Chessex News, Part 4: The Company

At Spiel in October, Michael Schäffer from the DMC sat down with Donald Reents from Chessex. The interview lasted 2 1/2 hours, and we’ll be releasing the information in parts. Part 1: Borealis, Part 2: Test Sets , and Part 3: Speckled Dice were already published.  This is the fourth and final part:  The Company.

One of the most common questions that we see about Chessex in the DMC is “what’s going on with their website?”  Chessex is one of the most popular brands of dice and perhaps the most well known, but the website is outdated and difficult to navigate.  So why is that the case?

Donald Reents has the surprising answer:

“At the moment, the worst thing that could happen would be for us to have a great webpage, great social media presence, and suddenly increase sales by 20%”

One of the reasons Chessex is so well known is that in addition to being a manufacturer and seller of dice, they also supply gaming stores around the world.  They simply don’t have the capacity to increase sales right now.  Donald did mention that he’d like to eventually have a website with an archived section so that people could still see discontinued sets, but that they simply don’t have the staff to dedicate to updating the site.

Regarding social media, the answer is largely the same.  Donald explained that he did manage to get some promotional items like pens and tapestries, but the reason they don’t have more social media presence is the same reason for the outdated website: a combination of a lack of time to dedicate to it and a lack of supply to meet any increased demand that could come from that.

So what does Chessex think of the DMC, and swarms of peculiar questions about dice in particular?

“I view the DMC as our fans, and everybody likes fans!…”I really appreciate that there’s other people who agree with me on that, who like what we’ve produced.  Thank you for the recognition.”

Is Donald a collector, too?  He’s denies having any sort of personal fascination with dice, but adds that “dice hate me,” a statement all too relatable to those of us who use them in RPGs and end up cursing the rolls of that which we hold so precious to us.

He compared dice collecting while working at Chessex to eating ice cream or chocolate when making ice cream or chocolate for a living.  Since he’s around it all the time, he doesn’t really have a collection.  But he did mention having “some Vortex dice, which look particularly cool.”  Perhaps there’s a window-admiring DMC nerd within him after all!  When asked if he had a white whale, he said he didn’t really have a set he was searching for, but he did mention that they used to keep a dice board with one die from each set glued onto it for reference, but that it hadn’t been updated since nebula circa 2002.  If your reaction to that is “oh, man…I’d love to see that and cry over what precious OOP dice are glued on….” ….me too, me too.

So what is he into if not dice?  Donald mentioned being into the chess world and wheat beer with a chuckle.  But he came back to dice, pointing out that though he doesn’t exactly have a dice fascination, he is interested in producing fascinating colors.

So how does Chessex feel about the production of dice using Chessex’s molds or those who base their colors off of Chessex’s existing or out of production lines?

The short answer is that Donald doesn’t really have time to worry about it, so it isn’t a big deal.  He says that D&G produced their own borealis line, and that he doesn’t mind.  He added that the molds were originally created by Jorgen, a valued employee of the factory who recently passed away.  Chessex asked permission to use them.  Donald points out that he doesn’t mind, especially for personal use, but that it can be confusing in the market.  He is annoyed about large scale Chinese factories using molds close to their shape, but that there’s really nothing that can be done about it.  Making their own, new molds isn’t something on Chessex’s agenda.  They are staying focused on current production plans.

Want to read more about the expanding market or what Chessex thinks about layered dice?  Read the complete interview yourself!  The interview contains content from Chessex News Part 1-4 as well as unreleased content: DMC Chessex interview

Thanks again to Michael for conducting the interview, Donald Reents for participating and sharing Chessex news, and Paulina for transcribing the interview!

Image Credit:  Steven Kahn, Chessex Tapestry

Advertisements

Chessex News, Part 3: Speckled Dice

At Spiel in October, Michael Schäffer from the DMC sat down with Donald Reents from Chessex. The interview lasted 2 1/2 hours, and we’ll be releasing the information in parts. Part 1: Borealis and Part 2: Test Sets were already published. This is Part 3: Speckled Dice!

whatsapp-image-2018-12-21-at-4.41.14-pm.jpeg

Background.  Sadly, the Chessex family suffered a loss in 2018: Jørgen, the owner of the Chessex speckled factory, passed away. He contributed many named sets in the speckled line and created color combinations for the pounds of dice. He is succeeded by his son, Kasper, who has taken over the speckled line and is eager to start creating new speckled sets.

