Role-playing classic Dungeons and Dragons is a game that involves a lot of material preparation. At its simplest, D&D requires that a player group possess about three hardcover books, a set of dice, a character sheet, something to write with, and a surface of some sort. In most cases, players will all have most of these things, as well as some handy additions.
Moving beyond a simple game, certain editions might require a player to have access to multiple books for their individual purposes. We all know how important the backpack has become to tabletop gaming, and digital versions of relevant sourcebooks are such a simple improvement for a play experience. Here are some other accessories which will make your next campaign run a little smoother.
10 Problem: Dice Storage
If you’re a regular D&D player, you likely don’t just purchase a set of gaming dice and show up at your friend’s house to play. In most campaigns, relatively early on, players will inevitably encounter damage which is dealt with using multiples of the same die. With this in mind, we tend to stack up on those useful dice when we enter a game.
You can certainly make it through a game with one d20 and maybe even just one d12. Most gaming dice sets include two d10s for percentiles. But what you tend to add to these sets are the d6s and d4s, with the occasional duplicates of d8s. This doesn’t account for loaner dice. Before long, you’ll end up throwing tons of dice into your backpack gearing up and then struggling to sort them out.
9 Solution: Dice Bags
The remedy here is nice and simple. Dice bags are made to hold this hoard of dice in one place so that you can conveniently open it up and sift through for what you need. If you’re on a budget, you don’t even need to break the bank for an expensive bag, you can simply fashion one out of a bag you have lying around.
Want to take it to the next level? Plenty of sorting cases exist which will allow players to group dice by types. All your d4s can go in one compartment, then d6s, d8s, and so forth. On the higher end, some of these even contain dividers that can be moved and adjusted to fit your specific needs.
8 Problem: Battle Tracking
D&D requires imagination. You imagine the conversations, you imagine your character, you imagine the very world you’re playing in. What’s trickier is imagining the battle sequences.
To be clear, this doesn’t necessarily refer to individual actions. Those are typically explained and held in the imagination. A good DM might even have certain descriptors based on damage thresholds which can indicate to players the relative amount of damage being done without giving away actual numbers.
What’s more difficult is imagining locations, and no one wants to ask their DM for a reference every round.
7 Solution: Grids
Grids are an integral part of the game in identifying this. With grids, a whole battleground can be laid out, miniatures can be placed, and movements/positions can be tracked by everyone involved in the campaign. Aside from simple printed grid sheets, there are some amazing resources that have been developed that make this a lot smoother and more ecofriendly.
One of our favorite accessories for identifying grids is the dry-erase variant of battle grids which actually lets you draw and erase features. Using multiple colors, water obstacles, vegetation, and more can all be distinctly represented. Given that these are usually made to accommodate miniatures, and the plethora of miniatures available for common and iconic monsters, these are a must-have in every group’s inventory.
6 Problem: Randomizing Dice Rolls
Dice are imperfect by nature. Many serious players will scour for a perfectly balanced die, and various tests exist to test the worth of a die. As a general rule of thumb, the cheaper bulk options are typically not a player’s best bet.
All sorts of theories exist stating which material is best and debating which opacity is preferable. The sad truth is that with no wrongdoing on your part, you could easily be accused of manipulating your dice in your favor if you consistently come up as the benefactor of tossing your polyhedrons onto the table.
5 Dice Towers
What better way than to take sleight of hand out of the equation and produce results that can’t possibly be manipulated? Dice towers effectively do just that.
Very simple devices, a dice tower is just a chute in which you drop your dice into the top of and they spill out of the bottom. These are typically ridged inside so that the die gets a few spins in along the way down, making sure that the result received isn’t simply a toss and slide.
Since your dice are enclosed the whole way, there is no way to know ahead of time what you will get, and these eliminate some of the potential pitfalls of dice construction.
4 Problem: Scuffed Up Character Sheets
When you start a campaign, your character sheet will likely be pristine – wrinkle free and smudgeless. While some of us add and take away, assign and reassign, and rename our characters ten times in preparation for a new campaign, we all have that friend who works everything out before writing a single letter on their character sheet.
Five levels later, this is no longer a pristine character sheet. If the wear and tear of your binder or backpack haven’t already taken their toll, stat adjustments and HP tracking will. But of course, we have a solution for this.
3 Solution: Digital Character Sheets
Digital character sheets not only make the physical representation of your character more attractive; they are one less thing to maintain physically and have as much convenience as a drive-through. While we have our personal favorites, the options are plenty. From mobile versions to PC software, several developers have put their own personal spin on this to produce something convenient and compact enough to meet your needs.
Where this sees an added boost is for DMs who create more depth than just garden variety encounters. If you’re creating a custom boss, or even employing a recurring template, character sheets are to your benefit – and the convenience offered here is nothing to laugh at.
2 Problem: Keeping Control of Your Environment
Speaking of DMs, there is nothing more important for them than keeping a guiding hand over the world their players inhabit. The best DMs reveal enough to let players choose their path, but they’ve always got the world in motion. The key is control.
Playing as intended, DMs need to make a lot of rolls. Whether rolling for the probability of an encounter, checking a save for an NPC, or attacking players in combat, DMs typically need to make a few rolls to randomize the outcomes. But should your players know the results?
1 Solutions: DM Screens
The answer is a resounding “no.” They shouldn’t. Why not? Because maybe you’ve chosen to fudge the numbers a bit this time. Perhaps you just leveled a player in one hit from an encounter which is proving much more difficult than you had intended. And maybe you feel a bit of mercy.
Perhaps you want to create a wall. You have that charming beguiler playing the game and he has charmed every humanoid he encounters. Maybe you want to use the number you rolled and don’t want players knowing how close they came to an alternative. The DM screen can accomplish all of this, and you don’t even have to buy it. You can literally make a screen out of everyday household items.