The first thing that you need to play Dungeons and Dragons, after the books and the sheets and so forth, are undoubtedly the dice. Dice are a near universal symbol for tabletop roleplaying of all kinds, and D&D in particular is well known for its use of a unique collection of several types, which work together to make a functional and understandable rolling system.
She curls the spindle, winds the web,
And tides of fate do flow and ebb.
From death to birth, again to die,
Go all that walk or swim or fly,
Be they weak and small, or great,
In threads of Istus, Lady Fate.
The Colorless and Colored-All,
Who keep our time and life in thrall,
Burns out fire and melts the ice
And marks the roll of falling dice.
She marks upon our future’s slate,
Our guiding mistress, Lady Fate.
- Excerpt from ‘Hymn to Istus’ (the Baklunish Goddess of Fate and Destiny), written by an unnamed Greyhawk Bard
DND Dice Types
We stock a large amount of dice here at D20 Collective, in a number of materials and mediums. You can browse by type or material and even filter down by other attributes like opacity, color, and transparency, among others. Here is a list of dice types we stock currently (with more on the way).
These are the most common type of DND dice sets and come in many variations. They are constructed of molded plastic and are durable and inexpensive. There are many different attributes to filter down and find your perfect set - Opacity, Luminescence, Pattern, Layers, and of course color.
There are two types of metal dice we sell, cast (usually made of zinc alloy) and machined billet. The cast material uses a mold and can get you a nice heavy set (with a number of color and design options) that is still affordable. Billet machined pieces are carved from solid metal and have a uniform composition. For example our aluminium dice are carved out of a single chunk of aircraft grade billet.
Light weight with a more organic feel, wood dice come in a variety of different types from zebra wood to american oak. We even make a set from old Whiskey Barrels. There are fewer options here than plastic and metal, but the simplicity of wood evokes an elegance not found in any other material.
Fancy! Made from semi precious stone and machined literally from rocks of the earth, these dice are about as rustic and elegant as you can get (and at the same time). Natural swirls, fossilized remains, crystalline formations, etc are not easily replicable in molds/mass production and make these dice some of the most spectacular, one of a kind pieces of art you will even see.
Other Exotic Dice
Bone and Horn dice are coming soon.
The D&D Dice Set
Most TTRPGs, including Dungeons & Dragons utilize the standard D20 system which relies on 7 different types of dice to perform various functions throughout the game. In turn, most dice sets sold are 7 pieces, as to offer the minimum required to play the game. The dice included in a 7 piece set are as follows: d4, d6, d8, two d10 (one of which is a percentile die), d12, and the all-powerful D20. As players advance however, the need for more dice arises, hence the 11 piece sets. We currently offer only a few of these, but plan on adding many more (we hear you!). The 11 piece sets include everything in the 7 piece set plus an additional D20 and 3 more d6s.
The inspiration for our name (D20 Collective) and the iconic shape synonymous with D&D. The largest and most used die in the set, the D20 rolls like a champ and has faces composed of equilateral triangles. Rolling the D20 is used to determine if an attack was successful or not, which is then followed by rolling another die to determine the damage. D20s can come in both standard and over-sized varieties.
The D12 has pentagonal faces and are often used to assess damage inflicted by larger weapons. It’s the highest die after the D20 in a standard set, and is the highest hit die available to any Dungeons and Dragons class.
D10 PENTAGONAL TRAPEZOHEDRON
There are 2 10-sided dice in a standard 7 piece set of DND dice. One is numbered from 0 to 9, and the other from 00 to 90. The former is used for damage, or to select from a table. The latter is often called a "percentile" die, and is used to determine chances out of 100, or likelihood of overcoming different amounts of cover. For a percentile (or D100) roll, you roll them both at the same time and add them together. 00 (double zero) = 100.
This is often used in conjunction with larger weapons to assess damage. This 8-sided die has triangular faces and looks like two pyramids stuck together.
Smooth rolling and used in almost all gaming types, be it board games, gambling, or roleplay, this dice shape should be familiar to most. It has six sides to make a perfect cube. These dice are often rolled in a group of 3D6 or 4D6 to determine character attributes, or singularly to determine damage and add bonus modifiers in recent editions.
