Extra DM equipment & tools

RoiC.

Villager
For the DMs among us, other than the obvious stuff (books, notebooks, battle mats/maps, screen, a laptop...), what kind of extra equipment and accessories do you use use to help you run the game? Anything that helps you concentrate better, be more precise and clear to your players, act faster and any other function that comes to your mind. The more unusual and out-of-the-box the item is, the better. If you can also provide explanations and pictures, that would be really great.

For example, instead of regular minis I use several sets of custom made tokens, with very specific colors and numbers/symbols, otherwise I have a really hard time stayi g focused during battles.
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
  • Whiteboard. Mainly for writing out the initiative for all to see. Occasionally to draw a rune/symbol for players to ponder. A small magnet helps us keep the place of who's up so we/I don't get distracted and confused by reactions and legendary actions... which has certainly happened before... Ack.
  • Chess pieces. Ease-of-use medium enemy tokens. Enough variation so that multiple enemy types can be differentiated without having to sift through a bag for the perfect token/mini.
  • Rainbow Loom elastics. To indicate a condition or spell on a mini or chess piece in combat. The poor adult blue dragon had three such elastics on it in our last combat: one for Slow, one for Hex, and one for twisting it's ankle on a roll of a 1. Ugh.

Now... tell us more about those custom tokens. They look amazing! And amazingly useful!
 

RoiC.

Villager
These sound like very good ideas. I'm thinking about getting a few erasable index cards instead of whiteboard to draw stuff for the party.

Now... tell us more about those custom tokens. They look amazing! And amazingly useful!
I got those from a store on Etsy. The prices are very reasonable, and the owner is really nice and is very flexible and cooperative when it comes to custom orders. I've ordered 5 sets at this point, and I do see myself coming back for more in the future.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
  • Discord
  • Fantasy Grounds
    • Numerous FG modules such as Dungeon Room Description Generators, 1d6 Monster Compendium, etc
  • Campaign Cartographer 3+
    • Add-ons such as Dungeon Designer, City Designer, CSUAC symbols, etc
  • TokenTool & Token Stamp
 

Laurefindel

Adventurer
A gallery of images for NPCs, printed to fit 4-6 images on a 8x11 sheet, then cut in cue-card format, in colour if you can afford it.

Write their name in big letters at the top, and who they are/where the PC met them at the bottom.

Print your main NPCs and villains, and keep a bank of untitled images handy for when you need a NPC on the fly.

keeping pics in a ready folder on laptop or tablet works too (and is cheaper and more environmentally friendly), but having a physical medium allow players to shuffle through, or show several at the time (and avoid electronics at the table, if that is a concern)
 
I have fancy d20s that I pass out for initiative. Not only is it easy to remember who has it and who doesn't, but that is what they roll for their extra advantage.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
A deck of tarot cards (makes Divination spells more interesting, and makes for memorable NPC encounters, a nice change of pace for initiative sometimes, handy as a deck of many things or a deck of illusions...)

An hourglass. Good for building tension (but don't over-use it)

Scraps of mat board from the local photography and framing store, that I have cut into 1" and 2" squares. They are pretty handy for monster tokens.
 

aco175

Adventurer
We use different color rings from soda bottle tops. Red rings from Coke bottles for bloodied or near death and other colors can be most anything else.

We have a bunch of old 3e tiles and 4e maps that we use for battles. One of the players likes to make paper minis which we use a lot of, but he gets hints when I ask him to bring in a giant dragon or such.
 

Ampolitor

Explorer
large printed banner size maps, custom scenery, a lightning box when we play ravenloft with a light and a CD of thunderstorms for effect. I have used fog machines, sound fx, hand out props, got to keep them on their toes. lol
 
A table-sized whiteboard with a 1-inch grid scratched into it. (That grid took me a couople of boring hours to make, but it was worth it).

And a personal wiki with my homebrew world, so that I can navigate quickly when my players do something unexpected again. It's great to have a search function on all your notes. (I use Tiddlywiki).
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I write up all my monsters in a word document so I can print them out (4 to a sheet) and laminate the paper. You can get laminating sheets on Amazon or any office supply store. I then cut up the paper and use them as initiative cards. I also create blank ones for the PCs, so when it gets to a monster's turn I have all the info I need. If I'm ambitious, when I print I put the picture of the monster on the back of the card. See attached. This works well for me because I keep all the cards sorted in a card holder, I've been doing this for a while so most encounters I just grab one I had previously printed.

