Matt Carlson: The Dice of Gen Con

As I mentioned previously, for many years Gen Con was a mecca for role-playing aficionados. As with any pastime, players grow fond of their tools and toys. Role-playing is no different and one can look no further than a player’s dice to get a sense of a gamer’s personal style. The field of dice manufacturers has exploded of late, fueled by every gamer’s credo of “hey, I could always use more dice.” It used to be enough to provide interesting colors – perhaps going so crazy as to have a swirl of two colors AT THE SAME TIME! Simply Incredible. Now, coloration is no longer enough. Gamers can get dice made out of metal, semiprecious (even precious) stones, and wood. There are extra large and small varieties and a wealth of options for the symbols appearing on the faces. Since the dealer hall is just chock full of vendors, I thought it might be fun to take you, the reader, on a trip through the dealer dice hall. Note, that many, if not most, of the dice vendors have multiple stalls throughout the hall. Letting no temporary dice-buying urge to go unchecked.


With so many vendors (and their duplicates) scattered around, my deepest apologies for any photos mismatched with incorrect vendors…


Studio Woe

Studio Woe was selling (or promoting a Kickstarter for) scented dice. These are pine tree scented. I like that they were keeping them in large glass bells in their booth. It felt very steampunk.

SFR

Another shot of all those dice used in playing Dragon Dice. Different colors are different races, each icon provides an action when rolled. (See my Gen Con report under “S”)

D20 Collective

D20 Collective is a group of dice-making artists. You’ll see lots of dice with custom insides, etc…
The fancy dice all seem to come in the same tin. These might even be hand made, looking at the insides there.
Every hoard of dice needs it’s own dice bag.
A larger board showing off some of the various versions…

Studio 6d6

Studio 6d6 seemed to specialize in fairly standard dice but with custom faces. Here, you have d4s customized for rolling damage in the popular D&D spell; Magic Missile.
Specific dice for each common element in fantasy RPGs.
They even made a special COVID 19 set of dice…
And Studio 6d6 wasn’t above selling “standard” packs lowballing the other vendors…

MDG – Metallic Dice Games

I first came across MDG when looking for a set of metal dice. Their prices were pretty good, especially since the overseas knockoffs had not yet hit the market. The
Of all the dice I saw, I came closest to buying that opalite one.
OK, the Rainbow Prism called to me, but I manage to talk myself down as I don’t think I need dice made of glass.

Quick Pastel Break…

This was the most pastel booth I’ve seen in years… I felt obligated to take a photo.

Gate Keeper Games & Dice

A nice assortment of bi-colored dice. Note the sparkles in the middle set.

Gamescience

Gamescience was the first “indie” dice maker I ever came across. One of their strengths was to to make dice as close to perfectly balanced as possible. Most dice are inked on all sides and then tumbled to wear off the ink everywhere but the numbers. Gamescience never tumbled their dice so the edges were still sharp and not smooth. (And you had to color in the ink yourself – just like in the 70s and 80s!) At the time they had some good data showing their dice were consistently more accurate than most of the other companies around.
No need to limit yourself to the standard 4,6,8,10,12,20 sided dice here!
If you have a flat and level enough surface, you can roll a d100 or d120! If you don’t, you’re pretty much just rolling a ball. (The math geek in me wants to point out a d120 can substitute for almost any other die, just factor it: 2,2,2,3,5…that’s a lot of options.

Kraken Dice

One of those vendors who had their product shipment delayed. Thankfully, most of it came in by the end of Thursday. Those colorful ones there are metal with enamel.
Yes, that’s solid aircraft aluminum. If I recall correctly, it was something like 45 pounnds.
One of Kraken Dice’s shticks is an inclusion of a d2…. Middle left on this set of metal dice.
Close up on some acrylic and a funky metal die.
They had lots of sizes of dice. The middle row there is the standard size. Be careful when rolling those metal ones (2nd row from the top.)
A very cool opalescent die, sitting on their fancy wooden dice tower.

Norse Foundry

Norse Foundry was aiming at the high end of the market with their line of precision cut (via CNC machines) aircraft grade aluminum dice and dice made from gemstones. These here are all anodized aluminum.
A selection of semiprecious stones made into dice. Extremely cool, although they need pampering compared to standard dice. Did I mention how even their main display made of wood was pretty darn classy.
Some crystal dice… so many rainbows!
A set with glow-in-the-dark paint…. shows up great in black light too.

Crystal Caste

One of the two “mainstream” dice sellers at the convention, they had three different booths scattered around.
More options with fancier dice under glass. Most of those are gemstone-type ones and are sized smaller than normal dice. Note the Gen Con tins in the foreground. They sell a special Gen Con set each year and give away a free d6. Some folks collect the sets each year (I have the free d6 from most years.)

Dice Dungeons

A wide selection of metal dice was just the baseline for Dice Dungeons.
A closer look at rainbows.
I’m going to award these the most interesting dice of the convention. If you look close, the cool pattern on the outside actually serves as a sort of mesh or grating on the outside of the die. A small ball is placed inside so that the dice chime as you roll them – just like those chiming metal balls people use as office/relaxation toys. It was a very pleasing sound.
Left to right you have antique brass, silver (plated I think), and sterling silver. Note they are designed to be “hollow” inside to save on the amount of metal needed. I hate to think what a solid silver die would cost…

Chessex Manufacturing

Now that’s a slogan my eldest can really get behind. Chessex is the oldest dice producer in town. They also had three different booths scattered around the dealer hall.
Grab a basket and start filling them up. The open boxes are nice if you want something different than just a standard d4,d6,d8,d10,d20 mix…
One thing they’re “famous” for is their “scoop of dice” option. You can just dig in and scoop up as many as you can fit, or you can pick them out one by one.
The Indiana Mug or the Glass Pitcher? You (or maybe your pocketbook) get to choose. Really, I don’t think you’ll get dice any cheaper anywhere in the convention hall.

Black Oak Workshop

Black Oak’s thing (in addition to the variety of dice bags) seemed to be specializing in the types of images you had on your dice.
Cat dice. The highest numbered face is a picture of a cat. (A 20 on a d20 or an 8 on a d8, for example.)
Their line of dice with a dragon image as the highest side.
Some more specialty dice. Standard d6s but the “pips” are something else. Swords, slash marks, those hexagonal ones are the chambers of a revolver. Some space themed ones on the right.

Gemhammer and Sons Gaming

I mentioned the cute little vials of dice in my previous RPG article. They put multiple sets of smaller dice (10mm vs standard 16mm) into tubes and give them fun potion names. 4 sets in those bottles, 2 sets in test tubes, 3 sets in the cube shaped bottle.


With that, I’ve run out of Gen Con things to say. Lots of words written (especially if pictures count as 1000 of them) I hope you’ve found at least one or two things of interest. Thanks so much for reading. If you have a dice addict friend, feel free to forward a link on to them (if you’re mean.) I plan to be back at Gen Con next year, so if you have a specific request for a special report (this year it was dice) put it in the comments below. We’ll see what I can do.

About Matt J Carlson

Dad, Gamer, Science Teacher, Youth Pastor... oh and I have green hair. To see me "in action" check out Dr. Carlson's Science Theater up on Youtube...
This entry was posted in Convention Report, Humor / Satire, Reviews, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Matt Carlson: The Dice of Gen Con

  1. ramblur says:

    Lovely. Thanks for the tour.

  2. Bob Trezise says:

    Somewhat glad I don’t RPG anymore….I’d just HAVE to have some of these! (and I already have lots of dice)

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