Friday, June 10, 2011

Open Friday: Weird Dice

If you didn't already own them, would you ever play a game that required you to buy weird dice like these?
I ask, because, back in 1979, that's what I did in order to play Dungeons & Dragons. My "complete" Basic Set didn't include them -- talk about false advertising! -- so I had to find a store that actually stocked these oddities.

54 comments:

  1. give me back my crappy holmes dice.

    You were lucky you didn't get these dice in the set, I mean, just look at them!

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  2. I bought my first dice as well.

    Would I now buy a new game requiring different dice from these? Maybe. Maybe not. I'd probably see if I could use my old dice with it first somehow.

    Already the new game changes. . .

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  3. I was wondering how long it would be before I saw a post like this. Right on!

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  4. All I know is stepping on a d4 in bare feet really hurts.

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  5. I would have bought the dice even with out a game to play with them so I guess the answer is yes.

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  6. I think my first set of "weird dice" came in my OD&D boxed set. Regardless of the provenance, it was love at first sight. So, to the question, yes.

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  7. If I had choices? No.

    Has say GURPS (regular dice only) been available (Champions was far too complex) or my friends started with Traveller I wouldn't have bought the dice at all.

    Even now I plenty and while I might buy a nice set of D6 again sometime I bought one set of dice in the last half decade.

    No real reason to really as my most played game (Buffy/Angel) requires only 1d10 and that rarely. In fact as DM I can play diceless easily

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  8. I tossed my old gaming dice after I bought some zocchi and now I kinda missing them to the point i'm actually tempted to go on ebay and see if anyone is selling some old dice. Shouldn't of done it...

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  9. Heh! I did it before and I'm gonna do it again soon, since I play DCC RPG. The funny dice were part of the attraction back then. I knew that this game I was getting into was something special, that it need something unusual to make it work. I've played D6 based systems, too. Part of the charm was lost, even if the games themselves were better designed.

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  10. I got the blue "mud dice" with my original dnd set in 77 (birthday was in dec) and still have and use them to this very day! If you're good to them even "mud dice" will last and remain in good condition. However I was enamored with the new thing on the block "gem dice" these transparnet colored dice had me transfixed and I would buy one in each color they had at my local hobby shop, which at the time only had these as singles not in complete sets. They all had sharp edges and in turn needed to be filled in with wax crayons. The were akin to the game science dice, and I still have those too! Then a few years later the "sets" started coming out, the armory had pre inked smooth sided beauties. while not wholly accurate they were just as pretty if not more so and the colors oh the colors deep hues the pastels. I love my dice, and yes I have to many, but I continue to buy these lovely jewels which allow me to enjoy the many games that use them. Again I love my dice, even the "bad ones" ;)

    -david
    http://www.d4d6d8d10d12d20.com - My Game Blog

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  11. I have been finding people's knee-jerk reactions of shock and horror at the use of zocchi dice in DCC RPG nothing short of comical. (Let's be honest what this is about)

    :)

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  12. Coldstream said...
    All I know is stepping on a d4 in bare feet really hurts.

    I remember the hobby shop in my neighborhood having a plexiglass display of dice behind the counter from which I bought some cool red translucent dice for about .40 to .80 cents each to add to my plain set of yellow Moldvay D&D dice. I later received a bloody puncture wound on my bare foot when I stepped on a Zocchi d4. This may have been a commom occurrence back then seeing how later d4's have dull or flattened corners.

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  13. Let's be honest about the DCCrpg dice. They are an extra expense. They provide no real improvement to a rule system. They are a gimmic. I don't think the system needs a gimmic or any reason to make it even a tiny bit harder for potential players to stay away from the game.

    Hopefully the new groovy, funky dice will be one of the things eliminated after feedback about the beta system.

    But personally I'm just in it for a new DCC module line so the dice aren't a big deal to me.

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  14. Helllll no. Never understood it.

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  15. I had to buy a deck of cards to play Savage Worlds. Go figure.

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  16. To add my .02 deniers ... six-siders rule, the rest not so much.

    When I first started, I played mostly TFT, Traveller, Champions, and later GURPS, all D6-only. If the game didn't include necessary dice -- CoC and Pendragon spring to mind -- I wouldn't have known where to get them. (I probably borrowed a d10 for Ars Magica.)

