Part 2: Build the Perfect Dungeon Master Dice Set

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Bag of dice that may be used in building the DungeonMaster Dice set

In my last post, I discussed what dice a player should have on hand for roleplaying games such as Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder.

A player should, of course, have the basic seven dice, 4-sided (d4), six-sided (d6), eight-sided (d8), ten-sided (d10), percentile (d10 in tens), twelve-sided (d12), and the ubiquitous 20-sided dice (d20). In addition, though, players should have enough of each dice type to cover whatever roll they need to make with a single roll of the dice. If they’re playing a 10th level wizard letting off a fireball that does 10 six-sided dice (10d6) in damage, they should have 10 six-sided dice on hand.

Further, I recommended color coding the dice. When I roll a typical attack with my 9th-level magus, I’m throwing a black d20, a black d6 representing the weapon damage, a red d6 for the magical fire property of the sword, and nine yellow d6 representing the shocking grasp spell he can cast through his sword. Not only does this efficiently complete my turn, it’s just so satisfying shaking and throwing 12 dice in one fell swoop!

The needs of the dungeon master are different though. This post focuses on the needs of a game master playing a game similar to Dungeons and Dragons (most any addition), or Pathfinder. While the types and numbers of dice may differ for other systems, the concepts all hold true.

What about a set of dice for the dungeon master?

Unless you are an extremely prepared dungeon master, it’s quite a bit harder to know that monster A is going to need a d20, d12, and 3d6 while monster B is going to need a d20 and 2d6 for instance– and color coding by damage type would be even more of a hassle.

Where the player has just one or two characters to worry about in a session, a dungeon master has many. If the DM tries to sort his dice like this on the fly they’ll end up spending more time trying to organize the dice combinations for a quick roll than time saved on the roll. What’s more important for the DM is to be able to quickly find the number and type of dice when needed.

In the past, as a DM, I have usually had enough of each type of dice on hand, but of all different colors, so I had to find dice by shape. Not super efficient. To solve this common problem, a company called PKCGames came up with an excellent set of dice, The Dice of Rolling, a set of 29 color-coded dice. Each type of dice has its own color. Need a d4, grab the purple dice, need a 5d6, grab five of the orange dice. The Dice of Rolling allows the DM to easily find what dice she needs.

Ok great, the Dice of Rolling is an awesome dice solution for the DM, but, alas, I missed the Dice of Rolling Kickstarter! It was enormously successful, bringing in over $40,000, but since they are currently trying to fulfill this huge order of dice, there are none yet available to buy. Once they’re available, even at the expected post-Kickstarter cost of $24, not only are they a convenient way to get a color-coded DM dice set, but they are priced at around what it would cost to make your own set. If you can wait, PKCGames is an excellent way to go.

Dice of Rolling dice set.
Dice of Rolling dice set. Image from PKCGames website.

So Dice of Rolling will eventually be available to the masses but– I want my cake now!

To satisfy my need for instant gratification, I just made my own set by going to the Chessex dice site and picking the dice I wanted. While I followed PKCGames ingenious but simple lead, I made some changes to the Dice of Rolling dice counts, colors, and styles. As compared to the Dice of Rolling set, I increased the number of d4’s to five as 5d4 is a pretty common combination to roll (maxed out magic missile or burning hands for instance), color-matched the d10’s and percentile, and added another d20 for those special rolls.

The best way to pick out your own dungeon master dice set would be to hit a convention that has booths with tons of dice to see, hold, and try. Any PAX, GenCon, ComicCon, are great sources for hands-on dice purchase, and, of course, your FLGS may have a good dice selection. I need to drive about an hour to find a real selection of dice. So, it’s online for me.

I tried Amazon first, but finding 10d6, and 5d8 of specific colors is actually kind of difficult, if you want a standard 7 dice set, then Amazon is a fine place to go, but I found I needed to go to the source– Chessex.

Chessex has some nice looking dice, and they are one of the powerhouses of the dice market. Note, their site is pretty difficult to use, the images of the dice are small, so you can’t really see the designs very well, and there’s no shopping cart. Sometimes you can find better images elsewhere, then go back to the Chessex site to order. To order from Chessex you need to create an email and they bill you via PayPal (or take your credit card number via email, but I don’t even consider that an option as, security-wise it’s insane!) With some falderal I was able to find all the dice I wanted, and create an order.

Do you have another online dice source? If so, let us know in the comments. I’d love to have more excellent avenues for increasing my dice collection.

One of my goals with the dice for this set was ease of viewing. In addition to finding the dice type by color, I want to quickly be able to see the number on the dice when rolled. With this in mind I went with the opaque, non-patterned dice. I chose the easiest to read of each type I could– solid colors, light numerals on dark dice, and dark numerals on light dice. (I like that the Dice of Rolling has most of the numerals the same color– just the percentile dice differs)

Full dungeon master dice set.
5d4, 10d6, 5d8, 5d10, 1dPercentile, 2d12, 3d20 covers most everything a DM will need to roll pretty easily. Photo by Ryan Hiller.

How to get your own set of dungeon master dice

To order, Chessex wants an email with your address (specifying residence or commercial), phone number, PayPal account to bill, then for each dice type, they want the stock number, description, quantity, and price. Their full ordering information can be found on the Chessex site.

If you want to order the same set I did, the spoiler below contains the email I used to order, just change the information as it relates to you, and please confirm dice product numbers, names, and costs. Every time I ordered any dice, I screwed something up. The nice person that responded to my email kindly asked whenever I had a discrepancy in the order.

The total cost of the order was just $17.05 plus shipping.

Chessex Email Order

Some alternatives for dungeon master dice

As I stated in the previous article about player dice, I use alternative d’4s. For my son, after ordering the above set of dice, I altered his set, by providing five white speckled d4s I had on hand, I also swapped the green d12’s with some purple I had on hand so I could include these d3’s I had previously found on Amazon.

d4's and d3's as an alternative
Photo by Ryan Hiller.

Players and dungeon masters have different needs at the table. Both need the quantities of dice necessary to keep the flow of the table moving efficiently. I select certain dice for when I’m playing a specific character, and have different dice for when I’m running the game. Not only is this a better way to go to keep everyone at the table happy and engaged, It’s just an excellent reason to be buying dice!

In my next article I’ll discuss some options for where to store all these dice, and we’ll have a dice bag give away too!

Part 1: Build the Perfect Roleplaying Dice Set | Part 2: Build the Perfect Dungeon Master Dice Set | Part 3: So Many Dice! Where Do You Keep Them All?

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