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The DnD Dice Cometh - a dicey breakdown - Part 1

Posted by Peter Smith on

DnD Dice - D20 NaturalLike most inquisitive homo-sapiens, I am often prompted by my curiosity to peruse the vast information seas of interwebs. I'll have a thought, and go do what we Librarians call a "quick and dirty Google search" to see what information is out there on a particular topic. It was here where I was surprised to discover that, although many companies sell and market DnD dice, dice bags, dice sets, dice trays, dice towers etc, it's alarming rare how few articles break down the basics of what is out there for customers, certainly I think in comparison to the emphasis on D&D Miniatures. So, either it's such an obvious topic that it needs no explaining at all (entirely possible), or shops are happy to sell, but not really interested in fulfilling customer curiosity to know their options in this area. As an experienced seller of wares in the busy sector of niche click clacks and nick knacks dominated by accessories like Dungeons and Dragons Dice, it's this latter option that rings most true. But hey, I could be wrong, and if so feel free to abandon this article as quickly as a Chaotic Neutral Warlock abandons the party as soon as the going gets.... a better offer elsewhere.

DnD Dice - D&D Dice Sets - Dungeons and dragons dice

Dice

When I first started playing D&D all those years ago, I knew one thing before I even got to the table - that I would have to roll dice, and that meant I needed to have some dice to roll. So, I went on a primitive hunt to find dungeons and dragons dice. Online wasn't as much of a thing in those days, so I had to canvas the local game store's limited selection to find the right set for me. I ended up getting something for myself and my fiance at the time, and turned up to our first game ever, ready to roll. It might sound trite, but it was a formative experience, getting our own dice to then roll up our first characters.

DnD Dice, are very personal, and are probably the most iconic, yet least well-known aspect of Dungeons & Dragons, and fantasy RPG's (for the purpose of this article I will refer mainly to D&D as a representative of Tabletop RPG's). They are an almost universally recognized symbol - particularly the D20 - yet for most it's a surface level recognition. An iconic breadth, but only to a shallow depth. Below I've divided the various dicey denominations into rough groupings. I'll possibly miss something, or won't group them as optimally as you'd like, but... you get what you pay for. :P 

D&D Dice Sets

RPG Dice Sets

Perhaps the most identifiable kind of dice associated with Dungeons and Dragons, this 7-die D&D dice set contains every dice you'd need to play a game of D&D with friends. Most commonly found in resin or plastic, and less commonly in metal, gemstones, or other rare substances. Some companies make dice out of fossils, and yes, really, it feels taboo even touching them.

Whether you're a beginner or a veteran, you'd do well to have a bunch of these dice for dungeons and dragons lying around. The old adage of "you can never have too many dice" rings true as an axiom, particularly if you DM or play spellcasters. A beginner will slowly amass a collection of these sets, perhaps out of necessity and the raw ease of "having more die on-hand reducing the need to reroll", with veterans more likely to "goblin out" over particular glistening treasures.

When it comes to brands, things gets a bit murky. 90-something percent of the world's dice are manufactured out of two different factories in China, so you'd think variety would be a problem. It generally isn't. You do see similarities across different brands, and a well-trained eye will certainly be able to spot derivatives of certain lines, but there is simply so much out there in circulation that most people would be hard-pressed to track all the designs.

The most well-know mainstream brand that you'll find in most gamestores the world over is Chessex. They're prolific and well-stocked everywhere because they're a very consistent, high-quality brand. The only downsides of that glowing recommendation are that they are quite expensive compared to other DnD Dice options, but additionally they are slower to innovate with new designs. All-round a great option if you're happy to pay a little more.

My favourite option, because it's MY option, is the latest offerings from our own slowly expanding "home brand" option - DiceHub. We're just getting started, but working with select manufacturers we're striving to stock affordable and decent quality dice sets that look amazing.

