Put Your d20 On Trial!

Ever wondered if your d20 was balanced correctly? Concerned that you have a die that always rolls low? A guy called Daniel Fisher has the solution for you - a trick that golfers apparently use to test their golf balls! All you need is your d20, and a glass of salt water (room temperature water with a load of salt in it - as much as needed to make the die float).


[video=youtube;VI3N4Qg-JZM]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VI3N4Qg-JZM[/video]
 

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delericho

Legend
How much salt do you actually need? I must have poured about 50g of salt (a little less than 2 oz.) and the dice just sunk.

That would depend on the exact composition of the die. And in some cases it may not be possible at all - there is, of course, a point at which you simply can't dissolve any more salt in the water. (If you use hot water, you'll get more salt to dissolve.)
 


mafioso420

First Post
I tried it on mine... Of my 4 D20s, One was perfectly balanced. One is weighted toward the number 5. The other two don't want to float. What's funny... the one that's balanced came in my starter box from WOTC. The rest are chessex.

Also I used a lot of salt, and waited a couple of hours for salt to fully saturate the water and stirred frequently.
 

Zansy

Explorer
Sorry, I pressed the post button prematurely. The dangers of mobiles and forums:blush:
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Zansy

Explorer
I gotta say that this test taught me a lot about my dice, and confirmed my intuition regarding my my luckier and "bad-luckier" dice (yes, I said it). I tried 7 dice, 5 opaque and 2 clear. Results:
Opaque 1 was leaning heavily towards 11, which, balanced or not, I'm used to getting lower rolls with it,
Opaque 2 was leaning towards the border of 20 and 8. While not truly random, I still rely on it for a similar purpose since my rolls with it are effectively uncertain anyway, sans the repetition of those numbers.
Opaque 3 was leaning heavily towards rolls of 4 it's adjacent numbers.
Opaque 4 was surprisingly balanced. I couldn't get it to lean on anything. :p yay!
Opaque 5 is a favorite, though - leaning towards 14. Yeah, call me what you want, I'm keeping this one :p.
Clear 1 was balanced, I'm very proud of it.
Clear 2 gave mixed results, leaning slightly towards multiple areas. I suspect the air bubbles inside having to do with it. I'll still continue using it, since the numbers are far enough apart so that even if it's cheating it's too pretty and not reliable enough to be a problem :3

I'm not a bad person, I use, and still use, all my dice interchangeably despite their imperfections, and like my lucky dice regardless of their tendencies. :)
 

Hunyock

First Post
I tested in salt and on the table - surprising results

Wow. Just, wow. I tested 27) d20's:
12 tested OK - no bias. These are a mix of new (<9 months old) and old (>25 years), various styles of dice. All the new ones are Chessex, who knows what the old brand were. Actually, one of the good ones was one that came with the D&D5e starter set, so yay. Also on the good list were the d20's from my old 70's/80's box sets, so triple yay!
6 tested bad - definite bias to one side, or an edge between two sides. All 6 of these are new (bought within the past 9 months), Chessex brand, "swirl" style dice, bought from the singles bin at my FLGS (bought as a single d20, and NOT part of a set).
9 were too heavy and couldn't be tested. These came from 2 camps: Either new Chessex "speckled" dice, or old (bought in the 80's/90's) dice (unsure what brand), some are single color solid, some are single color transparent.

For the salt water, I mixed salt into boiling water until no more salt would dissolve, then let it cool to room temperature to ensure as much salt was dissolved as possible.

OK, so the dice showed a bias floating in salt water, but "so what?" I wondered... so I picked one of the naughty dice and tested it by rolling it 101 times and recording the results. This particular die would always float up to the edge between the 4 and the 18 in salt water. The full results are below, but the 18 came up 12 times - showing a definite bias. So does it matter? Yeah, I think so. All the naughty dice have been corralled up, and I sure won't be buying any swirly style Chessex dice again. I was really surprised that the actual rolls matched up with the salt water test... now I'm suspicious of those dice that were too heavy to test... I hope their higher density would mean less bias from an inconsistent interior? Or the material is less susceptible to manufacturing defects?

Die Count
Roll of Roll
1 4
2 3
3 5
4 3
5 4
6 4
7 7
8 8
9 4
10 10
11 1
12 5
13 6
14 3
15 5
16 5
17 6
18 12
19 3
20 3
 


I think it will be interesting to try this out. One of my old dice seems to roll a lot of high and low numbers. Another one seems to lean more towards middle numbers, but feels like it rolls lower than average overall. So this is going to be a test of my gut feelings about those dice as much as about the dice themselves.
 

After having tried this and having far too many dice fail, does anyone know of any company that makes high-precision, high-quality dice for tabletop RPGs?

I've heard that casino dice are manufactured within 1/5000 of an inch. That level of quality sounds good. The other alternative is a dice-rolling app, but lacks the satisfying feel.

Or I've heard there's electronic dice that roll a random number when you, well, roll them?

What other alternatives are there for those of us who now regret a great deal of dice purchases?
 

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