The Dizzying Demand for Dungeons & Dragons Dice

Ceramic Wombat recently generated quite a bit of traffic with his range of Thorn Dice Set with Decader when it was featured on Boing Boing then promptly, tweeted, facebooked and generally created quite a buzz online. (UPDATE: Doctorow’s stories “Makers” and “Printcrime” along with Bruce Sterling’s excellent “Kiosk” inspired Chuck to try rapid prototyping in the first place, so “I am especially happy that he likes my work”)

So what makes this item ‘go viral’ when others may be ignored? I am not initiated in the world of Dungeons and Dragons so I may be missing some major point, and please let me know if I do, but here are a few reasons these designs are working.

Firstly, the designs are highly original, a cohesive aesthetic among the entire group and really well realized, (read awesome)

Secondly, The dice are for a passionate niche group that is quite active online, and have a history of user group participation as well as physical, local networks.

Thirdly, they are social items, used in a social context of game play where people gather over a common interest that is reliant on the object.

Fourth, one image tells the story, perfect for the microsecond attention span of the online mind.

Fifth, Facebook, it is being shared via the Like Button on the Shapeways site, which shows up on everyone’s friends pages….

What can you take from this for your items to help them get exposure to others who are as passionate about your hobby/interest/game/sport/gadget/obsession as you are?

Is there an existing fan base of obsessives just waiting for the next cool thing to show off to their friends online and in real/physical life? Design it for yourself?them and let them know.

Iterate your designs until they are perfect and then take good photographs of them..

Submit your items to the blogs, forums and sites where you hang out (including Shapeways It Arrived and Feature This)

Like your items with Facebook, get your friends to, get your Mom to, get your Mom’s friends to and spread the word.  We have updated our Facebook integration to make it easier for you to share because it has become such a major force in the internet, make it work for you.

Oh yeah, in the time it took me to write this post there have been over 100 more tweets about the thorn dice,  over 1500 more hits to the Thorn Dice page on Shapeways bringing it up to a total of 70,467 so far and the traffic keeps rolling in with Facebook being a MAJOR factor in driving traffic….

Check out the Made by Wombat site for your D&D addiction.And Congratulations to Chuck…….


  1. noesis

    Amazing, my page count was through the roof today, major kudos to Wombat! The dice are amazing! But seriously, how come he can have “points that will break off in polishing” on his stuff and mine get rejected? :)

  2. Gijs

    Congrats, C.Wombat! I’ve always admired the detail you put in these dice. Well done and good luck with the sales.

  3. Dizingof

    Congrats Wombat!
    @Gijs Lets hope he gets ALL his sales logged/counted properly..

    1. Bart Veldhuizen

      @Dizingof: I’m sorry to see that reaction – as far as I am aware we have ensured all of your sales have been fully accounted for. If not, then please get back in touch with me via email. If anyone has any queries about their payments please contact us directly to resolve it.

    2. Dizingof

      @Bart Sorry about that, this really isn’t the place to discuss what led to my decision to close my shop with it’s close to 300 designs.

      I do appreciate and thank you for your help and intervention on resolving a more then $1000 discrepancy between my logged sales and the actual PayPal payments sent – over 3 pay periods in 2010.

      I also hope all bugs i reported to you concerning missing sales emails/missing logged sales/co-creator disappearing To-Do jobs – have all been fixed and taken care of.

      I’m actually thinking about re opening my shop…

    3. Anonymous

      @dizingof Looks like you missed the increase dice traffic, should have opened your shop earlier

  4. Jed Laurance

    Heh… I woke up this morning to find that people had ordered over 20 of my dice. I’m usually happy if I sell 3 in a week. I’m gonna go ahead and assume that this had something to do with the sudden surge in popularity.
    Thanks Ceramic Wombat : )

    1. drscott

      Congrats Jed and all the Dicemen and Ladies of the Dice who are benefiting from the attention the Thorn Dice set are getting. This is a great effect of being part of a community like Shapeways in that ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’

      If your boat is in the water ;)

      We have seen this effect before and are bound to see it more and more often as more of your products get the attention they deserve.

    2. Gijs

      Yes, pretty impressive. The last few days I’ve seen a sudden increase in traffic to my shop as well, even though I don’t have anything that looks like a D&D product. Normally being around 50-70 visitors per day, yesterday had a peak of 167 visitors. The highest peak so far was when one of my products was posted on realsimple (I didn’t have analytics before unfortunately) when I got 519 visitors on one day. I am wondering what it means to shapeways’ total sales on a day (percentage wise) when something like this happens, I imagine it is significant.

  5. Max

    Oh my god! Those are some of the most desirable dice I’ve ever seen, I think I’d actually have to break the fingers of anyone who dared roll them were they mine!

  6. rongyun

    I think if people has

    these must be very beautiful.We women must be beautiful when go shopping .We must be charming .That is

  7. markus glanzer

    Well, there’s a point missing, maybe no major, but one or two minor.
    First: Dice Sets do not only mean, D&D or AD&D – there are (fortunately) way more Role Playing Games than D&D.

    Second: If you’re buying dice, you want something special. Merely, if you are in a gaming-group, there are 4 to X People, that all use multisided dice. You don’t want to have your dice mixed up with the others, also you want something that simply looks great.
    If you’re regularly buying dice online, your choice looks somewhat like this:

    So there are pretty ones indeed, but mainly they are differently colored. The only way to get design onto your dice would be ordering some with a carved design in multiple colors.
    Also if you want metal-dice… well, check out your design-options and prices.
    Another point is, that dice are somewhat related to luck. Luck is (even for geeks who like games including math and calculating percentile chances) a pretty spiritual concept. If you get spiritual, you might connect better looking dice to better results, to more luck.

    So a pretty special dice is more than a dice per se, it’s more like the ultimate talisman in roleplaying. This is also, why there’s allways a need for uncommon dice conceptions and designs, simply because the luck-concept seems to be connected with.

    1. duann

      Thanks Markus,

      I believe Ceramic Wombat is working on a new set of dice right now,
      looking forwards to seeing them.

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