Multi-Purpose Geekery

A daybed, complete with an extra little trundle bed.

I’m a big fan of multi-purpose possessions whenever possible.

For example rather than buying a special-purpose meat tenderizer, I just grab a big heavy candle out of the Cthulhu prop box (and cover it with plastic of course). I hate guest rooms, because they sit empty most of the year, but you can’t do anything in them because there’s a bed taking up most of the room. But replace the bed with a daybed and now you have tons of space and a sitting area that can be easily converted into a bedroom on the few times a year that you need it for that purpose.

In fact, I think guest rooms in general make pretty decent gaming rooms — though of course not as nice as the dedicated basement gaming room. But that’s a topic for another post.

Dice, on the other hand, are inherently single purpose possessions. To be sure, you could use a d20 to make your day to day decisions: when to go to bed, what to have for dinner, whether to switch to a different die. But really the only purpose is playing RPGs, and I’m okay with that. They get a lot of use.

Dice Containers

But dice containers are a horse of a different color. I toss my dice in a dice bag to go to a game because it’s the most convenient way to transport them (and because they look cool). The problem is what to do with the rest of the dice, the mass of dice that every gamer accumulates as inevitably as years.

That’s why I’m so happy that we got our hands on a bunch of really cool dice boxes that we can now offer at Awesome Dice. The beauty of these boxes is that they look great sitting on the shelf, on a side table, a desk, or on the end table beside your daybed. They are a piece of decor in their own right, as well as a great way to store all those extra dice — particularly nice for dedicated gaming rooms or convertible gaming/guest rooms.

Already the most popular right out of the gate is the dragon’s eye dice box:

dragon eye dice box

My personal favorite (and my wife’s favorite) is the hefty (and costly) pewter dice box, complete with lock and key and capable of holding a lot of dice:

pewter dice box

Head over and check ’em all out, and consider adding some awesome dice boxes to your decor.

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Do Transparent Dice Roll Better?

This is pure speculation based on how dice are manufactured, but it’s entirely possible that transparent or translucent style dice may technically roll more true than opaque dice.

Opaque & Translucent Dice

I was talking with some dice manufacturers who told me that the plastic used to manufacture dice is actually clear by default, and opaque dice have coloring added. This seemed odd to me, and I asked why basic opaque dice were vastly cheaper than, say, clear dice that wouldn’t require additional additives.

The short answer: opaque dice have air bubbles inside them.

Why it Happens

Air bubbles can form inside the dice during the plastic injection molding process when the dice cool too quickly. With opaque dice, since the air bubbles can’t be seen, dice manufacturers deliberately cool the dice too quickly, which allows them to run more plastic through the molds per hour — thus the cost of the dice is cheaper.

Because the air bubbles form irregularly and in different sizes, an opaque die may well have one side that is lighter than another side, which could cause the die to favor one side.

Now it’s also possible that the premium opaque dice (like the one pictured above) don’t have this issue: they are vastly more expensive than your basic opaque dice, and indeed are more expensive than basic translucent dice. Is this because they aren’t pushing them through the molds as fast as the basic opaques, or just a factor of the difficulty in combining multiple colored plastic in a consistent way?

Does it Matter?

It’s worth stressing that I don’t know of any tests that have been done that demonstrate whether or not air bubbles or density differences actually affect the rolling of the dice. In our dice randomness test, we definitely saw that irregular surfaces on the face of the die affected the roll, but we certainly didn’t test anything with irregular densities.

Interestingly in that test we compared an opaque Chessex die against a translucent GameScience die: the GameScience die rolled marginally more true (other than the side with the sprue), but was it because of the manufacturing method, or was it because the opaque Chessex die had air bubbles affecting the roll?

If I had to guess, I do not think that air bubbles would make a measurable difference. If they did, that difference would certainly be miniscule and irrelevant to RPG gaming (much like we saw in Chessex vs GameScience). But until someone does a giant rolling test of opaque vs translucent dice, the possibility remains that opaque dice roll less true.

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New Dice: Skull & Crossbones, Spider and Elder Sign

We just got several awesome new customized dice in stock. These are standard dice that have one of the faces replaced with a custom design.

Skull and Crossbones d6 diceSkull & Crossbones d6

The Skull & Crossbones d6 Dice are available in the Shadow Dice d6 with the skull and crossbones replacing the 1 face of the dice.

Perfect for pirates and any character with a penchant for death. These dice work great in Shadowrun and other games that roll exclusively d6s, and are great as custom fireball dice!

Spider d10 diceSpider d10

The Spider d10 Dice are available in the Gemini Black-Red Dice d10 with the spider design replacing the 10 face of the die.

These dice are great for any World of Darkness game: Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, Changeling or whatever your preferred WoD game. The gold spider design looks phenomenal on these dice.

You can also use the Spider d10 as one die in a percentile set for Cthulhu or Eclipse Phase games.

