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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dice of the Gods


A suited man juggles five polyhedra dice - is this an early DM? No, more likely it is supposed to be a math teacher.

These photos were posted to the Acaeum recently (see this thread), and show a set of dice found with a OD&D White Box set. The dice themselves are the standard Polyhedra Dice sold by TSR in the '70s, which per Jon Peterson were sourced from a California company, Creative Publications. But the packaging they are in is something I've never seen before. The title, Polyhedra Dice, is identical to the title TSR used in their catalogs and product lists of the era (follow link to see an example). While the dice obscure some of the text, I can make out the letters "CREAT..." near the green 8-sider, indicating the original packaging was indeed supplied by Creative Publications, not TSR or another company.

Most of these dice that I've seen are ones from the Holmes Basic set (update: see below), where they came in small sealed bag without a paper insert. The set was also sold separately (see catalog link above), and I had assumed these were sold in the same form. But possibly at some point TSR re-sold sets with the original CP packaging, or possibly this set was ordered directly from CP.

The back of the insert begins with the following paragraph:

"To the ancient Greeks the five regular solids (tetrahedron - 4 faces, hexhedron - 6 faces, octahedron - 8 faces, dodecahedron - 12 faces, icosahedron - 20 faces) were known as the "dice of the gods". They were prized for their beauty and believed to have strange, cosmic meanings"

Following this is a list of suggestions for using the dice, which are mostly obscured by the dice themselves.

See also: 
The Marked 20-sided Die
TSR Percentile Dice in the '70s

Update: See Playing at the World on Identifying Dice of the 1970s. Note that the dice in this the CP sets are not exactly the same as those found in Holmes Basic. Most notably, the d6 in these Creative Publication sets is pink versus the orange-red of the d6 of the Holmes Basic sets. 


  1. I think I ordered two sets of those in 1975 when I encountered D&D for the first time.

    1. Thanks - do you remember if you ordered them from TSR or elsewhere?

  2. i bought my first set of dice in a bag like that from a School Supply store in Indy. Don't recall if it had that sort of insert though.

  3. These were also included with at least some of the run of 1st Edition Gamma World, as that is where I got my first set of these dice...

  4. To see if you successfully hit you opponent in battle throw the icosahedron and compair the result too...

    Unless the optional damage per weapon chart is used damage from a successful attack does one (1) hexhedron worth of hit-points.

    Love it :D

  5. Yeah, probably a math teacher. Over here in South Korea, where RPGs aren't wholly unknown but also never achieved very widespread popularity, cheapo polyhedral dice are still marketed on online markets as a tool for kids studying math.

    There are also d30 alphabet dice (with the extra faces marked as wild), marketed as a tool for kids learning English. (I've found a way to use those in an RPG, too...)

  6. Mom sent my coupon from the back of the book in and I got my set in the mail.