What are Dice Towers For?

Since at least the fourth century, dice towers have served a pivotal role in ensuring the randomness of dice roll outcomes, making them a fascinating topic of study for those curious about their purpose and history. As tools utilised by tabletop gamers, dice towers aim to enhance the fairness of the game by minimising any potential influence a player might intentionally exert on a dice roll. By focusing on the question, "What are dice towers for?" we delve into their significance in maintaining integrity and randomness in games, aspects that are crucial for an equitable gaming experience.

The Evolution of Dice Towers

Tracing back to the 4th century, the evolution of dice towers is a testament to their longstanding significance in ensuring fair play within games. One of the most remarkable examples from history is the Vettweiss-Froitzheim Dice Tower, discovered in 1983 but thought to be over 1500 years old, which shares a design strikingly similar to modern iterations used in tabletop gaming today. This particular tower, unearthed in a Roman villa in Vettweiss, Germany, not only showcases the ancient roots of dice towers but also their intricate designs, featuring internal baffles that were engineered to enhance the randomness of dice rolls.

Vettweiss-Froitzheim Dice Tower - Wikipedia

The Vettweiss-Froitzheim Dice Tower.

Design and Construction

When we think of dice towers, we often imagine their aesthetic appeal, but their construction is equally fascinating and purposeful. Here's a closer look at how these nifty devices are put together:

  • Basic Structure:
    • At its core, a dice tower is a hollow, vertical rectangular prism.
    • Inside, angled ledges project along the sides to tumble the dice effectively.
    • A ramp at the bottom guides the dice out, spilling them into a small tray.
    • This tray usually has a short lip to prevent dice from rolling away.
  • Materials and Durability:
    • Common materials for dice towers include wood and plastic.
    • Wooden towers are not only sturdy but also environmentally friendly compared to plastic ones.
    • Basswood is a favoured choice for homemade towers, known for its ease of cutting and pleasant sound when dice knock against it.
  • Design for Randomisation:
    • To improve randomisation, the middle two ramps can be placed side-to-side, causing the dice to toss sideways as well as back and forth.
    • Deflectors within the tower, such as angled plates or dowels, further ensure a random roll by tossing the dice as they descend.
    • The interior can be lined with materials like felt or corduroy to alter the noise and impact of the tumbling dice.

The beauty of dice towers lies in their simplicity and the clever use of physics to ensure fair play. Whether you're buying a pre-made custom tower or crafting one from scratch, the principles remain the same: keep the dice on the table, enhance randomization, and reduce manipulation. With a variety of designs and resources available, creating a dice tower that reflects your personal style and gaming preferences is easier than ever.

Are Dice Towers random?

  • Randomisation Through Design: Dice towers are engineered to produce random outcomes, which are more consistent than traditional hand-rolling methods. Their internal structure, with slanted platforms and baffles, forces dice to tumble in unpredictable ways, eliminating biases from individual throwing technique.
  • Statistical Confirmation: Studies involving controlled dice drops demonstrate that dice rolls tend to be random by nature. Even when a machine drops dice from a consistent height and orientation, the outcomes remain within a random distribution, suggesting that external factors like height and speed contribute to this randomness.
  • Enhancing Fair Play:
    • Dice towers take the act of rolling away from the player, thus removing the opportunity for manipulation, which is particularly valuable in competitive play or where trust is an issue.
    • In tournament settings, such as backgammon, dice towers are a common sight, ensuring that each roll is unbiased and that the game's integrity is upheld.
    • The design of dice towers, with features such as alternators and catches, can lead to a statistically flat outcome, which is crucial when fairness is paramount.