Elder Sign d10s

Elder Sign Cthulhu d10 DiceThe Elder Sign d10 dice are available in both the Gemini Black-Red Dice and Gemini Purple-Green Dice d10s with the Elder Sign replacing the 10 face of the dice. These dice are ideal for Call of Cthulhu games: we have them in two different colors so that they can be used as a percentile set, which handles the vast majority of rolls in a Cthulhu game.

While it hasn’t been scientifically tested, rumors are that the Elder Sign will protect your dice from low rolls as a result of Old One curses.

The Elder Sign dice are available singly and as a set of two.

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New Celtic Dragon Dice Bags

Silver Celtic Dragon Knot Leather Dice BagWe’re excited to announce new leather dice bags on the site today. These Celtic dragon leather dice bags feature an awesome Celtic dragon knot design by Samantha Keener (DeathShiva on Deviant Art). In our humble opinion, this new design is a billionty times cooler than our other dragon dice bag design.

Like all of our leather dice bags, these new Celtic dragon knot dice bags are made from genuine leather and are made in the US. They include a leather cord to close them, and the design is hot foil stamped into the leather. These dice bags can hold up to 50 dice.

We’ve got the Celtic dragon design available in three colors:

Red Celtic Dragon Knot Leather Dice Bag

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Home: the Secret to Better D&D Campaigns

At a high level, many D&D campaigns tend to take after the Lord of the Rings, or the Dragonlance Chronicles, or countless other high fantasy sagas. They are at their heart a fellowship of travelers and heroes, wandering the land fighting a great evil, or righting many smaller wrongs.

The characters in these games usually have some kind of back story about where they came from, and perhaps they even have a theoretical family at some nameless village or forest. But the group really has no home: they are just wanderers. From city to city, from dungeon to necropolis, they stay at inns and camps at the side of the forest trail.

As a result it’s incredibly hard to get the players to really care about any place or anyone other than their own group. Perhaps the players come to a village where children were abducted in the middle of the night, or the farmers are being killed by a strange monster — the players recognize it as a plot hook and something they should fight to make right, but they don’t really care about farmer Jim or Jilly the baker’s missing children. And of course they don’t: they just heard about these people for the first time that night.

We care about people that we know, that we see again and again over time, who we’ve interacted with countless times. This, I think, is the secret to massively improving your D&D campaign.

Create a Home

Give your players a home, a base of operations. Rather than endlessly wandering the world, give them a manor or inn that they work out of. It could be a castle tower or dilapidated shack in a small village, as long as it’s someplace with some semblance of civilization. You need a world of people that they interact with regularly to really give the sense of home, as well as a place that is theirs.

The characters can slowly get to know their neighbors between adventures, and can come to feel a sense of ownership over their home.

I think this is probably best explained by example:

A Campaign with a Home

In my most recent Pathfinder campaign the characters were based out of a large city. After their first couple nights and doing some deeds that got the attention of people in the city, they had to decide where they were going to live in the city. The inns of the city actively courted bands of adventurers, because having them around the taproom was good for business, so the characters got to go to all the major inns in the city that didn’t already have an adventuring group stationed there and try to make the best deal — free rooms were a given, but free food, drink, number and size of rooms, and how often the characters had to be around were all negotiated.

Perhaps Mama Butters’ Kitchen & Respite offered the best food and as much free food as the characters could want, in addition to rooms; but everything was halfling sized and it didn’t lend a lot to a fiercesome reputation. Fat Wot’s was huge and the characters could get a whole wing to themselves since Wot built far too large, but the place was decrepit and the food was terrible as Wot struggled to get by. Perhaps one innkeeper would give them a cut of the taproom profits for any night they stayed in and told stories; perhaps another had a brother who was an armorer and would give the characters a discount. Each inn had different advantages and disadvantages, and the characters could (and did) try to wheedle and fast talk their way into better deals for themselves.

Fantasy InnArt by Alfren Khamidulin

Now settled in the inn of their choice, between each adventure the character’s came back and hung out with the same NPCs each time: the owner, the manager, the cook, the barmaids, the regulars, the rival adventuring bands vying for the best reputation. They got to really know all these NPCs, to like them and hate them. They came to expect improvements to the establishment when they were gone for a while, and actively invested in the reputation and even improves to “their” inn.

Now imagine the difference in a simple plot hook: they discover that their favorite barmaid was kidnapped, or perhaps killed by orcs. This isn’t just a random NPC anymore. They know that character, they heard stories about her kids and know that her sister was learning to be a cook. They saw her every time they came back and fended off drunken customers on her behalf. Now it’s more than a plot hook — the players are furious, they are swearing bloody vengeance.

Suddenly it matters in way that is about more than gold and experience points.

