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  • D&D Dice: 7 Types of Dice Every D&D Adventurer, Tabletop Player Should Have

    June 22, 2021 5 min read

    When your Dungeon Master says "Roll for initiative," it's surprising how you see your friends just take a D20 dice and start rolling. It's equally terrifying when they begin looking at their sheets and start adding numbers. The horror intensifies when they do something and they roll a different dice. For the newbie tabletop gamer, this seems overwhelming. Just what are those dice, and what do you roll them for?


    • 20-Sided Dice, or the D20. The D20 or the icosahedron is perhaps the most iconic dice in tabletop roleplaying. Thanks to the fame that D&D 3E had in its release, a lot of gamers commonly associated D&D with this kind of dice. In fact, of all the dice you should bring to a D&D session, the D20 should never be forgotten. 
      • Use in D&D: The D20 is central to D&D, as it’s the go-to dice for most rolls and checks. Aside from the iconic “Roll for initiative,” the D20 is used to make attempts on things such as ability checks and skill checks, as well as attacks and saving throws. It’s only after you roll the D20 in combat that you can get to roll all the rest of the dice in this article. 
      • Other Games that Use D20: Aside from D&D, a lot of games associated with the D20 dice fall under the popular D20 System. These include the tabletop RPG variations of Star Wars and The Wheel of Time. Other games that use the D20 dice are Fading Suns, Pendragon, Aftermath, and Rifts


    • 12-Sided Dice, or the D12. The D12 is a dodecahedron, with each side a pentagon. The D12 is commonly associated with the Barbarian, with players using this dice to deal heavy damage. This is why the great axe, the weapon most associated with Barbarians, relies on D12 for damage. 
      • Use in D&D: The D12 in D&D is used primarily for damage purposes. Popular heavy-hitting spells such as poison spray and witch bolt also use the D12, which allows them to deal a lot of pain with just a single cast.  
      • Other Games that Use D12: While the D12 is popular for its contributions in killing dragons in dungeons, it’s also popular in other games. Players of Colonial Gothic, Thousand Suns, and The One Ring all use D12 or variations of the D12 system. Blade of the Iron Throne, another in-depth tabletop RPG, also uses D12 pools for their rolls. 


    • 10-Sided Dice, or the D10. The D10 is a popular dice in some board game and tabletop circles, especially for its two uses. It takes the shape of a pentagonal trapezohedron, totaling ten sides. Aside from being able to count one to ten, it's also a percentile dice that can count by ten. Meaning, two D10s can give you any number from 1 to 100. Some tabletop roleplaying games also rely on D10s to compute successes.
      • Use in D&D: The D10 is used in D&D in a variety of ways, more popularly by Warlocks who spam Eldritch Blast against opponents. Aside from dealing damage, D10s are also popularly used as Hit Dice to determine health and healing of combat-oriented classes, such as the Fighter, Paladin, and Ranger. 
      • Other Games that Use D10: Many tabletop RPG systems also use D10, with the World of Darkness series of games perhaps the most popular example. In its games, they use pools of D10s to determine the success of character actions. Other systems include the Roll-Keep System (Legend of the Five Rings, 7th Sea) and the One-Roll Engine


    • Eight-Sided Dice, or the D8. The D8 takes the form of an octahedron, like two pyramids attached on their bases. Like its siblings the D12 and the D4, the D8 doesn’t get a lot of exposure as the main dice amongst other systems. Rather, it has a huge role in D20-based systems as the go-to dice for damage dealers.
      • Use in D&D: A D8 in D&D is commonly used as a damage dice for most of the common weapons in the game. Popular weapons such as crossbows, axes, flails, and longswords rely on D8 dice, making it a staple in the arsenal of characters like Fighters and Rogues. 
      • Other Games that Use D8: Aside from D&D, games like Scene It?, Leviathans, and Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game also use the D8. It’s interesting to note that in a lot of games outside D&D, the D8 isn’t just used for combat but for other things as well.  


    • Six-Sided Dice, or the D6. The D6 is perhaps the most iconic dice in the boardgame world. It's a cube with six sides, and often comes in white with black dots. This is the most common dice used with most board games, so when you hear "dice," you'll most likely remember a D6. 
      • Use in D&D: A D6 in D&D is more often than not a damage dice for certain weapon types and spells. It's a popular dice for Wizards with a penchant for the Fireball spell, which is arguably powerful for its spell level. As a 3rd Level spell, it can deal 8D6 fire damage - which averages 28 damage per opponent. 
      • Other Games that Use D6: Most board games actually use a D6. Famous titles that come to mind include Monopoly, Risk, and even Catan. A D6 is mostly used to determine where pieces go on a board, and is often used to calculate damage for battle-oriented board games. 


    • Four-Sided Dice, or the D4. The D4 is most popularly used as a caltrop for DMs to avoid mobs of angry players. And we heard stepping on it hurts just as much as stepping on a LEGO. Kidding aside, the tetrahedron is unpopular amongst players because of its flat sides, making it a pain to roll. It’s still valuable to add a bit of damage or firepower to spells and some class features. 
      • Use in D&D: A D4 in D&D is most commonly associated with the Wizard spell Magic Missile, which deals D4 force damage. Spellcasters in the game would also be familiar with D4 thanks to both damaging and buffing spells, such as Bane, Vicious Mockery, Bless, and Guidance. These spells either add a bit of damage or healing, depending on the user. The D4 is also used with smaller weapons such as clubs, daggers, darts, and whips. 
      • Other Games that Use D4: Unlike other dice mentioned in this article, the D4 doesn’t see love as a “main” dice used in other systems. Rather, the D4 is also used as an additional dice for games such as Pathfinder and Ironclaw. 


    Roll the Right Dice for Every Action


    D&D is known to use all seven (7) popular variations of dice for various character tasks and skill checks. However, it's not just D&D that needs these dice for gamers to play. Our quick notes above hopefully served as a quick crash-course into the nature of different dice and what they're used for in tabletop gaming. And if you're itching to roll some dice to prep for your session, you can buy some high-quality D&D dice from our store.