Polyhedral dice are central to role-playing games (RPGs). They come in a variety of sizes, colors, and materials. There are also a number of special shapes that provide different-sided dice that will change the odds of rolling a certain number based on the number of sides on the dice.
The most common dice used in RPGs have 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 20 sides, commonly abbreviated D4, D6, D8, D10, D12 and D20 respectively. You can play with just one of each variety, however, it is common for players to have multiple sets to make rolling large pools of dice quicker.
What are polyhedral dice?
A polyhedron is a term that means a 3-dimensional shape that is made by joining together polygons. Polyhedral dice are polyhedrons that have sides of equal size and shape. Basically, this is just a sciency way of saying that it is a set of dice that each have a different number of sides.
What is considered the standard dice set?
If you go to your local game shop and ask them to see their dice sets, you will see sets of 7 dice. This is because they come with two 10 sided dice, one will have the standard 1-10 and the other will be numbered 00-90 by 10s this second dice is used for percentage rolls in conjunction with the standard D10. So the standard set includes D4, D6, D8, D10, D10 percentage, D12, and D20.
What other dice are there that are not considered standard?
There are many dice made that could be incorporated into games, but are not typical in RPGs. These include D14, D16, D18, D22, D24, D26, D28, D30, D48, D50, D60, D100, and D120. Of these, the ones that I have seen the most are the D100 and D30. The D100 can be used instead of the two D10 in some RPGs. The D30 has found its way into a few different games.
Why use so many dice in an RPG?
Different sided dice grant different possibilities and odds for success and failure when rolling. Simple tasks that should remain fairly constant use D4 while using a D20 can involve a lot more variability. the D4 through D12 are commonly used in combat rolls while the D20 is most commonly used to see if actions succeed or fail. You have greater consistency when using the dice with fewer faces.
How much do polyhedral dice sets cost?
Yes, this is a loaded question. The price of dice can swing wildly based on what they are made from, their size, and the company that makes them. Most simple sets can be found for just a few dollars, while sets made from metal of natural stone can be well over $100.
To understand the difference, here is a link to a simple inexpensive basic set on amazon. And here is a link to super high-end dice made from natural stone by Easy Roller Dice, an artisan dice company, for comparison. The price difference is large, but I know people that collect high-end dice, simply because they really enjoy them. There are even monthly subscription dice services like the one at Dice Envy.