A Home Makes Players Care More

So that’s my argument and my best advice to make your next D&D campaign ten times better, and to make your players more attached to the game. Give them a home and carve out a couple hours of game time every time they return to let them interact with the characters in that home.

You can create plot hooks around their home, and the players will be more engaged in the game overall. Give them a chance to care about the NPCs and in the end that home will give them something to fight for.

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Most Popular Dice in 2013

Another year is behind us, and that means it’s time once again to take a look at the most popular dice and dice trends of 2013! With the tens of thousands of dice we sell each year, we’re in a unique position to note what dice, types of dice, and colors of dice gamers want — and we love sharing data.

This data is all based on sales on Awesome Dice, and we’re counting number of purchases for each dice type. This data set is looking at all of 2013 sales.

Dice Sales by Gender

Dice orders by genderWe’re able to determine the gender of dice purchasers by looking at the first name of the person buying the dice (actually the first name of the person they’re being shipped to), and classifying them as male or female names. Names associated with either gender (like “Pat), or that we can’t classify (like “DragonBlight”) make up the 3% unknown.

We have no idea how accurate an indicator dice sales are for overall tabletop gaming demographics, but a 67%/30% split doesn’t seem terribly unreasonable. Keep in mind that this is looking at all dice sales (and dice bags).

Another interesting way to look at it is to break it out by type of dice set — since different sets represent different groups of games and types of tabletop gaming.

Here’s a look at 7-dice sets and 12d6 dice sets. These are the two groups for which we have very strong statistical samples.

7-dice set orders by gender 12d6 dice set orders by gender

Why do 12d6 dice sets swing so much more heavily female than 7-dice sets? Is it because of the wargamers? That doesn’t seem very likely (36d6 sets come out more like the 30/67 overall average). Is it games like GURPS drawing a larger female audience? Or is it that 12d6 dice sets are the “normal” dice and are purchased by a bunch of non-gamers as replacement dice for Monopoly?

Most Popular Dice Set Types

Most Popular Dice Set Types

As always, the 7-dice set of D&D remains the most popular type of dice set by far, which is no surprise. 12d6 dice sets continue to be pretty popular as well, among wargamers and Shadowrun players.

Compared to the 2012 data, the difference between 7-dice sets and everything else has actually grown. 10d10 dice sets used in World of Darkness or L5R remain a fairly small fraction of all dice sales.

Most Popular Dice Colors

Most popular dice colors

This year we thought it would be interesting to look at the most popular dice colors by gender. We can see that in the world of gamers and their dice, gender doesn’t make a huge difference in which colors are most popular.

Blue remains the top color, and is most popular by a larger margin in women than men. Both genders like red a bit less, and men have green in the #3 position, while with women it’s black.

The Most Popular Dice

Okay, enough of aggregate data. Let’s take a look at exactly which dice were the most popular in 2013. For the purposes of compiling this list, we’re excluding the basic opaque sets (otherwise opaque 12d6 sets of various colors would be half the list — they’re a cheap way to get lots of 6-siders preferred by wargamers).

Pound o DIce

#1: Pound o’ Dice

The single most popular set of dice is actually the Pound o’ Dice — and it’s in first place by a pretty large margin as well. The Pound o’ Dice is a giant bag containing a random assortment of around 100 dice. These dice include a lot of factory seconds, but are also mixed in with high-quality dice from various Chessex dice sets.

The Pound o’ Dice topped last year’s list as well, and we imagine it’s going to continue topping lists in coming years. It’s just hard for any gamer to resist this quantity of dice (even if you know a chunk of them are going to be ugly — the ugly ones are what you make your friends use when they forget their dice!)

Mini gold dice set

#2: Mini Metal Dice 7-Sets

The second position on the most popular dice list are the tiny 5mm Mini Metal Dice. These dice sets come in both gold and silver colors and both options made it onto the top 10 list, but we’re combining them into one (if you’re interested, gold sold one more set than silver).

These dice are small enough that you can actually just about fit the entire set on the surface of a penny.

Gemini Black-Shell 7-dice set

#3: Gemini Black Shell 7-Dice Set

A nice change from the typical bold and strong colors, the Gemini Black-Shell 7-set swiftly became a favorite a gamers. We started carrying this set halfway through last year, where it snuck onto the bottom of the 2012 top 10 list, and now with a full year of availability it jumped up to #3!

Gemini Blue-Steel 7-set

#4: Gemini Blue Steel 7-Dice Set

The Gemini Blue Steel dice are ones that we’ve carried since opening Awesome Dice, but recently they have surged in popularity.

Scarab Royal Blue dice set

#5: Scarab Royal Blue 7-Set

Here at Awesome Dice we’re big fans of the entire Scarab collection of dice, and Scarab Royal Blue brings in the top spot as the 5th most popular dice set.

It’s probably not surprising that once we hurdled the Pound o’ Dice and mini dice, the next 3 most popular sets were all blue dice. The favorite color statistics don’t lie — both male and female gamers love their blue dice!

