Friday, June 11, 2010

How I DM: Materials

How I DM, is a series of articles that reflect back on my time as a dungeon master over the past year. I am currently DMing two different games, one on a virtual table top and a brand new local game. Today's article will focus on the tangible materials I use to run my local campaign.

NPC Tokens
The one inch washer token tutorial linked above is the cheapest and best solution I have seen to date. I have made two sets so far and love the concept. Google images is a wash with concept art and deviantart accounts filled with great images for NPCs. The TokenTool was something I was already familiar with from my Virtual Tabletop game and Photoshop and I have been in love since 2000. Unless I hit the lottery and purchase a lot of D&D minis from ebay, these will be my go to for the foreseeable future.

Encounter Map - Battlemat
When I finally decided to have a go at a local game the first thing ordered was a dry erase Battlemat from Chessex. What came in the mail was a high quality map that I soon realized I could not draw on until the night of game. Which meant that I had to draw up my whole encounter in the span of twenty minutes right before my players arrived. It worked, but I was not entirely pleased with it. So now it has been given the role of random encounter map. Not all of my encounters will be planned out in great detail. If the party wants to take off into the wild on a whim there will be consequences and those will play out on the mat.

Encounter Map - Easel Pad
The link above is not the specific easel pad I picked up, but it is the same concept. I went to my local office supply store and picked up a 30 page pad because I wanted something more permanent. The above mentioned Battlemat is nice, but not being able to sit down the week before my game night and really take my time on the encounter map stinks. I employed colored pencils and a sharpie to create my most recent map and spent the better part of two hours doing so. It was time well spent.

Glass Counters
I have used these for a while now, even before I took on the role behind the screen. They are great for keeping track of multi-use spells (e.g. Healing Word) and spells that stack (e.g. Iron to Glass). As a DM though I have been using them as minions. Creating a token for every one hit point lackey in my game could be very time consuming. So toss a few glass beads around and you are good to go. I picked up the Chessex branded ones from my FLGS, but you could easily go to any craft or dollar store and get decorative glass beads for much cheaper.

Reaper Minis
The official D&D minis leave plenty to be desired, they are plastic, poorly painted and lack detail. So my players have all picked up their minis from Reaper. They are solid pewter, incredibly detailed and have tons of options to choose from. Thankfully for them I love painting minis and have volunteered to complete theirs. From a DM stand point using these as NPCs is an even pricier proposition than D&D minis. I do however have two completed Reaper minis I use as a player and plan to use as NPCs in my own game.

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