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This guide to d8 dice is the third in our series explaining each type of die in a full polyhedral dice set. 8-sided dice have many common roles in tabletop gaming, so if you’re new to gaming with polyhedral dice, or need a refresher course on what the different dice do, you are in luck!
An Ancient Heritage
Like most of the other polyhedral dice (all but the d10), the d8 is ancient and has been used by societies around the world for gambling, divination, and, hopefully, not tax fraud for thousands of years. No joke, you can find d8 dice sets under glass in world-famous museums. There are dice from Rome, Egypt, China, India…pretty extraordinary honestly.
The Famous d8 Dice Shape
The traditional d8 dice shape is known as an “octahedron,” which is just a fancy word for saying that it has eight sides. You might also hear it called a “regular octahedron,” which means that all eight of its sides are identical equilateral triangles. (8-sided dice share this trait in common with d4s and d20s.)
A d8 looks like two pyramids fused together at the base, which is actually another name for its shape: “square bipyramid.” Anyone who tries to use this term on you is either fishing for compliments or flexing, so beat them to the punch and take the glory for your own!
If you stretch out any two corners of an octahedron and look at it edge-on, you will get the classic 2D “diamond” shape. If you play Magic: The Gathering you may also recognize this shape as belonging to the iconic hedrons of Zendikar, created by the ancient Planeswalker Nahiri. Most gaming d8s, however, stick with the squatter “regular” octahedron, as these roll better than the stretched-out ones.
Alternative d8 Dice Shape Options
One alternative d8 dice shape is the truncated octahedron, which rolls more smoothly than a traditional d8 but has six small square faces along with eight large hexagonal ones—making it less visually distinctive and occasionally producing bad rolls by landing on one of the squares.
Another, much less common 8-sided dice alternative is the octagonal prism d8, which looks like an 8-sided pipe with an octagon at either end. This d8 dice shape rolls very smoothly, but only in one direction. It’s similar in shape to our Infinity d4 dice, which are built to roll better than the traditional d4.
While you will see these alternative d8 shapes out in the wild sometimes, we don’t currently sell alternative d8 dice sets as most gamers prefer the traditional octahedral ones. However, let us know if this outrages you! We actually love product suggestions and try to make new products happen whenever there is enough customer demand.
Rolling a d8
The odds of rolling any given value on a d8 are 1 in 8, or 12.5%.
To read the value of your roll, simply take the number from whichever face of the dice ends up on top when the die stops rolling.
- Tip: The average roll of a single d8 is 4.5. Knowing this can help you plan your character’s strategy in combat or on an exploration mission because you know that you will roll 4.5 or more (plus any modifiers) half of the time on average. (No, you can’t roll a decimal number; it just means you’ll roll 5 or higher half the time.)
Rolling Multiple d8s
Here is some jargon you’ll hear when rolling multiple 8-sided dice:
If your GM or a player’s handbook asks you to roll “2d8,” they mean “two d8 dice.” If they ask you to roll “8d8,” you roll eight d8s. (That’s a BIG roll!!) The way dice notation works in tabletop gaming is that the number before the “d” tells you how many dice to roll, and the number after the “d” tells you what kind of dice to roll.
When you need to roll only a single d8, you will often hear the phrase “Roll d8” or sometimes “1d8.”
Common d8 Rolls in D&D and Other Tabletop Games
In D&D, you’ll find that d8 dice are in the middle of the pack when it comes to how often they are used relative to other types of dice—less common than d10s and d20s, but more common than d4s and d12s, and about as common as d6s. They are also good dice to choose when you want middle-of-the-road roll values. All in all, they are an integral part of any complete polyhedral gaming dice set!
Here are some of the common rolls that d8 dice set you up for:
- Hit Dice Rolls: A “hit die” is a die that you roll to determine a new character’s max HP or to recover HP after battle. In D&D, different types of dice are used as hit dice depending on your character class, but more than half of all classes use 8-sided dice because they make great midrange hit dice that lead to well-balanced HP levels in the game. (On average—sometimes you’ll still roll terribly!)
- Weapons Damage: Most weapons in D&D use either a d6 or a d8 for their main damage roll. Weapons that use a d8—like the battleaxe, longsword, and rapier—can hit pretty hard, giving the wielder much more damage potential in battle than someone using a weapon that only hits for d6 or d4.
- Character Personalities & Specialties: When creating new characters under the D&D rules, d8 dice are often used to determine key personality traits and vocational specializations.
- Enemy Damage to Your Character: Powerful enemies, and many mid-strength ones too, will use one or more 8-sided dice for their damage rolls if they hit your character. The d8 is a well-balanced choice of die to use for dealing damage because 8 possibilities is enough to create excitement in battle—where some rounds you’ll get hit and take very little damage, but on other rounds, you’ll get hit and take a heavy blow—without the kind of extreme chaos that would come with rolling, say, a d20 for damage (which might just kill your whole party out of nowhere).
- Spells: Iconic D&D spells like Chain Lightning, Wall of Fire, Cure Wounds, and Finger of Death all use a d8 (or multiple d8 dice) to determine the strength of their effects.
Both in D&D and other tabletop games, 8-sided dice are also useful for anything involving the number 8, such as compass directions (W, SW, S, SE, E, NE, N, NW), eight-hour work shifts, the eight common musical note durations (from breve to hemidemisemiquaver), or 3D grid zones.
I Want to Be Cool and Own All the D8 Dice
Haven’t bought yourself a polyhedral dice set yet? Check out our latest sets at Dice Envy!
If you want to buy ONLY d8 dice, we don’t usually sell them by themselves, and we don’t currently have an “only d8 dice set,” but you do have a few options:
- You can order d8s individually from our custom dice sets.
- If you see a d8 that you really like in one of our resin dice sets or premium dice sets, you can just go ahead and buy the complete set anyway, and give away the other dice to friends. Lots of people show up to sessions without dice of their own. You will become a famous and beloved philanthropist!
- Join our subscription box! It’s a great way to build up your collection over time and get multiples of all the different dice—in many cool styles, some of them limited-edition.