Thursday, May 8, 2014

TSR Percentile Dice in the 1970s

This photo is courtesy of Will T. on G+, and shows the 1970s TSR 'Percentile Dice' (left) in comparison with the 'Polyhedra Dice' (right). Each set is still sealed in the original bag, verifying that the dice came pre-inked. The 20-sided dice are each marked from 0-9 twice, hence the two different colors, white and pink, for generating percentiles. Today these dice are commonly referred to as 'Low Impact' due to their rapid wearing when used.

Source: Wayne's Books
The Polyhedra set was included in Holmes Basic sets, until a shortage forced a temporary replacement with chits. The Percentile set was included in other TSR games includingTop Secret and Boot Hill, as shown above in a photo from the Wayne's Books website.

Source: Tome of Treasures
TSR also sold each set separately as shown in this entry in an early catalog, 'Games for Imaginative People' from 1977/1978. The Polyhedra set is listed at $1.49 and the Percentile set at $0.89. The first three printings of the Holmes Basic rulebook also list these sets for the same prices in the product listing at the back of the book. Later printings still list the dice for sale but the prices have been removed. 

Source: Ebay auction
Jon Peterson, author of Playing At the World, discusses the history of TSR's early dice in his post, "How Gaming Got Its Dice". He mentions the company Creative Publications as the source of the Polyhedra dice, and presumably they supplied the Percentile set as well. Above is a book by Linda Silvey published by Creative Publications in 1978, showing their Polyhedra Dice set mixed in a sea of other dice.


  1. I remember trying to get my mother to buy the percentile dice for me (miniature wargaming), but she picked up the polyhedral set because it had more dice (that's better, right?). Of course I bought the Holmes rulebook (sold separately) a shortly thereafter, so the polyhedral dice came in handy.

  2. I have those dice in the top picture in the same exact colors but they weren't my first set my father went on a trip to the city to pick them up for me they were slightly higher quality but i don't recall who made them.