DM on a Budget Wants to Spice Up His Game
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  1. #1

    DM on a Budget Wants to Spice Up His Game

    This is a semi-revival of an old thread, the name of which I have forgotten.

    Okay, so the PCs have found a treasure that is strange or is hard to describe with words alone. You're stumped. What do you do?

    I've been there way too many times.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for making props for your games? How can I show the PCs treasures they have gotten, i.e. gold pieces, scrolls of parchment, jewelry, & other small items? What kinds of craft supplies or cheap techniques would be effective in making PC treasure "come alive" and to enhance the drama of the game? How much money will such things cost?

    All comments and suggestions are welcomed.


    P.S. Sorry I have no tips to offer. I'm still really young and inexperienced with D&D (and arts/crafts, for that matter!).

  2. #2
    The Great Druid (Lvl 17)

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    A Picture is worth a thousand words and there are pictures of everything on the internet. This is especially good if you happen to havea job at a place that can print color.

  3. #3
    IMC I made a bag with "gems" made from the stones used in severl CCG, and money from chocolate gold coins. It made that tresure much more tangible for the players. They still got that bag, and the treasure in it.


    And tea-stained notes left for a few minutes in a hot oven make excellent props for old documents they might find.

    Last edited by Ziggy; Saturday, 6th April, 2002 at 10:37 PM.

  4. #4
    Rings can be made from stirps of paper (get some metal-colored pens/markers and color the paper. Then use black ink to write the inscription on the inside. Glue the ends together, and viola!)

    You can print notes from your computer. If they're in a language none of your PC's know, print it in a non-standard font (like Tolkien's Tengwar). Better still, come up with a font for every language that comes up in your game. Any note found in that language should be printed in the appropriate font. I also use particular fonts to represent recurring NPC's handwriting.
    Notes should also be modified to reflect their condition/age. The wizard's note is clean and smooth. The ogre's note is covered in mud, torn, and crumpled up. You can burn the paper around the edges to give it that "aged parchment" feel. Use a cheap candle, as it produces a lot of soot. You can also dye paper in tea to make it look aged.

    Always look for things that can be used. Give them a marble when they find a bead of force. Give them a bag of pennies if they find some important stash of coins (hell, even make 'em count them out themselves.) Burn incense when they enter the temple. I think the easiest way to spice up a game is to appeal to all the senses of your group.

    I usually play in front of my computer, so I try and have images of all the monsters they're likely to face queued up. I also find sound effects for certain critters, and play them at the beginning (or throughout) the battle.

    It all depends on how much time/energy you want to put into your games. I usually don't prepare for more than a few hours before a session, but sometimes I go overboard.

  5. #5
    Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
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    Make coffee or strong tea. Then take a cookie pan with a 1" lip and fill the bottom of the pan with the liquid. Take a piece of paper - the heavier bond the better - and wet the paper. letting it soak for a few minutes. Take it out carefully and lay it on some paper towels, blotting with care. The result will be a parchment-like paper, nicely aged.

    If you're using a decent printer, you can print a note with cool handwriting fonts on it first.

    Once you have the scroll set, one nasty thing you can do is scribble some small words on the edge when you roll it up and tie it (maybe with a ribbon.) When your player unwraps it, squints, and says "What's this?", you can say "Roll a reflex save."

  6. #6
    My group uses those glass beads that people often have in vases or bowls. You can generally buy them in any shop that sells stuff like candles and mobiles and stuff. You know, the place where you buy presents for people you don't know very well. They generally cost a couple of pounds (erm about $3?) for around 100 to 200

    Anyhow, we use these glass beads for money. Green ones for coppers, yellow ones for golds, purple ones are 10gp and silver are 100gp. I'm going to buy some red ones for 1000gp when I get round to it (the pc's are advancing in levels and demand more cash - damn their eyes).

    It works really well, the players tend to get more excited when you hand them a big pile of hard cash than when you tell them to write down anouther 100 on their character sheets.

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    Originally posted by Piratecat
    Scribble some small words on the edge when you roll it up and tie it (maybe with a ribbon.) When your player unwraps it, squints, and says "What's this?", you can say "Roll a reflex save."
    Don't take this the wrong way, but I love you, Piratecat.

  8. #8
    I have this site I go to where I gather pictures of fancy rocks...even the gold and silver stuff looks interesting, and it's usually mixed in with other things.

    There is this really cool one that is all black, and has these black veins that go across it like latitude lines along a half hemisphere. I'm thinking it's perfect for the stone topping a magic staff.

    Check it out

  9. #9
    If you ever wanted a "scroll written in blood" look for a prop scroll, using the Nosferatu font and making it red makes what you write look really disturbing.

  10. #10

    Cheap and Effective


    There was a large thread on this kind of thing a while ago and it was archived here:

    Tons of good stuff. I particularly like Bardolph's suggestions, especially the "sealed envelope as a treasure chest". Shear genius!

    Also, for an image search, I find the one on to be outstanding.

    Hope this helps,

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