I need help finding a really nice set of dice for playing D&D
November 26, 2007 3:17 PM   Subscribe

D&DFilter: I want to buy my girlfriend a very nice set of dice for her to use when she plays D&D. But I don't know what kinds of dice she needs, nor do I know what separates nice dice from very nice dice.

Wikipedia says most role playing games use 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d12, 1d20, and 2d10. She showed me what she called a "standard set" of dice once and I seem to recall 2d8, and no d12, but I am probably misremembering. What should I be looking for?

What makes nice dice nice? I've talked to her some about what kind of jewelry she likes (because I figured some nice dice may be made of stone). Her birthstone is emerald, but she doesn't like it very much, she prefers opal or turquoise. I googled a bit and saw some dice made of bone. I asked about that and she thinks it's kind of creepy.

At one point she had some "Aurora Borealis" dice (or maybe just "Borealis") that she was really in love with.

Any ideas? Thanks!
posted by paulus andronicus to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (31 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I feel like design is more important than material here. Also, it may take some investigation to figure out what dice she really needs. Some systems only use d10's. Or, for example, I played a rogue in D&D, and my sneak attacks needed 8d6 to throw. A great gift would have been a batch of d6's so I wouldn't have to roll 3 of them twice and do math.
posted by craven_morhead at 3:27 PM on November 26, 2007

There is really no standard for "nice dice." You should just go for whichever set you think will look good to her personally.
posted by ignignokt at 3:28 PM on November 26, 2007

A "set" would be a d20, d12, d8, d6, d4 and two d10s (one 00-90, another 0-9 or 1-10)

D&D nowadays uses the 'd20' system, which, like it says on the tin, revolves around the d20 a lot. Two of these would not be a bad idea.

D&D does not really use the percentile dice (the d00-d90), but a lot of other systems do, so it's good to have that covered. Also, d&d does use the 'normal' d10 occasionally (weapon damage, pretty much)

d12, d8, d4:
Also for damage. d4s are frequently used in multiples. (Magic missile, for example.) I'd say one of each, maybe 2 d4s.

Used for stats and for damage in multiples. I'd say four of these if possible.

So, one of each, but two d20s, two d4s, and four d6s if you want to go for a 'deluxe' set.
posted by blenderfish at 3:28 PM on November 26, 2007

D&D uses d4, 6, 8, 10, and 20.

You'll want at least 2d10, because they're used for percentile rolls (one die is the tens place, the other the ones place; they can either be different colors, or you can get one that has tens on it [10, 20, etc].) A "normal" set you might buy in a gaming store will probably be the list you saw on wikipedia, but in practice she probably needs extras of at least one die type - for example, if she's got a spellcasting class and uses Fireball, she could easily use a small handful of d6s. In particular, multiple d4s, d6s, and d8s could come in handy.

In short, you could always ask about the mix she wants; or if you want it to be a surprise, I'd suggest 2d4, 4d6, 2d8, a percentile pair of d10s, 1d12, 1d20, but more of the smaller numbers couldn't hurt.

Other than stone, metal and bone are the most common 'luxury' dice types. Most gaming stores will have both sets (the lineup you saw on wikipedia, most likely) and 'a la carte' plastic dice that'll run you approximately $.50-$1 a pop. I'm not sure what the a la carte options are for buying fancier (bone/metal/stone) dice online. For example, these semiprecious ones seem to only come as standard sets, but I'm sure there are other options.

You could also just pick out some particularly attractive plastic ones; they don't have to be all the exact same color pattern. Some people prefer a perfectly matching set; others - like me - would rather keep, say, the d12 and d20 different colors, to make them easier to pick out in a hurry.

The list at BellaOnline might also be a good starting point (there are links at the bottom.)
posted by Tomorrowful at 3:31 PM on November 26, 2007

I'm not a D&D player, but I've known a few of them, and I love shiny things, so I agree with the comments that "nice dice" are simply pretty ones.

I saw a few sets of the Borealis dice you mention in a gaming store recently, and they really are gorgeous. I'd recommend getting two sets in two different colors (sky blue and aquerple are both lovely) for variety's sake and so she can have some backup. Maybe one set that's similar to what she previously had, and a coordinating color that's definitely different.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:36 PM on November 26, 2007

Also, in pure practical terms, dice made of more valuable materials tend to be smaller, and therefore more difficult to make exactly fair.
posted by blenderfish at 3:36 PM on November 26, 2007

I really like these crystal shaped dice. I kick myself for not buying them when I had the chance, I really like the unusual shape.

