Who needs a One Hundred and Twenty Sided Die? You.

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A team of mathematicians and dice makers (those groups seem to know each other) have created and are  now selling a d120 for your gaming amusement, at the low low price of $12. The d100 has been kicked off its throne, overcome by a mathematically pure competitor fresh from the plastic molds. Why do you need this massive specimen of randomness? This is Geek & Sundry, we don’t actually need to ask that kind of question. It’s awesome and that’s all we need to know.

The die is technically called a disdyakis triacontahedron. It’s a polyhedron consisting of 120 equal sized surfaces. There are 12 easily identifiable points, around which 10 right triangle faces are arrayed. The shape itself has been known for some time, the trick was to arrange the numbers on its faces so that it’s fair. The Dice Lab claims to have done it, with number crunching help from mathematician Robert Bosch, a professor at Oberlin College.

The partnering with Bosch produced a die with opposite faces always adding to 121, and each grouping of ten triangles averaging out to the correct average outcome of 60.5. This required months of integer programming, a brute force mathematical technique for trying out arrangements, but the product of this labor can be celebrated by gamers everywhere. To those who live and die by the dice, fairness on the roll is as important as readable character sheets and hex maps.

While some may scoff at such a “useless” die, the gaming world has a number of seemingly silly dice, we only keep around for display purposes. The d100 is nearly unreadable and easily replaceable with a pair of d10’s. The d30 is a chunky monstrosity, but if you take a gander at a clear one they really capture light inside them in interesting ways. There are a number of board games which include the use of 30-siders and obviously percentile tables are in abundance on the pages of RPGs. There will always be small corners of the gaming world where we will do our darnedest to develop uses for obscure dice.

With that in mind, here’s a simple game we’ve invented for using the d120:

Laser Swords

It’s a whole long time ago in a star system a very long distance away. You and your opponent(s) face off with swords made of energy, each glowing with potential. This game is a duel between two or more foes.  Last fighter standing wins.

Set Up: Each player starts with 100 Hit Points  (feel free to use a d100 as a counter for this if you have one), and a d120 (if you don’t have one, use a random number roller).  The color of your d120 is the color of your Laser Sword.

Hit Points: Once you’re reduced to zero or fewer Hit Points, you’re knocked out of the game.

Goal: The last player standing wins the game.

How to Play: The game is divided into rounds, just like combat in most roleplaying games. At the start of each round, all players still in the game roll their d120. Then, in numerical order starting with the player who rolled lowest, each character decides to either subtract their roll from the Hit Points of an opponent of their choice, or heal that many Hit Points (to a maximum of 100). Once all of the players have had a chance to decide to hit or heal, and just who to hit, the round ends.

Roleplay: It’s important that each player describe what they do to accomplish their hit or heal.  They might do a back flip and then channel telekinesis to push a foe over a ledge for an attack. They might leap to a superior position and gloat for a heal. A player who refuses to narrate their action forfeits their turn.

There you go. Now these dice have a reason to exist. Can you think of any other games you think could use all these glorious sides? Let us know in the comment section below.

Featured Image Credit: The Dice Lab

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