Review: Norse Foundry D6 Commander Dice & Wizards Pre-gen Characters

Today, as promised I have a review for you.  In fact I have not just one but two!  The first is a review on some of Norse Foundry‘s metal dice.  Full disclaimer, these were sent to me for this purpose, and I thank Norse Foundry for the opportunity to review a set.  I wanted to wait until I could get my players to use them a bit, and thus get their opinions, but that had to wait until tomorrow.  So, instead, I have my overall review of them today and next week I will include some post-playtime observations.  Second, I want to do a short review of the pre-generated characters Wizards has on the DM’s Guild.  We got to try these for Death House over the weekend, with new and old players alike.  Next week I will also have a second review.  Can you guess what it is?

Gnomish Copper D6 Commander Dice by Norse Foundry

Norse Foundry has a number of awesome looking dice on their site.  They have metal dice and gem dice, as well as some RPG coins and some other gaming tools.  The pack I received was the five dice Commander pack of metal D6’s, in Gnomish Copper.  These dice look fantastic.  I was lucky to get this color.  In my opinion it is the best overall.  Just a nice somewhat aged/worn look.  The site shows the metal dice to be crisp, sharp corners and that is exactly what I got, in a nice thick piece of foam.  The box they come in takes up a bit of space compared to just dice, but with the heavy foam and tight box, it is definitely a great way to store them (and protect other dice and minis!).

These dice don’t just look good, but feel good.  I wasn’t sure how heavy they would be, given they are metal and I had never had metal dice before.  They have a bit of heft to them, but still feel and sound like dice when you roll them.  I cannot speak for the other colors, but the numbers are nice and solid on these dice and very easy to read.  All in all they seem to be great dice to play with.

I reach a bit of an impasse when it comes to cost.  The prices on this pack type range from $22.50-25.00, depending on color and sales.  Thats $4-5 per die.  Part of me wants to say that is quite a bit of cash for dice, and in all honesty it is.  However, one should consider the general cost of dice.  Fancy dice from places like Q-Workshop have a price that is still over $10 for a 7 dice set.  There are numerous artisan dice around the web now as well from metal to wood to stone and more.  These range from around $20 to over $200 for a set.  It all depends on what you end up with.  So, while I find these to be a be a bit of a purchase in general, it is probably well worth it.  I don’t see these wearing out very much over your life time and they are on the very low end of the artisan dice cost spectrum, making them worth the price.  Especially since, unlike some artisan dice, these are easy to use and read.

My last thoughts on this come to only a couple of downsides / warnings.  First, the pictures of the dice on the site are a bit brighter than what the dice actually look like.  Not really a surprise for something made of metal, but you should be warned.  Personally, I am glad these were a bit darker than the site showed.  The other thing is that all that wait and nice sharp corners can be a problem.  Be careful if you have a nice table, a soft wood surface, easily scratched surface, glass, etc.  These dice are heavy and sharp, they do run the risk of damaging your table.  But this easily solved if you have the awareness to drop them on a notebook or folder.

All in all, these dice are gorgeous and well worth the cost.  Enough so that, when money allows, I will be getting a 7 dice set for D&D.  The only question is, what style?

Wizards Pre-Generated Characters

Ok, these were once of the best things Wizards could have added with the advent of the DM’s Guild.  Not only are these pre-generated characters, but there are 15 or 16 if memory serves.  And each of them comes with a sheet for levels 1 through 10, at no cost.  Among these are some real gems like the Tempest cleric with the pirate background, a favorite at the table this past Sunday.  At level 1, almost all of them are a single sheet with pretty much everything you need to get started.  Just pick a character and go.  For new players and old, these we well received, and provided what everyone needed to get into a character and focus on playing the adventure and sharing the experience of D&D with new players.

Personally I found a number of problems with these character sheets.  First of all, among the gems (see the tempest pirate or the halfling monk) were a lot of intensely cliched characters.  Tiefling warlock with a fiend pact, wood elf ranger, dragonborn dragonblood sorcerer.  While I understand why these would be included I don’t understand why Wizards did not take the opportunity to do some other interesting options.  A tiefling cleric of light?  A gnome wild magic sorcerer?  A half-orc druid of the moon?  There are plenty of interesting choices to make without even making more strange things like a dwarf evoker or something else from left field.

My second big problem with the sheets?  Spells.  After the release of the SRD, epsecially, why isn’t a spell page included for the known/prepared spells of the casters?  It would have been a thousand times easier if the players were not passing the book around and wondering what spells did.  We made do with it, since one player was a druid and had those cards, but i would have loved to see a spell sheet.  At least at level one.  To give the newbie bard one extra sheet so they were not overwhelmed by the book would have been fantastic.  I know you’re probably saying I could have done this for them, but I just didn’t have time.

I must say, as amazing as the pre-gens were, spell sheets would have doubled how impressed I was with them.  Nevertheless, they are a priceless tool when you are starting a pick-up game or trying out a small adventure with a new or mixed group of players.