific dice for specific games, campaigns or even just 1 character.

d4D4-may be the oldest version of dice, used for gambling and divination. Used for determining numbers 1-4. Also great for home defense, by scattering on the floor, particularly if mixed with legos.






d6D6- standard board games, casinos, has 6 sides, shaped like a cube and is what most people think of when they think of dice. Roll for numbers 1-6. The traditional dots often found on 6 sided dice are called pips.






D8D8- for rolling numbers 1-8. There have been many instances of dice rolls being used to determine outcome in history, but there have been no records found of dice being used to name children. I wonder if that holds true for naming characters?





d10D10- when rolled with a tens or percentile die, this indicates the ones.  Decahedron.  Pretty sure that counts as a 50¢ word!






percentilePercentile  D10-  has double-digit 10-based numbers on it, rolled with a D10 to get a percent. This is your 10’s number. A tens or percentile die indicates the tens while the d10 indicates the ones






d12D12- 12 sides, to get a number between 1 and 12. This was the first RPG die I was able to recognize.






d20D20- 20-sided die generates the numbers 1-20 in many contemporary games


So now, I guess the only thing I need to know now, is which set to buy next.


Do you have a favorite set?

Why are they your favorite?


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