Nice Job, DM! Feat. Trevor Valle
Most of us have the bad fortune of not being able to spend our entire waking lives playing TTRPGS, and instead have to go out and work to survive. Welcome to Nice Job, DM! where we interview cool DMs with cool day jobs.
What's cooler than being coal? Being a paleontologist! Today, we interview Trevor Valle, who can be found on Twitter and Instagram as @TattoosAndBones.
Can you please introduce yourself?
Hi! I'm Trevor Valle!
What is your day job?
Well, it depends on the day... occasionally it's being a professional DM! But most days, I'm a paleontologist.
What’s your favorite part of being a paleontologist?
When I'm working on a construction site, or out on a field expedition, when a fossil is discovered, I'm the first human to ever see that bone.
When I'm looking at these fossils, at the sediment they're found in, I'm looking back in time, possibly millions or even hundreds of millions of years.
What advice would you give to people who are interested in becoming a paleontologist?
Oh, wow. Well, you certainly have to love it. Natural history museums and such are critically underfunded, so the pay isn't always great, even in the private sector. Work can be sporadic and seasonal.
When and why did you start DMing, and for what systems?
How often do you DM?
What is your favorite part of DMing?
The ideas, characters, stories, and emotions that the players bring to games is the greatest thing.
Can you tell us your best memory from the table?
She stayed with the party.
Do any skills you use for your day job help you when you DM?
What advice or house rules would you share with new DMs?
You can find Trevor every Monday night on A Sinner's Dream on Negative 2 Charisma's Twitch channel, and every Wednesday on Leverage: Los Angeles on Open Circuit Studios Twitch channel.
MEET THE STAFF: Dylan!
MEET THE STAFF: Rach!
Today, we're introducing you to Rachel.
Oh hey, that's me!
I'm not as crazy as I look, I promise.
The Best Tabletop RPGs (We Think) Besides D&D!
Do you find yourself developing an allergy and/or aversion to dragons? Are dungeons getting a little too drafty for you in your advanced age? Is Sword and Sorcery simply not your schtick?
Or maybe you have best friends who you just know would love TTRPGs, if they could get over their refusal to play Dungeons and Dragons.
Well friends, the good news is that some of the best tabletop RPGs aren’t D&D. Don’t get us wrong; we love D&D and play it on the regular, but we know it’s not for everyone.
For those craving a little variety, Dice Envy would like to recommend a few favorites of ours:
For the kids:
Maybe it’s raining, maybe you’ve got a small group you need to entertain for the next few hours. Maybe there’s a pandemic and all kinds of craziness in the outside world, and it’s better to just stay inside. Whatever the reason, you’ve rounded up your tots and handed them dice and paper. Here’s a few ideas of what to do with them that have a shortage of built-in violence. (Look, we get it. We, too, have been hit with improvised weapons by tiny terrors a few times too many when the hype grew too strong):
- Honey Heist- This one page tabletop RPG by Grant Howitt is one of the best classics. You only have two stats to worry about in this TTRPG; Bear and Crime. Your players are bears, they need to get some honey. It can be that simple, with characters rolled up at the table in a minute flat, or you can build on it, write yourself a whole world, and expand on the basics to cater to your group’s interests. That said, this game will require either fast thinking on your part, or a little preplanning in the form of a storyline. (We played a one shot over on our Twitch featuring a greedy King hoarding honey, a siege on his capital, and a group of fluffheads and their magic items trying to get fed and get out before the castle collapses on them. As a note: the game is kid friendly, our playthrough a little less so!)
- Brave Bunnies- Who is the best and bravest bunny? A softer tabletop RPGfor those looking to avoid battle, as well as a laborious set up. Brave Bunnies gets your players up and running in two flicks of a bunny’s tail, and as long as you have a set of TTRPG dice and a printer for the character sheets, you’re pretty much good to go! There’s also a built in snack mechanic, to help hold the interest of the most inattentive players.
- Starport- For something a little more problem solving oriented, and still lacking in sword play, take the crew on a trip to Starport. The setting of this tabletop RPG blends some of the best parts of different genres and tropes, so you won’t feel trapped in the fuzzy critters or medieval fantasy genres of game play. This one also lacks prebuilt modules, so again, it’s best if you have a chance to plan ahead and do a little set up before sitting down with your crew.
- Threadbare- A Powered By The Apocalypse game, which means you’ll only need a pair of D6s to get going. In this one, you’ll play as toys– patched up, repaired, and ready to ride. Together, you’re fighting entropy and obsolescence. Sounds a little deep, sure– but just pitch it as Toy Story with an invention mechanic.
No one wants to run it:
Everyone’s busy, no one has time or wants to have to prep, and you all want to play/ no one wants to be in charge? Great. We’ve got a couple of the best TTRPG suggestions for you! These games also offer a long distance friendly option, for those gamenights that can’t happen in person. And, wildly enough, none of these use dice. We know, we’re sorry. But trust us, they’re still worth checking out.
For the Queen- This one’s a card game, and is available on Roll20 for easy distance-play. Everyone tells a story cooperatively about the kingdom and Queen that you serve, as you explain who you are, who she is, why you serve her, and how your loyalty was built and changes throughout the course of the game.
(We built a cookie and murder based economy in our Twitch playthrough, which you can find here)
- The Wizard’s Querulous Dram- In this tabletop RPG, you take the best rule of improv- ‘Yes. and’ to new heights, playing as Wizards trying to arrange a marriage and form an alliance between two nations. The catch is, you can’t directly contradict another wizard. You can, however, look into your webcam like you’re on The Office and take a very pointed drink of your beverage of choice.
- Wanderhome- If horror and peril isn’t your thing, come sit around a campfire as a small, cuddly animal. If Call of Cthulhu is the Bloodborne of tabletop RPGs, Wanderhome is the best tabletop version of Animal Crossing. There are no weapons and no violence in the story, and it takes a more wholesome, emotional turn than many other fantasy and sci-fi RPGs.
Powered By the Apocalypse
These games use D6s and frequently feature fail forward mechanics, where your losses cause you to grow as a character. We’ll recommend you a few that we’ve played, but look around- this system has launched a zillion indie ships, and there’s always more to discover!
