Are Zocchi Dice Viable?

LS Loves 5 sided zocchi diceUpon going through my budget for the month I realized I had some spare money to spend on toys. After ordering a hardback copy of ACKS, as well as a kickass shirt, I decided to take care of something which was long overdue. I hunted down, and purchased, a set of Zocchi dice. For the uninitiated, Zocchi dice (named for their creator, Lou Zocchi) are role playing dice which are funnier than the funny dice we’re all used to. Every tabletop gamer quickly becomes well acquainted with the standard set: d4, d6, d8, d10/d%, d12, and d20. A full set of Zocchi dice includes a d3, d5, d7, d14, d16, and a d24. Mine arrived a few days ago*, and I’m rather in love with them. I think my girlfriend is getting really frustrated by the incessant clattering of my d5, as I roll it over and over again to marvel over the way it consistently lands on its edge. It doesn’t look like it should, and yet it does!

Design for the D5

Design spec for a 5 sided die

Long time readers may recall that I have something of an obsession with randomization, so gaining access to different ranges of numbers I can randomize is exciting. I will admit that zocchi dice lack some of the beauty inherent in regular polyhedrons, but in my opinion, they make up for that lack of inherent beauty by being examples of the beauty which is human ingenuity. Seriously, that d5, mang. It mystifies and fascinates me. I also have a more utilitarian need for the dice, since Dungeon Crawl Classic (which I received as a birthday gift) utilizes a full range of Zocchi dice, as well as a d30 (which I also purchased). Furthermore, while fiddling with the mechanics of the RPG system I’ve been working on, I’ve concluded that part of the game will work best if a d24 is used.

I think the last week’s worth of posts have referenced that project. I guess it’s pretty easy to tell what has inspired me to write recently. But after all of this talk, I’m going to look like a real dick if I’m not able to deliver, wont I?

The decision to include a d24 in my game has given me pause. While I have no delusions of grandeur about my project, I do hope I’ll be able to share it someday and get feedback from others. As it stands, this will be my first full-fledged attempt at game design. It’s hard enough to get people to pay attention to a sourcebook written by an untested designer. If people need to buy a new die to play the game, will they even bother? I wonder how Gygax and Arneson felt when they created a game which required a 20 sided die way back in the ’70s.

The relative success of DCC RPG would seem to imply that there is a market for games using non-standard dice. After all, the designers of DCC were able to get a wide release for not only one hard cover sourcebook, but a special edition as well. Given that, I have no doubt that it’ll be easier to release a game using Zocchi dice now than it would have been before. But I still wonder if I can get away with putting such a game out there, without it being completely ignored. It doesn’t help that a complete set of these dice is a pain in the ass to find.

I put it to you, readers: would you buy Zocchi dice if a game you were interested in required them? If you aren’t willing to buy the dice, would you be willing to play the game using standard dice to model the appropriate ranges? You could always replace a d24 with a d12 and flipping a coin. (heads is normal, tails add 12 to the result).

*My set, oddly, is missing the 7-sided die. Further research indicates that Game Science (Zocchi’s company) does not produce d7s using the same style or materials that they use to produce their other dice. I couldn’t figure out why this is, however, so if anyone has information I’d love to know!

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6 thoughts on “Are Zocchi Dice Viable?”

  1. No. Game developers focus on toolsets that players already have. This is why we have 99% of games made for the Windows platform, and this is why rpgs are built around dice that people already own. 1 player buying Zucchi is just unreal where you have 4-6 players around a table. Way too much of a hassle.

    You can do just about anything with the dice most rpg players already own. Look at 6 sided fudge dice. Also, loko at the Earthdawn system if you wish a mathematically scaling system. Actual mathematicians made that one.

  2. It’s damn annoying to need these. I don’t have and plan to use the next dice rerolling if necessary if I play DCC. But the relative unavailability and the high cost make it a lesser choice. If, in the future Zocchi dice are ubiquitous in gamestores or the next generation comes to prefer dice-rolling apps to the real thing, then maybe it works. I own a ridiculous number of dice (I have a glow in the dark D14 with the days of the week & numbers on it), but I still think in terms of whether a pair of six siders will do what I need a system to do before I go poly.

  3. I think I’d likely not buy the dice JUST to try an unproven game. I’d probably fake it using digital alternatives or other combinations of dice to see if the game was good enough to be worth spending the money. Of course, this wouldn’t apply to me, as I have every intent of actually buying these dice just because they’re kind of awesome. I love dice!

    Upon reading the other comments here, it seems you were correct to wonder if your plan was feasible or not. Given this small sample size, I’d say no, but don’t let that hold you back. If your game looks good enough, players will do what they have to to play it properly.

  4. If the game appeared interesting, of course I’d by the dice. We’re gamers after all, weird dice is what we do. The talk of toolsets that people already have is bunk, anyone looking to get into D&D or any of its clones has to go out and buy a set of dice, so this is really no different. That most of us already have d20s and 12s and 10s is a figment of having all played a particular game or one of its offspring / clones.

  5. In the fallen world of “adult life” I game only online, using Roll20. So I can roll any-sided dice I need to via the built-in dice-roller program (probably with better randomization than I’d get with non-uniform Zocchi dice), and it wouldn’t be an obstacle.