Benefits of Using Dice Towers in Gaming

Dice towers not only serve a functional purpose in gaming but also enhance the overall experience in several ways:

  • Gameplay Integrity: By providing a specific area for rolling, dice towers minimise the chance of dice disrupting game elements like miniatures or maps, maintaining the integrity of the game layout.
  • Atmospheric Contribution: The sound of dice clattering down a tower adds to the game's suspense and atmosphere, making each roll a focal point of excitement.
  • Dice Security: Towers prevent dice from being lost or falling off the table since they're contained within the structure during rolls, saving time and frustration during gameplay.
  • Blind Rolls: For games where secret rolls are necessary, dice towers enable blind rolling, allowing only the gamemaster to see the outcome, thus adding a layer of strategy and surprise.
  • Accessibility: Players who struggle with hand-rolling dice, perhaps due to physical limitations, find dice towers a helpful alternative.
  • Aesthetic and Management: Not only do dice towers hold multiple dice, making rolls easier to manage and see, but their designs can also be a visually appealing addition to the gaming setup.
  • Enjoyment and Fairness: The unique sound of dice travelling through a tower is enjoyable for many players, and it helps prevent cheating by limiting the chance of manipulating rolls.
  • Feedback Mechanism: Dice towers give players immediate feedback with their characteristic sounds and actions, signalling important events in the game and enhancing immersion.
  • Non-Essential but Valued: While not necessary, many players prefer dice towers for the fair rolls they ensure and the tactile experience they offer, with dice trays being a good alternative for those who like to roll by hand.
  • Worth the Investment: Despite their cost, many gamers find dice towers worth the investment for the advantages they provide in terms of randomness, game flow, aesthetics, and accessibility for players with disabilities.
  • Customisation and Gifts: Personalising dice towers can improve the gaming experience, reflecting individuality, and they make thoughtful gifts for fellow enthusiasts.
  • Functional Art: Custom towers can be both functional and decorative, serving as conversation starters and showing off one's passion for games like D&D or Pathfinder.

Customisation and Personalization Options

Customising your dice towers is not just about functionality; it's about expressing our personal style and adding a unique flair to our gaming sessions. Here are some ways we can make our dice towers truly our own:

  • Design Choices: We can pick from a variety of designs that resonate with our personal taste or the theme of the game we're playing. Whether it's the eerie tentacles of Cthulhu or the majestic wings of a dragon, the design sets the tone for our gaming experience.
  • Material and Artwork: From the classic feel of wood to the modern touch of acrylics, the choice of material can drastically change the look and feel of our dice tower. Adding artwork, like engravings or decals, can further personalise the tower with symbols, messages, or game-related art that means something special to us.
  • Functionality Upgrades: Some dice towers offer functional enhancements like collapsible designs for easy transport, whiteboard panels for keeping score, or engravable front plates for that personal signature touch. These options not only make our dice towers more personalised but also more versatile in their use.

Remember, a custom dice tower is not just a tool; it's a centrepiece that tells a story about us, the players. It can be as simple or as elaborate as we wish, but the joy comes from knowing it's uniquely ours. Whether we’re gifting it or using it at our next game night, a customised dice tower can be a testament to our love for the game and the personal journey we take with each roll of the dice.

"What are dice towers for?"

Through the tapestry of history and design, dice towers have cemented their role in enhancing the integrity and pleasure of gaming. From the Vettweiss-Froitzheim Dice Tower of ancient times to modern customizable structures, these devices offer more than just randomised rolls; they contribute to the atmosphere, accessibility, and fairness of tabletop games. Their construction and evolution reflect both a respect for tradition and an embrace of innovation, ensuring every roll is a fair cast in the collective narrative of the game.

Acknowledging the customised charm that these towers bring to the gaming table, enthusiasts continually see their value as both functional tools and personalised expressions of play. As architects of our own gaming experiences, we craft each session with careful deliberation, and a dice tower stands as a testament to that creative spirit. Whether for utility or aesthetic, your next gaming adventure can be elevated with a unique dice tower, enriching every tumble of the dice—discover the ideal complement to your dice-rolling rituals here.


How do you use a dice tower?

To use a dice tower, simply place the dice into the top opening of the tower. Watch as they cascade through the interior structure and exit at the base. You then read the outcome from the dice that have rolled to a stop.

What is the recommended height for a dice tower?

A dice tower does not have a standard height requirement. The key factor is whether the dice can roll smoothly and without being damaged. If that's the case, then the height of your dice tower is appropriate.

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