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You are here: Home --> Forum Home --> General Forum --> Gaming surveys --> Do you use gaming props?
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Chaotic Hungry
Karma: 38/6
406 Posts

Do you use gaming props?

So, just out of curiosity here… do you use props for your tabletop RPGs.

The GM of the last long-term campaign I played in at uni was a big fan of this sort of thing, handing out notes and letters addressed to our characters at almost every session. In retrospect I get the feeling he might have had a little too much time on his hands but it was a great touch and really fleshed the game out. When the party got conscripted we were each handed a little note, emblazoned with the city arms, informing our characters to report to the barracks at such a time or face charges of treason. When we decided to try our hand at bounty hunting he wrote up a list of our area’s most wanted, along with the charges each had been accused of, and we spent the next few sessions trying to bring some of them to justice. When our character spent time at the library between sessions, trying to find out a little more about some of his game world’s monsters, he wrote up a couple of pages of IC information from treatises supposedly written by some of the city’s experts and scholars (which generally weren’t all that reliable, being peppered with all sorts of odd rumours and interesting tangents). We also found all manner of weird stuff over the course of our adventures… medical reports from a dodgy military experimentation programme, a message from a demon etched on human skin (red paint on some kind of leather off cut) and no end of similar goodies.

A fun touch was that as the game progressed (it ran for over four years, two of them before I even arrived at uni) the players were encouraged to contribute to the system’s paraphernalia. We’d write letters to some of the game’s NPCs and receive replies IC. My last character was a priest who would occasionally compose prayers between sessions and send written reports back to his temple. One player character wrote up a few pages hypothesising on the nature of the game world’s undead and it found its way back into play a couple of years later when the current batch of PCs headed down to the library to do some research of their own (and, of course, accepted it as gospel, not knowing that the person who wrote it was as much in the dark as they were).

Anyhow, have you ever tried anything similar in any of your games? I’ve heard stories online of people bringing things like swords and torches along to their (tabletop) games or coming along dressed up as their characters. I’d be curious to hear what kinds of things other people have tried and what they found worked best to encourage immersion in the game.

Posted on 2008-02-06 at 00:49:24.

RDI Fixture
Karma: 44/13
612 Posts

On human skin? EWWWW

Heh, sounds inventive. But to play a good game, I find an important part is having mature gamers and a mature DM. It's hard to find any of the above who have that much free time on their hands. My DM has thrown out a FEW props in his day. He likes to do maps, and he has a lot of fun catching important papers on fire. What do I mean? Well, when we finally find the map while the bad-guys are in the process of throwing all the important paperwork in the fire. And one time the party knocked a piece of paper into the fire and he had foreseen it and pre-burned the corner of the page midsentence of the "No matter what don't -". So yeah, we do some props, but we always say "If you want real life, go outside." Good survey, I will keep up with this one.

Posted on 2008-02-06 at 04:28:47.

Typing Furiously
RDI Staff
Karma: 176/19
3011 Posts

nice one

You can find some examples of props in the Tips and Tools of the Trade forum.

When I just started playing Adnd, our DM had a habit of puting something on the table we played at before we came in. So one time it would be a sword, another time it would be a key or some other item related to the adventure. It somehow got us in the mood faster.

I used my share of maps. One time I made a map with a secret symbol of an assassin's guild, written in lemon juice. At some point in the game the players were suspects of a crime and they carried that map with them. One of the guards held a fire near that map and the symbol appeared. That didn't work in their favour.
I held a lighter near the map for real, and the symbol appeared on the real map. It then became a big lead on how to find the assassins.

Posted on 2008-02-06 at 10:25:34.

Kool Killer Kitty
Karma: 64/6
1685 Posts

Yep and yep

I have used props in the past, but that's only because I DM infrequently so I have time to prepare. Some of the best campaigns I've played in are those in which the DM has used props, or has even just affected amusing accents to flesh out the NPCs.

I have also played with people who have dressed up. But in my opinion I always found that they looked a little ridiculous!

Posted on 2008-02-06 at 11:58:32.

RDI Fixture
Karma: 70/16
582 Posts


I use the occasional prop when I DM. Usually just notes or little odds and ends... sometimes a key. I just love the look on the players' faces when instead of "You find such and such. It's a " you can just say, "You find this..." and hand it to them. No more glossy eyed stares.

I've found that if you're running the kind of game where the players have to solve the puzzles (opposed to characters simply making a knowledge check or something) the props really help.

Posted on 2008-05-30 at 09:31:03.

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