We've all played board games and know the importance and use of dice. You need one, maybe two, 6-sided die, and you're good to go, right?
Well... for most classic board games, this may be true, but for tabletop role-playing games such as DnD, well, we're going to need a bigger boat! DnD, in particular, requires seven unique dice to play the game. Six of these have a different number of sides, and all of them are unique in some way and used for something different. You may hear this and think what are RPG Dice? Or, even question if this is worth you time, but it's not all that complicated.
I'll explain to you precisely what each one of them is for in this article! The good news is that you can generally buy all seven die in one unique set and there are a lot of inexpensive options out there. Here's an overview of the seven dice you will need to play Dungeons & Dragons and what each die is used for. Here's a quick list to start you off and what each one is called in the context of the game:
- Four-sided die, or D4
- Six-sided die, or D6
- Eight-sided die, or D8
- Two ten-sided dice, or D10 and D%
- 12-sided die, or D12
- 20-sided die, or D20
Now that we've established that, let's look at what each die is for in the context of Dungeons & Dragons!
The four-sided die, or D4
The D4 looks like a little pyramid, and it's incredibly pointy and sharp if you step on it, so be sure not to leave it lying around on the floor! It is also known as the "caltrop." This die is a little weird because there are multiple numbers on each side. Either one number on each edge of the die or at the point of each face.
The D4 is explicitly used in situations that call for smaller variations in the outcome. Traditionally, the D4 is going to be used predominantly to determine the amount of damage done by smaller weapons that can do damage of up to 4 points and for the effect of the weaker spells.
When you roll the die, the result will be determined by the number that is on the bottom closest to the surface of all three exposed sides, or the number closest to the top point, depending on the dice design. Don't worry if that sounds a little complicated because it will always be the same number value on the bottom/top of each side, no matter what you roll.
You will only have to look at one side to know precisely the result of your roll. Another easy way to determine what value you rolled is that the correct number will not be displayed at an angle. It will be the only right side up number value exposed on the die.
The six-sided die, or D6
To most people, this die is known as a "die," but to a tabletop role-playing game player, it is known as the D6. This is simply the traditional cube-shaped die that we all know and love, and yes, it has its place in the world of tabletop role-playing. The only difference between the six-sided die used for Dungeons & Dragons and the traditional one your grandmother uses to play Yahtzee is that the one for DnD has actual numbers on it instead of dots.
Frequently, veteran DnD players will have a set of three or four six-sided dice that are explicitly used for rolling multiple dice at once. This is used during player creation to determine specific statistics and attributes. With three of them, all three are rolled, and the player will assign each number rolled as the value of one of their attributes.
With four D6s, all four are rolled, and the lowest value is discounted. Then the three remaining values are assigned as the value of one of their attributes. Players are traditionally allowed to decide which value is for which attribute. If you only have one six-sided die, then you can roll it several times. Also, as with most other dice, the six-sided dice in DnD is used for determining the efficacy of spells when cast and weapons during an attack where damage can be up to 6 points.
The eight-sided die, or D8
The eight-sided die used in Dungeons & Dragons looks like two pyramids put together, resembling a top that you can spin (a fun party trick while waiting your turn). The eight-sided die is most commonly used to determine the value of the damage done by larger weapons that are able to be wielded with one single hand and can do damage of up to 8 points.
These types of weapons are incredibly common for characters to use because they allow a character to carry a sword and a shield at the same time, one in each hand. You will traditionally get a whole lot of use out of your eight-sided die in an average session. Warrior classes, in particular, will pretty much always be using the eight-sided die.
The two ten-sided dice, or D10
There are two ten-sided dice used in Dungeons & Dragons, one with values from 0 to 9 and one with numbers from 00 to 90 in intervals of ten. Besides the different numerical values, both die are virtually identical in shape and size. The single ten-sided die with values from 0 to 9 is used much like the eight-sided die to determine the damage done if a weapon can inflict up to 9 points damage or the efficacy of a similar spell.
The unique aspects of the ten-sided dice come when the two dice together are used to make what are known as "percentile rolls." You will roll both dice and add their values together. For instance, if you roll a 6 and a 50, the resulting value is 56. The only exception will be if you throw a 0 and a 00, as that would be 100.
These percentile rolls are used predominantly for matters of chance where the chance of success or failure is determined by percentage. For example, let's say there is a 40% chance of success; then, if you roll anything below 40, you have failed. The percentage of luck and failure is usually determined in-game based on the calculation of different attributes and risks.
If you don't have a ten-sided die that has the double-digit values on it, you can use two different ten-sided dice with single-digit values and decide which one is the first value and which one is the second value. For instance, you can roll a 4 and then a 7, and say that the percentile roll was 47. However, if you want to play it the right way, be sure to get the right kind of ten-sided die, which is included in most 7-die sets.
The 12-sided die, or D12
The twelve-sided die is the die you are going to use to determine the value of the damage done by some of the largest weapons in the game that can inflict up to 12 points of damage. Each side of the die has the shape of a pentagon. Many of the largest weapons will do up 12 points in damage; hence, again, the twelve-sided die.
The 20-sided die, or D20
This, the twenty-sided die, is the most notorious of all the dice used in Dungeons & Dragons. I mean, look at the thing! What the hell is it!? But, in all seriousness, you need this. This is the decider, the master of all the Dungeons & Dragons dice.
This die has a tendency to roll faster and farther than all others since its many and minuscule sides make it practically a ball. This large roll distance is emblematic of its larger importance in the Dungeons & Dragons game as a whole. Each face on the twenty-sided die is a tiny little triangle.
The twenty-sided die is used to determine if actions are effective or not. For instance, if you make an attack, you will first roll the twenty-sided die to see if the attack landed or not or to see who strikes first, the player of the enemy.
For instance, during an attack, the Dungeon Master will roll for the enemy, and the player will roll for themselves. If the player rolls higher than the Dungeon Master, the player gets to strike first.
For the strike, the player must roll a higher value on the twenty-sided die than the value of the specific armor class of the enemy for the attack to land. If the attack lands, you then move on to the corresponding die that is used to determine the damage done by the weapon, depending on the type of weapon and the potential damage that weapon can inflict (which we covered previously).
Because of its importance in all aspects of chance, the twenty-sided die is the most used in the whole game. It has practically become a totem for the game in general.
Getting your own set of dice
Now that you know what all the different dice in DnD are used for, be sure to get yourself a set! And, be sure to use code "DICEPLEASE" for 20% a set of dice a checkout.