Comic Book Curious

Roll With It

August 24, 2021

Math Rocks. Rando-stones. Plastic Clickity-Clacks. Dice on Dice on Dice on Dice.

If you’ve played a tabletop roleplaying game, odds are you have used dice of one kind or another. From the noble twenty sided to the loathsome caltrop known as the d4, dice come in all shapes and sizes. When most folk say “dice” though, they are generally talking about the classic six-sider (a d6, if you will). I worked in retail for a number of years and on more than one occasion I told folks that the store I was in didn’t have anything except d6s when they asked for dice. After a quizzical look and my nerd-brain shifting down, I realized that they probably did not come into a convenience store looking for two d10s to roll percentile with.

This mind fart is most likely due to the fact that, since I began playing TTRPGs, I have collected a great many dice. Like, a lot. Like, there is a shelf and a chest and many, many random bags in my home devoted to those little plastic randomizers. And I am not alone. Just look to Laura Bailey over on Critical Role for popular talk of ‘dice jails’ and ‘which dice is rolling well’. It’s part a collectors mentality and part superstition when it comes to collecting dice.

The fact that there are so many different styles and themes to dice sets out there means that there is literally no end to the variety of one’s collection. Even without talking about custom made sets from inspired creators over on Etsy, the prominent dice manufacturers out there never stop creating new and interesting looking sets. Between Chessex and their Lab Dice (in which they test out new textures, colors and glowing effects), Skullsplitter Dice and their delightful mystery bags (in both plastic and metal offerings) and Q Workshop’s intricate stencil designs from brands like Pathfinder and Call of Cthulhu; there are just too many dice.

Call of Cthulhu Themed Dice made of Tin


I lied, there’s no such thing.

Chessex even offers up their Pound ‘o Dice for people who want to buy their dice like one buys produce or deli meat. You know, people like me.

My point is that from a collectors standpoint, it is a very verdant hobby. Because soon you start venturing outside the standard stuff and begin looking into weird dice, just for the novelty of the thing. Literal 100 sided dice. Six sided dice in the shape of a bullet for when you’re playing your gunslinger. Twenty-one sided dice just to mess with other people when you’re the Dungeon Master (I swear, I don’t use it that often). And like any collecting hobby there is also the extra-special, designer dice. Made from wood, metal and more exotic material like bone or gemstones, the selection from companies like Level Up or Artisan Dice can make the bank call you in concern over unusual spending (it’s happened at conventions twice now…).

Collector hobbies can be fun but treacherous to one’s wallet.

Superstition also plays a not insignificant “roll” in this hoarding behavior. While playing, it is incredibly easy to blame bad rolls on the dice themselves and not just probability and chance. Being able to put some dice aside in favor of your “good dice” feels akin to a craftsman preferring a specific set of tools. I have always compared it to seasoning a cast iron skillet, with certain dice picking up flavor and luck over the years.

A green and red 20 sided die

Credit: Mike Gorgone

Yes, I know this is total and complete nonsense, but you tell that to my green and red speckled d20 that has never let me down! Actually, don’t do that. No one is allowed to talk to that die except me.

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