What Are All The Different Types of D&D Dice & What Are They Used For?
For a player first getting started in Dungeons and Dragons, it can be incredibly confusing and intimidating. There are so many things that you have to learn and know and have. There’s the books, the people willing to play, the complicated rulesets, someone to run the game, and (if you choose to use them) there are even miniatures! But no matter what type of RPG Player you are, from one taking your first exploratory steps into Dungeons and Dragons to delving into the most arcane and indie Tabletop Games like Ars Magica, you can count on using one thing: dice.
Now when it comes to RPG Dice Sets and games like Dungeons and Dragons, even that can be confusing! And this is whether you’re just starting to play, or a good friend or family member who is trying to find the perfect gift for their loved one. Worry not, we’re here to help.
There’s a multitude of types of Polyhedral Dice Sets, or dice. When it comes to D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) though, there are seven different shapes or types you can expect to use:
- A four sided die shaped something like a pyramid. These are useful for low damage spells or attacks, certain probability checks, and finding with your foot in the dark. Jokes aside, be careful with these! Stepping on them can feel worse than stepping on a lego!
- You’ve probably seen the standard six sided die before, as most of these cubes come with pips and are useful for all sorts of board games and games of chance. The d6 is a little different however, as most ones for Tabletop RPGs come with numbers instead of pips.
- The d6 is useful for a lot of standard attacks and spells in D&D. If you need to roll damage for the ever classic Fireball spell, or are using a shortsword to fend off some goblins, the d6 is going to be die for you.
- The d8 looks something like two pyramids connected at the base, but don’t worry! It’s not anywhere near as painful to step on as the d4!
- Any intrepid adventurer is going to find themselves using the d8 somewhere along the line, especially for weapons such as maces, and it wouldn’t do to go without one!
- The d10. The ever important ten sided die. There are certain Tabletop Games that use only d10’s.
- You can do everything with this bad boy, from determining when your character acts in the middle of combat, or using it to determine the fate of games of chance.
- It’s also important to know that you can use d10’s to roll percentile, or determine the fate something on a percentile scale
(1-100). There are particular dice made for this with the 10’s already on the dice, but you can also use two d10’s and just declare one the 10’s place. That way if you roll a 7 on the 10’s place and a 1 on the one’s place, you know you’ve rolled a 71. Not a bad roll as far as percentiles go. Fortunately, most standard dice sets come with the percentile die so you don’t have to worry about the workaround.
- The d12 is a dodecahedron and just like the d8 is used for all sorts of arcane events. Sometimes useful in spells, sometimes useful with the more exotic weapons. In 5th edition D&D, Greataxes and other horrifyingly huge weapons use this high rolling die, and an adventurer or D&D player would never want to go without it.
- The classic d20. Entire systems and sets of systems like Roll20 have been built around the d20. When it comes to rolling for D&D nothing gets a player quite as excited as the outcome of a d20, and nothing can be quite as shocking.
- For the 20 sided die it’s common among D&D players to use the 1 roll as a critical failure and the 20 roll as a critical success. Sometimes this can be taken to crazy extremes. I can guarantee you that every D&D player has fond memories of a time that they rolled a 20 at certain point performed some stunning feat. I can also guarantee you that every D&D player has memories of rolling a 1 and bringing about near certain doom.
- Love them or hate them, you simply cannot escape using the d20 while playing D&D.
But Wait! What Makes a Good Set of Dice?
So now we know what all the types of dice are that you might use in D&D. But if you’re going to be investing in a set of dice that’s going to be your constant companion on adventures, or you’re gifting a set to a loved one, you want to know what the qualities are of good dice!
There are so many different brands and varieties of dice, and choosing which one to shop from can be hard! What makes a good set of dice? Who manufactures the best ones? Luckily here at the The Dice Emporium we stock some amazing brands such as Chessex. We’ve got a wide range of options, and can satisfy all of your dice needs!
First and foremost, when shopping for dice it’s important to know what makes a great set of dice. Generally there are six major ways that you can judge dice by, and each are as important as the last. They are Accuracy, Durability, Material, Style, Readability, and Affordability.
We’ll walk you through each of these categories so you know everything you’re looking for:
- When playing D&D it is incredibly important that your dice be fair and balanced. In order for dice to be fair each of the sides of the die need to be equally sized, and there need to not be any air bubbles or weight shifts so that each side has an equal probability of rolling.
- If you’re investing in dice, you want them to last! Over the years dice can see a lot of wear and tear, and lesser brands of dice are going to see some serious signs of damage, whether in cracks, faded numbers, or splitting clean in half. While some weathering can certainly add personality to dice, no one wants to lose their favorite set! Unfortunately a lot of lesser brands have issues with durability, and you have to be careful while shopping.
- Dice come in two main materials: Polymer (plastic), and Metal. Polymer dice are lighter, but tend to be prone to a lot more problems. They wear down easier, are more prone to cracks and bubbles, and tend to be far less durable than metal dice. However polymer dice can be injected with different colors during their injection molding, and this can lead to beautiful colorations on the dice. Also, they tend to be a lot cheaper!
- While polymer dice have their drawbacks, metal ones can too. The metal dice can be a bit more expensive, which makes losing one that much more painful. But there are some very cool aspects to the metal dice! Metals tend to be six to seven times the weight of their polymer counterparts, and this lends a much greater sense of gravity to their rolls. In addition, all are electroplated with finishes at the end of their manufacturing process, so there are some truly awesome style and coloration options available to metals that aren’t to polymers. Just make sure you don’t store them together because metal and polymers
don’t play nice, and metals will often scratch the plastics.
- Ultimately, the choice of material is one of style vs style, and that preference is entirely up to you!
- There are some truly wondrous dice out there! A personal favorite is the Chessex Gemini set. These bad boys are given different reflective colorings in the injection molding process so that they have a multicolored shine under the light! Truly gorgeous. One of the coolest things about dice is the wide range of styles, colors, finishes, and designs they come in. Some are arcane and inscribed with elven runes. Others are heavy metal dice that have all the weight and power of old mountains in their rolls. But no matter their size or shape, dice tend to be beautiful, and a beautiful companion to every game of Dungeons and Dragons.
- With dice, it’s important that the numbers on the faces be visible. Some color combinations work well for this, and many dice brands succeed at making sure the number color complements the die color well. Unfortunately, sometimes they don’t. When shopping for dice make sure that the numbers you see seem complementary to the dice colors, and make sure they seem visible. Because if not, you might be struggling at the game table.
- The last, and most certainly not least aspect you need to judge your dice on is affordability. No one wants to pay overpriced nonsense for dice. But there are some truly wondrous dice out there! These could range from simple metal ones to complex hand-crafted works of art! However the more unique the die, the harder it is to replace if it gets lost. So everyone has to strike a balance. The more expensive dice make wonderful gifts, or great sets that you pull out for special occasions, and the more affordable dice make great standard dice that you use for any and all adventures!
Okay So Now We Know What Makes a Good Dice Set, So What Is The Best Option?
So ultimately there’s so much to know about different kinds of dice, and there’s so much to look for! Ultimately we believe that Chessex are the best manufacturers for the price you pay. There’s a reason they brand themselves as “The coolest dice on the planet” (We’re looking at you Gemini set). And there’s a reason that Chessex are the most popular in the industry. They’ve got everything you’re looking for. They’re accurate, durable, stylistic, readable, and best of all: affordable! So if you’ve got dice needs, come down to the Dice Emporium, and let us help make your adventures ones to remember.