- Monster of the Week- to scratch your Scooby Doo/ Buffy the Vampire Slayer/ Supernatural genre itch. Characters each get a play sheet, the ‘keeper’ gets a how to sheet, and there are whole reddit threads of modules, but the rules are loose and allow you to tell any kind of story you like, provided it’s a little spooky and a little mystery based.
- Urban Shadows- Like MOTW but with a few added rules, mechanics, and moving parts. If you like to play with intrigue and reputation, along with a setting that feels like a character, this might be a good fit for you!
- Masks: A New Generation- our favorite super hero based tabletop RPG, because the mechanics behind it do the best job at keeping the group grounded (not literally) and help solve some of the power level problems that other games in the genre often experience.
- Night Witches- A little more rigid in its action economy and play cycles, night witches offers you playbooks based on the character you want to be, rather than the powers you want to have.
- Bluebeard’s Bride- A dark oneshot in which all the characters collectively control the eponymous Bride as different aspects of her personality.
Something a little different:
I know, I know, we’re tired of vaguely European medieval fantasy settings too.
- Ten Candles- zero prep, one shot. You’ll need ten candles, which work as a count down timer for your game. It’ll be tragic. It’ll be horror. There will be no survivors. There are several scenarios, each with different monsters, different survivors, and each time you play will be unique to the people around you in the darkness. There’s also plenty of room for the DM to stretch their imaginary wings and come up with a new variation or two. (We recommend checking out Hyper RPG’s anthology of Ten Candles play throughs)
- Good Society- You like that regency era restraint, the bridgerton style scandals, the downton abbey-esque snobbery? Maybe it’s time for you to be part of your own costume drama. This is the best TTRPG we’ve found for those demanding the satisfaction of polite society.
- Shadowrun- Science fantasy set in a future filled with cybernetics, robots, blasters, and magic. If you have a lot of dice, like to roll a lot of dice, and like to roll a lot of dice a lot of the time, this may be the game for you!
- Blades in the dark- In a slightly steampunky Victorian Industrial setting, your crew has to look out for ghosts, rival gangs, the cops, nobility, and your own greed as you plan heists, solve mysteries and try your best to make some money. This tabletop RPGis a close relative of the Powered By the Apocalypse games, but it also has a fairly interesting flashback mechanic that allows you to run a con or a heist much in the style of some of your favorite media of the genre. Explain how you actually solved the problem you currently face yesterday, by being three steps ahead at all times.
- Kids on Bikes- Hankering for some more Stranger Things? Nostalgic for those movies you grew up on? Kids on Bikes gives you the opportunity to explore the coming of age mystery adventure genre, while also collaborating with your friends! One of our top picks for best telling heavy RPGs, you work together to build the world of your small town and solve the mysteries it holds. As a bonus, there’s several variations on this theme– such as Kids on Brooms, and Teens in Space.
- Coyote & Crow- An alternate future setting that takes place in a world free of colonialism. No eurocentric mythology in this indigineous inspired version of North America. It’s a very fresh twist on a very different post apocalypse, with a lot of the technological tropes and opportunity for character development and storytelling. This game relies on 12 sided dice, so make sure you have a few handy!
- Vampire the Masquerade- you can always sink your teeth into the best gothic go-to TTRPG. VTM is a long running pulpy horror game that lets you play with the themes of power, corruption, and seeking to belong. Characters get to decide how they want to handle immortality, and all the scheming and thirst that comes along with it.
- Deadlands- Y’all like the old west? Do you feel, perhaps, that it could be improved with a liberal dose of spooky? This is one of the best tabletop RPGs for you. Depending on your character build, you may also need a deck of cards to go along with your dice, but the cowboy boots are only recommended, never required.
Looking for more rules, not less?
Pathfinder. You’re looking for Pathfinder.
Pathfinder has a range of classic RPG elements: high fantasy, tons of dice, and tons of rules. I mean, the guidebook alone is 640 pages long.
It’s highly complex, even more so than D&D because of the character creation options and min/maxing opportunities those present. If you want to dive deep into a world and get positively lost in a game, you’ll adore this.
The Best Tabletop RPGs Deserve the Best Dice
Hey, maybe we’re biased, but these are our top TTRPGs! We would absolutely love to hear from you and what games you think are the best! One thing we can all agree on, however, is how nothing beats the feeling of rolling some expertly crafted dice. Dice that are balanced well, look phenomenal, and can be treasured for a lifetime. Our dice sets are works of art, and we take great pride in them! No matter which RPG you choose, get yourself a good set of dice to go along with it at Dice Envy.
Balanced Dice: How They Work, How They’re Made, & Why Balancing is Nearly Impossible
A good set of balanced DnD dice is practically a party member of their own. These dice are collected with care by seasoned tabletop roleplaying game lovers, and a stylish pair of balanced dice is worth its weight in gold.
But let’s dive into that key little feature: balancing! For dice to be perfectly random when they’re rolled, they can’t give any face a slight advantage over the others. It’s disastrous for the game when the balance is off, but it’s almost impossible for manufacturers to get 100%, perfectly right. Let’s explore why!
How Dice Are Considered “Fair”
There’s a surprising amount of math that goes into the making of perfect dice. Surprising, perhaps, until you remember they’re trying to make tiny geometric polygons.
A die is considered fair if it is “fair by symmetry”. The principle states that a die is completely fair if each side has exactly the same dimensions and shape. A die is considered more “fair” if it has more symmetries. The more symmetries the die has, the more chances physics has to change the way it tumbles, and the less likely a roll is able to be manipulated. Any way you roll a die would seem random enough, most people would argue, but it’s not always so: people in Vegas are actually taught how to roll a die “more fairly.”
The ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes hypothesized roughly 2,000 years ago that there are only 30 varieties of fair balanced dice. (Yes, this includes your D&D dice, don’t worry.) Fast forward to today, and a Stanford mathematician proved him right.
What Goes Into the Making of Casino Dice
Balanced casino dice are pretty different from balanced D&D dice. It's no secret that casinos are insanely rigorous about the standard of their dice. When it comes to gambling with dice games, there’s a ton of money on the line, and people take fairness very seriously.