New Speckled.  Donald confirmed that creating new speckled colors is something he wants to do.  There haven’t been new speckled colors since 2004.  One possible reason why is that the materials come straight from the speckled factory, and their pigments are commonly used in things like toilet seats and switch plates, which aren’t typically in “interesting” colors.  But they still plan on experimenting with new speckled combinations in 2019.  They thought about doing Funfetti, but couldn’t get them ready in time for Spiel.   They made test colors for speckled, but only a couple of them turned out alright.  But after Spiel and Lucca (conventions), Donald said that he’d be visiting the speckled factory and mixing new colors.

Jumbo.  One DMCer asked about jumbo sets.  Chessex explained that the problem is that jumbo dice become cost prohibitive.  The reason jumbo dice like 34mm d20s are only in speckled and opaque are because the cost increase for the signature colors causes such a higher price point that Donald doubts he’ll be able to sell them at that price.  However, he did state that a speckled jumbo line is a possibility, but it’s all dependent upon cost.

Release.  Though Chessex is planning new speckled dice, it sounds like they’d be prototyped after the test colors release, and that release will include only “signature” designs.  However, speckled could potentially be in a release after that along with translucent and/or opaque colors.  Though Chessex wants to keep speckled separate from signature designs, they wouldn’t release speckled by themselves.

Random Facts:  Donald pointed out that speckled dice like lotus, fire, and earth look drastically different from one decade to the next.  This difference in consistency is similar to the changes in the scarab lines from batch to batch – they can differ in the exact mixing of the colors.  Also, one DMCer brought up color-coded dice sets where each die is a different color.  Donald said that Chessex tried that with a speckled Kaleidoscope set (25399), but the set didn’t sell.  Chessex thought it would do well since people playing D&D would more quickly be able to identify the dice, but it just didn’t do well in sales.

whatsapp-image-2018-12-21-at-4.37.16-pm-e1546900299623.jpeg

And that sums up Chessex’s thoughts on the speckled line!  We hope you’ve enjoyed this article series.  Stay tuned for the final part, where we summarize all other content and provide the complete interview transcript.

Photo Credits:
Featured Image – Michael Schäffer
Picture 1 – Paulina Drozdowska
Picture 2 – Michael Schäffer

Dice Hoarding: Accumulating Treasure

Why We Collect Dice

When I tell people I collect dice, they usually don‘t understand.  I’ve been speculating about why we collect dice – what are our reasons? I’ve identified some factors that compel people to collect. This is not a comprehensive list, but it’s a glimpse into why we acquire so many dice.

Gotta Catch ‘em All

When I first began collecting dice, I thought “hey, I can just get them all.” I had this overwhelming Pokemon need to complete sets of different styles. It started with frosted and progressed from there. I’ve since backed way off because there are so many styles and brands, and the amount of dice companies producing unique products have increased even since I’ve joined the DMC. It’s much more realistic to focus on a single brand or even style. And it’s cheaper, if you’re going the Chessex route, to collect the in-print sets of a style. Even the most hardcore collectors in the group (Kevin Cook, Michael Schaffer) can’t get every single die ever made. Between casino dice, promotional d6s, polyhedral sets, board game dice, expensive artisan dice, and more… it’s just too overwhelming. But DMCers get the urge in us to finish collections, check item numbers off a list, and get all the dicey goodness they can.

Variety/Appearance

People are dynamic. We might pick favorite colors, styles, or types of dice, but many of us own a wide variety.  DMC members have different tastes and can collect on a spectrum of colors, styles, and shapes. That’s why you’ll see someone ask something like “I don’t own any purple dice – what do you recommend?” My first set I bought for myself was Chessex opaque grey. Grey is my favorite color, but I still buy sparkly dice, swirly dice, bright pink dice, etc. You know those gamers who have a single set of polyhedral and that’s it? They might have a set that fits them, but they can’t change sets based on mood.

