Friday, September 18, 2009

Mismarked Gamescience dice: 1d6 = 1d4+1?

So, I recently added to my (embarrassingly too large) pile of Gamescience dice. I just can't help myself, really. It's quite sad.

I snagged a few packs from a FLGS, as I noticed that they were new additions to the front counter glass showcase. I left the shop with a lighter wallet, but a heavier dice bag, as I just couldn't say no to any of these bad boys: all 7-dice poly sets in the colors Coal Black, Pumpkin Orange, Seashell White, and Peridot (gem).

When I got home, I promptly broke out the trusty Pilot ultra-fine black permanent marker and began inking them. BTW, for a real nice personal procedure on inking GS dice, check out Jeff Rients' post on the subject. Well except for the periodot (gem) set. That one was destined for the white paint pen treatment.

Anyway, I usually set out the whole set and just go down the row, inking a single digit on a single die, and then moving on to the next in line, to allow the ink to dry on the previous die. For some strange reason this time I started with the seashell white set, and more specifically the 00-90 d10. I inked the whole die (mostly I guess because I had some downtime on that die, as I was playing a bit with my kids during the inking exercise) and then grabbed the d6.

I spun it around, looking for my normal starting digit, the 1. Hhhmmn....where is that pesky loneliest number? Here? Nope Oh wait, here it is...nope. Hmmn...well, isn't it on the opposite side of the 6? Yeah, I think so. So where's the 6? Hhhmmn..... WTF?

Truth be told, it didn't take that long to figure it out. But I must say I was a bit perplexed, as I have never had any issue with any Gamescience dice like this in the past. Upon further investigation (hehe), I noted that this d6 was numbered 2, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5. Weird.

So it's not really a cheater dice (not that I would ever use such a vile thing!). I mean yeah, it will never role a measily 1 damage. Nor will it ever hinder the "3d6 in-order" hero creation process in the worst of ways. also will never max out with max damage. Nor will it ever allow a natural 18 ability score (cuz we all normally get those all the time, right?).

Weird, I say. Weird.

Have any of you seen this kind of mismark? Especially on such a precision-heavy (wow, that sounds weirdly weighted) product as Gamescience dice?

I know I haven't. I called the shop to let the owner know, and he said there would be no problem exchanging them. I say them, because this was the case with the d6 in both the seashell white and the pumpin sets. The black set and the peridot set bot had normally marked d6s.

I also informed the shop owner that the only issue I feared he may have with the return/exchange was the fact that I had already inked the 00-90 d10 in the white set, before I even noticed the flawed d6. He reassured me that he had no problem with it and he would take care of it for me, no questions. Coolness.

I kinda wonder if he secretly has a role in mind for the defective d6s. Maybe he's tired of doing the math on a 1d4+1. These bad boys look to be the perfect solution for that 2-5 a mutant-bell-curve sorta way. Hhhmmnn......


Talysman said...

I think that's called an averaging die. I have heard of dice deliberately marked that way before, and seem to recall them being mentioned in either the DMG or some lost Dragon article. But I forget the name.


Oh, hey, it's close. Average dice are numbered 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5. So yours is like an inside-out average die.

Alexander Man said...

It would be nice to get me one of those for my Warhammer Orcs and Goblins army... I mean the Animosity rolls would be nice to handle with that... Never squabble with 1! (But no chance of Waaagh on 6 :( )

But that would be cheating anyways... and I´ll never be part of that action (ask anyone I know)

That´s one weird D6 man...

yoyorobbo said...


Well, I'll be darned! You nailed it. I actually misrepresented my "mismarked" d6s in my post. When I read your comment I double-checked my dice at home, and whaddya know...mine are numbered as the average (regular) dice in this portion of the link you provided:

• average dice (2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5) (In some war games, units are identified as regulars or irregulars. Because regulars are more predictable, the strength of a regular unit is multiplied by an average die. For this reason, average dice are jocularly called regular dice.)

Thanks for the info. At least now I know, and "knowing is half the battle." ;^]

Maybe I should just keep them, since I don't have any other average dice in my collection. Hmmmnnn...

yoyorobbo said...

Additionaly, I just check several rule books in my pile of fun, which I thought might have the best chance of discussing these averaging dice.

I started first with what seemed like the most likely: the old 1975 Chainmail rules. I did skim through pretty fast, but I didn't notice anything relative.

I also began to check some other seemingly likely sources, including the OD&D LBBs, the Holmes Basic D&D book, and finally the Moldvay Basic book too. No luck.

But...if I would have just started with the 1st ed AD&D DMG (as you hinted to, Talysman) I would have found this entry on page 10:

"Other dice available are various forms of "averaging" dice. The most common of these has six faces which read: 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5. The median of the curve it generates is still 3.5, that of a normal d6, but the low and high numbers, 2 and 5, are only half as likely to appear as 3 or 4. There is a 33& 1/3% chance for either of the two latter numbers to be rolled, so the probabilities of absolutely average rolls are far greater."

So there's that. Now I really think I'm just gonna hang on to these dorky d6s. Weird, I know. But isn't that par for the course for a dice-aholic? Yep.

GameStation said...

It is indeed an averaging die. I work at, which bought GameScience from Lou Zocchi in April '09. The inventory we got was not marked very clearly and several of the opaque colors had averaging dice mixed in with the normal d6s! You are not the only one who has had a "special" set ;)

So - if anyone else runs into this, you can contact us directly and we will send out a replacement.
866-600-3684, ext 307 or Thanks!

yoyorobbo said...


Thanks for the info, and the offer to replace "special" dice. I'm kinda thinking now that I'll just hang onto these, as I don't have any averaging dice in my collection, and I have plenty of normal d6s, mostly precision edged.

I tend to use legit "casino" d6s whenever possible. Only issue I've had as of late is using them with a Dice Boot (smallish, clear plastic dice tower). Their increased size (the casino d6s, that is) sometimes causes issues when dropping them into the boot. If it's just one of them, then no problem, but combined with more dice in one shoot...sometimes a little clogging occurs...hehe.

Again, thanks for the feedback here. Very nice to see the personal touch from

Underminer said...

I remember using the averaging dice in the old Wargame Research Ancients rules. Barbarians rolled the normal d6. Regulars, such as Romans, used the average dice. Only place I've ever used them.