That said, the “perfectly” balanced dice used in casinos are made with extremely strict standards. The dice are made in hermetically sealed chambers to stop air from affecting the process. The dice will each have a serial number that refers to when, how, and by whom they were made.
In the actual casino, an inspector known as a boxperson will do a quality inspection of the dice before play. They will check if all the opposite sides equal seven, the dice are free from defects, the dice have valid serial numbers, and the pips in the dice are equal in depth.
Sometimes the boxperson will use tiny measuring tools like an electronic micrometer to test even dimensions, a balancing caliper to test weight, a steel set square to check squareness, and a magnet to test for added metal.
Even with these extra steps, the dice are still changed roughly every 4-8 never to be used again lest some micro fracture occurs.
Good luck implementing this in your next D&D game. Personally, we think it’s a bit overkill.
How To Check If Your Dice Are Balanced
Without resorting to the micro tools that casino die makers use, you can still use some simple tests to check for balanced D&D dice. If you’re having strange luck with your rolls during your D&D game and some players are starting to suspect dodgy dice, you should try to test if the die is good once and for all!
One great way to check if your dice are balanced is to use a glass of water mixed with a lot of salt. By using this simple method, you can roll the die in the water and test if it’s genuinely a random result every time. If it’s unbalanced, it should be quickly obvious that the same number is popping up on the top every time.
You can also simply record about a thousand dice rolls and see if the results are roughly even, but we wouldn’t wish that on our enemies.
Why It’s Technically Impossible to Achieve Perfectly Balanced Dice
Now you know the wild lengths dice manufacturers go to in order to make their dice as balanced as possible, but even they know that balanced dice can never truly be perfectly balanced. Maybe they can get to 99% accuracy, but physics prevents perfection here.
An article by Inside Science (which, incidentally, starts with the words Dungeons and Dragons) explains in great detail why. It’s the same reason that we can’t predict if a rocket launch will work every time, even if the science checks out and everything works perfectly in theory.
It’s because physics is calculated in a vacuum. It can’t perfectly account for minute randomness in air resistance, friction, human factors, gravity, and other tiny variables. Table friction is especially important. A table with less friction causes the dice to roll more, while naturally, a table with less friction will cause the dice to roll less. The laws of physics are a bit more like guidelines when you get into the minuscule, nitty-gritty details.
One important thing to note is that while perfection is not technically attainable, we’re talking about the difference between 99.999+% and 100% randomness. It probably isn’t going to affect your Dungeons and Dragons game whatsoever, so don’t worry: any solid quality pair of balanced D&D dice will do the trick!
Our Quality Standards
As a dice company, we obviously take our dice manufacturing very seriously! But we’re not just about the cool aesthetics (though we’re DEFINITELY about the cool aesthetics, too), we genuinely care about creating high-quality, balanced dice. We take great care to avoid uneven weighting and poor symmetry. If you’re after a good game with your friends with quality, reliable dice, visit Dice Envy and find your favorite set.
6 Unique Polyhedral Dice Sets for Your Next RPG
Gather round ye merry fellows and lend an ear for the tale of tabletop gaming dice like no others—unique dice sets to dazzle and amaze all but the crotchetiest old curmudgeons. That’s right: unique polyhedral dice to whet your imagination! Feast your eyes upon these real, genuine, 100% authentic antimatter dice!!
Uh…hold on. We’ve just been informed that the antimatter dice have gone off. And the city they
were in is—missing? Jeez…
But worry not, gentle traveler! For we still have the illegal endangered whale teeth dice!
What? We don’t? They’re illegal?!?! Why didn’t anyone mention that?! Who confiscated them?
Well…nuts. Okay, bring out the chocolate and nuts dice!
What? WHO ate them?!?! That was our most edible, most unique dice set! Seriously?!
Fiddlesticks. What have we got left?
Oh, that’s right, we’ve got ALL THE FRIGGIN’ AWESOME DICE because we’re Dice Envy, fools!!! That’s literally what we do!
They May Not Be Positronic or Illegal or Chocolate, But…
We do have some real treats for you today. These 6 unique polyhedral dice sets are perfect for bringing a wide variety of new characters and campaign settings to life in your next RPG. Whether you’re RPing fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, punk, or some kind of wholesome (or unwholesome!) dating simulator, we have flavors of dice to delight and inspire your imagination.
Good dice are so much fun to look at and play with, so don’t settle for boring generic ones. Do us a capitalism and get yourself a unique dice set that speaks to your sense of play!
1. Home Game Hat Trick
Perfect for athletes and those of us who merely roleplay them, our Home Game Hat Trick unique dice set is a fun, soccer-themed set that bristles with energy.
Named for the “hat trick,” which in soccer is the rare triumph of scoring three goals in a single game, the Home Game Hat Trick dice set features rose-gold–colored dice frames with royal blue glitter faces and a classic scoreboard number font. The dice themselves have rounded edges reminiscent of soccer balls, particularly the d20s.
This 10-piece unique polyhedral dice set features our standard 7 dice (d4, d6, d8, d10, d%, d12, d20), plus two bonus d6s and one bonus d20 with a special yellow gold frame—perfect for rolling with advantage or making other iconic rolls. This is a truly exciting and unique dice set!
The Home Game Hat Trick set is one of our Metal Dice Sets. In addition to our popular, highly affordable Polymer Dice Sets, we also make special dice sets using premium materials like wood, stone, and metal. With metal dice you will immediately notice their weight and temperature in your hand, which gives them a very distinctive feeling.
2. Rime Scheme
Rime, also known as hoarfrost, is ice that accumulates in blowing wind whenever it’s foggy and freezing—or, if you live in the mountains, whenever freezing clouds crash into you. Rime looks like snow, but you won’t notice much snow on the ground. Instead, rime loves to build up on tree limbs, railings, signs, and other objects that stick up into the air.
The beautiful, unique polyhedral dice in our Rime Scheme dice set evoke the frigid wonders of winter and elemental ice magic. Inspired by D&D’s adventure Rime of the Frostmaiden, we created this unique dice set with a sense of terrible splendor, evoking a cold power both beautiful and devastating to any traveler who befalls them.
This 7-piece resin dice set features ornate, bold white ice crystals and numbering which has been intricately engraved into a shimmering, dark blue background. You won’t find anything else quite like it!
