Deliberating on Dice

I believe that I like dice.

I once received a YouTube comment on an unboxing video displaying some new dice designs, which in very pointed terms asked, ‘What the [expletive deleted] I would need’ such things for. It’s a good question, from a certain point of view, I suppose. I tried to answer as best as I could. I suspect that answer sounded like gibberish to the person who asked.

Time has passed, and apparently, my need is great as despite the large number of unusual dice that I have, I have more dice coming. I don’t have a set of dice for every game, but I do have a set of dice for every sort of dice requirement among the games I have and intend to run. Recently, a well-run Kickstarter project by a small company called Relic Dice caught my eye for two reasons. The first thing that I noticed were the dice, of course, but a close second was the earnest-sounding writing for the project which seemed to speak the words those of us still dangling from nooses we tied ourselves in backing Artisan Dice – four years ago.

While I believe it is a rare person who is entirely the villain we think they are, and that Artisan Dice are hardly the villains the comments section on that blasted Kickstarter page paints them to be, the tone of Relic Dice’s project was all the justification I needed in the middle of a long and sleepless night to seek out new dice, and new randomizations. To boldly roll what no one had rolled before.

I may have been watching some old Star Trek episodes that night.

I enjoy a good set of dice. I don’t go for novelty, preferring function and fineness of form. Since discovering Kickstarter I have backed Impact! miniatures twice in their quest to produce spherical and odd-numbered dice. I have backed Black Rock Relics in their successful quest to refine a method to produce ceramic dice of enduring strength and elegance. I have backed Double Six and Triple Four dice. I have backed both Bone Origins ‘fablestone’ dice projects.



All of these campaigns came to fruition. Artisan Dice…? Still waiting.

Something in the tone and style of the Kickstarter campaign for Relic Dice suggested to me that the project managers and product creators are still waiting, too.

The project was well-run and communicative, and the post-funding campaign has been likewise. This past week the pledge manager was launched to enable backers to clarify which reward options they would like. Such things can often be troublesome or be plagued by vague wording, but this was very straightforward and well-explained. The only difficult part was in actually settling on a specific choice from all the options available and letting that choice stand.

I spent some time stuck trying to choose between tourmaline (pale green), cobalt, and smoke. One of the things I decided when backing this project was that I would go for a color I would not normally choose. I like to make things hard on myself.

I have a lot of smoke-colored or black dice. I have simple tastes, I guess. While my very first set was from the Armory, a precision Gamescience set of rubies, my second was a smokey set from Chessex. In those days they were still called ‘high-impact’ dice, and the terribly soft ones from Basic sets were still in active use. For some, going from Precision Dice to Chessex might be like mixing religions or holding the bacon on a BLT, but I found something to love in both sets and used them with pleasure until I packed them up before coming to Korea… for a “year.”

I am still in Korea and so I haven’t seen those dice for almost twenty years. I almost died the day I bought that second set.  I was still in high school and a group of us took a road trip to a nearby city to check out the nearest game store. We were united in exultation and exuberance at the expedition and that almost led to us learning to unite with oncoming traffic. I will never forget that day, those people, or those dice. A thought that went through my head was what number the D20 would be showing when they pulled it from the wreck of Ed’s car. The importance of D20s has lessened a lot to me in the many years between then and now, but that set of dice still has a lot of power in my memory. Certainly no subsequent dice purchase has been so dramatic, but there is a part of me that has hope.

Regardless, down through the years I have purchased a lot of dice. I do not collect them in the way that others do, not needing to have every possible type or coloration. I do however, like to have dice that I appreciate both the look and feel of, which I will actually use in my games. I also like to have dice on hand for others to use, just in case, and even some to give away when I am lucky enough to introduce someone to a game they like. Looking over those sets of dice it amazes me how many of them are variations on the theme of black and charcoal. There are blood-red exceptions here and there, a rare glimmer of metal in copper or silver hues, and white is of course just black by a different name, but by far the bags and holders which contain them run to pitch and captured whiffs of smoke.

As you might then imagine, it was an effort of will to go for something different. Clearly, I like smoke and charcoal-colored dice. Just as clearly the strange lure of the very cool tourmaline was not enough to fully break the hold and habit of decades.