The main use of the D4 in Dungeons and Dragons is to determine damage inflicted by small weapons. Older editions also used it as a bonus modifier, given by certain spells and abilities to checks and saves. It does not roll as well as the others due to the relatively large faces in relation to the overall size of the die. It is often overlooked but essential to any D&D set.
While no game goes without having to roll multiple of one type of die, this standard set, realistically, is the minimum all one needs to play DnD. Well… and perhaps some imagination. Minimum does not mean all you’ll ever need. It is common for players of DnD to have several sets of dice, as well as multiple of the same set. After all, stat rolls require a minimum of 4d6, so it comes in handy being able to roll all four at once, rather than rolling on one d6 multiple times. We are starting to offer several larger sets to accommodate this.
The D20 System
Despite the long and somewhat complicated copyright history of the d20 system, it can be summed up for the most part with: “Roll a d20 to see if you succeed.” Made by Wizards of the Coast for a more streamlined version of DnD, it is the most popular system due to its association with the game alone. DnD is not the only TTRPG to use the D20 system. Other games that are built off of the D20 model include: Call of Cthulhu, Pathfinder, and Starfinder. Of course there are many others and more created regularly
How the D20 System Works (Using a DND Dice Set)
The standard ‘Base stats, roll-with-modifiers’ mechanics seem almost ubiquitous nowadays, but the d20 system was first published as recently as 2000, with the release of Dungeons and Dragons 3rd Edition. Nowadays, any number of additional publications use the system, largely thanks to a combination of US copyright law, Wizards of the Coast’s encouragement of the system’s proliferation, and the Open Gaming License (a fascinating story on its own). That’s not to say that they all look the same – even 3e and 5e of Dungeons and Dragons both use the d20 system, but play pretty differently!
The basics of the system are this:
- A set of basic stats, which determine what a character is capable of in comparison to an average human. A completely normal person, with neither skills nor shortcomings, would have a 10 in each.
- Modifiers, created by the basic stats, that can be added to the chance rolls of the player. When almost anything is attempted, the player rolls a 20-sided die, hoping to beat a number determined by the difficulty of the task. Those modifiers, created by the stats, then increase the likelihood of the player successfully completing their action (if you do the math, it comes out to about a 5% increase in the likelihood of completing a task per modifier point).
- More in-depth mechanics layered on top for combat, health, abilities, and magic (if the game includes it). These bring in other dice, and vary between games and publications. But the basic foundation remains the same – a chance out of 100 simplified down to 5% increments, giving you a chance out of 20.
Other systems follow similar ‘target-to-beat’ rolling styles, often with full percentiles (d100s) or sets of d6s. Chance modified by skill is, after all, the very basis of gaming. The d20 system strikes a nice balance between these – clear, numerical goals that can be accounted for, without the frustration of tiny increments. That’s not to say that other systems are bad – they aren’t! But it isn’t hard to see why the d20 way of doing things has made such a mark in tabletop gaming.
Side note - This is a year for the 20s, and not just the ones that we roll. 2020, as well balanced as it numerically appears, is also the 20th anniversary of the d20 gaming system – that’s either an overwhelming or a very pleasing amount of 2s and 0s!
Happy Golden Birthday, d20 System! Here’s to many more, in as many forms as you can take!
How to choose the right DND Dice set for your character or campaign.
This is all personal preference of course, but many dice goblins out there (us included) have taken to matching our dice with whatever character we are playing at the time. All white Rogue, use maybe Pearl, or Storm. For a green and blue Dwarf, maybe Metallic Seafoam. Most of us will have a sense of who our character is and what they look like so it becomes just a matter of finding the perfect semblance of color or combination to match what is in our heads.
Of course there are additional layers of consideration, like materials and fonts. Maybe your character needs a metal set, or an oversized d20 for the most critical of rolls. It really is up to you and only you. There is no right or wrong here, just want you want. Fortunately, there are options abound and even more on the way. Dice collections seem to be growing by the day.