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Would you buy this $200 set of electronic dice?

New Dungeons & Dragons dice should hit the market by this time next year

A black die with rainbow LED numbers in front of a blue background. Image: Systemic Games
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

The experience of playing Dungeons & Dragons could be getting an upgrade early next year with a brand new kind of die. Pixels Dice claim to be the first mass-market RPG dice fully integrated with a wireless radio. That means they can talk to your Bluetooth-enabled devices in real time, and will even be compatible with virtual tabletops like Roll20 and toolsets like D&D Beyond. Full sets with seven dice will start at $199.

Creators Systemic Games have been working on these dice for some time now, making the rounds on the convention circuit and even turning some heads at Gen Con — the nation’s largest tabletop gaming convention.

The technology itself includes a rechargeable battery and all of the electronics seem safely sealed inside a solid block of resin, which the company claims makes the dice waterproof. There’s even a special case that keeps them from turning on when not in use.

The only sticking point for me is the price. A single d20 will set you back $39, which makes the $199 set of seven polyhedrals — including the standard array of a d4, d6, d8, d10, d00, d12, and a d20 — a much better deal.

But dice are a hot commodity right now, with dozens of artisans selling handmade sets online at premium prices. Recently, the campaign for Dispel Dice capitalized on that buzz, raising nearly $2.4 million for a similar product on Kickstarter. That success has led to a partnership with Wyrmwood Gaming and a plan for another high-profile crowdfunding campaign, despite a recent spate of layoffs at the hobby gaming furniture manufacturer.

To my eye, however, the most exciting thing about the campaign for Pixels Dice isn’t that it was funded to the tune of nearly $1.8 million in its first 48 hours. It’s that the team at Systemic Creations is making its technology open to all. The proprietary software will be open source, and so too will their hardware.

“Pixels wouldn’t exist without the open-source and open-hardware communities,” said creator Jean Simonet on the campaign’s website, “and so we think it the right thing to do to share our work as well. [...] Most of the design files are already available on Pixels project page, along with multiple prior prototypes and documentation of our adventures getting to the final versions of the dice.”

The campaign for Pixels Dice has 29 days left to go, and ends on April 8.

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