Essentials for Gaming

2007 October 15
by Stupid Ranger

I’ve noticed a trend recently of DMs posting about the various tools they use when running a campaign, so I decided to share the tools I use as a player for gaming.
#1: My Character Sheet. While my character does live in my imagination, and I can roleplay her without a character sheet, I still consider it one of the top requirements for playing from a mechanics point of view. Skill checks, saves, combat rolls all require those numbers on that wonderful sheet. I also record goals for my character development, such as what feat I want to take next, or how many skill points I need to meet the prereq’s for the prestige class.

#2: My PHB. I could survive without a Player’s Handbook, but I would always prefer my copy at hand. To me, my PHB is an extention of my character sheet because I write notes in the margins. When I play a cleric, I’ll mark which spells I have for the day. I marked the equipment I commonly buy when I roll-up a new character. I have all the important pages for my character are already tabbed with sticky-notes. And, of course, as a rules lawyer, I need my PHB handy to settle any disputes.

#3. Dice. Another requirement for game mechanics… but regardless of their necessity, I need dice when I play just because they make me happy. Hello, I’m Stupid Ranger, and I’m addicted to Gamer’s Crack.

#4. Pencil. Not pen. Pencil… ‘cuz life changes as you play, and you have to record those events as they happen. Loss (or gain) of hit points, new skill points, new treasure… all much easier to record (and un-record when you sell stuff) when you can erase.

#5. Notebook. I’m one of the note-takers for the group, so I keep a notebook beginning at the onset of the campaign. I keep track of main quests, side quests, small towns where we got supplies, colorful innkeepers who impart some random bit of wisdom. I keep track of the loot acquired before it is divvied up among the rest of the party.

#6. Additional Supplements. If I’m using a supplemental book, I make sure it is with me.

#7. Sugar & Caffeine. Gotta have ’em both.

For the other players lurking out there… what kind of tools do you need?

9 Responses leave one →
  1. Myers permalink
    October 15, 2007

    I always like to have some music playing in the background. We used to listen to a lot of Arabic music during one campaign. The lyrics didn’t distract us since we couldn’t understand what what being sung.

    I have a large foam d20 that is useful for rolling off someone’s head.

    Soda is essential.

  2. Granger44 permalink
    October 16, 2007

    I’ve replaced all but #6 and #7 with my tablet PC. I use OneNote for my character sheet and to take notes. I use electronic dice. And I use one of the many d20 SRD sites in place of the PHB.

    Now if only WoTC would provide free/really cheap PDF versions of their supplements, I could just bring my tablet PC and snacks/drinks.

  3. yax permalink
    October 16, 2007

    Caffeine! That’s what it’s all about.

  4. Stupid Ranger permalink
    October 16, 2007

    Myers – during our college campaigns, music was essential. Since then, we’ve kinda phased it out, but there are times when I really miss it.

    Granger – I have been known to use my laptop for documenting character development, but I always go back to the notebook for documenting the plot points. I have a short attention span, so I need to avoid connections to the Internet. 🙂

    Yax – Lots and lots of caffeine! The more the merrier! 🙂

  5. ChattyDM permalink
    October 16, 2007

    Mountain Dew Power!

    Sorry, being a DM I can’t contribute mych more than that…

    Sheet Protectors… use them to preserve your Char Sheets.

    Oh and add a little white label on your HP space to strengthen the space where you write and erase all the time…. because I hear some Dmlike to deal damage! 🙂

  6. Stupid Ranger permalink
    October 16, 2007

    Phil: The sticker idea is a good one… I haven’t tried that one.

  7. ChattyDM permalink
    October 17, 2007

    Total Hijack here….

    Hey Stupid Ranger…. you know and refer to me by my first name (well actually it’s Philippe-Antoine, but Phil is fine with me)….

    But there are no mentions about any of your real names on this here finest of RPG group blogs.

    Is there a special reason for that?

    Cuz personally I’d love to say ‘Sarah, the Stupid Ranger Herself, said so and so’ whenever I link to your posts…

    Do note that it’s for personal taste reasons I ask…. as you know, I have a very French reluctance at calling a girl ‘Stupid’… 🙂

  8. RandyT permalink
    October 17, 2007

    If you use sheet protectors then you might be able to use dry erase markers or grease pencils directly on the protector to mark HP damage. We used the grease pencils since they didn’t accidentally smear off.

  9. Stupid Ranger permalink
    October 22, 2007

    I had some success once by using matte finish scotch tape on the areas of the character sheet that tend to get the most use: skills, hit points, etc. It worked pretty well, since it was easier to erase without tearing the paper, but I still wasn’t thrilled with the outcome. I usually just transfer all the important info to a blank copy ’round about 10th level.

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