Elven Glow in the Dark 7-Dice Set

#6: Elven Glow in the Dark 7-Dice Set

These dice are ridiculously popular. The Elven Glow in the Dark Dice are also historically very difficult for us to keep in stock, due to a combination of manufacturer outages and the fact that they have to be imported from Poland.

The truly impressive thing about these very awesome glow in the dark dice is that they’ve only been in stock about half the year, and still managed to make the top 10 list!

Scarab Jade 7-Dice Set

#7: Scarab Jade 7-Dice Set

The Scarab Jade 7-Dice Set is a personal favorite and the first standard dice set to break out of the blue mold. The entire Scarab series of dice by Chessex do very well indeed, and with good reason. These are some good-looking dice!

Gemini Black Purple 7-dice set

#8: Gemini Purple-Black 7-Set

Given the popularity of the Gemini Purple-Black Dice Set, we were surprised to see that purple was so low in the most popular colors. It appears that if a gamer has a hankering for purple dice, then this is the purple dice set of choice.

Gemini Green-Black 7-Dice Set

#9: Gemini Green-Black 7-Dice Set

The second green dice set to appear on the top 10, the Gemini Green-Black 7-Dice Set offers a slightly more distinct separation of colors than the Scarab Jade above does.

Despite red dice being the 2nd most popular color for both men and women, green sets managed to claim two of the top 10 spots, while red got none!

Nebula Blue 7-Dice Set

#10: Nebula Blue 7-Dice Set

Rounding out our top 10 list we get back to blue, with the very cool Nebula Blue 7-Dice Set. These dice are clear dice with an inky blue drifting through them.

Most Popular Dice Bags

As gamers we all love our dice, and we all need something to carry them around in. But just like dice, we gamers want something cool to carry our dice in. So in addition to highlighting the top 10 dice, this year we’re also going to take a look at the top 5 most popular dice bags.

Basic Blue Dice Bag

#1: Basic Dice Bags

When you’re talking pure quantity of dice bags purchased, the Basic Dice Bags made of cheap fake velvet are the clear winners. Within this category the color preference goes Black (by a wide margin), blue, green, burgundy, and gold.

However, since these basic dice bags are kind of boring, we decided to clump them all into the number one spot to make room for some other more exciting leaders in the dice bag category.

Black Leather Dice Bag

#2: Black Leather Dice Bag

Our selection of leather dice bags have been very popular, and the Black Leather Dice Bag leads the pack complete with that rich new leather smell.

This dice bag is so popular that it actually outsells some of the basic ones, including the red and green — beaten only by the black and blue basic dice bags.

Black Dragonscale Dice Bag

#3: Large Black Dragonscale Dice Bag

Certainly one of the coolest looking dice bags in the world, the Black Dragonscale Dice Bag is handmade with anodized aluminum scales woven into the bag itself, and a thick yarn interior to prevent dice from getting scratched on the scales.

Like the Glow in the Dark Elven dice, the truly impressive thing about the black dragonscale dice bag is that it made it onto the top 5 list even though it’s out of stock at least as often as it’s in stock.

Blood Spatter Dice Bag

#4 Blood Spatter Dice Bag

The FFG Blood Spatter Dice Bag remains a steady favorite of gamers who like their slaughter visceral and bloody. This is essentially a substantially larger basic dice bag with a cool blood spatter design printed on the front.

Cthulhu Elder Sign Leather Dice Bag

#5: Cthulhu Elder Sign Leather Dice Bag

Rounding out our top 5 list is the Cthulhu Elder Sign Leather Dice Bag, the dice bag of choice for Call of Cthulhu enthusiasts. This is a high-quality black leather dice bag with an elder sign hot foil stamped onto one side.

Our only dice bag with an elder sign on it, it’s the only one that will protect your dice from being cursed by a Great Old One.

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Cthulhu Inspiration from the Discovery Channel

I’ve been on a bit of a Discovery Channel reality show kick lately — largely because I can watch it on Netflix on one screen while working on something else on the other. For some reason these kind of shows don’t demand as much of my attention, likely because I don’t mind when I miss stuff.

But I recently discovered that most of these Discovery Channel shows are perfect settings for Call of Cthulhu games!

As I talked about before in the Cthulhu Formula, one of the big keys to one-off Cthulhu games is getting the setting right. Ideally the setting should be some place interesting that you can build good, quirky characters around. But the crucial part is that the settings needs to put the characters, who are just normal people going about their normal lives, into a place where they can’t just call the cops or go home when stuff starts getting freaky. As technology progresses this gets particularly difficult — finding ways to get the characters somewhere without internet or cell phone coverage in particular.

Enter the Discovery Channel.

Deadliest Catch


Take Deadliest Catch: what better Call of Cthulhu setting than a crab fishing boat in the middle of the Bearing Sea during a storm?

