How to PlayMechanical Design

What is a polyhedral dice set? A guide to the “math rocks” of D&D.

Hey, there! I’m your resident go-to when learning how to play various tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs), especially involving Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) 5E. Here, I explain what the heck a polyhedral dice set is and why you need them for your game. 

What Are Polyhedral Dice?

Put simply, Polyhedral Dice are a set of seven dice, including the d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20, and the percentile die. The percentile is just another d10, but with double digits. 

What does the d stand for? It stands for die, and the number after is how many faces that particular die has. You’ll more than likely recognize the d6 from many board and table games such as Yahtzee! The others may be newer to you, especially that strange little d4. 

Fun Fact: die = singular quantity, dice = plural quantity


It may seem really intimidating, I remember being super confused by this handful of dice when I first started playing D&D. Especially differentiating between the d12 and d20. (The most common mistake for new players is rolling the wrong die between these two during ability checks.) Rest assured, you’ll get the hang of it quickly. 

You May See A Formula That Looks Like 1d4 Or 8d6 Or Even 1d8+2d4. What In The World Do Those Mean?

If d means die, and the number AFTER the d correlates the the number of faces a die has, then what’s the number before the d? That is the quantity of dice you’ll use.

Physical Dice Versus Digital Dice?

Physical dice are delightful because they come in a variety of sizes and colors. When I first started playing D&D, I began collecting a new set for every character I created. (I have a lot of dice…) Now I simply collect a new set based on the vibes of the campaign I’m running. 

Physical dice can range from cheap beginner dice (like these) or premium handmade dice (like these). 


However, because I run most of my games virtually, I opt for virtual dice more often than not. There’s something exciting about a shared roll-room where the party can all see roll results in real-time. 

Recommended Digital Dice Rollers

    • Google Dice Roller – The quickest and easiest option. Simply type “dice roller” into Google.

    • DnD Beyond – You can roll digital dice on your character sheet. If you’re part of a group campaign, everyone can see each others’ rolls!

Ending Notes

At TTRPG University, I make it my mission to teach tabletop roleplaying in a fun and accessible way for all ages. It changed my life, and I believe it can make a positive difference for anyone. 


If you want to learn more, please drop us a line here. I love hearing from the community!


Pssst, you can also check out our course library covering topics from game mastering to publishing your work as a TTRPG writer! 

Written by
Beth the Bard (@ItsBethTheBard)

She/Her | Pro DM & Coach | ADHD | Best-Selling DnD Author of Feminist Curse of Strahd Book | D&D in a Castle DM | Creator of TTRPG University

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