Perhaps the most sophisticated of all building materials, marble has been used throughout history to construct some of the finest temples and palaces in the world. This unique dice set, which we call DLucks (say it out loud and you’ll get it!), features black and white swirled acrylic and elegant golden ink, evoking the beauty of marble and gold without the price tag.
DLucks is a full 10-piece unique polyhedral dice set, featuring the seven standard dice, an extra d6, one of our special Infinity d4 dice (in addition to the standard d4), and one of our special Chonky Boi oversize d20s that are so much fun to use on big, important rolls.
4. DaVinci’s Sanctum
This unique dice set is inspired by the Maestro of the Renaissance himself, Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo was an artist of great renown as well as a skillful scientist in medicine, anatomy, astronomy, and other fields. He invented the helicopter, solar power generation, the automatic adding machine, a theory of plate tectonics, and much more…all hundreds of years before these things actually came to pass. This cat was so smart he was scary.
For your next Renaissance-themed RPG campaign or any adventure where you’re playing a brilliant inventor, we’ve captured the passion of Leonardo da Vinci with the fascinating DaVinci’s Sanctum. This unique dice set has a perplexing look that brings alive the geometric patterns often associated with his famous sketches and illustrations. Reminiscent of stained glass, our design features a colorful iridescent foil layered onto black obsidian stone—real obsidian.
As one of our premium Stone Dice Sets, this 7-piece unique polyhedral dice set is an ultra-luxe product, so it costs more than the others on this list, but they’re an incredible treat to look at, with a solid weight in your hand that feels good.
Yes, that’s right, we’ve been holding out on you this whole time. We’re not sorry, either. We’re GMs at heart; if we don’t toy with you at least a little bit we’re not doing our jobs right. But now we give you…the Celestain dice set!
This unique dice set has two simple conceits. First of all it is beautiful, with translucent pink resin that catches the light beautifully, and elegant gold numbering.
Second of all, it’s an example of the Mandela Effect. Originally, we had another dice set called Celestine. But, like how the Berenstein Bears from our childhood memories were actually the “Berenstain” Bears, with an A, this whole time, so too are these our “Celestain” dice. Whether we all just remembered wrong and the Universe is gaslighting us, or whether there really was some hyperdimensional cosmic transposition into a new timeline…either way they’re cool dice.
Like the DLucks set above, this 10-piece resin set of unique polyhedral dice includes an extra d6, a special Infinity d4, and one of our signature Chonky Boi d20s. Don’t leave this unique dice set in the bad timeline: Take them with you into all the dimensions yet to come!
6. Rainbow Wood
The Rainbow Wood dice set is another one of our premium dice sets, this time from our Wood Dice Sets collection. This unique dice set is a 7-piece masterpiece of pure dryadic inspiration. Seriously, if you don’t fall in love with these dice at first sight, roll for initiative, because you’re the villain.
To further discuss how these stunning wooden dice can channel the spirit of the woods in your local nature conservation zone, we’re turning it over to Forest Elf and city de-certified meditation guru Trisha Callsphere. Trisha, take it away, with our final unique dice set of the day!
Greetings and namaste travelers, for wide is the path we travel and so we travel it together. I am pleased to pray to whichever god will still return my calls, and thereby from his or her teachings i give you the sounds of the forest:
WHOOP!! WHOOP! CaKAW!
~ T ~ r ~ E ~ e ~ N ~ o ~ I ~ s ~ E ~
Wondrous are these sounds to our mortal ear, the ear we share in love, the ear which hears all that yearns to be heard. Oh, how we do lavish our affections upon idle distractions like cellular telephones, when the true core of our being longs to dwell among the other great beings of the deep forest, like the lichens, and the thistles, and the brambles, and the marsh lily, and the—
Um, Trisha…the dice?
Ah yes, the Rainbow Wood dice. a wooden dice set. a unique dice set. Many are the possibilities you might roll, depending on which die you choose, and in communion with the great pulse of the forest…
I have spoken with the dryads of the tree from which these dice were made, and they tell me the tree was talking crap about me behind my own back, which I find very rude, and so karma has come to that tree, and unique polyhedral dice come to you, if the price is right…
Well…uh…at least she’s better than the guy who thought he was a fence.
There you have it, adventures. Six amazing, unique dice sets by Dice Envy. These are our designs, our molds—you won’t find these dice anywhere else! And you know what? These are better than antimatter dice!
Which set is your favorite?
What Are Spindown Dice, What Makes Them Different, and Why Does It Matter?
Today we’re marking another notch in our quest to explain all the types of dice in the Universe: That’s right! Get ready to learn about the handy-dandy spindown die!
If you’re looking to buy spindown dice, check out our Spindown Life Counters. These sleek, oversized spindown d20 dice come in your choice of a variety of color accents and match our radical new Cyberpunks Dice Set Collection.
But if you’re just here for the lore, read on!
What Are Spindown Dice?
Spindown dice, also known as spindown life counters, were invented in 2000 for the trading card game Magic: The Gathering. Their original (and still most common) purpose was to keep track of your life total over the course of the game. Since most Magic games start with you having 20 life, Wizards of the Coast (who make both Magic and D&D) got the idea of using a 20-sided die as a life counter.
On a spindown d20, each number is right next to the consecutive numbers above and below it: 20 is right next to 19. 19 is right next to 18. 18 is next to 17. And so on. This pattern makes it much easier to find a specific number on the die when you’ve taken damage (or gained life) and need to change your life total.
That’s right! Those mischievous Wizards changed the very nature of the dice with which the game is played! It’s just how they…roll. 😎
- It’s fairly common (but by no means universal) for spindown d20s to be bigger than average d20s, in order to distinguish them from regular d20s and to make them more convenient to use as counters.
So the short answer is: Spindown dice are d20s with the numbers laid out radically different from normal d20s.
Wait, So How Are the Numbers Laid Out on Normal Dice?
Regular tabletop gaming dice (as well as all dice used in board games and in gambling) are numbered so that the total value of all the numbers on a die is spread out as evenly as possible, giving you more variance in your rolls.
- WTF does that mean? It means that you will never see consecutive numbers (like 19 and 20) right next to each other on the die, the way you do on spindown dice.