    In later years I developed a dice-fetish: Chessex dice, GameScience dice, Q-Workshop dice, Ubiquity dice, Fudge dice. Still, I prefer games that use either 1dN or Xd6 (Fudge being an outlier, but essentially 4d3-8).

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  17. I may as well ask "You already had to adjust to this wacky idea of a character sheet in 1978, so what's the beef with buying these player advantage collectible cards for 4th edition?"

    There's no equivalence between a necessary innovation and an pointless, onerous gilding of the lily.

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  18. When I was in high school a maths teacher accused me of breaking into the storage cupboard because I had possession of strange dice that had to be bought from specialist education/mathematics supply stores. In fact that's were early wargamers got their strange dice. Just like the one's pictured.

    When a home-brewed game system really needed a d14 (one of the most irritating types to simulate via other means I built some electronic PRNG versions for my players. Then, whilst learning how to do machining for my physics degree (and having discovered some scrap heptagonal bar stock), I made my own metal d14s. That could kill if thrown at someone. Later I used a prototyper/fabber to make my own, which I then cast actual dice using resin. Much safer. And added d16, d18, d22, and d24 while I was at it. People like the tactile sensation of rolling dice rather than pressing a button. Although some iPhone apps are quite popular these days, because you can use the acceleromater to shake the dice. [Although their pseudo-RNG is crap (then again my doctorate involved producing random numbers that wouldn't repeat, so I might be rather finicky when it comes to such things).]

    The main Australian distributor for games once had an excess of d4, so decided to offer bags of 100 d4 at an incredibly low price. They sold out almost immediately, spawning at least 4 local indie games that used d4 mechanics and a lot of wannabe ninjas with plastic tetsubishi. As anyone can tell you, early high impact d4 could be very damaging when trod upon.

    Although I don't recommend walking into your FLGS and discovering the shop assistants were bored and were throwing dice at each other from across the shop. Even with the proviso that "any dice that hits me I get to keep," it may not have been the safest environment to browse for new games. But I came away with half a bucket of free dice.

    Most of my dice came from games, back when games came with dice. I've been tempted by the more artistic dice for a while, such as produced by Shapeways, but so far have resisted the impulse, mainly because I know they will go walkabout like my other rare dice have done.

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  19. No, I probably would not use such dice. Why were they created in the first place?

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  20. I don't have an issue with the Zocchi dice in and of themselves. I don't think that is really what all the dice hating is about. (if it is based solely on the fact the dice are used then that is a bit sad.)Honestly I think the Zocchi dice are kind of neat, but I'm just not paying $30, or more, for non-standard gaming dice to use with a single game. Plus the game itself costs $34.99 for a total of $65 just to start playing.
    I have nothing against the odd dice, my wife paid $5 for a set of ubiquity dice. But she got the dice and the core rules, new, for under $30. I still think having to buy dice for a single system is odd, but they were cheap enough. I still believe that price seems to be the stumbling block here.
    My 3 favorite sets of gaming dice cost me less than $30, brand new, and they work with all of my RPGs. Well except for HEX, which I already mentioned.
    Standard Zocchi sets of d4,d6,d8,d10,d12, d20 are $9 which is fair enough. The sets with the d3 and d14 are $30 and up. Individually the dice are $5 or more each. Now if sets of the non-standard Zocchi gaming dice are cheaper than that and I just haven't seen them, then that's another story. That's just lack of information on my part and I might just go buy a set.
    I'm still not getting DCC because after reading the pdf, I just don't want it. It's not the kind of game I enjoy. I think that everything it tries to do has been done better by the current batch of OSR games, but if you want it I hope you like it and have hours of fun.

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  21. i doubt the 'weird dice' will be this expensive once the game is released in november. for beta testing it isn't hard to simulate the zocchi dice with what you already have in your collections.

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  22. "I would have bought the dice even without a game to play with them so I guess the answer is yes."--Akhier the Dragon Hearted

    That's how I feel too!

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  23. Well, I have done. For 40K, of all things, back when the weapons were differentiated by the size of the dice rolled to breach armour.

    The principle I tend to run off these days is "will I use it for something else?". I'd buy a d3 and d14 if I could find a use for them elsewhere. I'd even buy the new WFRP dice if I thought I'd use them for anything else - the idea of symbolic rather than numeric results is interesting.

