Hands On Props: Great Prop Ideas From Ed Bradshaw

(Reprinted with kind permission from http://home.i1.net/~otnay/tips1.htm)

Tips and Ideas..here are some various little inexpensive do-dads that GMs and players alike might enjoy. We have:

The Chest/Treasure Chest

ChestPlayers enjoy nothing more than things they can actually get their hands on, and in this segment, I am going to show you something that works well and is fun for the players as well.

Almost everybody has a Wal-Mart near them, it seems they are everywhere, and if not Walmart, maybe K-Mart, or some sort of crafts /hobby shop.

I have seen these at craft/hobbie shops, but I picked mine up at Wal-Mart, they cost 99 cents each, not a bad deal actually, I found these in their crafts area of the store, they had 4 different types, but I liked these two best..

Now, you can hide stuff inside them, such as toy rings, necklaces little notes describing goods etc., you can also trap them from the inside, only allowing a thief with a successful trap find to discover it.

Around Easter time, you can pick up and find these plastic Easter eggs that open up to allow you to put stuff in, these act as a great substitute, in case you can not get the find the chest in your area.

Chest Chest Chest

By using a little tape, you can write if the chest is trapped or clean, and stick it to the underside. Then, if the thief makes their roll, they can look under and see the outcome.

You can also tape a thin piece of paper over the inner chamber too, in case a PC is unlucky to open a chest without caution, as illustrated in the photo.

These little cuties are nice window dressings for any gaming session and the players actually feel the mood as they either look under or in them to discover their fate.

Magic Item Index cards

Magic CardsNow almost everybody gets Publisher Clearing House offerings in the mail as well as maybe a Fingerhut catalog, or if nothing else, sales ads out of the local newspaper. These make great treasure give-away cards to hand out to players who find magical rings, necklaces or the like. Publisher's Clearing House is the best for close-up fancy and exotic jewelry, and with a few 3x5 index cards, that flying eagle coin on a chain suddenly becomes a necklace of flying; that cool light blue topaz necklace suddenly becomes a necklace of cold protection; and that multi-stone brooch, becomes a brooch of magic or missile protection. The uses are endless. Magic ItemsJust find the piece of jewelry you want to use, decide on its features, then carefully cut around it so it looks fairly good, then tape to the blank side of the index card. Most discount stores sell clear contact paper in rolls for cheap lamination. Use that or the 2 to 4 inch wide clear scotch like tape.

On the back side of the card that has the lines, you can then fill in the description and uses or powers of the item. Of the three cards here, you can see the top card is a Irish WishBone Clasp - It now becomes a charm of good luck with four uses.

The second card is from a Playboy insert for a watch ad called Fire Goddess, it now becomes a bobble of fire protection and a compass type instrument.

The third card is a Flying Eagle Coin, it now becomes a necklace of polymorphing into an eagle once a day.

These make great "hands on" give-outs, and the players feel like they actually obtained an item. If they ever get captured or killed, then these cards can be taken away, as actual items missing, plus for the most part, it is very easy and mostly free, figure 50 cents to a $1.00 for index cards and another buck for tape, and you're ready to roll on this project.

Clock2x4 Block Clock & Time Keeper

This little device is what I use to keep track of hours and such during my gaming sessions, as you can see it is a little beat up from all the years of use, but basically, it is a 2x4 block about 7 inches long. It is divided into two sections, one half for daylight hours and one half for night hours, as represented by the sun and moon icons at the top, if you cannot draw or are sloppy at drawing, use the cut & tape & Elmer's glue techinuqe to put the icons on.

Next you need a push pin, like the kind used on bulletin boards, colored ones work well. Depending on how you regulate your time, you can move the pin into its corresponding hole to mark that hour. This is great for skipping travel time to and from places as well as keeping your spot mark till next gaming session. I use this to keep track of guard duty and other events also. Once again it is fairly easy to make and use and does not cost a lot to make.

Going one step further you can put in extras, like moon cycles, weather conditions, and other tidbits of interest and help. Players can make their own for keeping track of rations, supplies and hit points also,. There are many things one can do with this type of thing.

Player ID Stand-Ups

These work well, especially if PCS are running multiple characters. I found these at both Wal-Mart and Big K as well as the Dollar Store. They are are little plastic 3x5 photo frames to put pics in...you can either draw up your character and place him in here, or do what a lot of my players are doing, and that is grabbing real life photos of actors, which are totally abundant around the web. Then, when that character is acting or speaking, the pic can be placed out front to show who is speaking or doing the action at the time.

Also, players can place an index card between the photo and the back side, allowing them to put notes, stats, equipment, etc. By doing this while everyone sees their character's pic, they have access to information. These have been working great for my group.

They range from 86 cents to around a dollar - easy and cheap, and a great little thing for gaming - DMs can use these to introduce monsters and villains and whatnot, and at that price they are cheaper than miniatures. Plus, photos can be swapped out and the stand up re-used.

Well that should do it for now, I hope these articles were of interest and help out, I will post more when they come up or available ! Good Gaming ....The DM_ God

[Comment from Johnn: Thanks for the great props ideas Ed!]