It may not surprise you to learn that dice, our favorite neighborhood rolling implements, have been around for centuries—since around the 24th century BC, to be specific.
While ancient Egyptians probably weren’t rolling intelligence checks to see if their clerics could successfully mummify the pharaoh, they did roll dice for the favored race game of the period, Senet. Ancient Mesopota mians rolled d4s during the Royal Game of Ur not to do damage with daggers, but to beat the other players’ markers to the other side of the board.
When dice have existed almost since the dawn of time, how can we, in this modern age with hoverboards and 3-D printing, improve upon such staples of civilization? Answer: With bucketloads of LEDs. Don’t worry, the focus is still on maintaining the all-important Balance of the Dice.
Here are five innovations, technological and mechanical, that have catapulted dice and dice rolling into the 21st century:
Critical Hit LED Dice Set
After coming out with the Critical Hit LED d20, ThinkGeek has followed up that critical success with even more flashy, celebratory goodness in the form of this dice set. Every time you roll a 20 on a d20, a 10 on a d10, and a 12 on a d12, the dice gift you with a little LED dance, congratulating you on your success and on your stealing yet another high roll from Wil Wheaton. We may not see the flashing lights quite as much as Critical Role’s Percy, but the possibility of seeing them gives us yet another reason to look forward to a critical hit.
These sleek, sexy dice are metallic and balanced for your pleasure. As this hardcore video informs you in the style of an explosive movie trailer, the LUMA Dice are motion-activated and LED-powered metal pieces of heaven. Carved from aluminum, each LUMA die uses an accelerometer to detect motion and turn the lights off when not rolling. Each side lights up with a different color from inside the metal cube, bringing the magic of a disco ball to your tabletop gaming. Support the project over on the LUMA Kickstarter!
Speaking of discos, these dice bring the boogie to the table. Once activated by sound or vibrations, the Boogie Dice start dancing all by themselves. Another Kickstarter project, Boogie Dice are the world’s first dice that roll themselves. All you have to do is clap your hands or smack the table with reckless abandon. The dice are programmable and come with their own app, so you can adjust them to fit your tabletop needs. The creators have even made a game, Bots Battleground, specifically for Boogie Dice in order to take full advantage of the features. Put on your campaign’s combat music, snap along, and watch as the Boogie Dice anticipate your damage rolls before you’ve even had a chance to plan the attack.
For any hands-on gamers out there, you might want to try building your own dice. Not the plastic kind; the electronic kind. With SpikenzieLabs’ Dice Kit, you can make your own battery-powered d6. The site and accompanying video give you instructions on how to assemble the circuit, install the LEDs, and perform other key steps. Instead of rolling it, you simply tap the Dice Kit and the LEDs light up to show a number from one to six.
Self-Loading LEGO Dice Tower
Almost as old as dice (younger by a few centuries) is the dice tower. After you place the dice into the top of the tower, they travel down the mechanism, bouncing off of hidden panels, until ending up at the bottom all face up and expectant. This process allows you to get multiple dice results at once and saves you from judgmental players accusing you of cheating with your rolls. Skadar on YouTube has created a dice tower out of LEGOs that loads itself, only requiring you to move a lever up and down on its side. The motion makes for a mesmerizing forty-second video, and we could watch it for hours.
Bonus: Cat Playing with Boogie Dice
What other innovations in dice and dice rolling can you see happening in the next few years? Let’s talk about it in the comments!