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  24. Dice related injuries aside, when we started playing Marvel Super Heroes Advanced, one of my fellow gamers decided in order to play it most effectively, we needed a d100 rather than using 2d10.

    I think the d100 is still rolling away after the first toss...

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  25. Ah, what memories that picture brings. My original dice are long since gone, but I bought a new set in matching colors to carry the tradition forward.

    If you're asking this question rhetorically, James, comparing D&D's "funny dice" to DCC's, I'd have to say "no". Dungeon Crawl Classics will not create its own niche the way D&D did. Also, the original polyhedra were based on the Platonic solids, a mathematically purer set of figures, which were then applied to games. A d30 or whatever seems like novelty for novelty's sake, and I don't see it taking off to even a fraction of a degree that standard polyhedral dice have.

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  26. When I were a lad we was so far off the beaten track I had to make me own multi-sided spinners outa paper and thumbtacks, and used to dreeeam of getting some real Platonic polyhedra and wax crayoning the numbers in.

    These days for practical purposes I'm leaning toward d6s and percentiles only. But sure, if I lurve DCC I'll shell out for some Zocchis. If the game demands them, and you want to play, then really it's not a big deal, is it? And if you really object, treat it as one of Zak's Gygaxian democracy exercises: add an extra entry to every d5 and d7 table to personalise it and stick with the dice you know.

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  27. "If you didn't already own them, would you ever play a game that required you to buy weird dice like these?" ---J.Mal

    Only if they come with a crayon.

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  28. I actually have forced people to make this choice-- I run my weird fantasy game with the White Wolf rules, so when I get a new player, they often need to go buy a mess load of d10s. They moan & complain but then they do.

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  29. The set from my box had powder blue dice. I couldn't read the numbers at all. Within a year or two I found koplow dice and have used those since (Meaning I use the older koplows, not the more recent - they changed some of the shapes (d10) and sizes (d6).

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  30. I also got my Holmes boxed set with no dice; instead, it had a laminated card numbered 1-20, you had to cut it up and put the chits in a cup. You "rolled" by picking the numbers out of a cup! I only played the game like this once. The KayBee toy store where I bought the boxed set also sold the dice.

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  31. My Holmes box had a set of dice, but I bought more "weird" dice for the other players. So I guess the answer is "yes." I love the weird dice and they just feel like an essential part of the D&D experience for me. Even when I play d6 versions such as OD&D, I still house-rule in weird dice. It's an aesthetic, subjective thing. Without weird dice it just feels like Yahtzee or Parcheesi, not D&D.

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  32. I also bought my dice individually, before I even owned D&D in fact.

    Like many Brit Nerds I was already into Games Workshop games and through Advanced Heroquest had a couple of D12s. While on holiday in Florida I was in a shopping mall which had a shop that sold D&D products and knives. (This amazed me as a child - looking back, it's an obvious combination for a certain sort of nerd. ;-) ) I picked up a set of blue dice, and the next year went to the same shop and got a set of silver sparkly dice. There were entertaining to me just as a curio, and of course those D12s had already taught me that they could be used in some sort of nerdy game.

    I do know that weird dice are a bit of an off-putting element for some, though. I think most RPGers let the traditional "complete set" slide, though even then you get plenty of people grumpy at games which use all those dice out of some sort of obligation. (D&D 3.Xs greataxe was partly set to D12 damage because D12s were being used to rarely in the game) But I have strong memories of getting complete confusion from fellow schoolmates about the existence of dice that were not six-sided, and I think starting players will find an all-D6 game has one less hurdle.

    Following from the DCC discussion earlier in the week I see other posters have assumed a connection. If that's the case then I'll have to agree with them that D20 and D14 aren't quite the same thing - if only because the C-list dice cost a fair bit more and aren't available in convenient "complete set" packs. If I was starting from scratch, though, I don't think I've see a D12 and a D24 as being any more or less absurd than each other.

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  33. I recall my father hunting down my first set of gaming dice for me in an obscure little shop in the neighboring city. We played for years with the D20 labeled 0-9 twice, the d12, d8, d4 and a bunch of d6's borrowed from a yahtzee set.


