Testing the theory that one can not have too many dice

Just before I went out to GenCon in August, I wrote:

I have one request, which I hope isn't unreasonable: I'd like to test the theory that you can't have too many dice. If I see you at GenCon, would you give me one gaming die? I'll bring home as many as I get, dump them all on my office floor, and take a picture. I think it could be pretty cool … or very, very sad. Either way, it will be something, you can be sure of that

Before I even left, the response was epic, including this hilarious and brilliant comic my friend Joel drew for his webcomic, Hijinks Ensue.

I hoped I'd get a fair amount of dice, but I was totally unprepared for how many, and the incredible stories that came with just about each one. For three straight days, hundreds of people gave me probably close to a thousand dice, total, and each one had a story: "This is from my original red box" and "These dice killed all my players and I need to get rid of them or they won't play with me again" and "This is my first set of GenCon dice, I wanted you to have it" and the most common: "These dice are evil. They are out to get me. Here you go. Good riddance."

Since I came home from GenCon, I've been too busy to take a proper photo of the giant haul of dice I got, but I made some time this morning to take a few shots. They're all at Flickr, and none of them truly capture the enormity and beauty the way I can experience it with my own eyes, (especially pouring out close to 15 pounds from the big GenCon bag I keep them all in) but this is my favorite one:

GenCon Dice Haul #1

Now, to the important question: Can you have too many dice? I require further research and testing, but the early results of my experiment clearly say "No. No you can not have too many dice, especially when each die or set of dice you get comes with a story from the person who gave it to you, allowing you to make a personal connection that merely talking to each other does."

Enormous thanks to everyone who gave me dice at GenCon and at PAX. I think I'm going to keep doing this, until one day I have enough dice to cover my entire floor.

109 thoughts on “Testing the theory that one can not have too many dice”

  1. @Th1rtyf0ur – Hey, that’s a great story! I also felt the same way when I saw the Fiend Folio in that pic…I too never really played DnD but was given a copy of that book by my older brother about 20 years ago and I still have it in one of my box of goodies. 😉
    Well I did make two attempts of sorts to play DnD…one was with two good friends in grade school who actually were real players…but the one time I remembered playing they had the characters smoking weed and all sorts of silly and nefarious things…they never seemed to take things too seriously when I was around I guess (bastards).
    The other time was in high school when I walked into our shop class and found a group of guys playing during lunch. I knew most of them and begged them to let me play…they said well ok, one of the guys just went to the can so you can play his Dwarf for a few rounds…were fighting this strange water demon thing. So I play a few rounds, toss a few hammers at the water creature and then one of the other characters falls into this lake that the monster is in. I have the Dwarf jump in to the save him and the DM then says:
    “Your dwarf was wearing a full suit of plate armor and also loaded down with treasure. He sinks like a rock and drowns. Nice job! You should have had him take off his armor and equipment first!”
    “Umm, wait, I was going to say that…yeah, let’s just redo this part and he’ll take off his plate armor and…”
    “Sorry man, that’s not how it works, he’s dead!”
    Right at this moment the owner of the dwarf walks in and says hey there, what’s going on here? I ran to the door and said “oh nothing much, by the way, I think your Dwarf is dead!” and ran like hell!
    My apologies to all DnD players and I hope you may forgive me for this travesty. At least the other players told me a few days later that they finally defeated the water demon thing with a purify water spell or something and reminded me that warhammers are generally ineffective against creatures made of water, as are swimming dwarves donned in plate armor. 😉

  2. WIl if you get enough of them you should glue them to the floor like in Empire Records? Or maybe a wall since some of them have pointy sides not good for walking on…just a thought.

  3. Awesomesauce! Being there when you made that slide was one of the highlights of my GenCon! (I was the assistant DM in the room – bpsymington)
    Break a leg in Eureka!

  4. “Some celestial event. No – no words. No words to describe it. Poetry! They should’ve sent a poet. So beautiful. So beautiful… I had no idea.”
    Only movie quote I considered worthy of this. Epic in the definition given to Odysseus and his ilk. Bravo.

  5. Cyril Sneer would be proud to have such a haul to dive into :)
    Great effort everyone. I’m sure if there was a Die P.O.Box (Die!) then you could triple that collection easily.