These are made of stone, they look really nice but I haven't seen them in person. They seem to be a bit small. I also like these metal dice, they are normal sized.
posted by clearlydemon at 3:41 PM on November 26, 2007

I just googled 'gaming' and the city listed in your profile and found a place called Game Crazy and one called Bell, Book & Comic there.

I don't know exactly what they sell, but you could call them and ask if they sell D&D dice. Comic stores frequently sell stuff for role-playing games too.

Most places that have D&D books, minis, etc. will have dice behind the counter, sold in sets prepackaged for the d20 system, so you don't have to worry about getting exactly the right number of each die. You just pick the color. :)
posted by zebra3 at 3:47 PM on November 26, 2007

Looking closely to the stone dice, they seem to be hand carved, the numbers look a bit rough.

These are pretty. And for comparison's sake, the same store sells ugly dice.
posted by clearlydemon at 3:47 PM on November 26, 2007

Depending on which edition you play, you may need the d12 or you may not.

Dice are very individual things. The nicest dice by some estimates are made of ivory but of course killing things to get their tusks is sort of horrifying. I always liked plastic dice; they can be many different colors and my favorites were transparent. Some are transparent with glitter inside.

If you are a stickler for randomness, you want dice with very sharp edges and filled-in numbers or pips, so that no side is heavier and no edge is likelier to tip one way than the other.

I never cared about that. I wanted a die that rolled an excessive number of 20s and I recall auditioning a couple dozen of them one day, until I found a 'magic' die that rolled 20 about once every eight rolls. It also rolled a lot of 1's; hilarity ensued.

Dice are always getting lost, cracked, dinged up and such, so I'd advise against purchasing a *really* nice set, i.e. made of precious stones. A nice dice pouch is also good; I always used a Crown Royal bag.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:48 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

These are pretty.
I agree, but they're also kind of hard to read. Legibility is something to consider.

I had a set of dice with a nice faded/worn effect that I liked. The faces were kind of pastel-y purple/blue/red/orange, but the edges were white as if they had been worn down.
posted by juv3nal at 4:08 PM on November 26, 2007

Oh, and while it's all a matter of individual taste, translucent/transparent gem/mother of pearl are kind of tacky IMO; gimme opaque with over those any day.
posted by juv3nal at 4:20 PM on November 26, 2007

Many gamers find these dice to be very attractive. They are on the smallish side, but that's not necessarily a deal breaker.

Also, make sure you get her at least one of each of the die types. She may not use a particular dice right now, but it's basically a truism that she'll need every die sooner or later.
posted by oddman at 4:24 PM on November 26, 2007

If you are a stickler for randomness, you want dice with very sharp edges

Interestingly, I was going to recommend smooth-edged dice; they've always just felt and looked better to me. To each his own.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:27 PM on November 26, 2007

A little off-the-wall suggestion: When you get her a set, throw in a d100 if you can find them anymore. They're not terribly useful in D&D (or anywhere, really), but they're funny and if she's hardcore enough, she'll get a laugh.
posted by tcv at 4:28 PM on November 26, 2007

Here's one.
posted by tcv at 4:31 PM on November 26, 2007

Chessex, the same site that Metroid Baby linked to above for the Borealis dice, sells 100-sided dice. They also sell "one-sided dice" (spheres) and several other unusual shapes (3-, 5-, and 7-sided dice, for example).
posted by zanni at 4:44 PM on November 26, 2007

re: 100 sided die - forget it, the things are fucking cat toys. She might get *a* laugh at it, but quickly it gets old, but she'll feel pressured to carry it around because you gave it to her, but she'll keep getting shit about the 1d100.

