I'm GM of a Call of Cthulhu 6th edition table and I've got a question about dice.

Most of the time they're (and I'm) just using dice from my "ol collection" with pretty much every existing standard die in enough quantity for everyone.

But last time, one of my players brought a "Call Of Cthulhu Dice Set" he just bought that you can find from a well known dice manufacturer at a pretty expensive price. (IMHO) The dice set contains :

  • 1d4
  • 1d6
  • 1d8
  • 1d10
  • 1d10%
  • 1d12
  • 1d20

These sets are clearly sold as Call Of Cthulhu dices but from my experience most of the included dice are useless and one is missing (1d3, but half D6 is fine... but only 1D6 in the set...). Based on my experience we use D3, D4, D6, D10.

So my question is : am I missing some rules from Call Of Cthulhu 6th edition that require D8/D12/D20 ? (not the previous, next or other adaptations, like the D20 one)

I'm wondering because I had this talk with my players and after a lot of research in the 6th edition, I really can't find any reference to these dice. Am I missing something ?


3 Answers 3


You're not missing anything. Based on the description you provided, it sounds like your player purchased one of Q-Workshop's licensed "Call of Cthulhu" dice sets. Strange as it may seem, the license isn't to the roleplaying game necessarily, but to the story by H.P. Lovecraft and the associated Mythos iconography. The set of dice is decorated to look appropriate for Cthulhu-themed games, but isn't designed for a BRP Call of Cthulhu game — they're the seven dice usually found in D&D and other popular roleplaying games.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Just a little addition: As you said, this combination of dice is just the "generic set" many manufacturers use. There is however a “Cthulhu-dice-set” from the german Cthulhu-publisher that has a more useful combination: 1×D4 3×D6 1×D8 1×D10(0–9) 1×D10(00–90) 1×D20 (Imho, this too is mostly for collectors, but at least it can be used on its own during character-creation.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Valryne
    Feb 28, 2014 at 22:48


COC6 fixates mostly on d6's and d10's - the d10 pair being used a lot.

d6's are used in character generation, and often for damage.

There are plenty of d8 SAN loss entries. Steal Life (p. 243) is a 1d20 SAN loss to cast.

Commercially, d3's as such are rare. Most dice sets don't include them. D2's are even rarer - just use the d6 to simulate both.

Only the d12 isn't actually used in COC6 in some way, and even then, it's the traditional die for "What time is it?" rolls.

Basic Role Play Engine Games in General

In General, the BRP line has used d6's for attributes, d100 for rolling skills, and d20 for hit locations.

Damages have traditionally been d3, d4, d6, d8, or d10.

Runequest 3rd edition shipped with 4d6, 1d8, and 2d20 - you used the d20's for rolling percentiles and as both d10's and d20's.

ElfQuest avoided even the d8's.

To find d12's in use in BRP, one must go back to RQ 1E - 2E still includes mention of them, but the errata notes that they were dropped from the mechanics. (This was 1980...)

A Bit of Dice History

Initially, the gaming industry used almost exclusively d6's.

In the 60's, d20's were becoming available for wargaming use, easily allowing generation of 1-4, 1-5, 1-10, and 1-20 results. These were sold as 10-sided dice, however - they were usually numbered 0-9, and read 1-10.

In the early 1970's, the Platonic Solids were added by Gygax to the dice repertoire. This gave d4, d6, d8, d12, and d20 in physical dice, but the 20's were still typically 0-9 twice. A few years later, still before 1979, the 1-20 d20 was introduced.

The modern d10, the pentagonal trapezohedron, was introduced in 1980. by 1990, some sets had the d10x10 (marked 00, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90), while others simply included a different colored second d10.

"Standard sets" have always focused on D&D play - D&D drove the hobby until the 1990's, and is still a major force. Pathfinder, a D&D 3E derivative, is has taken over the industry leader position, but still retains the majority of D&D-isms.

There are several types of standard set:

  • Yachtze Set: 5d6. This is the standard for cheap dice, and has been since the early 20th century.
  • Backgammon set: 4d6. The standard for backgammon in the 20th century. Often sold as two contrasting pairs of 2d6.
  • TSR's original set: 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d12, 1d20
  • TSR's D&D Set: 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d12, 1d20. Percentiles were rolled using 1d20 and 1d10, or using d10's from two sets.
  • The Player's D&D set: 1d4, 3d6, 1d8, 2d10, 1d12, 1d20. the second d10 was usually off color. the 3d6 were a matched set.
    • 4d6 - some versions added a 4th d6.
    • d10x10 - modern versions replace the off-color d10 with a d10x10 matched.
  • Modern short set: 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d10x10, 1d12, 1d20
  • Modern long set: 1d4, 4d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d10x10, 1d12, 1d20
  • D10's set: 10d10. Used for a number of games, it was introduced as a set in the early 1990's, primarily for use with White Wolf's games.
  • "Cubes" of d6 - typically 27d6, 36d6 or 45d6. Sold for wargamers, but useful in some RPG's (Shadowrun and T&T).

There has never been a commercial BRP focused set that I've seen - the dice in RuneQuest were bought by Chaosium in bulk, and included in the box, but generally, players bought individual loose dice.


As for that special "COC set" - that's a standard short set, probably by Q-Workshop, which is COC themed in its artwork, rather than being optimized for playing COC. At least one other manufacturer has made Cthulhu-themed standard polyhedral sets, as well. Such sets are more for "collector" value than play value.


I am fairly sure that older versions (i.e. 2nd and 3rd edition) used D12 and D20. 5th edition has a section on dice saying that only D100, D8, D6 and D4 are needed, plus notes on how to use these to also "simulate" D20, D10, D5, D4, D3 and D2 (page 14).

I agree with you that including only 1D6 is an odd choice, though. Chargen used either 3D6 or 2D6+6, and D6 in general are pretty common (for damage rolls, for example).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Since you don't mention COC6, and the question explicitly says it's not asking about previous versions of the game, I'm not sure how this answers the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Feb 28, 2014 at 21:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BESW: Judging from a quick look at the books I have at hand, changes between the editions did not affect the dice-rolls that much – mostly sanity- and damage-checks here and there. But the important stuff stayed the same. Thus, in respect of the question, the answer still applies. Also, in the 6th edition, the mentioned section on dice is still there – in older versions there was more focus on emulating D100 with D20, though. Cthulhu has stayed remarcably selfconsistent conserning rolls and rules throughout the versions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Valryne
    Feb 28, 2014 at 22:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Valryne That's great, or would be if it were said. As the answer stands, the similarity between the edition asked about and the editions spoken of is not made explicit. Since the question specifically says it is not interested in previous editons, that missing info is necessary to justify ignoring the question's explicit scope. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Feb 28, 2014 at 23:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BESW You are right. Yet, among long-time Cthulhu players, this sort of continuity is too often taken for granted (as might have been the case here). Also, the dice-set technically could have been made for an earlier edition, which might have been an explanation as well. Maybe the answer can be improved to give some more cthulhu-specific background. (Also knowing about the long-long time continuity can be very valuable to a GM. In that regard, it would feel really strange to me, if dice-uses would have just dropped out from one edition te the next.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Valryne
    Feb 28, 2014 at 23:34
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Not knowing when the dice set was produced I contributed what I could as a possible explanation for the (odd) selection of dice. If you do not consider the answer valid feel free to delete it or whatever, personally I think that the "moderation" (for lack of a better word) is getting a bit too stringent on RPG.SE lately, but maybe it's just me. \$\endgroup\$
    – p.marino
    Feb 28, 2014 at 23:48

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