Gamehackery Christmas List

Just time for your Cyber Monday shopping, here are some gift ideas for the DM or player on your list. I'm going to try to avoid ideas that will be covered on other lists -- which does not mean that I think giving a gamer a copy of Dungeon Command is a bad idea, just that I think others have it covered pretty well. We'll focus on gadgets, technology, and anything hack-ish.

Livescribe pen.
We talked about this a few weeks ago, so I'm not going to go nuts here, but these are VERY helpful for players and DMs (and anyone else). If the person already has one, think about Supplies -- journals, ink refills, etc.

Geek chic
Yeah, the tables might be a little outside your christmas budget, but they have a gift certificate program that makes it possible to give $50 or $100 towards a purchase from Geek Chic -- and they've got stuff other than tables for sale, too. Huge poster maps, wooden swords, other accessories, etc.

iPad
(or other tablet). If you can afford it, iPads are an amazing tool at the table. They create a lot less distance between players than map tops at the table do, and they can be very powerful reference tools -- never mind all the great Apps that are out there. And if your DM or player already has an iPad or other tablet, think about Apps -- some of the really good ones are on the pricy side and might make good gifts.

Other tablets are just hitting the scene and have a lot of catching up to do -- but there are already equivalents for a lot of the tools and functions out there.


Software
- There's a ton of software out there for gamers, and it's not all free. Mapmaking software, like Campaign Cartographer or Dunjinni, for example could be a good idea. Or maybe one of the initiative trackers we mentioned previously. There are 3rd party character builders like Hero Forge that could make excellent gifts.

We're going to end up talking about a lot of apps and programs in the column, and I don't want to go into too much right now, but don't focus solely on gaming apps. Often apps or software that are really productivity or creative apps will be just as valuable as a dedicated initiative tracker -- if not more.
Omnigraffle , for example, is a great program for Macs and iPads that creates great flowcharts, mind maps, and diagrams. Comic Life is a comic book creator (PC, Mac, and iPad) that could be a great tool for creating handouts and resources.

Ink/Toner cartridges.
Your DM goes through a lot of ink. I promise. Players do, too, but not on the same scale as the DM. Share that expense a little by buying him some ink for his printer. It's not sexy, but it'll be appreciated. The same could be true of a variety of other supplies that the DM goes though. Pepto, if they've got players like mine.

Commission some art
- Custom character portraits are something special. We're not all very good -- actually, most of us are kidding ourselves when we think we're indifferent artists -- but memorializing a character with a portrait is a great way of cementing a memory and the fun you've had in the game. And don't think that commissioned art is just for players -- maybe your DM has created a particularly memorable scene or NPC -- some art to commemorate that will also be very well appreciated.





The image I'm using as the illustration for this post is exactly that -- our group's "artist in residence", Rick Otey drew this after an encounter with seagoing goblins sailing a catamaran. It's one of my favorite memories from the campaigns I've run with that group, and in no small part that's because of this piece. So, thank you, Rick! Here's a link to an article with good guidelines for commissioning art by Jon Schindehette.

If that doesn't quite do it for you, check out Etsy for unique craft gifts. There's some interesting stuff in there, although you have to dig through a lot of goofy stuff that.


Do it yourself
- Creative effort can be the best gift. If you're an artist, create something for the game (see the art commission above). If you can string sentences together, write a summary of the campaign from your character's point of view -- or even better, start keeping a running journal of the game (like a story hour). If you make music, make some. I'm not sure if your DM needs a crochet dice cozy, but you could always make him one.
 
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