A crab boat has a crew just about the perfect size for a gaming group. Cell phones don’t work. Radios and sat phones are iffy, especially during a storm. When things go wrong there’s nowhere to run — just endless frigid waters as far as the eye can see.

The characters are just going about their life, fishing for crab, playing pranks on other boats, when they get a distress call… the storms are so bad the Coast Guard can’t respond, or doesn’t even hear the call. The players’ boat is near enough to investigate and they come upon the eye of the storm with the other boat just sitting dead in the water. They go to investigate and find… whatever. Maybe the boat is deserted, with only vague clues as to what happened in its last hours. Maybe the crew were mercilessly hunted and slaughtered by some thing (and maybe that thing has made it onto their boat).

This show is positively filled with possibilities made perfect by the setting. The characters are all alone on the Bearing Sea. Take out their radio & EPIRB through misfortune or sabotage and there’s no chance of calling for any kind of help. And there are strange things out in the middle of the ocean — not to mention the character’s lives are based on hauling up things from the bottom of the sea. Perhaps they brought up something strange, and wonderful, and ultimately horrible.

I can’t believe I’ve never thought to run a Deadliest Catch game. Hell, even the title sounds like the title of a Cthulhu Game!

Gold Rush


Or how about Gold Rush. A small group of out-of-work adventurers heads up to Alaska to try to strike it rich mining for gold. Once again, they’re up in areas so remote that cell phones don’t work. Better yet, a simple storm can make the roads unpassable. Once again, the crew is the perfect size for a gaming group. For more setting interest, there are bears all over the place, and they can be dangerous. During the height of summer the daylight can last for 20 hours (and in winter darkness lasts that long… but you don’t mine in winter, of course. But perhaps wintering over on mining grounds…).

And my favorite part… the characters are literally digging as deep as they can looking for ancient riverbeds. What happens when they dig too deep, and unearth something strange. The entrance to some kind of alien tomb, with the promise of riches inside. Or they trigger an ancient curse, or release some foul entity too ancient and powerful to be killed that was entombed millenia ago.

You can also choose to have neighboring claims with NPCs that can go crazy, or get killed off. Perhaps the initial disturbances you can write off under as the kooky neighbors trying to jump your claim and scare you out of town. But more likely it is raw greed that will drive the characters to push forward in spite of strange happenings until they are in too deep, following the trail of gold farther and farther down until they awaken the slumbering monstrosity below. And now they have to survive those few all-too-long hours of darkness with nothing but their wits and several large pieces of construction machinery between themselves and the gibbering terrors that man was not meant to comprehend.

I love the machinery too! Bulldozers and loaders and excavators are the perfect bits of interesting equipment to give the characters just a chance in hell of fending off Cthulhu monsters. And they have the potential to create all kinds of problems, especially as sanity begins to ebb away.

Of course Gold Rush isn’t a great title for a Cthulhu game — probably have to change that up to something like From Beneath It Devours.

Another similar show is Ice Road Truckers (not actually Discovery Channel, but along the same theme) — also a great setting, though you’d have to work a bit to get a full group into the setting.

I haven’t yet plumbed the full depths of the Discovery Channel offerings, but I have high hopes that they will continue to produce shows that translate perfectly into Cthulhu settings. And I do believe my next Cthulhu game will be set in an Alaskan Klondike gold claim.


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New Candidate for Oldest Dice Found

Haluk Sağlamtimur of Ege University reported to Discovery News that they found ancient dice at a dig site in Turkey dated at around 3000 BCE. Along with the dice they found 49 stone game pieces carved into numerous shapes, including pigs, dogs, and pyramids:

World's oldest game pieces
Dozens of elaborately carved game pieces found along with ancient dice in a 5,000 year old dig site in Turkey.

Sağlamtimur presented the find at the annual International Symposium of Excavations, Surveys and Archaeometry. He said he believed the pieces belong to a complicated chess-like game. If so, this would be evidence of a game more complicated than other ancient games like Senet or the Royal Game of Ur. His team is trying to puzzle out the rules of a game that would use all these pieces — though notably no board was found.

Ulrich Schädler, director of the Swiss Museum of Games in La Tour-de-Peilz, argues that it is unlikely this is a game of higher complexity and suggests instead that they found pieces for several different games all stored in one place. In particular he pointed out that the pyramids found look like the dice used in the Royal Game of Ur.

This site is dated to “nearly” 3000 BCE, which would make these the oldest confirmed dice. The next closest are the 4-sided dice (though they worked a bit differently from ours) found in the Royal Game of Ur dated at 2600 BCE. Games of Senet have been found dating back even farther, to 3100 BCE, but we don’t classify the 2-sided pieces as dice. The oldest d20 dates from 30BC – 300BC.

We have updated our History of Dice post & graphic to incorporate this new credit for the oldest dice.