    I bought a pair of d30 dice about 20 years ago for no good reason. I've already got some d3's floating around (and many dozens of d6's). D5 can easily be rolled with d10's.

    The new weird dice are on my wish list, with or without DCC.

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  34. Probably not, but my box of Holmes D&D included the set. Plus they are cheap and easily gotten. You can even find them at bookstores these days.

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  35. I rarely comment on this blog because it gets so MANY comments. But man I love these mud dice. I love their soft plastic, I love how they roll, and I love how they look :)

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  36. @JasonZavoda Actually the odd dice do add something to DCC: they provide a flat randomness curve for a wide variety of entries. Of course, you can do this as well with any method that "rolls a single die" (i.e. roll D6+D10: on 1-2/D6 read D10 result, on 3-4 add 10, on 5-6 add 20), but I suppose it's true that Zocchi's funky dice will make a lot of those rolls easier to make.

    But my general reaction is the same as most of the people with a negative take on it -- to me, it smacks of chrome added to the game because it sounded cool, but not necessarily because it made for a better game. Once we start playing it, I will be able to confirm or deny that suspicion, but there's an awful lot of aspects to DCC, as it reads, that makes me think it's little more than a well-publicized and backed fantasy heartbreaker (which, I would strongly argue, the balance of OSR systems are not).

    Reading DCC does not fill me with expectation that the game will be what I'm really looking for, and honestly it doesn't really seem to live up to is billing of more directly influenced by Appendix N. But, that's just reading it -- our group does want to take it out for a spin, so we'll see what it's like.

    Frankly, just by reading, Lamentations of the Flame Princess seems to be more like what DCC claims that it wanted to be, than DCC itself is.

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  37. If I really badly wanted to play the game....
    If there were no similar games that did not require the weird dice...
    if I could find the dice readily...
    If the cost of the dice did not closely approach the cost of the game...
    Then I would buy them.

    Like you, James, I had a Holmes set that didn't include the dice; fortunately the shop I bought it from sold dice. I don't remember how much the dice cost, but they can't have been that expensive. I'd probably have bought them in any case, because I needed them to play D&D; if they'd been very expensive and hard to find, though, I might have stuck with TFT. (If I'd known about Tunnels and Trolls before buying the Holmes set, I might never have bought "weird dice.")

    If Goodman Games can make Zocchi dice easily and cheaply available, then their use won't pose much of a problem for DCCRPG; if not, the game may have a hard time gaining wide acceptance.

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  38. "there's an awful lot of aspects to DCC, as it reads, that makes me think it's little more than a well-publicized and backed fantasy heartbreaker"

    I tend to agree with this assessment. But I don't think that means the game is bad. I'm still trying to figure that out.

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  39. You had to purchase those. What else would you put in that snazzy leather bag you bought with the golden wizard emblem stamped on the side?

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  40. I think one of the big problems with the DCC playtest (and which will contribute heavily to a negative opinion of the weird dice needed to play), is that most beta testers will need to improvise these dice rolls. And that directly eliminates the elegance and simplicity they gained by using the strange dice in the first place (instead of adding additional modifiers).

    If Goodman Games doesn't ship the actual game in a boxed set that contains a good set of the dice, then they will meet with considerable sale resistance. They also need to make it simple to collect extra sets of the dice.

    This is an aside to the fact that people are reluctant to buy more dice since they don't want to spend extra. So bundling will be very important.

    There was a game called Fulminata which used tali dice. You could improvise a tali hand with d8s, but it was clumsy. I later discovered they also produced a set of special tali dice as well. I bought them, and play was much improved.

    Similarly you can play Fudge/FATE with various combinations of d6 and d4. But the dedicated dice speed up the game because you can simple read the result, and don't have to calculate what it means.

    And that's the benefit of the strange dice. You don't have to calculate stuff before you get a number for the roll.

    [This is speaking as someone who has played games where I have had to improvise the use of the more problematic dice. There were reasons I went to the effort and expense of making my own, particularly the d14. But I had access to the resources to do so. Other gamers probably won't.]

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  41. Oh, and I admit to liking the idea behind the Lego dice. The idea of having customizable faces for a game intrigues me with the possibilities it entails. [There is also a company that does the equivalent for standard d6, including providing weighted faces, but I've lost the link.]