Multiple Characters

People also collect dice for different characters.  For example, I’m a dungeon master in D&D. I might play with my black/red dice if my players are fighting demons. I could bring out teal Borealis for an underwater adventure. When I’m a player, I have 3-4 sets I’ll use for my wizard (and only my wizard); I use my Q-workshop dragons only for my dragon-slayer paladin. So we get an array of dice to represent out tastes, personalities, or character’s personalities.

We like Choosing Which We Are

Though individual dice collectors are more diverse than a single colorway or style, we still like identifying with a certain element or category. I’m in this Harry Potter house. I’m in that Game of Thrones house. I’d be this power ranger. I’m this character in Star Trek. We like to select something that represents us whether it’s a zodiac sign, Meyers Briggs test, or – that’s right – DICE! When the new Chessex test sets came out in 2018, I didn‘t want them all. I saw Marble Oxi-Copper and said “that one is me.” Even when I’m culling my collection, I said the frosted smoke and clear were the most “me.” So, wait… wouldn’t that be the opposite of collecting – just choosing one? Nope! Because I own several sets of Gamescience that are “me.” And maybe I pick an entire Chessex style that is “me.”

Happiness/Mental Health

This is more serious of a subject, but dice bring many of us happiness and stability. It’s a distraction to get online and look at dice pictures, to browse shops for dice, to ink dice, to sort dice, etc. Sometimes it’s a welcome distraction from serious mental health problems, and sometimes it’s a distraction from daily stress in life.  At a time when people plug into social media 24/7 and news can be depressing, it’s important to spend some of your plugged-in time with something pleasant. That’s why the DMC is so important – no religion, no politics, no tragedy – just a comforting space we try to keep drama free. Some DMCers have made substantial connections to other collectors. There are meet-ups at cons, and even friending other members can gain you lifelong friends.

Conclusion

Embrace the hobby! While keeping dice purchases reasonable and on-budget is important, it’s also important to keep yourself happy. Connecting with others in the DMC community is rewarding. So whether you‘re scratching the need for completion, considering color styles, or distracting yourself from everyday life, dice hoarding can be therapeutic! Do you collect for a different reason? Let us know in the comments!

photo credit: Michael Schäffer

Dice Market Advice

As the DMC has grown, trading and buying/selling have become a bigger part of the group.  We keep buying and selling in the Market only, but trades are welcome on the main DMC group.  We’re happy that members can connect and exchange dice to find the pieces they’re looking for.  But we also want members to feel comfortable making the transaction, especially if they’re less familiar with how to trade or buy and sell online.  This blog will help mention some ways to safeguard yourself and others in a transaction.

They’re Your Dice

Your dice are your own.  The number one most important thing is to not trade dice because you feel pressured to make the exchange.  Just because you might be dealing with someone who “knows more” about dice or has been in the group longer does not mean you have to follow what they suggest or what they say is fair.  

IMPORTANT:  No DMC member should ever message you and suggest that you’re selling for too high a price, or that you’re a bad person for not making a trade.  If you ever receive such a message, please let the DiceManiacsClub – Fanpage know.  Your dice are your own, and no one should be pressuring others to trade or sell.

Ask The Group!

Screen Shot 2018-09-18 at 7.24.07 PM

Do you have dice that you’re not sure what they are?  Or is someone telling you they’re not valuable, but you think they might be?  If you’re curious about general value or identification, the DMC group is more than happy to help.  There are some people who have become masters at dice identification!  And if you explain a trade you’re considering, we can usually chime in and say if it’s fair.  We might not always be able to give an exact value – and it may differ from person to person, but the DMC can help you know if it’s a fair deal.

Use PayPal or Another Trusted Service

paypal-hero-1f3e4b39

PayPal (and some similar online payment services) have protections built in.  If you buy something from someone, PayPal will reimburse you if you never receive the item.  To receive this protection, you have to pay via “goods and services.”  If you are close enough with the member, you CAN pay “friends and family” if you trust them.  However, you should never feel pressured to pay for dice using anything but goods and services.  Frankly, if someone insisted that I paid “friends and family,” I would become highly suspicious and immediately state that I’m not interested. 

Is PayPal 100% protective?  No.  If the buyer sends something incorrect, I’ve seen people not be reimbursed because there was tracking and a package arrived.  To help ensure that’s not a problem, be clear in the “note” what you’re buying (that might help if there’s an issue).  But never ever send cash or give credit card info.

