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Big Assed Dice

Posted By Kurt "Telas" Schneider On August 3, 2012 @ 12:00 am In GMing Advice | 15 Comments

Rolling 20sI like big dice and I cannot lie
You other GMs can’t deny
That when an attack rolls up at a critical place, 
And that 20’s in their face,
You get sprung…

With my most sincere apologies to Sir Mix-A-Lot, I like big dice when I’m GMing. No, not the monster ones that should sit on a shelf, but the 28mm “Jumbo” size. No, they don’t fit in most dice towers, nor do they transport as easily as their smaller brethren, nor do they come in all the latest styles and colors.

But big dice can be read from a distance. Since I GM in the open, this is a pretty big deal for me. I’ve found that when it all boils down to the dice (and really, isn’t that one of the high points of the game?) the focus is on the die, and not on the GM. Bigger dice make the game feel bigger.

Also, big dice are intimidating, both in the noise they make and the sheer size compared to regular dice. I referred to my first set of large dice as “The Black Dice of Death”. They weren’t high rollers or anything, it was just a cool name. But when I would be having a bad night, I’d merely threaten to pull out the BDoDs, and the players would almost flinch.

Finally, big dice support open die rolls, which was my intention all along. I want my players to know that I’m not going to lie to them or hide the dice. I want them to see that – yes – there is some real risk to this game, and I’m not going to pull any punches.

An unexpected benefit is that two of my players can add faster than I can even recognize the numbers on the dice. Big dice let them do my math for me.

What about you, do have a preference for certain size dice? Hate the big dice? Love ‘em? Sound off in the comments and let us know!

About  Kurt "Telas" Schneider

Kurt Schneider played D&D in 1979 at summer camp, and was hooked. He lives with his wife, daughters, and dog in Austin TX, where he writes stuff, and tries to stay get fit. Look for his rants under the nom de web Telas or TelasTX. Quote: “A game is only as balanced – or as good – as the GM."




15 Comments (Open | Close)

15 Comments To "Big Assed Dice"

#1 Comment By shortymonster On August 3, 2012 @ 4:18 am

On everyday occasion, I like to be able to get half a dozen dice into my hands for a roll, so they shouldn’t be too big. I do however own a foam D6 that’s 10″ across each side. I have never had an occasion to use it yet, but I do love it.

#2 Comment By Walt Ciechanowski On August 3, 2012 @ 6:39 am

I used a big d20 in a game where the players often accused each other of cheating. They all agreed to use the big die so there would be no question as to what was rolled.

It worked well enough to be adopted by the other GMs in that group.

#3 Comment By amazingrando On August 3, 2012 @ 9:13 am

I also have a preference for large dice, in fact, they are all that I’ve used for years now. Legible dice are a must at my tables as a friendly way to discourage cheating.

Also, you can find them when they drop to the floor.

#4 Comment By Roxysteve On August 3, 2012 @ 1:03 pm

My LFGS has pine dining tables as the gameing tables, 300 bux a pop. Some of the gamers use big dice, as have I on occasion, but this I offer:

Big dice ding up the table. If you have them, also have a dice tray in which to roll them. No-one else should pay for your geek aesthetics.

The big dice will eventually pound the bottom right out of your octagonal Chessex dice tray. Eventutally is measured in less than two hands of games to judge by experience.

Big dice certainly can be found on the floor, where the fall can and often does shatter them. Big dice are not as hardwearing as the smaller ones.

Big dice have more volume and therefore more chance of voids in them and the voids mean biasing. I have some dice of unfeasible size that roll only a certain subset of the available numbers most of the time.

The only use for the three-inch plus diameter D20 is as a round/hit point recording device, unless it is made of foam rubber.

My 1/50th of a buck.

#5 Comment By Roxysteve On August 3, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

You play with people who would cheat?

#6 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On August 3, 2012 @ 1:10 pm

Good point! I’ve never lost my big dice on the floor.

#7 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On August 3, 2012 @ 1:20 pm

All dice can ding a table. My dad had to refinish a very nice ‘heirloom’ quality table after I left high school, and we were using standard sized dice. It’s always good manners to use a dice tray or roll on a folder or mat.

My leather-bottomed Dwarven Sweatshoppe tray is going strong after years of heavy dice abuse, but I can see them wearing out a less hardy breed. ;) If it helps, I think the felt can be replaced, or at least added to.

Haven’t had one crack (multiple drops onto tile), but they are admittedly of mediocre quality. (A GameScience big die could be a deadly weapon!) The chance of a void makes sense, but I haven’t noticed that any of them are consistently off. Then again, I tend to grab from a pile, and not use the same dice over and over.

Really big dice also make a handy weapon, and the Nerf ones make a handy warning device. Just don’t get them confused; a closed head injury tends to suck all the fun out of a session.

#8 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On August 3, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

In my experience, it’s not so much actual cheating as the appearance or suspicion of cheating. Big dice remove even that.

#9 Comment By Roxysteve On August 3, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

Agreed, but mass scales with volume, not diameter. The large dice pack way more punch when they come down pointy end first. And a Chessex mat is no protection from my personal experience with these things.

You are not understanding me on the dice tray issue. I am speaking of ending up holding an octagonal hoop in one’s hand with dice on the table after all. As a matter of fact I’ve also had one half of my Chessex dice tray split away from the other as a result of these oversized dice ricocheting off them when people make “bank shots” off the cushions. Most trays are simply not built for the larger dice.

Not only that, it is not possible to tumble some of the larger dice effectively.

And finally, I had one group refuse to let me use them because the numbering scheme on the d20 is not the current standard one (these being the large sets that Chessex market in tubes about eight inches long).

#10 Comment By Roxysteve On August 3, 2012 @ 3:20 pm

You must really hate those “Deadlands” scrimshaw dice then.

#11 Comment By BryanB On August 3, 2012 @ 3:42 pm

I have one magnificent d20 that is probably about 40mm across. We call it “thumper.” It usually rolls like crap though so I don’t use it much.

I also recall a 28mm brass die that one of my GMs owned. It nearly caused the death of one of our players. This player had the social graces and perception skills of a gnat. He tossed that metal beast down onto a glass coffee table. I can still see the brass d20 dropping in slow motion as everyone cringes.

The GMs mother would have killed that guy had the glass been damaged. This table was older than she was, something you’d get in Mexico or Spain. He was lucky that nothing happened. :)

#12 Comment By staceytsd On August 3, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

I have this pair of d20s that are so big that putting both of them on my palm won’t leave any room for other dice…

…okay, that might have been too suggestive. >_<;

Anyway, I agree with having big dice, but there are certain game systems that pose exceptions. For instance, Shadowrun (we actually bought the smallest gambling d6s for a campaign). GURPS, my favorite system, uses a lot of d6s too, so I tend to use standard-sized dice for that.

#13 Comment By KnightErrantJR On August 5, 2012 @ 11:46 am

I never thought much about larger dice, until I was running Mutants and Masterminds/DC Adventures. With only only one die to roll, it seemed a little weird to roll this one tiny d20, so I broke out the big purple d20 I had gotten a few years back and never used much.

#14 Comment By black campbell On August 5, 2012 @ 2:07 pm

About half of us either use smartphone rollers, or in my case when GMing, a laptop or iPad die program. About the only game that gets consistent die-love is Marvel Heroic RPG.

#15 Comment By KnightErrantJR On August 5, 2012 @ 7:36 pm

Ironically, when it comes to MHR, I use my tablet and Dice Tray Pro, because it makes it a lot quicker for me to build dice pools and move the Doom Pool and my 1s all over the place.


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