Monday, August 13, 2012

Tactile Treasures

I love using props to spice up a game session. Although the D&D game (regardless of edition) has a foundation in imagination the tactile is still important. For example the feel of the dice alone and that ever so familiar clack as they strike the table cannot be replaced. I have seen a few players turn to app dice rollers and character sheets on their touch device only to return to the real deal. People love tactile mixed with a good dose of visual communication. Players perk up and you have their attention as soon as a prop hits the table.

I have used everything from coffee stained and baked parchment maps to candle lit game sessions with a fog machine. Players LOVE to have the actual items right there in front of them to pass around and look at. Just this past weekend my family and I went to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire which is loaded with prop ideas. Everything from leather bound tomes, unique glass bottles, globes, gnarled wooden staffs, dungeon keys, weapons, armor, wizardly rings, hour glasses, and scrolls.

I encourage any gamer to make the trek to their local Renaissance Faire for inspiration. Not only in props but watching the acting troops and how they portray their characters. One thing I paid close attention to on my recent visit was the commoners, e.g. the peasants. I thought the actors and actresses did a wonderful job of role playing all the “locals” of this imaginary medieval town. In terms of providing flavor for players in any urban setting I walked away with some great ideas.
Even a chest of plastic gems makes a great prop

I imagine props and gaming are early foundation blocks for Live Action Role Play. Although I have never participated in a LARP (beyond my backyard as a kid) I can understand the interest it generates. Recently I have begun investigating various websites which sell LARP gear. They are a fantastic resource for table top gaming props.  A simple Google search will return such wonderful resources as the LRP Store  - a treasure trove of potential prop ideas.
In closing I would suggest just taking a look around your own house. You will be shocked with what you may find in some old Halloween decoration box. Another good source of cheap props if you are creative is your local Arts & Crafts store. My wife and I frequent them often to find fun crafty stuff for our kids to do. And without fail we always leave with at least one item to be potentially used for a table top game. Even if your group is primarily what I would categorize as imagination only give a few props a try – I bet you will be surprised by the result!