Check The Feedback!

We have a feedback thread in the market to provide some insight on who are reliable traders.  This is especially important when trading because you are essentially crossing your fingers and hoping that the other person comes through.  To safeguard yourself, find someone who is reliable to trade with.  If the person isn’t mentioned in the comments but has completed successful trades, you can always ask for “references” in the comments.  Some people who have traded might vouch for the person!

Conclusion

th-2

Keeping these tips in mind well help safeguard you in trading and buying/selling dice.  Keeping in mind that your dice are your own, that the group can help, that feedback is available, and that PayPal can help protect you can go a long way from preventing you from being taken advantage of.  But keep in mind that this is not a common occurrence.  If you check the feedback thread pinned at the top of the market, you’ll see that you’re in a group with reliable dice maniacs.  But since anyone can buy and sell in the marketplace, we want to make sure that you have ways to feel comfortable about exchanging dice with other DMCers.

September Dice Kickstarters

September has been a busy month for Kickstarter campaigns so far.  With the Upstart line from Legendary pants having come and gone and some notable projects from Dice Envy, we still have some ongoing treasures out there to find in crowdfunding land.  Keep in mind that this is in no way a review or a comprehensive account of dicey goodness.  This is merely a test-run for an article highlighting the Kickstarter dice projects that are currently popular – or should be.  So if you enjoy this article, please let us know that you did so we’re aware that there’s interest in this sort of writing.

Now, without further ado . . . 

Top Drawer Dice (Q-Workshop)

Screen Shot 2018-09-11 at 7.03.07 AM

Q-Workshop has come to Kickstarter with some new designs in need of funding.  Among the designs are Wizard, Arcade, Halloween, Dragon Slayer, and Bloodsucker.  There are stretch goals unlocking different color options for each set, bags for the sets, and play mats.  There were steampunk dice rewards for day 1 backers, the complete set of which is now being offered as an add-on.  However, as of writing this post, there are only a couple of days left on this Kickstarter.  Please jump on fast if you’re interested in backing.

Diffusion Dice (Role4Initiative)

Screen Shot 2018-09-11 at 6.55.04 AM

Diffusion Dice is a nebula-style translucent clear die with a drop of color distributed (or diffused) throughout.  The campaign started off with 8 based colors including Sea Foam, Elven Spirits, Storm Front, Wraith, Majesty, Fool’s Gold, Cherry Blossom, and Bloodstone.  There are stretch goals to go beyond that, some of which have already been unlocked.  In addition to dice and several options for dice add-ons, the campaign is offering T-Shirts (both r4i and Dice Maniacs Club) as well as dice boxes and towers from Adventure Guild, which also include engraving options with the r4i logo and the DMC logo.

Reality Shard, Supernova, & Neutron RPG Dice Sets (Gate Keeper Games)

41439664_1835592996495768_7554788263244857344_o

Gate Keeper Games has unleashed a slew of new styles with Reality Shards, a five layer product based on previous halfsies’ color schemes.  The style follows a layered A-B-C-B-A pattern and features the GKG logo as the 20 on the d20.  Supernova die, on the other hand, are halfsies with a clear translucent stripe down the middle.  When the halfsies go “supernova,” they create a Neutron dice set for each color in the halfsies.  Neutron is a translucent clear with a stripe of color – sort of like a geometrically interesting take on the nebula style.  Finally, Inminity are 12mm pipped versions of the neutron and reality shard dice.  As if that wasn’t enough new terminology and dice to drool over, there’s also a lot of swag like pins, stickers, and Thinking Monk dice boxes.  At funding, the project unlocked two styles – Truth and Thought.  There are many more stretch goals for additional colors, almost all of which are styled after one of the first or second generation halfsies dice.  There are also a few new color combinations such as black/yellow and black/purple, coming soon to the halfsies line.

