Dungeons & Dragons' Sapphire Anniversary Dice are both innovative and exceptionally unique. Late last year, Dungeons & Dragons announced a limited edition set of aluminum dice to commemorate the game's 45th anniversary. Only 1,974 sets of these dice were made (since D&D was first released in 1974) and one of the twenty-sided dice came with an actual sapphire embedded where the "20" would usually be. These special dice were made by Level Up Dice, a small Australian dice company known for selling gorgeous dice made of semi-precious stones and other exotic material such as bones. And since one of these dice had an actual gem embedded inside of it, the cost of $299.99 wasn't surprising, although many people on the Internet expressed a bit of sticker shock.
Late last week, Dungeons & Dragons sent me a complimentary set of the Sapphire Anniversary Dice. Other than a set of Critical Role dice I got at a live show, I've never spent more than $15 or so on a set of dice, so there was definitely a moment where I just stared at the elegant holding case (which resembles something you'd put a diamond necklace in) and wondered what alternate universe I found myself in. In addition to fitted holes to place each of your dice, the box also includes a small felt-lined tray to roll the dice on, which makes sense because metal dice can scratch surfaces like wood, glass, or tablet screens.
There were two things I noticed when rolling the Sapphire Anniversary Dice. The first is that the dice are surprisingly light, much lighter than the other metal dice in my collection. While heavier than the standard Chessex dice, they don't have the same heft as copper or iron dice. Personally, I liked the slightly lighter touch, as it didn't make me feel as if I were tossing around chunks of metal that could inadvertently break glass if they slipped out of my hand. The other is that the sapphire-embedded D20 seems to be balanced. When first announced, D&D stated that Level Up Dice had found a way to balance the dice despite having a literal gem weighing one side down. I'm not 100% what this method entailed - the side with the gem was a bit hollowed out, so I'm guessing that the weight of the gem was counterbalanced by the lack of metal surrounding it - but I rolled neither an exceptional number of 1s or 20s when I used the dice in last weekend's D&D festivities. While I did manage to roll two 20s in a single turn, I also rolled 2 natural 1s throughout the course of the evening, and my very scientific tallying revealed nothing statistically abnormal after about 100 rolls. A hundred rolls probably isn't a big enough sample size, but I didn't have a better way of testing it since aluminum sinks in water.
Dungeons & Dragons still has a limited number of dice available now. While we're already past Christmas, Valentine's Day is coming up and I can't think of a better way of telling your party's paladin that you love them than with a literal gem-encrusted dice. Although many will argue that a $300 set of dice is extremely superfluous, I'll remind folks that people spend tons of money on collectible statues or rare Pokemon cards, or life-size recreations of Mind Flayer heads. If someone is willing to spend money on those sort of things, why not buy a set of $300 dice? They look gorgeous, they roll wonderfully, and they make for an exceptionally one-of-a-kind gift.