Braille D20 review by Chuck Winstead

Note from the editor: 
Chuck emailed me a while back asking about some of our Dungeon Crate items and the textures they have as he loves to play Dungeons and Dragons, but is blind. This was interesting to me as most of my early role-playing years, we relied on the storytelling to paint a picture in our mind's eye. Today, the game has evolved to incorporate terrain, a variety of dice, miniatures, and maps. All well and good if you can actually see them. 

Chuck's email got me thinking that there is an undeserved community of gamers that need some specialized accessories to complement their gaming. I started researching braille dice and found a Shapeways maker. I bought one and sent it to Chuck to test out and review. In the course of our communications, we brainstormed other ideas that would allow blind players to easily read their character sheets, keep track of hit points, and even a textured mapping system that could help better paint the picture. 

Chuck was kind enough to write a review of this particular die and we will be working together to find more items and develop others to cater to this demographic. Here are Chuck's thoughts on the braille D20 I sent him from Beckah DM's Shapeways site.  - Wayne Brekke

I have been doing Product testing from Dungeon Crate. Dungeon Crate has been graciously providing the products to review.

I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons for some time and have enjoyed playing. Since Dungeons and Dragons needs a set of gaming dice such as the D20, D8, D6, D4, D10, percentile D10, and D12, finding braille gaming dice is kind of hard.

It has not been until recently that braille dice have been made readily available, but thanks to lower prices on 3D printers and online outlets for makers to sell their wares, there are a few options. A few people have had Kick starters to fund producing them. It is nice to see this become a thing. In the past the choices have been to buy printed gaming dice and use a braille labeler to braille out the dice, which unfortunately may not be an option for everyone.

A description of the die:
The D20 is slightly larger than a normal golf ball. It still holds the same traditional shape of a D20 with the triangular faces. The only difference in this die compared to a normal printed die is that it is in braille.

Things I like about the die:
Recessed faces - Since the die is in braille, the face is recessed enough to have a raised edge. Kind of like a fence around the braille. This helps keep the die random, since each braille number will have certain dots in a certain pattern. Not having this could have affected the die when it is rolled.

I also like how the die is actually in braille - I have not really found many dice for Role Playing games in braille. You are easily able to find your D6 or six sided die in braille. However, many six sided dice has pips that you can feel. Role Playing games use more than just a D6. You can use an app, or have a sighted fellow gamer play tell you your number, but in some instances of role playing. You may not want to have someone know your dice roll, so having it in braille I find to be a nice and good thing.

Things that can be better:
These are not things I dislike, but more so things that could be better in my opinion. The die is a pretty solid and good die. It does what it needs too.

Adding some weight - While you’d think that with this die being slightly larger than a golf ball it would have a bit of weight, but it is very light. This isn’t a bad thing to an extent. I say that it could be better with some weight is because of when you roll it, the die will bounce and roll for a bit. Yes, dice do need to roll and that is what they do. Adding some weight to the die will allow it from bouncing and rolling off of the table.

Removing the triangle inside of each face - The die is a normal D20 die and has the triangular faces. Inside of each triangular face is a sub triangle so to speak. The reason I think it would be nice if it was not there is because it would have allowed more room for the braille, as some of the markings do seem confusing.

In short, braille 4, 6, and 8s all can look very similar. When the die is turned a certain way, the 8 may look like a 4 or a 6, same for the 4 and 6. If turned another way, it may look different.

Thankfully the die does have a few things there to help with that. The face where a six should be there is a braille cell of all six dots.

Clearer braille - While the die does have braille, I would have liked to see maybe a tactile line under 4, 6, and 8 to help make sense of each number.
While roman numerals are not very common in RPG dice, I think having this in this case would have also helped.

On the face where the 11 is, there is a series of dots that one would probably think it is an X. maybe having Roman numerals for the 5, and 10 would be helpful. 5s and 9s in braille like 4, 6, and 8. Depending on how they are turned it can look kind of confusing.

You can refer to the surrounding numbers to see what your actual result is, but having the clear braille would have made things that much easier.

While this die can be better, it is a great thing. I cannot weight to use it in more Dungeon and Dragons sessions in the future.