What Props Do You Use?

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #1009

Patron Andy Fundinger asks about what kind of props we all use:

Hi Johnn,

I use a meta-game reward of “unlock gems” in my campaign, summarized here.

A big part of it is to get the players to tell me what kinds of challenges they want to see more of — they’re mostly voting for “supplies.”

Giving players the option to pass a gem to someone for doing something awesome has been pretty effective in driving fun at the table.

I love the idea of a reward item. In the future, I am considering allowing players to use gems to further their (self-generated) bionic-tyranosaurous project.

Have you done a Musing on “manipulables” like tokens and currencies?

My gems get handed out physically. My DM hands out currency. And I’m preparing to hand out spent ammunition as counters for the limited ammunition my players have available.

Great ideas, Andy. I have a couple props at my game table. And I’m always looking for more ideas.

Inspiration Chips

In D&D 5E there’s a mechanic called Inspiration where you get a die bonus when rolling if you roleplay well.

We call these Pocket Points based on a previous RPT Reader Tip.

Players do something well and they give each other a Pocket Point by way of a physical poker chip.

I like this approach because you can make the Pocket Points represent any kind of boon suitable to your genre, rules, and game balance. They might be simple +1s to your rolls, or several of them could be cashed in for an automatic success.

For Murder Hobos Season 3 I’m tweaking our Pocket Point system to match the tone and theme of my new world, Duskfall.

I’m placing out a dish with poker chips in it. Taking a chip gives you an extra die on your roll and you take the highest result.

To take a chip you must ask a blessing from one or all the Duskfall Gods. Perhaps you ask Liujuan for luck, Zaget for protection, or a general “please help!” prayer to the whole pantheon.

Then you take your chip and get your bonus.

However, I also take a chip and note who granted the blessing. I add an equivalent chip to my Doom Pool and spend them to add obstacles and complications later.

Because gods are fickle. And there’s some secrets in the Duskfall backstory for why the Gods of Duskfall might want heroes to fail.

Magic Items

Yard sales, thrift stores, and your garage are full of junk. But one person’s crappy tourist shlock, prank gift, or goofy party prize is our boon.

For example, I have an old gavel that’ll make a perfect prop for a magic hammer. I’ve used an old baton as a magic wand. And junk jewelry make perfect treasure pieces.

Any Ideas For Handling Money?

In Duskfall there are two main currencies.

One is local to Ezoris and the other is Empire coinage.

I’m debating getting actual toy coins for players to track wealth with.

You can get some from the Oriental Trading Company, for example:


However, I worry they’ll become cumbersome (ba dum bum). If the party amasses a ton of coins, I won’t have enough.

Maybe the physical coins represent their day-to-day funds? Or maybe I get other props to represent 100, 1000, and 5000 quantities.

What Props Do You Use?

Do you use coins, props, and toys at your table to enhance your games?

I’m talking non-combat stuff. Combat props are another topic for another day.

As per Andy’s question, what kind of roleplaying and characterization props do you use?

Hit reply or join the props conversation at the RPT FB Page.