World's oldest d20
World’s oldest d20, found in Egypt and dated to 30 BCE to 300 BCE. We have no indication of how these ancient d20s were used.
The Royal Game of Ur, dated to 2600 BCE and on display at the British Museum.
The Royal Game of Ur, dated to 2600 BCE and on display at the British Museum.


History of Dice Infographic
Awesome Dice’s complete history of dice, including every major dice find & first sighting of each type of dice.
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Custom Dice Manufacturing

We get a surprising number of inquiries from people who want to have custom dice manufactured, either for a special event or a game they are designing, and a surprising number of magicians who want trick dice. Unfortunately we do not manufacture custom dice, but we can certainly point you in the right direction.

First, let’s stress the difference between custom dice, and customized dice.

  • Customized Dice are dice that have already been made that then have your custom design laser etched onto one or more faces. You are not doing custom colors/shapes, and the customized faces are not fully beveled, but instead the design is laser etched into the surface so it doesn’t sit as deeply as molded dice. You can get dice customized in small quantities, including just a few dice, for reasonable prices per die. The cost will, of course, be higher than the retail price of dice, and large quantities don’t get much of a price break. You are limited to the colors of stock dice that the manufacturer has available.
  • Custom Dice are dice using custom molds. With a custom mold the dice can include any kind of design, number of faces, fully beveled, and any get combination of dice color and inking color. This is the method required if you want a unique size or number of faces on the dice. There are substantial set-up costs and you must print very large quantities.

Custom Dice Manufacturers

In our experience, people who want to manufacture custom dice often have unrealistic expectations — that they will be able to print only a few hundred dice in a unique shape, and for a cost of less than the retail price of standard dice.

Customized dice can be made in quantities as small as just 10 dice, and the cost will be around a dollar per face being customized. You are limited to the color of dice and inking available.  You can get price breaks with larger quantities, but never down to only pennies per face, and the cost is never going to be like getting dice wholesale. You can get customized dice in a variety of styles from:

  • Chessex: They offer customized dice in a large variety of d6 colors and sizes, with customization on the 1 or 6 face; a more limited variety of d10s, with customization on the 10 face; or opaque white dice (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12 & d20) with customization on all faces. Turnaround for small orders is a few weeks.
  • Q-Workshop: They offer customized dice in a large variety of colors and sizes for every type of die (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, & d20) including customization of all faces. Turnaround for small orders is a few weeks. As long as you want standard dice shapes, Q-Workshop customization will essentially let you get almost entirely custom dice without the huge cost of building your own molds.

For truly custom dice you will need to pay to create a custom mold, which will cost you thousands of dollars at a minimum. Your minimum quantity will be at the very least 1,500 of each die. Manufacturing will happen overseas, so you’ll also have to pay for shipping, which will likely be another several thousand. If you want to find a US plastic injection molding manufacturer to make your dice, figure you’ll have to pay ten times as much for your setup and significantly more per die.

That said, if custom dice sounds like what you’re looking for, you can go through PandaGM for your custom dice manufacturing. They have manufacturing sources in China. They have a very good reputation and the lowest minimum quantities of anyone I’ve ever worked with. Most game printing companies can source custom dice. Do not bother them if you don’t want thousands of each die.

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1-Sided Dice Now on

1-sided diceWe here at Awesome Dice HQ are thrilled to announce the launch of 1-sided dice. Yes, the fabled d1 is finally here!

Why do you need 1-sided dice?

Imagine this all too common scenario faced every day by D&D DMs around the world: your group is in a dungeon crawl. There’s a room with a pie in it, and the pie is guarded by an orc. If the characters open the door, one of these things happen:

1. The orc attacks

That’s it, there’s only the one option. So the characters do indeed open the door and the poor DM consults the chart. Unfortunately the smallest die type he has is a d4, so our DM has no choice but to roll the d4 over and over until he gets a 1 before he knows what the orc is going to do.

This is exactly the situation that 1-sided dice are designed to solve. Now the DM can grab the d1 and quickly roll just one time, see what the orc will do, and get on with the action of the game. In this way 1-sided dice make your game move faster and better.

Möbius Strip Dice

The 1-sided die is a möbius strip: an object with only one side. If you put your finger on any point of of the die and move it along the surface, you’ll eventually come back to the starting point and will have touched every part of the die (there is not any other side).

1-sided dice are about twice the size of standard gaming dice. Gamers can “roll” the d1 by spinning it like a coin. The numbering comes uninked, and if desired can be easily filled in with a fine-point permanent marker.

The 1-sided dice are available in plastic and as solid stainless steel metal. To be completely frank, the metal d1 is far superior: it has a nice solid heft, looks awesome, and spins delightfully. However, stainless steel is expensive, so we also have a plastic version. It’s the same size and dimensions but it’s very light, lighter even than standard dice despite being much larger.

