Before you begin collecting RPG dice, you might be interested to know that you’ll be investing money in something that has been around longer than recorded history. Dice are believed to have originated long ago in Asia, and the oldest set in existence was dug up in Iran as part of a 5,000-year-old backgammon set.
Centuries before dice were constructed of plastic and other modern materials, they were believed to have been made out of bones, specifically the ankle bones belonging to animals with hooves. The next time you hear someone refer to dice as “bones,” you’ll know where the phrase originated. Throughout history, dice have also been crafted out of materials ranging from stone and wood to ivory and metal.
Citizens of the Roman Empire were passionate about rolling dice, enough so that it was made illegal on almost every day of the year. Knights of the Middle Ages were also fans of the pastime, as it gave them something to do when they weren’t burning witches or contracting the plague. But when role-playing geeks came onto the scene, that’s when rolling and collecting dice became an art form.
In role-playing games (also known as RPGs), dice are used to determine the outcome of everything from a gunfight to cooking a meal. While a few games have featured a diceless set of rules (Amber Diceless, for example), the majority of roleplaying titles have made use of dice in all shapes and sizes.
Types of RPG Dice for the Collector
Before you can start collecting RPG dice, you need to familiarize yourself with the types of dice available. The following is a list of the most common dice encountered in a roleplaying setting, with its abbreviated name and geometric title included.
Four-sided Die – Also known as a D4 or a tetrahedron.
Six-sided Die – Also known as a D6 or a cube. The most common die used in roleplaying and board games.
Eight-sided Die – Also known as a D8 or an octahedron.
Ten-sided Die – Also known as a D10 or pentagonal trapezohedron. Two ten-sided dice can be rolled together when the game calls for a D100 result.
Twelve-sided Die – Also known as a D12 or dodecahedron. Not common in most RPGs.
Twenty-sided Die – Also known as a D20 or an icosahedron. Frequently used in role-playing games, and two twenty-sided dice can be rolled at the same time to produce the effect of a D100.
Hundred-sided Die – Also known as a D100 or Octahedron (named after its inventor, Lou Zocchi). More of a novelty item, the D100 is rarely used in actual roleplaying games.
Types of Roleplaying Game Dice You Can Collect
Once you’ve decided to start an RPG dice collection, it helps to know about the types of items available and what they might sell for on sites such as eBay. Here are a few categories to keep in mind:
Collectible RPG Dice
Collectible dice are sought after because only a small number of the product was ever made. During my research, it became clear that the folks behind the World of Darkness role-playing games were the kings of collectible dice, as a number of their products topped the most expensive items in the category on eBay. These included: World of Darkness dice ($399), Vampire dice set ($199), Mage: The Awakening dice ($199), Changeling: The Lost dice ($199), and the Promethean dice set ($40). In fact, these were the only RPG collectible dice that I could find associated with a specific game.
RPG Dice Made from Unique Materials
While some people collect role-playing dice for the associated brand, others are more interested in what the surface of the objects are made of. I saw one set on eBay carved from solid azurite and selling for $70. Dwarven metal (whatever that is) brings a tidy sum, as well, with a set of 10 copper dice going for $57 and brass listed at $38. A set of 12 dice that glow in the dark can be purchased for $27, while the folks over at GameScience have turned out dice that simulate amethysts, emeralds, rubies, moonstones, sapphires, and topaz (all for $25 each).
Assorted RPG Dice Collectibles
In addition to collecting RPG dice, readers may also want to invest some cash in the various bells and whistles that are sold alongside dice at the local hobby store. For example, I found a seven-inch-tall structure known as a “dice tower” that allows players to roll up to 20 dice at the same time without damaging a tabletop surface or knocking over game pieces. The wooden version of the dice tower was listed at $50, while I also found a plastic version selling for $20.
Other assorted dice collectibles available on eBay include a wooden dice tray that gives gamers a place to safely roll their dice ($30), as well as a black leather dice cup with the image of a dragon on the side ($25).