Dice Coins: 2018 2nd Release (J.M. Ward)

Screen Shot 2018-09-11 at 7.00.14 AM

Dice Coins is a popular dice project that has been on Kickstarter multiple times previously with different styles and mintings.  The company produces metal coins that spin and can be used as dice.  There is an outer ring with numbers on each coin. When the user stops the spinning dice coin with a finger, the number to the left of the finger is the result.  The dice coins come in a variety of d20s, and new options are unlocking periodically for d4-d12.  There are also two specialty coins, a d3 cerebus and an alphabet book coin.

Dragon Egg Gift Candles w/Metal D20s Inside! (Lunar Wolf Treats)

dcc51e535715483beb43067372b0c005_original

Lunar Wolf Treats launched a KS for dragon egg candles that burn to reveal d20 metal dice of your choosing.  Candles are scented but can be unscented upon request. Each candle matches up to a d20 that compliments its style, and rewards can get you a single, pair, or multiple dragon egg candles.  There’s a pledge level for a set of seven candles that reveal a complete metal RPG set.  Stretch goals include bonus “themes” of candle/dice pairings, but the 5k stretch goal (already unlocked) opened up gift box add-ons.

Oblit-O-Tron D6 Dice – Explore the Stars! (Black Oak Workshop)

40376995_1778660442232212_3686993681451057152_o

Black Oak Workshop has returned to KS with a set of retro laser gun d6’s.  The same art is on each face, accompanied by a number.  Black is currently the only unlocked, but the project is slowly approaching the green variety stretch goal.  The dice are sparkly, and a bag and RPG set are later stretch goals in addition to more color options.  Black Oak Workshop have previously brought Light Speed dice, Bullseye dice, and the asian Dragon set of red polyhedrals, just to name a few.

Mad Dice aka Mood Dice (Trilania)

Screen Shot 2018-09-11 at 7.05.13 AM

Trilania/Mad Designs has released a color changing mood dice that functions like a mood ring in color changing.  The dice come in a 7-piece standard polyhedral set, with or without a standing bag, and as a super extended set of 19.  The project also offers add-ons for individual dice in any of the standard RPG polys.  The delivery is a bit far off at September 2019, but is due to hand painting.  The dice themselves are darker colored but obviously shift depending on temperature.

Retro Dice: D-PAD D6 – Control your destiny! (Dirty Vortex)

17caa5e206eb33ff0e2b15fb584c5ad2_original

Currently in need of more backers to fund, the Retro Game D-Pad dice KS is a non-numbered set of dice with symbols from old school gaming controller.  The sets come in grey, black, and pink/blue.  The sides include the select, start, direction pad, and gaming buttons like A, B, X, Y.  The project previously was hoping to unlock an accompanying RPG called Bulletproof Heroes, but changed direction and decided to offer it outright as a PDF to all backers.

Big 20 (Big 20)

f009036ec6168050bbb01f8e8aabaf0b_original

The Big 20 is a magic eight ball crossed with a dungeon master and a 90’s cell phone.  Or at least, that’s the description on the campaign page!  The Big 20 provides randomized results and can mimic any dice in a standard RPG set.  The project has big potential for visibility in gaming, but the funding goal is around 70k.  The Big 20 itself isn’t offered until the $60 pledge level, but there are also more affordable options with swag like drink cozies and enamel pins.

Wrap Up

Those are some of the more popular dice projects.  We plan to only cover those projects that are quite popular or where the creator has reached out to the DMC.  If you wish to get your project here, please contact the Dice Maniacs Club – Fanpage.  Note that these are unpaid write-ups and are not reviews of the products, but rather an overview of what’s happening in dice crowdfunding!

Dice Shipping Tips and Tricks

Before I joined the DMC, I barely ever shipped anything.  But after a few weeks in the DMC, I started doing trades and eventually some sales in the Dice Market group.  Since then, I’ve learned a lot about shipping dice.  I’m sure there’s more out there to learn, but here are some useful tips and advice for shipping dice out.

Keeping Costs Down

A great way to save costs is to keep dice in bubble mailers.  A common reason to use a smaller box instead of a mailer is to ship the cubes that dice like Chessex, Halfsies, and some Koplow come in.  If you’re doing a trade or just swapping with someone who has some extra boxes, you might ask to just send the dice and inserts (labels) without the box.  For example, I don’t keep my dice in boxes, so I’m fine with people shipping dice to me not in packaging.  Boxes make a difference in shipping costs due to weight, and they can often crack in shipping.