I use a spreadsheet to calculate encounters that I found somewhere. Just plug in your PCs and monsters and it gives you a decent feel for difficulty. It calculates both with and without the monster multiplier - I ignore the one with the multiplier.

Since we always play on a grid and I rarely use pre-printed maps I like things that represent terrain and effects down quickly.

I use clay "blocks" sized to represent 5 ft cubes. I also have some that are 1x4, 2x2 up to 4x4 (all 1 "block" tall). I just made those out of air dry clay. I use them for some 3-dimensional aspects and to represent everything from boulders to buildings. Makes set up of most scenes quite quick.

I also have wooden squares that is just a strip of 1x1/4 inch wood cut into 1 inch lengths and painted various colors. I like to use those for various wall spells or more dynamic area effects. So in one encounter I had a spreading fire where I simply threw down more red squares to indicate the area of effect.

I also use colored pop bottle rings for various indicators, although thankfully I don't have to have as many as I did for 4E when I had a chart to keep track of all the options.

So that's about it, along with minis and the usual paraphernalia.
 

Attachments

For the DMs among us, other than the obvious stuff (books, notebooks, battle mats/maps, screen, a laptop...), what kind of extra equipment and accessories do you use use to help you run the game?
I don't use all the obvious stuff... no books and battlemats for me for example. Either a laptop OR a dm screen but not both, as the laptop also serves me as the screen. Lately I prefer the laptop because then my notes also go into text files, and I can eschew the loose paper (although sometimes I long for the old pen & paper way).

I have designed our own character sheets and spell/action cards, but these are meant to be a player's tools rather than for the DM.

For visualizing battles, we use Lego minis and scenery objects (just a very few of those... it'd be awesome to build dungeon walls and furniture or forest elements all in Lego bricks but it takes an unbelievable amount of time to do so), plus colored elastic hair bands for conditions.

The only additional "accessory" we use is Tabletop Audio for ambient sounds, or even just Spotify for a soundtrack.

I have been recently thinking that I should add some DIY idea for spells/effects templates however...
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Okay most my extra stuff has been covered except for Different colors dry ease pens. I generally give the players black to mark init on the board, but use different colors for various reasons.
 

JeffB

Hero
Candlesticks/Candelabrum/Lantern

Big foam D6 for 13th Age escalation die

13th Age soundtrack sometimes

manual sound effects -drop heavy things under the table onto the hardwood floor, or bang the underside of the table with them- scratch the underside of the table, or shoes/socks that make weird shuffling noises-let the kitchen sink faucet drip into a stainless steel bowl or something.

My tools are for ambience- otherwise I use laptop, books, index cards, scrap paper mostly,.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
One I need but don't know what they are called. The wooden stick with a hook it that the Vegas craps table use to capture dice. Not to capture dice but on some of large tables so I could move the minis around.
Expendable supplies. Windex, paper towels, baby wipes, ,
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
One I need but don't know what they are called. The wooden stick with a hook it that the Vegas craps table use to capture dice. Not to capture dice but on some of large tables so I could move the minis around.
Expendable supplies. Windex, paper towels, baby wipes, ,
ooo Yes... yes... I'm thinking more along the lines of one of the sticks the generals use in the war room in old-timey movies to move the little army men and tanks and whatnot around. Where can we get some of those?
 

Aebir-Toril

Is lukewarm on the Forgotten Realms
I use 4E-era map tiles, the Map Tiles Reincarnated which were introduced with 5E, Chessex mats, a miscellany of dice, painted and unpainted miniatures (most of them plastic, Reaper or Wizkids), wet-erase markers in six attractive colors, a ruler, a scientific calculator (rarely necessary except when graphing out the scale of attacks or such), a DM screen, and the occasional Android tablet or PC for sound effects and NPC artwork.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
ooo Yes... yes... I'm thinking more along the lines of one of the sticks the generals use in the war room in old-timey movies to move the little army men and tanks and whatnot around. Where can we get some of those?
Personally I just use a telescoping back scratcher. May not be long enough for what you want though.
 

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