After my recent receipt of what resembles random left-overs in a Gamescience pound-of-dice, I was taken by a few of their gem-style dice in odd (to me) colors. There was a sort of yellow I cannot find a name for, and a color not unlike the tourmaline presented in this Kickstarter project, but the one which stood out the most was their fire agate. I trawled the internet for days trying to find a complete set of Gamescience fire agate to no avail. They are fantastic. There are but two among the 127 dice pictured below, and the picture does them no justice, but to me they are a prize worth waiting for.


To get back more fully back on topic, there were a lot of colors in the Prism Dice Kickstarter by Relic Dice, and a lot which I liked – particularly among those added as stretch goals. In the end, however, I decided to go with the very orange dice which tellingly were also called fire agate in this project. To round out the set and make it reflect the changes in dice ‘requirements’ in the past few years, I added a few specimens from other colors in an effort to make a very usable set of dice for more than one game.


My reward selection ended up being a 10-dice uninked fire agate set which for this project was (1d4, 3d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d%, 1d12, 2d20), to which I added 2 additional d6, 2 additional d%, and 4d12. This gives me a lot of different gaming options from within the same set of dice.

The additional d6s are ruby and smoke. The set will have 3 in fire agate, 1 ruby, 1 smoke. This will cover the growing number of 2 and 3d6 mechanics which either do, or do not require a differentiation between the dice (A Time of War, and Circle of Hands, for example). It can also handle a variety of character generation methods in various games, including the Morrow Project, with no rerolls required.

The additional d% are in ruby and smoke (mainly for Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition, but also for newcomers to gaming and for the faster visual recognition benefits.

The additional D12s are for the small number of games which use pools of these great dice, but mainly for Broken Rooms. The set automatically came with 2d20 which I have no particular use for and didn’t feel the need to augment that number to the 5 or so needed for Modiphius’ 2d20 system. Is that not the best math-use in a name ever? I am not sure when or if I will play  Conan when it is released, but I have so many unused D20s it seemed a shame to get new ones and leave the old ones to mope and complain. I went with smoke for the second d20.

Of course as a player of games using Ubiquity, any and all of these dice can be picked up and used in any combination of shape and numeration. No wallflowers at that party, that’s for sure~

Now the wait begins. If these dice arrive (and why wouldn’t they?) before my Artisan Dice (4 years late!) this small company will join a small cadre of elite dice makers I appreciate and to whom I entrust my characters’ fate.

Yes, I like dice.

4 Responses to “Deliberating on Dice”
  1. Carl says:

    I love dice and was once a collector of same. I’ve not purchased anything more expensive – or elaborate – than the odd 12-sider or 20-sider in recent years but one day I may invest in a really nice,personal set for myself.When I do, I think I will probably come to you for some suggestions.

  2. I went through the die minimalist stage in the ’90s, where I tried to get away from the polyhedral dice. Everything was a d10 or d6, and a lot of system designs were going that way to…simplicity, man!

    But after 5 years of Cortex, I found when I started working on the new system, I’ve rediscovered the joy of different shaped bones clattering on the table. I rarely do that, but use a dice program on my laptop, but it’s nice watching the players carefully pick their favored dX to maximize to illusion they’ll get a good roll. So we’ll be using the usual polyhedrons for our game.

    The system unique dice, like Ubiquity dice, or Fate dice, I’m less enthusiastic about, moreso the plethora of different faces for the new Star Wars game. Admittedly, the latter might aid in setting the tone of the universe, but the learning curve for players can make or break a campaign and it would suck to blow money on dice and a game you don’t get to play because people get confused.

    But then again, I’m a cheap bastard whose Ubiquity dice were gained from an internet contest. Thanks, by the way!

    • Runeslinger says:

      In the early 90s I created a system under the same principle; so we could use “all” the dice and skill could be portrayed visually. Seeing Cortex and Savage Worlds later made me wonder if the designers felt the same way.

      As for Ubiquity Dice, I love them and am looking forward to 2.0. Star Wars dice are great, too.

      That contest was fun. I should do another~

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