Another easy way to keep costs down when shipping is to hit up the dollar store – not Dollar General, but stores like the Dollar Tree where items are literally a dollar.  I tend to buy bubble mailers from there because they have packs of two for a dollar.  These cheap mailers are usually just a bit more padded than a regular envelope, but there are also usually bubble mailers (the ones here are usually bright red) for a dollar that are a little more secure. 

Tape can also be purchased from a dollar tree type store, but I caution you there.  I actually prefer to spend the money on a bit nicer packing tape just because I’m willing to spend a little more to avoid swearing at the tape as it peels off in thin fringes.  However, if you’re careful and patient, you can save some money buying tape at a dollar store, too.

Convenience

My post office is about 20 minutes from my house.  To avoid the drive when I don’t need to leave, I print out labels from PayPal.  It’s really not hard!  The only thing is that you’ll have to estimate weight if you don’t have a shipping scale.   If you ship often, it may be worth getting a shipping scale to get the weight exact.   MAKE SURE you 1) set it to first class, and 2) set the DATE to the appropriate day it’s getting picked up.  If you print it out at 11 o’clock at night, for example, make sure you change the date to the NEXT day.

Important:  You can print a shipping label from PayPal even if you didn’t use eBay and even if the recipient didn’t pay goods and services.  Just go to https://www.paypal.com/shiplabel/create/  

Traveling Dice Boxes and Other Flat Rate Shipments

If you’re mailing a lot of dice, flat rate boxes are an option.  I recommend putting the dice in a box and just having the address handy when you go to the post office.  Ask them to let you know how much it would be to mail in a regular box, and they’ll usually weigh it and give you a price.  That way you can opt for a flat rate box if it’s cheaper to flat rate box the shipment.  Sometimes it isn’t cheaper to do it that way.  But – handy tip – you can request that the post office drops off some flat rate boxes for free (usually in sets of 10).  It’s nice to have extras around sometimes!

Ship Securely!  

Protecting dice is key.  1) Do not ship dice loosely just in the mailer.  Put them in a zip bag, drawstring bag, or wrap them in plastic.  2) Consider wrapping everything in a plastic bag, especially if you’re shipping several sets.  These steps are to prevent dice from falling out if there’s damage to the box or mailer.  3) Take a picture of everything you’re sending.  4) Take a picture of the receipt from the post office.  These steps are in case something gets lost.

International Shipping

International shipping is awfully expensive. If you’re mailing even a few dice from the States to a European country, for example, it’s still going to run I’d guess between $12-15.  That’s why it’s worthwhile to trade in large bunches if sending overseas.  However, you can put a few d6s in a regular envelope.  Note that it’s high risk to do that.  They can get damaged easier, and you never know if they’re going to arrive safely or if they’ll have extra postage due upon arrival.  Do this at your own risk.

Side note about Australia:  Australia is the most expensive place I’ve ever shipped dice to.  So think critically before trading or selling with an Australian location.  And know that if someone quotes you a large price to ship to or from Australia – it’s not their fault.  It really is that high.  Yes, even for Kickstarters.  Yes, even for Australian-friendly KSes.  I’m sure there are some similar expensive locations in Eastern Europe and Asia.  Just be aware that even a small bubble mailer can cost upwards of $20.

Have some additional shipping tips?  Please share in the comments!

Gamescience Numbers Part 2: Paint Markers

Not to be overlooked, the first step of coloring in any Gamescience or precision edge numbered dice is to choose a color.  I find that asking for suggestions in the DMC can lead to ideas that never crossed my mind.  But then, every once in a while I get a set that inspires me enough, and no suggestions are required.  So for my discussion on inking Gamescience, I’ll be showing some examples of inking an orange set with a couple of stray green d20s.

Cleaning the Dice

I have a confession to make.  I don’t clean my dice before I ink them.  I know it’s a common practice in painting miniatures as well as dice inking.  But the only time I’ve cleaned dice before inking them was with a visibly dirty old bunch of Windmill dice.  Otherwise, I’ve never bothered.  So while some dice-inking veterans would start with this step, know that it isn’t a dire requirement.  It honestly has to do with your own preference and how clean the dice are to begin with.  If you do decide to ink them, the preferred method seems to be lukewarm water and dish soap then setting them out to dry.

