Props and Gear we have/use at our tables

Now that I’m moved into my new house I’m starting to realize I’ve actually used props, handouts, and other gear in my games more often than I realized. This is the latest addition which I plan to use as part of a campaign at some point in the near future :slight_smile:

What props and gear do you have? (not talking minis here, talking about handouts and other goodies)

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My number one handout is usually a clean, well-designed, at-a-glance cheat sheet. Not one that tries to cram every rule into one page, but a sheet that covers the 20% of the rules that are used 80% of the time. The “cheat sheet” not only helps my players during the game, it helps me learn/refresh myself on the rules, it makes me think critically about the pieces of the system I want to actually matter in play, and it helps me “teach” the game in the first 5 minutes at a con or with a group playing that game for the first time.

As for “realia” – which is what I like to call physical things at the table that evoke tone/story, pre-COVID I was use such things now and then. They almost always brought something to the table - obviously they literally brought something to the table, but I meant that metaphorically! I once searched for about a week for the perfect matchbox car when running an Unknown Armies game set in an alternative 1980s. The players were all friends of a guy who had been murdered. And one of the characters was a sentient 70s muscle-car. I have used a smoking pipe, deck prism, tophat, and all manner of stuff at the table. Oddly, I don’t feel like I do it very often in fantasy games. Maybe we already have a rich and shared set of visuals for fantasy?

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I’ve also used this Deck of Many Things (I still have it from when I cut it out from the Dragon Magazine it came in) :slight_smile:

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Hand drawn maps, calligraphy letters found amongst the villains belongings- occasionally a wax seal on a letter- otherwise it’s all minis and terrain.

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A solid character sheet is a great call - I need to either start designing one or find one for the games I run.

Oh and yes - when opportunity arises one pulls out the deck of many things as above!

I am fond on the “weathered paper” trick for paper handouts. I use that one often.

I’ve used the tarroka deck when running Curse of Strahd, and the Harrowed Deck for some Pathfinder games.

I’ve used an old camping lantern to create a mood during a creepy game once.

I’ve purchased some campaign coins before and used them for currency but I never seem to have enough to represent the collected treasure the group finds. So I just use the “pouch of coins” and toss it to the players when they get paid for their work.

Along the same line, I purchased a pack of plastic pirate coins from Party City. Great to represent treasure or to use as bennies/tokens.

Invisible Sun came with a wicked creepy hand (see below). I haven’t run the game yet but I can’t wait to set that in the middle of the table.

I am quite fond of medallions (see below, ignore the one from Pirates of the Carribean, that hasn’t been in a game yet). I have quite a few I have collected over the years.

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@Rweston - do you find that the letters and maps confuse or cause any issues with the players when they get them? I’ve had handouts like that land at my table and then watched, in stunned silence, while the players “waste” over an hour trying to read between the lines, and make connections based on things like the (and I’m not kidding when I say this) thickness of the lines on one part of the map v. other parts.

Invisible Sun had some cool stuff in the cube that’s for sure (I sold my copy - long story). And that hand was one of the more awesome bits.

By the way, did you cut open the bottom of the hand? There should be a scroll or something hidden inside it.

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What!?! I had no idea, lol. That cube is a treasure trove of resources. I’ll check it out.

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If your game uses bennies, inspiration, hero chips, or whatever, that is a GREAT spot for more showy elements. Imitation pirate coins for a swashbuckling game, for instance. I once had a good friend run a trio of one-shots for me set in Dark Sun (using Savage Worlds, which was a brilliant match) and he used chips of obsidian for bennies.

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If get a chance, hit up @EFP - he’s an IS fan and knows more about the hidden gems in that thing than anyone else I know.

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My friend running 2d20 Conan got some fake gold coins and other bits for momentum and so on. Been pretty cool.

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No - and if they do puzzle over an obvious “typo” I correct it quickly. There is always one or two player who eat that stuff up and keep the handouts and reference them. I find they help keep players focused in game.
I always write the letters as if both parties already know the subject so they never seem like “exposition” - rather they are hints at what is going on.

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I need a couple of my players to learn from your players I think :grin:

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I have however had them struggle over my hard to read calligraphy. To me if they are puzzling over clues and handouts they are having fun, and if I get bored…”Orcs attack with flaming arrows- save or the map cache fire!!!”
:grinning:

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Actually put some runes or something in there that is a “secret” for them to find - satisfying for them and they will stop obsessing once they figure it out.

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