At Last – Perfect Randomness

These 1-sided dice are the highest precision gaming dice available. The 1-sided dice are guaranteed to have zero deviation from perfect randomness. They are, in effect, statistically perfect. As we saw in our randomness test, even GameScience precision dice don’t roll to casino-level accuracy. But with the d1, you will get the mathematically predicted distribution every time.

Here’s some close-up shots of the 1-sided dice:

1-sided dice
Metal version of the 1-sided dice.
Plastic 1-sided dice
The plastic version of the 1-sided dice.

1-sided dice mobius strip

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GameScience Dice Shortage

April 2014 Update: Lou Zocchi now once again controls GameScience. However, GameScience dice are still not being manufactured, and there is still no way to predict when they will be.

Jan 2014 Update: GameScience dice are still not being manufactured. There is no predicted date on when they might be able to start making them again; however, GameStation confirmed that they are no longer the GameScience manufacturers: “I can safely say that we will not offer Gamescience again.

We are currently unable to get our hands on any GameScience dice, and GameScience dice are not being manufactured at this time.

Our distributors have been out of stock of most GameScience dice for some time now (though they still have the occasional odd-sized “Zocchi Pack” set at hand (update: these are gone too) they have no 7-dice or other sets). In frustration we finally went direct to GameStation, the company that purchased GameScience some five years back. The response we got was:

Unfortunately, we are currently not shipping out to retailers or distributors at this time.  I apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused you.  If you would like, I can email you when Gamescience Dice will be available to you again.

This was a strangely vague response. I replied asking for even the roughest ballpark timeline of when they would be back in stock, and got no response at all. Adding to the strangeness, GameStation had taken down their video of Lou Zocchi giving his GameScience spiel at GenCon.

So we did a bit more digging, reaching out to some contacts. We were able to confirm that in fact no GameScience dice are currently being manufactured at all (including the d100), and it’s unlikely that manufacturing will start up for at least a month or two until next year at the earliest. However, everyone one we spoke with was hopeful that manufacturing would start up again this year, but no one was willing to hazard a guess when, or whether the full color assortment would become available at once (there were some suggestions that manufacturing might start up one color at a time – but that is not at all certain, they could all come back at once).

While both manufacturers and distributors are out of stock, it is not possible for us to get any GameScience dice of any kind, and it will likely be a long drought before they’re available again.

Thanks to Welbo to providing the updated GameStation quote.

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Most Popular Gaming Dice

It’s no secret that we gamers love dice — heck, we built a business around it. So we thought it would be fun to take a look at exactly what kinds of dice gamers like the most. With the tens of thousands of dice we sell each year, we figure there aren’t many businesses around that sell more dice than we do so we’re in a unique position to know what kinds of dice are most popular to gamers. And we love sharing data!

This data is all based on sales on Awesome Dice, and we’re counting number of purchases for each dice type. This data set is looking at all of 2012 sales — if there’s enough interest, we’ll continue posting this kind of information every year.

Most Popular Dice Set Types

Most popular dice set types

Starting at the top we’re looking purely at the kind of dice sets that gamers buy. It’s probably no surprise that 7-dice sets of classic D&D dice are the winner — these dice are used in countless RPGs from Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder to Earthdawn and Call of Cthulhu. What is a little surprising is that 12d6 dice sets weren’t as far behind as we’d have thought. This is largely because when wargamers buy 6-sided dice, they buy a lot of them. It’s not uncommon for us to get orders of ten or twenty 12d6 sets at once — almost always of plain opaque dice.

The 10d10 sets are a small fraction of dice sets sold, far diminished from the glory days of World of Darkness back in the late 90s. The odd dice are the sets of unusual-sided dice (d3, d5, etc) sold by GameScience.

Most Popular Dice Colors

Most popular dice colors chart

Here we’re taking a look at the most popular colors of dice out there. For purposes of this data, a die that is blue and red, for example, counts as both a blue and a red die. However, dice that are black and red would just count as red. Our logic here is that the black & red die is considered a red die — someone is buying it because it’s a cool-looking red die, not because of black. So the dice counted in the black column are dice that are predominantly black.

Blue is the clear winner for most popular dice color. From there red, green, black, and purple all steadily decline until the big drop-off. Glow in the dark dice sell surprisingly well, especially considering the difficulties we have in keeping the coolest glow in the dark 7-dice sets in stock. The Other column includes orange, yellow, gray, bronze, teal and other minor colors.

Most Popular Dice

Okay, enough of the charts of aggregate data — let’s take a look at what are flat out the most popular single sets of dice! For this we are excluding the cheap opaque dice. I think we can agree that there’s nothing particularly appealing to the opaque dice other than their price, but by numbers alone they would control half of the top 10 list, and that just isn’t terribly interesting.