But perhaps I'm just still bitter about all of the shit that I got for my 1d100. That was 16+ years ago.
posted by nobeagle at 4:47 PM on November 26, 2007

The Dwarven Stones dice are slightly smaller than a regular set but really nice. From personal experience I can recommend their sterling silver set (I gave a set to my best man last year): they feel really good in the hand, weighty and serious, and I was kind of loath to give them away. Not cheap, but on the other hand you did say "very nice". They do gold-plated as well.
posted by Hogshead at 4:57 PM on November 26, 2007

If she already has a lot of dice a dice bag can be a good gift too. I scored a lot of points with the gamer in my life by making him a dice bag out of chain mail.
posted by selfmedicating at 5:10 PM on November 26, 2007

There's also Q Workshop, which has some unusual dice. I've got a set of the blue and black runic dice which I like, though I admit they're a tad hard to read at a distance. They're a bit spendy, but not as much as the stone or metal dice.
posted by Janta at 5:15 PM on November 26, 2007

Hint from unfortunate personal experience: avoid the 'crystal' form factor; for dice with high face counts, the crystals approach roundness and rapidly become unusable (above d10, really).

Equally important: get her a nice dice bag, something velvet with a drawstring. Actually you ought to pair the dice bag with a goodie bag from Good Vibrations - for balance's sake.
posted by waxbanks at 5:51 PM on November 26, 2007

I've seen some recommendations for multiples, and I have to say, some games throw a LOT of a few dice. Since dice are cheap, I don't think it would be unreasonable to get large numbers (10ish) of say d6 and d8, and nearly as many d4, d10, d12. d20 are rarely thrown in large numbers, but having backups of everything so that when one gets lost you still have a matching set might be nice.
posted by agentofselection at 6:52 PM on November 26, 2007

These metal dice are something I've seen and coveted for a long time. If I had anyone to play with in my distant rural area, I may even consider buying them for myself. I'd bet your SO would go for those.
posted by Kickstart70 at 7:35 PM on November 26, 2007

ikkyu2: What editions don't require a d12? I'm pretty sure (don't have a Player's handy) that, for example, Barbarian has a d12 hit die in the latest few editions. Was it not used before?
posted by blenderfish at 8:21 PM on November 26, 2007

I like dice that are heavy in the hand, smooth but not glossy, and clearly legible.
posted by SPrintF at 8:23 PM on November 26, 2007

There are some great suggestions in this thread--it bums me out that my beloved Eurogames are so dice-phobic!--but can I be utterly dull and prosaic and say that the best gift a hobbyist can receive from a non-hobbyist is a gift certificate?

I know it doesn't sound very romantic, but it's the only way to ensure that she'll get the dice she needs in the look she wants. Buy her one of these d20 rings from Etsy,


roll up the gift certificate, and slide it into the ring. You'll be THE MAN.
posted by Ian A.T. at 9:23 PM on November 26, 2007

The best dice are the lucky dice.

You gave them to her; well, you'd better hope the first 100 rolls are "good" rolls.

This could go three ways; 1) she rolls good with them and they become her "lucky" dice that she got from you; 2) she rolls bad with them and they become her "shitty" dice, or 3) she rolls shitty with them and then reserves them for when she's GMing - making these her "boyfriend's" dice to punish players.

Good luck.
posted by porpoise at 9:30 PM on November 26, 2007

D&D is about to go through an edition update and it's uncertain at this time how many and what kinds of dice a gamer will need. Also, if she's a role-player more generally and not just a D&D player she may find other systems require more of different dice.

So, you've got two basic ways to go:

1. A really nice set of a d4, d6, d8, d10, d10 of a different colour, d12, d20. Pretty plastic, maybe glass or crystal, maybe bone or ceramic; in no case get metal (if it goes 'clunk' it will damage a wooden or glass table). You know her favorite colors, you know what her current set of dice look like. Hard to go wrong with this really.

2. LOTS of dice. Dice by the pound.

Also, especially with option 2, I echo others' call for a dice bag, or several thereof, because she may find it useful to split up sets of dice for different games.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 11:05 PM on November 26, 2007

Ah, here's the page about Lou Zocchi's dice, including the d5 and d7. His high impact precision dice are available for sale here and probably lots of other places. These are really good dice.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:13 AM on November 27, 2007

Buy a big bag of each type of generic dice from dicepool, and start rolling. Use Stat analysis software to find out which ones roll consistantly high.

Think of it as screening for the dice with the most useful defects.
posted by Orb2069 at 3:22 PM on November 30, 2007

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