This Makes It Harder to Cheat
This high-variance numbering system makes the results of dice rolls appear more random—which, critically, makes it harder to cheat.
To understand how this works, imagine the die rolling to a stop: If it were a spindown d20, the die might first land on 16, then roll over to 17, and next 18, before finally coming to a stop on 19. In other words, you know you’re gonna get a good number even before the die finishes rolling.
In studies, it has been shown that this makes it easy for players to cheat with spindown dice because if they want a high roll (or a low one) they don’t have to land on one specific face. They just need to aim for any of the faces in one general area of the die: the area where all the high (or low) numbers are hanging out. A 17 or 18 will usually be as good as a 19.
This doesn’t work on normal dice, because the numbers are not consecutive. 19 might be right next to 10, or 4, or anything really.
These numbering patterns are not standardized across the dice industry. If you look at a regular d20 closely, you can find many different arrangements for the numbers. The opposite sides always add up to 21 (or at least they should), but the different pairs of opposites (e.g., 20 and 1, 19 and 2, 18 and 3, etc.) are often placed in different arrangements.
Different dice manufacturers and sometimes different individual dice molds can yield very different numbering arrangements. You can find this inconsistency on other polyhedral dice too.
Can You Use a Spindown d20 for Gaming Rolls?
Yes, you can! You can also poke a sleeping kitten or shake somebody’s can of soda before giving it to them. The point isn’t “Can you?” It’s “Should you?” And the answer to that is “It depends, but usually, you shouldn’t.”
Spindown dice are not meant to be used as tabletop gaming dice. They are meant to be used as fancy counters—for counting life totals, weapon charges, etc. Because it is easy to cheat with them, everyone has to agree to the honor system in order for spindown dice to work for actual dice rolls. So, in general, think of them as counters, not dice.
However, if you do want (or need) to use a spindown d20 for actual dice rolls, you can avoid cheating and get a solid, random result by thoroughly shaking the die together in both hands and giving it a hearty roll on the table. (Or you can use a dice tower.)
As long as the die is well-balanced physically (and if it is well-made, it should be), this will give you a proper random result.
Are Spindown Dice Always d20s?
Not anymore! These days you can find spindown versions for all the polyhedral dice types. However, spindown d20s remain by far the most popular and common type of spindown dice, and they are the only type of spindown counter we regularly stock at Dice Envy.
Now You’re Ready to Go for a Spin!
Spindown dice have grown far beyond their Magic: The Gathering origins and today you will find them used in many different tabletop RPGs and other games. In D&D for instance, it’s fairly popular to use them for life totals for lower-level characters, or as charge counters for items and spells.
To get your hands on some, check out our Spindown Life Counters. Like we mentioned, these cool, oversized dice are available in several different color accents and are designed to match our new Cyberpunks Dice Set Collection.
Or, if you want, you can mix and match them with any of our other dice sets. THE POWER IS YOURS!!!
D&D House Rules to Consider During Your Next Campaign
Every D&D player has some level of a love-hate relationship with the rules of the game. Rules keep the game fair and balanced for everyone at the table, but there’s a whole lot of cool stuff you can do by bending the rules here and there. By adopting house rules for your DnD game, you can change them in just the right way to better fit your game and make sessions more fun or challenging for your players.
“It is the spirit of the game, not the letter of the rules which is important.”
- Dungeon Master’s Guide (1st Edition, Page 230), Gary Gygax
From the very beginning in 1974, the rules of D&D were made to be changed. We’ve put together a list of rules to consider for your campaign. And were written as 5E house rules (for D&D Fifth Edition), you can apply them to nearly any tabletop RPG system you play. With just the right DnD house rules, you can really make DnD your own, adding a whole new element of novelty and surprise.
1. Team Inspiration
Oftentimes players are rather reserved when it comes to using their inspiration, either on themselves or someone else. To help encourage the use of inspiration, you can treat inspiration as a community pool, with a limited amount of inspiration available for anyone to use. This 5e house rule can allow inspiration to go to the team members who need it most.
2. Build up that Mob
Combat is an important aspect of D&D, but it can get granular and tedious at times. This DnD house rule can be a good way to speed up and streamline it. When you have a crowd of low-level enemies, you can make them into a mob that shares HP and has a number of attacks based on how many creatures are in the mob. For Example, if 5 goblins are up against your party and each has 10 HP, you might combine them into a single character called “Mob of Goblins” that has a total HP of 50 and 5 attacks per round. This new DnD house rule adds even more action to the game.
3. Minions! (No, not the yellow ones)
This is another combat-centric DnD house rule. Like in the Mines of Moria, it’s always a good time when you have a big baddie waiting for you at the end of a campaign. And it can make your players feel like epic heroes when they decimate huge groups of minions before reaching the big baddie. Consider adding large groups of weak minions, with health as low as 1hp, allowing players to easily defeat them. Adding this DnD house rule is a great way to build up morale and excitement before the final battle.
4. Hidden Death Saves
A death save roll happens after a character reaches an HP of 0 and they fall unconscious. On all of their following turns, they must roll a d20 to decide whether they bleed out or stabilize. Traditionally, players know whether or not their characters are safe and how many more rolls they have before they die.
Unless… you roll death saving throws behind the DM screen. Then, it’s anyone’s guess whether a knocked-out player character will survive. That uncertainty created by this DnD house rule makes finishing the fight or tending to their wounds a HUGE priority, adding substantial risk and drama when combat is going poorly.
5. Funny Critical Misses
Critical successes and critical misses each have about a 5% chance, when rolling a natural 1 or 20 on a d20 die. There are tons of ways to liven things up when players make a bad miss. You might read from a table of pre-determined effects, or you may even make your player narrate his own mistake.
One common way to follow up a natural 1 is to roll a second d20 to determine just how bad the critical miss is. If the second result is above a 10, maybe something funny happens. But if the result is low, you might do something harmful at the DM’s discretion like accidentally hitting an ally with your attack. This helps bring the chances of doing unintentional harm on your turn down to 2.5% or lower. This dnd house rule allows for more group participation and engagement and keeps everyone on their toes.
