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I've been playing Dungeons & Dragons in some form or other since the late 70's. A friend of my brother told me about this new game that people were playing in college and it sounded fascinating; the more he told me about it the more I was intrigued.
So I saved up the princely sum of $10 and picked up the then "new" boxed set at a local store. I'd read through the little white-box first edition a friend's dad had and was excited to see it in a full-sized full-color box. Opening it on the spot I was surprised because it didn't come with any dice and I knew those were important!
Instead there was a page of cardboard chits that were numbered. You would punch them out and put them in different cups to represent the various dice, D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, and D20.
Fortunately, there was also a coupon in the box for a free set of polyhedral dice which you could mail in or redeem at your local game shop. So I ran back and showed it to the store clerk who got the manager who dug around for a few minutes and came back with my first set of dice ever! I still remember that no one in the store knew how to say the word polyhedral correctly, they said it like "poly-hydra", like some new creature you'd have to fight.
I still have some of those dice in my collection though they have long since been retired. If you had them you remember the plastic was poorly molded and they chipped and became misshapen after thousands of rolls and probably going through the wash in the pocket of your blue jeans at least once. Still, I keep them as a link to the past.
Over the years I've gotten most of my dice piecemeal. A D20 here, a pair of D10's there, a full set of seven dice every now and then.
Recently I wanted to get some more dice since my wife also is a gamer and in addition to role playing games which use the standard 7 die set, we play some miniatures games which need 10 of each die type from D6 to D12.
Luckily, I was contacted out of the blue by the guys at Easy Roller Dice Company about reviewing some of their dice!
So they sent a big set of 105 dice, 15 complete sets, in a quality drawstring bag. That way we'd have more than enough dice for any game!
And these are not the cheesy, lop-sided, poorly inked dice of our youth. Instead they are all cleanly molded and inked. Out of 105 dice we could not find one defect. The numbers on the D6, D8, D10, and D12 seem large compared to some of the other dice I own which to me is actually a big plus because they can easily be read from across the table without having to put your glasses on.
Overall for less than 28 cents a die (27.95 on sale for 105 dice) these are great and you get matching sets, not just random colors!
They also sent a set of metal dice which are a new thing the last few years to check out. I'd never handled metal dice before but they have an awesome heft to them and feel great to roll. Plus they look bad ass and the "Serpent Blood" green ink really takes this set over the top visually!
The seven metal dice come in a quality leatherette case with a foam insert so they ride safely to and from the game. They make these with 10 different ink colors and now also in copper colored metal so you can find the ones you'll like best.
These things are weighty little beasts with sharp corners so if you're playing at a nice wooden table you'll want to roll them on something else, such a dice tray (which we'll get to in a moment)
In all fairness, if you look very closely at these under a light you can see some slight surface flaws especially along the edges of the dice. This won't affect their rolling and isn't even noticeable at a glance, but close inspection of the dice revealed this especially in the D4 and D6. I think this is a side affect of them being cast metal as opposed to machined metal, but I could be wrong. I mention this just in case the smallest of things like that would be a deal-breaker for you. I don't care personally.
While I only asked to review these two items, the guys at Easy Roller sent along a few extras which I want to talk about as well since they will grace the table next time I'm up at bat as the Dungeon Master.
Like many groups, we rotate who runs games and what genres we play. The last game I ran was 1st edition D&D using a lot of optional character classes from old Dragon magazines and fan publications from the 80's. As a twist, it featured an ever expanding cast of eventually 18 playable characters, from which the players could choose 5 at any given time as their "active party" as a nod to the computer JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game), Suikoden.
Regardless of the game, I'm a big fan of rolling all dice openly. I don't like to hide rolls behind the DM screen unless necessary. To encourage my players in this I'm going to make this dice tray they sent into my official "Dice Tray of Heroism +1."
DM Item: Dice Tray Of Heroism +1
Some might think this would unbalance the game but I don't it find that it does. Players and DMs alike all get tempted to fudge rolls when the action is hot but this uses the carrot of a +1 bonus to make sure that doesn't happen. No one will quickly scoop up a die, roll behind a book, use a die with hard to read numbers, etc. this way.
Besides, early edition D&D / AD&D and it's clones such as Labyrinth Lord are brutal games on a mechanical / mathematical level if you are playing normal characters with honestly rolled sub-optimal stats – hence the "NPC Funnel" in games like Dungeon Crawl Classics where you start with FOUR 0-level characters and if any of them survive they can become your starting 1st level character.
I also think using a dice tray as a focal point makes each dice roll more exciting for the whole group because otherwise you can't see what people at the other end of the table are rolling. And if everyone knows in advance that Lyla needs a 15 to hit a Gazebo's armor class, or that Aben needs to get a 20 on a Diplomacy test to convince some pirates to help us out, or that Jaffar needs to do at least 25 points of damage with a Fireball spell to knock down a wall, then the rest of us can all be rooting for them as they roll. Then we all get to find out at once and groan or celebrate the results together in the moment.
As the game master, using the dice tray gets you away from trying to steer things into or out of the PC's way by using "The DM Screen of Deception". You can't roll dice, see the results, not like the results, and roll again. You are forced to say what you're rolling for, roll it, and go with it. "Is the door locked", "On a 1-3 it is, otherwise it's unlocked (rolls a D6 gets a 4), you check and it's unlocked."
The other indispensable item that we'll be using in the next game is the Easy Roller battle mat. This is a nice roll out 27" by 23" mat marked with 1" squares on one side and hexagons on the other. It comes in a heavy cardboard tube with end caps so it's easy to roll up and transport, yet instantly lies flat when unrolled. It can written on with wet erase markers, two of which (red and black) are included to get you started. When you need more, wet erase markers are easily found at the dollar store as opposed to dry erase which you usually have to go to an office store for.
Battle mats are handy tools at the table to help players be able to better understand the locations they are in. It's one thing to hear a description, but drawing out the room, placing tokens or miniatures for the characters and monsters, drawing where terrain or spell effects are, etc. helps to put everyone on the same (imaginary) page. That way there is less confusion because everyone can see where their characters and the monsters are and what the environment is like.
The one thing I would recommend is to clearly label the storage tube "Wet Erase Only" as a reminder so in the heat of the moment people don't use the wrong pens!
You can find out more about all the dice and other accessories they offer at http://www.easyrollerdice.com
PS – While you won't use them for role playing games, the leather dice cups they offer are great for games like Liar's Dice. If you played the video game Red Dead Redemption then you know how fun this bluffing game can be! They even have a 4-pack of these if you want to play Liar's Dice just like John Marston! It's a good time, a nice change from cards if you've never tried it and easy to learn.
All my very best to you,
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