  6. Hi Wil … we also met briefly at GenCon when you came by our booth (Gamescience) to talk about the dice for the Celeb Dungeon Delve
    As to Too Many Dice … I regret to say that YES … you can have too many dice … with nearly 32000 dice in my collection … and something like 5000 duplicates just sitting around … I can say … it becomes a space problem :)
    I wish I had known of your ‘dice quest’ … I would have contributed something memorable

  7. I’d steer clear of the Wandering Damage Table (from an April Fool’s issue of Dragon Magazine, possibly #96 if memory serves) or nobody will want to game with you any more.
    One of the results is “Roll all dice within a 10′ radius of the player” – ouch.
    Kudos on the Fiend Folio in the shot, especially since it’s leaning on a 4th ed book. We’ve come a long way, baby.

  8. There will never be too many dice! I’ll have to pass some to you if I see you at RinCon this weekend. Three day gaming weekend here we come!

  9. What a great kaleidoscope of colors and shapes… I used to have that many dice in a big bag but over the years my wife threatened to make me swallow a few if I didn’t keep the amount down to a manageable level… =)

  10. I think you should attach them to panels, and when a panel is covered, tack it up to the wall…eventually you will have a wall of dice.
    I work in a framing shop, and I think you could probably get some nice deep metal frames, and fill them up with the dice, so you get to see all of them and you can still display them, and take them out. I could explain how to do it if you were interested.

  11. 15 pounds of dice? How did you carry all of them around while you were at the con collecting them? And at what point did you realize that you needed a help from a sherpa to carry them?

  12. As the giver of the big yellow die, I am here to answer the questions about it! :)
    It is a WWWWD die (What Would Wil Wheaton Do) – i.e. when Wil is out and about and he just wants to finish his grocery shopping, or finish eating his taco, or whatever, but people keep coming up and exclaiming “OMG You’re Wil Wheaton” or worse yet, “OMG You’re WESLEY CRUSHER” – rather than having to take the time to figure out the proper response – THE WWWWD DIE TO THE RESCUE! Quick and easy response options include:
    Set Phaser to Kill
    Cut a Bitch
    Roll for Initiative
    Thank them (while picking their pocket)
    Taz ’em Bro

  13. You seem to be approaching critical mass on a pile of evil dice. Will it eventually collapse in on itself and become some kind of singularity die? And what would happen if you rolled it?

  14. I don’t think I have many dice in possession anymore that I actually purchased for myself. At our gaming table in high school and college, we found that “cursed” dice tended to only be cursed for the buyer. So if you rolled too many 1s or 2s, there was always a kindly soul at the table who would trade your bad die for a good one (and proceed to immediately roll 20 on your bad die). So my dice bag is chock-full of dice that other players purchased. Except my Ghostbusters D6 from the West End Game. We house-ruled that one into use in just about every kind of game we played. If the ghost came up “something strange happened” at the whim of the DM/GM.

  15. That is seriously awesome!! I think someone should definatly LOLcat the pic of kitty with the dice (I just can’t think of anything good right now…). Good luck in Vancouver again (you’ve been up there so much recently, one might think you were turning into a Canucks fan ;-))

  16. I wish we could have had more time to chat on dice! I was carrying 3 with me for you to choose from, but Munchkin die came out first (hehe, I can see it in the picture!). The others were some 20+ year old D20s that could have told some stories :)

  17. No doubt due to a temporal anomaly, my 1966 “The Dalek World” annual (http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/The_Dalek_World) has a story about the time Wil and his sidekick tried to plunder the Dice Vault of Skaro. There’s an eerie similarity to HijinksEnsue’s cartoon. Useful tip: note that a d20 can be used to cut yourself free when tied up. I’m afraid the story doesn’t end at all well for Wil.
    And not only did Terry Nation invent the Daleks but also, apparently, the Borg.
    (Very new domain: try again later if the DNS hasn’t propagated yet).

  18. I did think of that (and we have enough that we can!) but if he’s looking for dice, these can be a fun (albeit tiny) addition :)
    edit: it didn’t post as a reply to you the first time, let’s try again!