6. Omit Spell Components
Being a wizard is tough stuff, especially at early levels where anything might one-shot you on a crit. Kind DMs will apply this rule to remove the tedium of tracking the items necessary to cast spells. Did you remember to pick up enough bat guano from the last cave in order to cast your Fireball spell? With this 5E house rule, you don’t have to worry about that.
7. Points for Creativity
Despite extensive forethought and planning, a creative plan to deal with a problem might simply not work due to a poor roll of the dice. But if the Dungeon Master deems fit, they could allow a roll with advantage or even an automatic success for the creative aspects of the plan. This dnd house rule could further encourage out-of-the-box thinking with other elements of the gameplay.
There is no wrong or right approach when adding 5E house rules. The important thing is to keep everyone on the same page and remember to have fun!
All the RPG Games You can Play with a Polyhedral Dice Set
Looking to expand your tabletop gaming further than D&D? With a set of polyhedral dice, there are many more games you can play. Some of these games are simplified to play with just a 6-sided die, while others require you to use the same array of dice you do for D&D.
Pathfinder is a fantasy tabletop dice-based RPG, very similar to Dungeons & Dragons. Players will travel the world solving problems, unraveling mysteries, and collecting treasure. As you travel the world, you’ll encounter brutish monsters and deceitful traps, mysterious ancient ruins, and politically corrupt cities.
Pathfinder 1st Edition is based on D&D 3.5, while 2nd Edition Pathfinder diverges from the formula to be more unique. You can also take the ruleset out into the galaxy with Starfinder, a science fiction variation of Pathfinder.
2. The End of the World
The End of the World is an apocalyptic dice RPG comprising 4 books – Zombie Apocalypse, Wrath of the Gods, Alien Invasion, and Revolt of the Machines. As the names suggest, each book offers a different apocalyptic scenario to explore. While each book shares the same rule system, they exist independently and are completely self-contained experiences. At the cross-section of horror and adventure, The End of the World is a great option for those wanting to branch out of fantasy roleplay with their polyhedral dice.
3. One Deck Dungeon
One Deck Dungeon is a more straightforward and comprehensible dice RPG. Conquer every dungeon, defeat every foe, prevail over every danger. Sounds easy enough, except there are enemies lurking around every corner ready to take you down. Once you clear all three foes, you can then take on the boss. But if your party runs out of health, it's game over. Compared to some other games on this list, One Deck Dungeon is a quicker game, but that doesn’t mean it’s easier to win!
4. Blades in the Dark
Who doesn’t love a good steampunk setting? Blades in the Dark is a dice RPG game about overcoming the darkest troubles and hardships of society with wit, instinct, and communication. Players are members of a thief gang who steal from the ultra-wealthy in the city of Doskvol. Each session is centered around a job or operation. The gaming setup allows each session to flow smoothly, letting players make their plan as they go along rather than spending a large chunk of time doing so at the beginning.
5. Cyberpunk Red
From steampunk to cyberpunk, here’s a dice RPG game that’ll take you into the future. Players can create characters for all walks of nightlife. You’ll navigate the city’s social stratosphere as you fight for survival, interacting with gangsters, corporations, and everything in between. You’ll tackle various missions and jobs, with each player in your party bringing a different skill set to the table. This RPG dice game tackles all kinds of topics, ranging from unregulated capitalism to environmental devastation and the nature of humanity. Cyberpunk Red is just as topical and fun today as it was when its first edition came out back in 1988.
Quest is a highly accessible tabletop game, perfect if you want to include friends who aren’t as familiar with the format. Instead of focusing on details and rules, Quest focuses on the key actions of the roleplaying – explaining characters’ actions and immersing players into the world. Creating characters in Quest takes about five minutes and campaign preparations are more geared towards giving players fun and engaging storylines to follow. Additionally, the rule book is easy to follow for new players, so anyone can get involved. Because of all this, the Quest dice RPG game is especially recommended for playing with children.
7. Call of Cthulhu
A good scare is always a good time. Call of Cthulhu is the quintessential horror RPG dice game. Players take on the roles of investigators, scholars, and journalists who travel around the world, uncovering cults and conspiracies, and even otherworldly monsters. Unlike other dice RPGs, Call of Cthulhu focuses on the characters' psychological erosion as they uncover ghastly truths and oftentimes, players should run away rather than fight, giving Call of Cthulhu a distinctively terrifying vibe. Given its spooky atmosphere, it’s only appropriate that this polyhedral dice game got its namesake from an H.P. Lovecraft story.
8. Coyote & Crow
This dice RPG is as socially relevant as they come! This game presents a futuristic version of Earth that has been transformed by the global climate crisis. But that isn’t all; this game goes one step further, and imagines a world in which colonialism never happened, thereby breaking from the ranks of traditionally eurocentric RPGs. Players take on roles that are indigenously inspired, using technology and a force known as Adanadi to navigate this post-apocalyptic world. The rulebook even details how non-Indigenous players can respectfully portray characters without relying on stereotypes and cliches.
9. A Game of Thrones
Many of us are familiar with the source material, but often this RPG dice game has flown under the radar. A Game of Thrones takes players into the low fantasy world of Westeros, where you can explore the political intrigue, magical mystery, and harrowing adventures. While this game is a rare find, for those who do have access to it, it’s definitely worth the time. This dice RPG is especially good fun for those who are fans of the books and show.
Think of the neo-noirs of the 90s - Fargo, Reservoir Dogs, The Grifters - and put them into an RPG dice game. Fiasco divides the gameplay into a number of scenes, allowing players to develop their characters and craft their relationships as if they were in a crime movie themselves. Unlike other RPGs, there is no game master in Fiasco. Instead, players take turns describing what happens in each scene. This RBG is truly a cinematic experience (complete with an unexpected third-act twist) that’ll take players through numerous settings and scenarios, with both tragic and comic results. Fiasco is highly recommended for those wanting a non-fantasy polyhedral dice game experience.
Playing a Cleric in D&D for Beginners
Faithful servants of holy deities, clerics used to be a class people would hesitate to play, as they’d end up being used as healing machines. That changed in 5e. Thoughtless bots no longer, clerics can now be played in a myriad of ways to suit your chosen character path. Be the classic designated healer, pick up a mace, or carve a destructive path forward fueled by holy fervor with a combination of awesome abilities. Here’s how you can begin playing a Cleric in D&D 5e.
