Who Invented 20 Sided Dice?


If you have ever played Dungeons and
Dragons or many of the countless other tabletop games you have probably come
across the 20-sided die. The roles of which determining the very fate of your
quest or perhaps even the life of your character. But who invented the 20-sided
die? Surely someone had to. The answer might surprise you.
Let’s go back to the 1970s a man named Gary Gygax along with David Arneson
created what is now one of the most popular role-playing games Dungeons &
Dragons or D&D for short. Within the game randomness is essential to create the
heart-stopping suspense of uncertainty creating an element of risk and reward
similar to real-life. Earlier on before creating D&D, Gygax worked on a number of
games using dice and experimented with different combinations of die, including
multiple six-sided die. But he wasn’t satisfied. Rolling two six-sided die
created a curve where the middle numbers of six seven and eight were the most
common rolls. Luckily he discovered inside a school supply catalog a die in
the shape of an icosahedron a three-dimensional shape with 20 equally
distributed sides. With the 20-sided die the modern era of tabletop gaming was
born but alongside the innovation of Gary Gygax the 20-sided die in fact has
a richer history. Let’s go jump to 2003 when Christie’s auctioned off a 20-sided
die made of glass. This die was picked up by a man in Egypt in the 1920s passed on
to his son who then sold it through Christie’s in 2003. The die was from
ancient Roman times and while the etchings on the side were not Roman or
Arabic, it appears it was used for a game of chance. An even older die is located
at the Metropolitan Museum of Art dating back to the Ptolemaic period in Egypt
sometime between 304 and 30 BC. This dies made of serpentine and has Greek
lettering itched into it, So 20 sided dice were used way before the 1960s. Way
before. But the shape the icosahedron must have been around even before that.
When did it spring in to humanity’s awareness?
The answer is that it was discovered in ancient Greece most likely by a man
named Theaetetus a friend of of Socrates and Plato. Theaetetus proved that there
are precisely five regular convex polyhedron also called platonic solids
sometime between 380 and 370 BC.The Platonic solids include tetrahedrons
cubes octahedrons dodecahedron and our favourite icosahedron.
What makes them special is that all of their sides are made from the same shape
and those shapes join the same number of times at each vertex. All these shapes
should seem pretty familiar. Especially if you were ever on an adventure as a
barbarian half-orc named Bruce campaigning to defeat the overseer
threatening your local village. So there you have it! from ancient Greece to
critical hits of today the d20 in all its glory! I hope this video has been
enlightening and I hope to see you soon. Until next time…

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