It’s much more fun to look at the dice that gamers choose based on appearance, rather than price. Well, perhaps we should make an exception for number 1…

Pound o DIce

#1: Pound o’ Dice

The single most popular set of dice is actually the Pound o’ Dice — and it’s in first place by a pretty large margin as well. The Pound o’ Dice is a giant bag containing a random assortment of around 100 dice. These dice include a lot of factory seconds, but are also mixed in with high-quality dice from various Chessex dice sets.

Gamers cannot get enough of Pound o’ Dice. As owners of several of these ourselves, we can understand why. The Pound o’ Dice is a great and cheap way to stock up on a bunch of extra dice to replace the ones that are lost under furniture or provide dice to the people who forgot their own.

Mini gold dice set

#2 & 3: Mini Metal Dice 7-Sets

The second and third positions on the most popular dice list are the tiny 5mm mini metal dice. These dice sets come in both gold and silver colors (silver is #2, and gold is #3) and these dice are small enough that you can actually just about fit the entire set on the surface of a penny.

There’s just something about making something really, really small that appeals to people (remember the mini PHB & DMG?). In practice these mini dice make a very easy set of dice to carry with you anywhere.

Glow in the dark 12d6 dice set

#4: Glow in the Dark 12d6

Glow in the dark dice are just awesome. The 12d6 version earns its position in the top ten due to the combination of awesome glowiness and affordable price… and perhaps because we managed to get a particularly attractive photo of them glowing.

To be fair, the Glow in the Dark Elven Dice would very likely be in the top 10 if we could just keep them in stock. Every time we get more of these in from their manufacturer in Poland they blow out in a few weeks and it takes months to get more back in stock.

Elven translucent blue dice

#5: Elven Translucent Blue 7-Set

The Elven Translucent Blue dice are truly awesome. While the exact appearance varies from set to set, these dice feature cool designs inked in blue on a clear die. As a result, you can see the elven writing through dice dice, giving an elven feeling background to any given face of the dice.

These dice are works of art, and we totally get why they’re so popular.

Scarab Royal Blue dice set

#6: Scarab Royal Blue 7-Set

Here at Awesome Dice we’re big fans of the entire Scarab collection of dice, and Scarab Royal Blue brings in the top spot as the 6th most popular dice set. The Scarab dice in general do a really good job of mixing a solid color with black to give a darker, textured appearance.

It probably isn’t surprising that the Scarab Royal Blue is so popular since, as we’ve learned, blue is the most popular dice color of gaming dice.

Scarab Jade dice set

#7: Scarab Jade 7-Set

A personal favorite, the Scarab Jade 7-Dice Set is to green what the above set is to blue. Jade is the right word to describe these dice, making them perfect for everything from L5R characters (they come in 10d10 sets as well) to any wilderness characters. Or heck, any character at all — they’re just very cool-looking dice.

Gemini purple black dice set

#8: Gemini Purple-Black 7-Set

Given the popularity of the Gemini Purple-Black dice set, we were surprised to see that purple was so low in the most popular colors. It appears that if a gamer has a hankering for purple dice, then this is the purple dice set of choice.

Gemini Shell-Black dice set

#9: Gemini Black-Shell

A nice change from the typical bold and strong colors, the Gemini Black-Shell 7-set swiftly became a favorite a gamers. This is particularly impressive since we didn’t stock this dice color until halfway through the year! It will be interesting to see how it performs this year with a whole year to compete for the top 10 spot.

Scarab Blue Blood dice set

#10: Scarab Blue Blood 7-Set

Rounding out the top 10 list is yet another in the Scarab collection, the Scarab Blue Blood 7-set. To us, this is the true Scarab red die type, and it’s interesting that it’s the only red dice set in the top 10, considering all red dice combine to be the second most popular color.

Most Popular Dice Bags

Night Sky Dice BagWe’d like to be able to do a similar analysis of dice bags as we did with the dice, but we feel the data is pretty skewed on the dice bag front. We spent a good amount of time last year sourcing new cool dice bags, and as a result most of the dice bags were available for radically different periods of time — we didn’t even get our leather dice bags or chainmail dice bags on the site until early this year.

That said, the basic dice bags all took the top spots, including the metallic gold dice bag. The most popular non-basic dice bag was the Night Sky dice bag (pictured to the left).

If the emails we get are any indication, the Dragon Scale Dice Bags are the most desired bags, but their hefty price probably prevents them from making the top-selling list. Our new selection of leather dice bags have been incredibly popular, and we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them topping the list in 2013.

What Do You Think?

What do you think should have made the list for coolest gamer dice but didn’t? Do you think there are other ways we should have looked at aggregate data? And most of all, is this kind of information the kind of thing you’d like to see us do more of at Awesome Dice? We’re always eager to dig into any kind of dice-related data that we can (such as our randomness test) but don’t know if most gamers get quite the enjoyment out of these statistics as we do.

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