I have a dice problem. I have bought far too many for my own good. But they are great. Rolling dice is a very enjoyable activity, and all of the various sided dice are exciting to find and look at.
Of course everyone is familiar with the standard 6-sided die (D6), and perhaps some of the more common others like D8s, D10s, D20s, D4s, and D12s. But those are just the most simple shapes one can make easily. They are all regular figures which should guarantee a mostly fair roll. In making dice that deviate from these shapes, manufacturers must do more testing to ensure fairness, or at least relative fairness. That hasn’t stopped them, though, and all of these oddballs are now being helped by the easy info access from the internet, and are easier to make with online 3D printing services (shapeways.com).
Recently I obtained quite a few of these more unusual (but still common) variations. And I have been having an immense amount of fun. The various strange shapes required to make the dice, especially the odd numbered ones, require quite a bit of thought, and seeing some of the creative work-arounds the designers attempted is interesting and fun. Some of them don’t really lend themselves to usability, like placing the numbers across a crease to get them to fit on the odd- sided dice, but some do, like simply leveling out planes on a sphere for any dice number that couldn’t be created with an standard tiling pattern. And, of course, there’s the standard cheat of “just put a bunch of triangles around a center point and mirror it on the other side”. Nevertheless, they are all still functional (even the D1 which I think is tied with the D2 for my favorite of the 3D printed versions)
Now, I can’t find a “practical” application for any dice really; but it’s even harder to find a use for these very odd dice. They are fun, but not really good for games, as most of them tread old ground or use ratios that aren’t necessary or are too complicated. Most people playing games, even complex ones, want the experience to be as simple as possible. There’s no need to add things that will just confuse them, and so these dice’ll sit, unused.
But if you like shapes, or just the feeling of rolling dice, and want to impress your friends (I can roll a random number between 1 and 10,000,000 or 1 and 7) I’d definitely encourage you to grab a few of the more common ones. The 3D printing isn’t necessary, and the plastic is hard to work with, and some of the more expensive ($10-20) will just weigh you down, but a D7, D18 or a D30 are always fun to bust out now and again and may even serve a purpose.