What Are They?
If you’ve played a game of Dungeons and Dragons before, you’ll know there’s a lot more to it than just really cool dice. Knowing the kind of background clerics generally come from, and the one yours comes from in particular is the first thing you should do before you begin playing.
Your cleric could be an exalted priest of a holy deity in a faraway temple, or just an ordinary follower who’s been chosen for greater things. If you’d like to spice it up, clerics in D&D 5e can be spiced up with inventive new backstories. Perhaps your particular cleric doesn’t worship a merciful god, but rather a destructive and maleficent force of destruction. The fun in D&D comes from what you can bring to your character, so consult your DM and feel free to play your cleric in 5e a way that speaks to you.
Once you’ve chosen a backstory, you can always tweak the way you’d like to play your heretic by specializing into a particular playstyle. Clerics can be played in a similar way to paladins that tank damage for the party, or even as melee characters that get into close range with enemies using faith-based magics. If neither of these appeal to you, you can always play your cleric in 5e the classic D&D way - standing afar and healing your party.
Actually getting down to play a cleric in 5e will involve at least a basic understanding of what your character can do.
Spellcasting: Spellcasting is a cleric’s forte. Using the blessings of the particular god that is your patron, you’ll be able to cast a range of spells from generic area-based and individual healing to faith-based enchantments that increase a weapon’s damage. The first thing that determines the strength of your spells is the Wisdom ability. The higher this attribute is, the more spells you can prepare, the higher your attack modifier and the higher your spell save DC will be for enemies to resist your abilities.
Clerics are prepared casters, which means you’ll be choosing a set of spells at the start of the day, and you’ll have to rely on these for the remainder of the day. If you’re having trouble keeping track of all the spells you’ve got available, a combat tracking pad might come in handy.
Channeling: As you’d expect from a cleric in D&D 5e, a major portion of your power comes from channeling the grace and fervor of the god you’ve chosen to worship. The most widely known use of channeling holy power is to ‘turn undead’, where, if you roll correctly, you’ll have the chance to cause all nearby undead within 30 feet to run away.
- Later levels: People who play clerics in 5e will pick up a significant amount of power as they level up, which means the class scales very well into the late game. An example of this is the ability to simply destroy undead units if chance favors you. At level 10, you’ll even be able to commune directly with your god and ask them for a favor!
Choosing a God
Channeling divinity isn’t the same for every cleric in D&D 5e. One of the most exciting aspects of playing such a class is the fact that the god you choose to follow as a cleric can completely change your playstyle as a cleric. Choosing different gods for different campaigns will completely alter your experience and is a perfect example of the kind of versatility that clerics can bring to the party.
Since the gods you can choose may change depending on the campaign you’re playing, it’s easier to classify them into domains rather than going into detail about every divine being.
Death Domain: This domain is an edgier offshoot from what you’d typically see from an undead-busting cleric. As the name might imply, the death domain allows you to play a 5e cleric that’s more oriented towards dealing high DPS rather than sitting behind and healing, although you’ll still have access to rudimentary healing spells. Most of your damage will come from cantrips.
Arcana Domain: The arcana domain allows clerics in 5e to dip their toes into D&D wizardry. You’ll gain access to the classics like magic missile as well as cool new wizard cantrips that do much more than just firing spells off from a distance. An underappreciated quirk of the Arcana domain is the ability to create a melee-focused cleric that can get up close and personal while still having access to ranged abilities.
- Life Domain: If the edge and violence of the nonconventional cleric divinities don’t appeal to you, playing a life/holy domain-based cleric is the way to go. If you’re looking to play a standard cleric build that focuses heavily on healing, it would be hard to do better than with the life domain. You’ll be able to use multi-member healing spells that can easily bring your entire party’s health back up after a grueling battle.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Pick your domain and squeeze the most out of it to really see how versatile clerics can be. If your chosen domain seems difficult to play or understand, stick with it for a while, you’ll be surprised how many struggling players later end up getting dice that match their characters.
The ‘Life’ of the Party
Clerics are one of the best classes to get into D&D 5e. They’re versatile enough to deal damage heavily in close quarters or rain magic from far away, there’s always going to be a play style that suits what you’re looking to do. Whether you’re looking to get into playing clerics, or aspiring to be the DM of your dreams, you’ll find a veritable arsenal of dice and D&D accessories to match your campaigns at Dice Envy.
The Best Types of Tabletop Gaming Accessories
The best tabletop games always go a step beyond what’s expected. When you’re guiding your party through the Ghosts of Saltmarsh or alien Warhammer worlds, it’s the little things that make those long gaming sessions memorable. The right set of tabletop gaming accessories can make a big difference in the way you play.
It’s got to be said that there is no strict ‘best’ board game accessory. The tools you decide to keep at your side through those long tabletop sessions should be determined by what you’re actually playing and personal preferences. For example, A set of standard polyhedral dice is always fine when playing a cosmic D&D campaign, but a special metal set decorated in starry colors can do so much more for creating an incredible experience.
No one begins playing tabletop games with the intention of racking up accessories, but somewhere between your first nat 20 roll and your latest victory over a cataclysmic threat, you’ll end up with a sizable collection of dice. This board game accessory is one of the best ways to get all your precious dice together in one place and also protect them from the elements. Not only are dice bags handy for carrying your dice around to a friend’s place, but they’re also designed in a way that adds character to any gaming session.
Shelf liner is an unlikely hero when it comes to tabletop game accessories. Anyone who’s played an intense game of Catan has experienced the infamous ‘earthquakes’. A single jolt of excitement or even an accidental nudge into the table can send the tiles flying all over the place, making you lose track of where your settlements and roads were placed. Shelf liners save the day by keeping your board in place even through the roughest of games and campaigns. Just roll your shelf liner out on the table first before putting down your game board or tiles, and the textured surface will help keep everything in place.
They’re pretty much universally applicable to any tabletop game, but they’re especially useful for tile-based and role playing games that need absolute precision in unit placement. As a bonus, they usually come in a variety of colors that you can mix and match for a more atmospheric experience.
