Guest Writer: Nick Monitto
Dice. They are the most important foundation to nearly all of the games we love. Yes, there are rulebooks, but we learn them pretty quickly; most of us can quote what we need right at the table. There are modules, but the adventures can come from our own minds when we want them to. Dice, though, they are the key. Daring actions, fights with foul creatures, the very fates of our characters are determined by these indispensable dice.
(Listening to whispers… What? “Chits”, did you say?)
Okay, you can play the games with paper chits. But it is not really the same, right? There is something about the idea of holding the dice in your hand, hearing the sound as they hit the table, watching the numbers come up with the cheers or groans that result.
I have played various role-playing games for close to 40 years and in that time I have used a variety of dice. And yet they were, in a sense, nearly the same. Some sort of molded plastic, fairly light, with a similar feel. Solid or clear, varying colors or a matched set, all basically the same thing. So what could be done to make them truly different?
Metal. A zinc alloy, to be specific.
These dice are impressive. Just the name “Warlock Tome with Black Dragon Metal Dice” is a mouthful! To start with, their packaging is beautiful. They come in a metal box with a hinged lid, a little smaller than a cell phone but more than an inch thick. The design with dark leathery tones and a giant red orb is meant to look like a book of magic. It is beautiful detail in a small space. Inside is a foam insert with shaped cutouts for the seven dice. This, along with the soft lining of the lid, keeps the metal dice safe and secure. Even when I hold the case in my hand and shake it, there is hardly any sound of movement.
The dice themselves are made in a black nickel finish. The numbers are engraved into each side and filled with a strong green paint. It is not a neon shade, but the contrast still has good readability. The first time you pick one up, it will be a surprise when you are only used to traditional plastic. They are heavy and the feel takes some getting used to, but it is more “sturdy” than “heavy”.
I have used them in a couple games so far, and I do love them. The look and the rolls are impressive on the table. It can be tough to roll more than two of them at a time (my game calls for a percentile roll with each combat roll), but that is a minor concern for me. The sound is louder than that of typical dice, though not so bad on plastic or wood surfaces. I worried a little when I heard the sound on a glass-topped table; if I were playing on a harder table, I would roll them over a piece of paper or get a lined box.
The biggest difference is, of course, the price. A typical seven dice set at my gaming shop retails for six or seven dollars, and I could perhaps beat that online if I tried. As I write my review, this set shows a list price of $41.99, marked down to $33.99. That is a big difference, but for some gamer’s it will be worth it. They are beautiful and sturdy, they should last for many years of use. For those who can accept the cost, especially ones who play frequently, I do recommend them.
Nick Monitto is a gaming geek who came of age on the classic games of the 1970s and ‘80s. He is currently on a vacation that will include at least two very nerdy activities.