Why Do We Collect Dice?
Dice are great. I'm sure that's something we can all agree on. I don't know a single person who plays roleplaying games that doesn't also constantly look for a shiny new set and hoard them like a dragon protecting a pile of gold. And with all the types out there, it's easy for anyone to find more they'd love to add to their collection. But why exactly? I mean technically one set of dice for each system you play would suffice. With online dice rollers and dice rolling apps you could even argue that physical dice aren't actually required anymore. But such a suggestion would be anathema to any TTRPG fan I know, myself included. So why exactly do we want them so much?
The urge to simply collect certainly can't be overlooked, but dice collecting is different than many other types of collections. Trading card collectors can have motivations beyond simply owning cards they like, whether it's the completionist's desire to possess all the cards from a certain set, the knowledge that they may appreciate in value, or wanting specific cards to strengthen their deck. Stamp and coin collections can likewise be "completed" in a sense if the collector focuses on a specific type or time period, and are also often seen as a monetary investment. Those who collect figurines often look for specific characters they are fans of. All of those motivations are a bit trickier to apply to collecting dice. While some dice are rarer and they can certainly be expensive, there's not the same argument to be made that they're a monetary investment as you could for coins. There are certainly dice themed after characters but not to the extent that you have with figures or other collectables. "Completing" a dice collection would be difficult unless you narrowed the criteria significantly. Very, very significantly. And unlike cards one set of dice can't be objectively "stronger" than another. Sure we all may have a set we feel rolls better for us but that's not guaranteed by stats proving they're better than another set. So why do we want so many?
Is it just because they're pretty? That's certainly got to be a part of it. With metal dice, gemstone dice, wooden dice, glitter, inclusions, hand inking, there's truly something for every aesthetic. Dice come in all colours, materials, sizes, finishes, etc. Can you get a sense of a person's style from their dice collection? Maybe, but I feel like most would be a bit too eclectic for that. Some people do definitely have a theme across their collection though, I'm not sure I own a single set of dice without glitter for example. There is something just satisfying about having lots of interesting looking and varied dice that I cannot explain but definitely know I'm not alone in experiencing.
Something I feel is a pretty big motivator, and that is connected to aesthetic but not necessarily the aesthetic of the collector, is character themed sets. I don't mean buying a set themed after a character from your favourite video game or movie (although that would definitely also be cool), but choosing a set you feel fits a character you have created. There are lots of ways to connect dice to a character. An oceanic looking set for a character who's spent their life at sea, lots of glitter to represent your spellcaster's magic, colours associated with an aspect of your character or just a colour they'd like, anything you can think of It can be even more literal than those examples, the first set of dice I bought specifically for a character were full of juniper leaves and berries. That character's name is Juniper. Picking dice to fit a character is not only fun but can help you get more into character at the table. Or at least I certainly felt more druid-y using dice full of twigs.
In the end although it feels like a bit of a cop out, I think the reasons for dice collecting are unique to each person. They're certainly much harder to pin down than the reasons for other sorts of collections can be anyway. It's fun, they're pretty, enough said! Collect away and when on the hunt for new dice remember to check out independent dice makers. You can find very cool unique sets while helping support smaller businesses, and who doesn't want to support awesome people who make dice? With that in mind if you know of any cool dice makers let us know in the comments!
Grand Master Aaron, Adam, Chris, Cieran, Emily, Eva, Rebecca. Dream team extraordinaire.
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