Tools of the Inking Trade

One of the most common questions in the DMC are “what do you ink dice with?”  As you may have seen in Part 1 of this series, even crayons will work.  So I encourage anyone wondering that question to instead think “what do I WANT to ink them with?  When I ink Gamescience, Windmills, or Diamond Dice (or if I had Armory), I use Uni-Posca paint markers with an extra fine tip.  I like how they feel when they ink the dice.  However, I used to use Sharpie paint markers with an ultra fine tip, and they’re very similar.  I have had great success using regular Sharpie permanent markers (not paint) on acrylic dice, but I personally prefer paint markers for precision edge.

What else can be used?  Some DMC members have used gel pens, regular pens, regular markers, and jars of acrylic paint.  My recommendation is to start with something you already own.  If you don’t have anything available or wish to move onto something else, I recommend finding a craft store with a simple color of sharpie paint marker like gold, silver, white, or black – something you might use often.  Try them out.  But if you already have gel pens or something felt tip – try it out.  Just try it on dice that you’re not attached to – something that can be messed up, just in case.

Removing Ink

To clean up after myself, I use 90% rubbing alcohol and paper towels when using paint markers.  But that’s with my own ink.  I’ve never had to remove ink from a polymer set.  For that, I’d recommend trying rubbing alcohol first with either a toothpick or q-tip.  ALWAYS test any chemical solution on a die you aren’t attached to.  Some DMCers have used acetone or nail polish remover, but with mixed results.  

Technique

It’s honestly hard to explain how to ink dice.  For one, it’s something you have to do to understand.  For another, there’s no widespread consensus.  I, personally, slop my paint marker on the numbers without concern or care.  I especially don’t try to be “pretty” with d20s because the numbers are smaller, and there’s no sense in fussing over it when it wipes away so cleanly.  However, there are some exceptions.  

First, d4’s – they’re sometimes a little more shallow, making it easier to wipe off paint.  With practice, it’ll be easier to clean up without wiping the ink out, but when starting out, being careful on the d4 will save you some headaches.  Second, d24’s – they’re the absolute worst to ink.  If you’re focusing on regular polyhedral dice, then you don’t have to worry about this at all.  But if you have Zocchi sets of Gamescience, be very careful with the d24.  It’s the most difficult die to clean up after.  Sometimes it’s worthwhile to very carefully ink the numbers and not clean up at all.  So inking the d24 is more of a skill.  Finally, the d3 can be a bit of a challenge.  The numbers are fine – very easy to ink.  But the letters (R, P, S for rock, paper, and scissors) are less deep.  This takes some practice, and I’d rate it more difficult than the d4 but not as difficult as the d24.  Again, if you’re working with standard polyhedral, it’s not a concern.

So, how do you actually do it?  I, personally, slop the ink on.  It doesn’t have to be perfect at all because it’s easy to clean up: 

I then put some rubbing alcohol on a piece of paper towel.  I try to make sure it isn’t soaking, but I make sure there’s a decent amount.  When I wipe off the number face, I sort of visualize just wiping off the surface.  It’s not about pressing down, or you’ll get the alcohol into the groove, which isn’t what you’re trying to do.  I just wipe away from myself, flat, as though I’m wiping just the surface and nothing else.  If you do wipe a little too much off, that’s okay.  You can do touch-ups after the ink dries a little.

It takes some practice, and the paper towel can’t be drenched.  Also, you can only do it so much before you need another paper towel piece, especially if you’re working with a bright or metallic color, and especially if you’re not being careful with the inking (like I’m not).  I can do a die with a little piece of paper towel, maybe two.  But I usually get a new scrap of paper towel after a d20 or anything really messy.

Conclusion

There you have it!  This is by no means a comprehensive or advanced look at dice inking, but it’s a thorough overview with some advice for people new to dice inking.  Remember if you’re interested in using crayon on the number to check out Part 1 of this article:  Gamescience Numbers Part 1: Crayons.  Though part 2 completes this pair of articles, I’m a bit of a Gamescience fangirl, so there will certainly be more precision-edged dice articles to come.