There's An Easy Way To Test If Your D20 Is Going To Kill You

Everyone has one. A 20-sided die that's seen more death than the scythe-wielding, hourglass-juggling scallywag himself. Is it just probability taking its sweet time to even things out, or is a more sinister spirit at work? Fortunately (for soon-to-be-slaughtered bards everywhere), there's a way to pre-empt your inevitable demise.

A fellow by the name of Daniel Fisher has come up with a way to test your dice for bias and it's very straightforward. Hot water, lots of salt and the suspect die. Drop the die into the water — making sure it floats — and then roll it while still in the solution.

If it prefers a particular number it'll almost always "roll" to show it, while a balanced die won't.

The reason for this interesting behaviour is that dice aren't all made equal. In fact, you could argue none of them are. In fact-fact, opaque dice are more likely to be dodgy, because imperfections and bad manufacturing can be hidden away.

Take this one and its chalky interior:

Obviously, you'd see this in a transparent die, so you're more likely to get a decent roller if you stick with those. Alternatively, you could grab a set of numerically-balanced dice.

How to check the balance of your D20 [YouTube]

Lead image: janet galore / Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0


    Yep everyone has one? I dont think i have ever picked up one in my entire life. Board Games are old and a dying form of entertainment.

    Stop spitting stupid shit please and thank you

      Why so aggressive? I don't have one either but it's awfully dumb to take that statement literally, and many of the readers of Kotaku do play board games.

      Board games are an old and dyig form of entertainment? Board game purchases have been rising by between 25% and 40% annually since 2010.

    You forgot to include the colon with your numerically-balanced die link.

    That's why I never play Dungeons and Dragons underwater

      If your DM isn't floating a precog tank, he's a grifter.

    Everyone has one? Try 5... that's not counting the 2 sets I keep to hand out to people who forgot their dice, don't have one or never bothered buying their own set.

      I probably have...30? 40 if I include Magic spindown counters.


    hmmmm. I have dice made from hematite. I may need something a little more viscous than salty water.

      Perfluorodecalin is twice as dense as water. Does that help?

        Or I could just use cheap olive oil.
        More reality though: I've noted randomness in my rolls. I'm just as likely to get a 1 as a 20 as any other number in between. There doesn't appear to be a heavy side for rolling. So, I think it just maybe overthinking.

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