Those are the two brand options I would recommend so far. There is quite literally a glut of companies out there selling dice, though, so if you want to check another brand out, give it a go. It's what we do from time to time, if we are thinking of stocking a new brand or product. More often than not, there are issues with quality, though, and we refuse to sell dice that are below a certain level of quality. A good idea for a future post perhaps - identifying quality DnD Dice?

DnD Dice - D&D Dice Sets

Metal Dice

Metal dice are more of a subset of the above D&D dice sets, but they're different enough that having their own section is warranted. Often constructed from various dice metal, you will generally find the two categories of ferrous metals (iron/steel), which are notably heavy, and non-ferrous metals which are usually lighter (aluminium). The latter are rarer, more engineered, and thus less affordable. 

Metal Dice - Crowned with many starsThese metal dice are all notoriously expensive. By way of example, Wizards of the Coast are releasing some Heavy Metal Dice early next year, and they RRP for $99.99. And, although, that is on the expensive side even for metal dice, they are not unusual for the premium end of the dice market. So, metal dice are definitely a gaming investment decision, more so than a flippant purchase.

Currently, Miniature Hub is mainly looking to stock our own brand of Metal Dice. We want to ensure a certain level of affordable quality for items that are on the premium end of the spectrum, and the most optimal way to do that, and ensure the dice metal and build quality is optimal, is to liaise directly with the manufacturer.

Exotic Dice

You could argue that dice are not a new phenomena, people have been engaged in games of chance for millennia, and dice have been a common tool in simulating that chance. People have made dice of all shapes, sizes, and sides, from all sorts of material, including bone. Thus, exotic dice sets are not new phenomena, but they have become, in recent years, a more common albeit novel experience, especially when it comes to DnD Dice. Giant D&D Dice

Potion dice have become a trend in recent years, with the idea of uncorking the stopper on a bottle in real life and watching a bunch of D4's cascade forth to heal thyself being an attractive idea. And, who doesn't want to be more immersed?

Additional to the above, the trend towards exotic dice includes dice that are significantly larger than your standard 12mm or 16mm sizings. Our new Giant-sized Kraken-Unleashed dice, fit into this category.

The strangest exotic dice we have currently are the Dice of Unusual Size, from Impact!. They're specifically used in the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, but could be an interesting odd-ball collection item for any setting. 

This is a new space for us, as it is for many retailers. So, watch this space!

Potion Dice

Wargaming Dice

We're not a specialised wargaming miniatures store, but when it comes to dice, and dice for dungeons and dragons, there can be a lot of cross over. A fist of D6's can be hurled for Space Marines as much as they can be for a D&D Fireball. So, our Dungeons and Dragons Dice, have some mutli-use capacity. Add to this, that some wargames sell their dice sets at an inflated price, making cross-pollination a more attractive idea for the shrewd gamer.

To date, the best way to get a fist full of small or large D6's to equip those Space Marines or French Republican Guard with a bevy of ammunition ready for a volley are Chessex's D6 packs.

Bulk Dice

DnD Bulk DiceSometimes with DnD Dice you just need a whole bunch of dice. Maybe you're a player in an epic campaign who simply must cast Meteor Swarm on absolutely everyone, but you're on a tight budget from the academy (Hogwarts isn't what it used to be). Perhaps you're a budding DM who needs to up their dice game for their NPC armies, or to help new players who don't yet have their own sets, but need something to roll with. You could go the "cheap" route and source the lowest priced set you can find (still a bit pricey). 

Or, you can just buy a huge bag of bulk d&d dice from Chessex. Pound 'O Dice is the affordable and serendipitous way to up your dice game quickly. You never know what you will find in these bulk RPG dice packs, apart from an interesting mix of various Chessex offerings, including the occasional oversized odd-ball die (which is more fun than disappointment).

Honourable Mention

Hotly anticipated from Reaper are their new Pizza Dungeon Dice. We will wait and see, but we're hopeful that Reaper Miniatures, the same company that brought quality miniatures to the masses with their Bones lines, can offer the same value to the emerging dice industry.

Part 2 - A look at dice accessories - Dice Trays, Dice Towers, Dice Bags, Dice Tins etc

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