So you've decided you want to start a new campaign, and you feel like you've got everything ready. You got your resources together, your players are prepared and ready with fresh new characters and the date and time are set for your first session. But something feels... missing maybe?
You're excited and prepared but you want to take this new campaign to the next level! But you don't exactly have the funds to buy all the D&D accessories you crave, but don't worry! There are plenty of items you can make at home that work just as well for a fraction of the price. Here are 10 DIY Things You Can Do To Help DM Your Next Campaign.
10 "Aged" Paper
While it isn't required, adding props can be a fun addition to the game that can help players really get involved. Even making a prop as simple as a scroll can add a bit of flair to any campaign, and it's fairly simple to make! Using a tutorial like Kayla Domeyer's, a DM can make tons of "aged" paper using simple items found around the house.
You just need coffee (or tea), thick white copy paper, a tray for the paper and a place to dry it. This paper can also be printed on (after being dried and ironed out) if you prefer to use calligraphy fonts versus writing on it yourself.
9 DM Screen
The DM screen is, typically, one of the most needed accessories for D&D, it's how the DM keeps the air of mystery and intrigue of the game. Publishers offer lots of great screens for purchase, but for any DM that wants theirs to have their own personal touch, there are plenty of ways to make a custom one.
For a small and more compact one, you can use presentation binders and even put handy information for your players to know on the outside of it. Anyone who wants to be a bit handier can make one out of a tri-fold display board, cutting it down to size and adorning the inside with everything you might need. As a bonus, you can decorate it however you want!
8 Card Wallet Spellbook
For a DM with players that have characters with magical talents (wizards, clerics, warlocks, etc.) they can wind up with quite a few spells at their disposal, especially in the case of wizards.
Royalfarris made some custom spellbooks for their players using an inexpensive card wallet with plastic credit card sleeves. Spell cards can easily fit into the sleeves and are readily within reach and can be looked through whenever a player needs them.
7 Initiative Tracker
Most games can be divided into two "phases" the RP phase where most of the plot and the party's interactions happen. And then there's the combat phase where most of the "action" takes place. Depending on a DM's and their players' personal taste, every session can see at least a little combat. When it's time to fight, you as the DM will have your players roll for initiative.
But sometimes it's hard to keep track of initiative, but fear not, for you can make a simple but handy initiative tracker! An initiative tracker can be anything; binder clips, clothespins, even just paper markers with characters' names and the names of their opponents.
6 Affect Of Area Templates
Most spells in D&D have what is called an "area of effect". Its area of effect is basically how wide of a range the spell has and any creature that is in that range runs the risk of being affected by it. Depending on the spell, it can have a long, medium or short-range and sometimes it's a little difficult to tell just how wide of a range a spell has.
But a DM can help out their players, and themselves, by making AoE templates. Using the spell's description they can create a template in the shape of the spell (cone, circle, a blast etc) to make a physical representation of a spell's range. No longer will you or your players go back and forth debating if a spell hits an enemy target or not!
5 Custom Dice Tower
The history of dice towers actually goes back a long way as they've been used since at least the 4th century, back in Roman days. They were used for the same reason that they're used today, to ensure more fair, consistent and random rolls. Dice are dropped into it from the top and they bounce off different platforms inside and roll to the front.
There are tons of lovely professionally crafted dice towers available to buy, but for DMs on a budget, you can still have one of these lovely gaming devices by building it yourself. For those that are handier, you can make one out wood but it's also possible to make a simple one out of cardboard, following these instructions.
4 Spell Slot Tokens
There are tools like dndbeyond that can help players keep track of spent spell slots. But, for a DM with players who don't want to spend the money for a subscription (and who need a little help remembering), there's the option to make spell slot tokens. GMXIX created the ones shown above, using poker chips adorned with stickers.
Each sticker has a number that represents a spell slot. Players who use spells can get the number of tokens that equal their spell slots and as they use them they can put them off to the side (or in a bowl or box) to signify them "spending" it. You can take things a step further by creating a place for spent chips that can be recovered with a short or long rest.
3 Flat Screen Battle Map
So you're starting a campaign but you don't have the money to buy physical terrains and miniatures, or the time to make your own. If you have a flat-screen tv that you don't mind using (and if you trust your players not to damage it), you can quickly assemble your very own digital battle map!
Using a flat-screen that doesn't have its HDMI ports in the back, you can place it on its back on the table and use digital battle maps from places like Youtube or Map Tool. And now you have an unlimited amount of battle maps at your disposal and you can wow your players with this simple but amazing DIY!
2 Laminated Character Sheets
Probably one of the greatest tools a DM can hand their players is... a character sheet. Some might disagree but the character sheet is often an overlooked tool in D&D. It has most of all the important information of every member of the party; their class and stats, all their weapons, any abilities or racial traits they have and more. It never hurts for a DM or their players to have it handy. Typically your players will write their stats in pencil since as the campaign goes on their stats will change.
But instead of having them erase to make changes and potentially ruin the sheet, you can just laminate it! Laminating character sheets makes making changes easier and neater. Also, in the case of character death, players can simply use the same sheet.
1 Healing Potion Dice Bottles
Unless your players have a cleric or two in their party, they'll probably end up buying and consuming many Healing Potions throughout the campaign. The way Healing Potion works is that players will roll a set number of dice and whatever roll they get determines how many Hitpoints they get back.
A neat way to help players keep track of their Healing Potions and see how many Hitpoints they get back is to make Healing Potion dice bottles. A simple glass or clear plastic bottle can be used to hold tiny dice that players can shake and roll to get their results.