It is unknown of what material the earliest polyhedral dice were made. A pair of icosahedral (20-sided) dice dating from Roman times are on display at the British Museum. Roughly cubical six-sided Roman dice made of wood, bone, ivory and lead have been discovered. It is possible that polyhedral dice were used by even earlier cultures.
Precision casino dice, used for the game of craps, are made from cellulose acetate. These dice may have a polished finish, making them transparent, or a sand finish, making them translucent. While black is the most common color, they are also seen in casinos in green, amber, blue, or other colors. Casino dice have their pips drilled, and then filled flush with a paint of the same specific gravity as the acetate, such that the dice remain in perfect balance. In casino play, a stick of 5 dice are used, all stamped with a matching serial number to prevent a cheat from substituting a die.
Polyhedral dice are usually made of plastic, though infrequently metal, wooden, and semi-precious stone dice can be found. Early polyhedral dice from the 1970s and 1980s were made of a soft plastic that would easily wear as the die was used. Typical wear and tear would gradually round the corners and edges of the die until it was unusable. Modern polyhedral dice are typically made of high-impact plastic and can withstand years of use without visible wear. Lou Zocchi and his company Gamescience not only always guaranteed that their high-impact plastic dice would not wear down the way other companies’ dice did, but for years criticized major dice manufacturers for crafting unfair, loaded dice through sloppy polishing techniques and substandard materials. He was also the creator of the famous and bizarre 100 sides dice, the Zocchihedron.
Polyhedral dice can be purchased at most hobby stores in numerous combinations. In the early days of role-playing games, most dice came with the numbers uninked and players took great care in painting their sets of dice. Some twenty-sided dice of this era came numbered zero through nine twice; half of the numbers had to be painted a contrasting color to signify the “high” faces. Such a die could also double as a ten-sided die by ignoring the distinguishing coloring.
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