  19. I was just going to post & ask if there was a way to mail dice to Wil. I have some ex-boyfriend dice & they’re not only reminders of my years as a gamer widow… but I also want them to have a good home (once I find them again, that is).

  20. Hmmm… is that a D100 I see tucked away in the back? It seems someone does not know how to roll 2 D10. 😛 I am still trying to find my lowly D20 in the ocean o’ dice.
    It was great meeting you at GenCon. I just want to let you know that the Gaming Monkey card we talked about is almost ready (art done, but the mockup is a few days late).
    I wish you were easier to reach. That way I could tell you about our progress without hijacking a germane blog post. :)

  21. Is it bad that my son and I spent 5 minutes scanning over the pics in an attempt to find the 2 dice I gave you? We found them of course (or at least in our minds we found them). The amount of dice you received is just awesome.

  22. As an Art major I see those dice an immediately think, “Oh man those would make an epic mosaic/sculpture”. Perhaps depicting some player’s noble campaign. I dunno but if you’ll excuse me I have to go draw doodles of this.

  23. Nice looks like my sons bedroom floor on a good day lol. Then again you are a big kid with a big heart. I hope you keep adding to your collection but I gotta say glad it’s you cleaning up all those dice and not me lol. Stay young, stay fun, and stay real and fans like me will keep coming back to read your blog. Can’t help ourselves it’s like lay’s you can’t read it just once you gotta come back for more. hahahaha!!!!

  24. Howdy Wil! I had read in one of your earlier posts you were looking forward to playing Savage Worlds at Gen Con. Did you get a chance? I run a game with some local friends and find it really easy to play and lots of fun for players and GMing it. Do you have any thoughts on it? Thanks!

  25. I didn't have time to play anything when I was at GenCon, except for a couple games with friends late at night after we were done for the day. My biggest regret, actually, was not having time to play games while I was there because I was working so much. I'm hope to correct this in the future, by reducing my signing schedule to something a little more reasonable.

  26. ‘until one day I have enough dice to cover my entire floor.’
    OMG – YES!! And then, you do the frame, like when they pour concrete, and pour all the dice in. And the you cover it with some clear tile making/ plastic/ silicone/ whatever to make the most awesomely perfect floor for the ultimate gaming room!

  27. Ya know…I have to admit that’s pretty freakin’ cool…I think i am having some serious dice envy…all those dice in a gigantic fish bowl like…well BOWL!….nice conversation piece!
    I like it!

  28. The dice were dropped into an official GenCon mug, then moved into a giant bag, and finally sprayed with Germ-o-blast™ XL when I got them home.

  29. I just catalogued all our 1st edition books at work.
    Excuse me. Sorry to bother you, but exactly where do you work and how can I get a job there? :)

  30. Indeed. As a witness (to the dropping, not the blasting), he was very careful.
    Personally, I used a little bit of Purell on the die I gave him. It’d been sitting in my dicebag since 1985, so who knows what could have happened had I not… remember that X-Files episode about those loggers and the insects they released when they cut down that really old tree? :)

  31. I know it would be a lot of work… and you probably don’t have time… but, for purely scientific reasons, it’d be really cool to know what the distributions of the types (number of sides) of dice that you received.
    From the looks of it, D6’s won out, but there seem to be quite a few D20’s as well.

  32. For years now I’ve been of the opinion that Legos make the ultimate ‘consumer grade’ caltrops, particularly in the more plush varieties of carpet. Your collection of dice, however, seems like an excellent alternative! As I’m expecting my first child (at age 40 – go figure) early next year, I’ll look forward to happy remembrances of bruised feet in years to come after late-night lego (and later D&D) sessions. Good luck on your quest young master!

  33. The Central Limit Theorem says that if you take any probability distribution and add them together, they will always wind up being a Gaussian distribution. Considering that a die roll is as close to a uniform distribution as one can get, one could either use one die and roll it over and over again, creating the probability density function as you go. OR one could roll THOUSANDS of dice (try to use the same type, such as 4- or 10-sided, for the roll) at the same time to get a better idea of the distribution.
    Just a thought. And would make a wonderful convincing argument for the theorem. It’s what Sheldon Cooper would do.

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