Tuesday, June 14, 2011

So... Non... Platonic...

Is it too late to talk about the weird dice?  :-)

I can certainly grok having fun with crazy new kinds, even if they may be a marketing gimmick in the case of DCC. I can also see that if there's a random resolution with, say, 5 or 7 options that will be rolled a lot (not just once in a blue moon), it's probably worth it to have an honest-to-goodness d5 or d7 around, instead of rolling a d6 or a d8 and treating the highest number as a gentle reminder to "roll again."  Or using a handy conversion chart.

(Full disclosure: Right now in the draft player's guide of Homebrew '82, there is a table in the character generation chapter that calls for a d7. But it's the result of pure laziness! If and when I think of one more entry to add, it will be changed to a d8!)

But these farkakte shapes?
Have they really been tested enough to ensure that the chances of all sides coming up are uniformly distributed? And I don't mean just sending 100 or 1000 of them down a tube into some kind of dice-rolling box.  I mean real hands holding them and tossing them onto a real table, in similar conditions as real gaming. Look at the direction perpendicular to the triangle for the d5 (or the pentagon for the d7): if that dimension were increased or decreased by even just a few percent, I could see the probabilities shifting majorly.

I should admit, of course, that I have no valid reason to doubt that these dice are statistically "fair." Lou Zocchi has patented the above d5, he has said a lot to justify the high quality of these dice, and Jeff Rients did some additional digging to find out that Zocchi's sales pitches do have lots of truth behind them. It's just that the physics geek inside me cringes when I see those non-isotropic shapes. Is Pythagoras rolling over in his equal-angled grave...?


  1. This is the first time i'm seeing these, and I find them rather ... odd.

  2. I had similar doubts about those dice for years, but I pretty much put my trust in the Dice Collector's claim they are legit.

    That being said, I still have questions about them producing legit results from a simple hand throw. I may get a dice cup.

  3. FYI, I really picked the weirdest two of the bunch. There are also d5's out there that are really d10s, numbered 1-5 twice. The d3's that I've seen are barrel-shaped, so they seem like they'd just tumble over and over in one direction (almost like using a hexagon-cross-section pencil as a d6!). These seem to be fine.

    I don't think I've actually seen the d14, though...

  4. The "d10" is also a non-platonic solid ^^




  6. Tested?! You have entirely too much faith in the powers that be, my good man. (Seems like everything only works the bare minimum it has to, to get by.)

    There's a simple experiment you can preform to shatter forever your faith in dice.

    Step One: Get a hold of a bunch of those chessex mini D6s. Make sure they're transparent, not opaque (that part is important because the transparents are polished more, so in the end the effect will be more noticeable),

    Step Two: Stack some of them, all oriented the same way. You should only get 5 die high, before the leaning is very apparent.

    Step Three: Marvel that dice this oblong are actually on the market and no one noticed.

  7. Well, Jenga can be fun, too! :-)