“Because it’s there” is the somewhat pithy, if not obvious answer as to why The Dice Lab went with a massive d120 for their latest release. Luckily, math wizards Henry Segerman and Robert Fathauer also have a logical, practical explanation as well.
It started when we wanted to see if there was a way to make a 100-sided dice that was practical, symmetrical, and fair. It turns out, you can’t get all three. The only way to make a symmetrical d100 was to have two large cones, connected at the base, and it was very difficult to read, in practice. So then the question shifted to “What’s the largest dice you can make that meets all three criteria?” It turns out that, not 100, but 120 sides is the perfect application.
Segerman and Fathauer got to work, employing the help of fellow mathematician Bob Bosch to help balance the sums of the vertices of the disdyakis triacontahedron (the geometric shape employed for the d120). With the possible pairings of the faces being astronomically high, it took some brute force computing to find the solution. Then the trick was to make the d120 actually readable, as cramming that many numbers onto the polyhedron and being able to see what face it landed on was going to be impossible for something the size of a normal die, or even their overly large d60.
The result is a 2″, .2 lbs hunk of RNG goodness that will Raiders of the Lost Ark everything in its path when you roll it at the gaming table. And roll it you will. Once I got the d120 in my hands, I couldn’t stop picking it up and playing with it. It’s well balanced and satisfyingly hefty. And, thanks to its size and scalene-triangle faces, it’s really easy to read. So other than craft the most terrifying roll for damage ever (“Tiamat surprises you and hits you with all five breath weapons, all four claw attacks, and her tail. You rolled a one while trying to escape and not only fell prone, but impaled yourself with your own Vorpal sword… twice. Roll 15d8 or 1d120 for damage”), what else can you do with a d120? How about replace all your other dice? The Dice Lab came up with a handy table that lets you convert other die rolls to d120 results, so the d120 doesn’t have to just be part of your dice set, it can be your dice set.
This kind of mathematical exploration permeates everything that The Dice Lab creates, from the aforementioned d60, to a d20 whose numbering is better distributed to provide balanced vertex sums and fairer rolls, to d4 and d8 dice that actually roll rather than plop. But will they still roll 1s? Sadly, yes. To the video!
And that’s what I love about The Dice Lab’s dice. There aren’t glittery finishes. The dice aren’t hewn from the canine of a sabertooth tiger. They don’t have sentience and roll themselves to prevent 1s. They just employ mathematical theory to create dice that are geometrically symmetrical, with fairly distributed faces, to ensure that you get the fairest rolls possible. It doesn’t mean you’re never going to roll a 1 again, but there is less of a worry that the dice are out to kill you. Now your DM? That’s another story entirely.
Stop by The Dice Lab’s shop and throw down $12 for your own d120. I can guarantee it’ll turn heads when you pull it out at your next gaming session!