    It would give a finer degree of control than most games that use customized dice, and new faces are far easier to ship.

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  42. Are they really that expensive? There are Zocchi dice on Amazon for $11.97.

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  43. for a long time, I only had a d20. It was purple and red with silver numbers, one of the faces was scratched from where I had stepped on it. I don't know what happen to that thing, but I'd stab a man to have it back.
    The only gaming store near where I live was a combination head shop/gaming store, and it was 30 miles away. Once we could drive, we all went and got matching sets of Chessex dice.
    I ordered the Chessex Pound o' Dice. It's something every DM should carry, that and extra graph paper and mechanical pencils.

    If you don't love polyhedrons, there's something seriously wrong with you.

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  44. My first "weird dice" were purchased to play Button Men.

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  45. that's a good looking d6. That thing has seen some hard table use. applause!!!!

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  46. I too, had to buy my dice separately (and named my blog after them). In fact, my first gaming purchases were those dice and a copy of Gods, Demi-Gods, and Heroes. My friends and I, being cash-poor figured that if each of us bought one supplement, we could pass them around. I think that worked out better for whoever ended up with my copy.

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  47. Sure I would. I bought the AD&D books well before I actually bought dice for it. They didn't get much use, since I shifted into mostly d6-powered games. Later, I bought way too many polys. I somewhat came to my senses, and now have merely a generous number of them. And a deranged number of Fudge dice.

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  48. Ah yes. As I recall, they included some chits in the back of the book that could be cut out and put into cups to generate random numbers by drawing.

    The reason, I believe, was that oil prices were so high (because of the recent OPEC shenanigans) that the price of plastic was too high to include dice with games. SPI ended up doing the same thing with their tiny d6's; you had to send in the little slip of paper that came with the game to get the die.

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  49. I still have the six sider from the original D&D boxed set. Over 30 years old! At one point, I had over 100 dice.

    Now I have less than 20. I have about 2 copies of everything (except additional six and 10 siders).

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  50. @ reverence pavane: do you have any d22s still? I'd love to buy or trade for one. See my collection here:
    http://www.dicecollector.net/JM/MEGAPAGE.HTM

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  51. There are no shortage of games these days that have their own specialty dice. There are fudge dice, ubiquity dice, and the latest incarnation of the Warhammer FRPG comes with its own crazy dice. Generally the inclusion of specialty dice is something I tend to roll my eyes at, but their presence doesn't immediately rule out a game in my opinion. Neither though do they strike me as a clever innovation, and I can't say I've felt like any game was really improved by their presence.

    I guess these days specialty dice strike me as an early indicator of gimmicky design. Yes, I'd play a game that required strange new dice. But I wouldn't buy them right away, I'd want to play the game once or twice first to assure myself it really was fun enough to warrant the expense.

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  52. Just to be clear: DCC ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT require the use of Zocchi-dice.

    There are statistically equivalent means of achieving each and every requested die. Most of them are even EASY.

    Once you realize that DCC does not require the dice, most arguments melt away and those that stay are on the fragile ground of "but I have a negative appraisive value attached to having to roll two dice to get a flat curve!" Considering that many games use/offer special dice including all WW games (roseate d10s anyone?) FUDGE (+, -, ), WhFRP (boom d6's, direction d6's), and mother of all D&D (d4, d6, d8, d12, d20/d10), whining about having to learn a handful of double rolls smacks of contrariness for the sake of being contrary - and monumentally absurd to boot.

    This is a manufactroversy in my opinion. Go re-read pp. 9-10 of the 1e DMG, that'll teach you how to roll dice properly.

    Captcha Word: Mogwol - someone who whines about having to roll a d10+d6 to get a d30 distribution.

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  53. I actually got a set of dice exactly like these in the Gamma World boxed set I picked up around the mid 80's. EXACTLY... and I can prove it because I still have them! Well, actually my yougest daughter has them as I gave them to her to play with while I gamed.

    My first set however was the "mud" dice from the 2ed printing of the basic boxed set. They were multi-colored (if you can call it that) consisting of green d4, brown d6, green d8, yellow d10, brown d12, and yellow d20. I still have all of them although the material is heavily worn and starting to come apart. They are in the ole dice bag, but only see the light of day when it spills open!

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