A Campaign Notebook
What was the name of that chaotic Elf wizard we met last session? What’s the potion we need to lift that curse? Great note taking saves campaigns, and a notebook just for your campaign keeps them all together. It’s a great way to save all the epic moments of your campaign, and let's face it, you’ll probably run out of room on the back of your character sheet by session three.
The best board game accessories make your life easier while still making the game an even better experience for everyone involved. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re a beginner or even an expert player, we’ve all had moments of confusion struggling to remember a cantrip or ability in the heat of battle or the middle of roleplay. Juggling a veritable mountain of new information that comes with every new D&D campaign can be a brutal task.
We’ve also got to give a shoutout to combat tracking pads a great tabletop gaming accessory for keeping last combat’s damage totals out of your main notes so you can find the important stuff sooner. You can use these to stay on top of all the developments that happen through a game. Keep track of your active buffs and when they expire, your abilities, any debuffs, and more with a simple sticky pad designed for tabletop games.
It’s one of the best board game accessories around - the mythical gaming table. Expect to find these in the home of a die hard tabletop gaming aficionado, and for good reason. This tabletop gaming accessory is designed completely with the player in mind, and every facet of it suits a particular need.
Gaming tables often have grooves to accommodate cards and tiles. They’re generally also made of special material that suits dice rolls. And some models even have removable tops to save your combat session for next week when you need to. The trade-off is that they are much more expensive than other gaming accessories, so don’t feel pressured to trade up from that old folding table before you’re ready.
As far as tabletop gaming goes, trays are some of the most inexpensive accessories you can buy for yourself and your friends. Component trays, for example, are inexpensive ways of keeping all the different moving parts that go into a table top RPG in one place. As different dice, tokens, and markers change hands throughout a long session, keeping track of everything can be a hassle, a problem that component trays solve.
As for those people who are fully specced into D&D, a padded dice tray is a must have to keep your premium wood dice safe from damage, or keep your metal dice set from damaging the table. It’s also a great way to keep them from rolling onto the floor. Dice trays are some of the best board game accessories in terms of the value you get for your money.
If you’re an avid DM or just a frequent member of a gaming party, chances are you and your friends probably have an accessory or two in common. The best way to differentiate yours from theirs is with a cute or kick-ass sticker.
Stickers are probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of tabletop gaming accessories, but the right set of stickers can add so much more personality and charm to your gaming desk or dice clutch.
Gaming in Style
The charm of tabletop gaming was and always will be that all you really need for a good time is a solid surface and friends to play with. That’s a vision that’ll keep tabletop gaming alive, but there’s no reason not to make this incredible board game tradition your own with some of the best accessories and dice from Dice Envy.
How to Play Bard: Being the Best Bard You Can Be
So, you want to play a bard. Maybe you’re new to D&D, jumping on the post-Stranger Things trend, or you’re an experienced player looking to try a new class. Either way, this guide will walk you through the basics of how to play a bard in D&D. Having a fundamental understanding of this class will not only help your effectiveness as a player, but it’ll also make the game more fun!
How to Play Bard in D&D
Bards are an extremely versatile and complex class, as they have the ability to be proficient in many things; they can cast spells, fight in combat, and possess rogue skills. While this versatility puts bards at a great advantage, it does mean that they don’t have the sheer innate power of more focused classes, like wizards, rogues, or fighters.
Above all, bards are performers. This is important to remember because most of their skills and spells involve interaction with other creatures and NPCs. They thrive in the spotlight and in social interactions, making them a natural front-person for the party. As such, charisma is arguably the most important stat for playing a bard successfully. Other stats that are well-suited for bards are wisdom, constitution, and dexterity—which you choose to focus on will depend on how you want to play your character.
Wisdom is a helpful stat in social interactions, usually fit for bards that act as the face of the party. Constitution is great for players who want to focus on bards’ spellcasting abilities, as it will help them keep concentration on complex spells. A high dexterity stat is beneficial for offensive bard fighters.
You’ll want to keep these stat preferences in mind when choosing your race because certain races improve certain scores. Typically, half-elves, tieflings, and halflings are your best bet for a bard, but changelings, satyrs, and humans could work, too.
Choosing Your College
Colleges are subclasses for bards that you gain access to starting at third level. Each college has a distinct focus, which can slightly adjust how to play bard in your campaign.
If you’re playing D&D 5e, you can choose from the following colleges for official, non-homebrew campaigns:
- College of Lore - focuses on magical abilities, all about knowledge and truth-telling
- College of Valor - good option for an offensive bard, tells classic Homer tales of heroes, battles, and adventure
- College of Glamour - focuses and charm and beguilement for mind manipulation
- College of Swords - weaponry-focused, for rogue-leaning bards
- College of Whispers - the sneaky, Littlefinger-esque bard with psychic powers
- College of Creation - perform bard duties with the belief that all life follows an unseen work of art
- College of Eloquence - uses logic and wordplay as an artform, think debate and forensics
- College of Spirits - uses spirits (the dead kind) to tell tales, like a Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark bard
Bards usually rely on magic during their adventures. Many of their spells are of the supportive variety, to help heal and aid their allies in battle. Their spell list does include some damaging spells, but this is typically not the bard’s strong suit. When you’re learning how to play bard, keep their charisma stat in mind, as this will affect their spellcasting.
One attribute that distinguishes bards from other spellcasting classes is their magical instruments.
While not all bards will have an instrument, they almost all start out with one, and many will use them for their spells. You’ll want to pick a good musical instrument—after all, you’re a performer!
Here are some of the basic musical instruments available:
- Pan Flute
Remember that you’re able to change your instrument throughout your adventure and that it can be a useful tool for roleplaying!
A great backstory is essential to playing a bard in D&D. Bards are storytellers, so their backstory is especially important! There’s no formula for crafting a good backstory—just keep in mind what a bard does and what that means for their lifestyle. Traveling from town to town, meeting different locals in taverns everywhere… Bards lead interesting, adventurous lives, and your backstory should reflect that!
Start Playing a Bard
Now you’ve caught up on some of the basics of playing a bard in D&D, it’s time to get started! Make sure you’ve got all the supplies you need, including your dice, a pen and paper (if you’re playing in-person), and your character sheet. Once you’ve got your group and your tools, all that’s left to do is play the game and have fun!