Monday, October 19, 2009

Gaming Props Pro or Con

A couple of weekends ago at the Day of Gaming in Erie, Rob ran a great first adventure with Al and I. He used a erasable marker on a battle mat and we had a blast. A very simple execution that kept the game rolling along.

The second game he used (I can’t remember the exact name of the product or company) dungeon wall props. They were great looking, but it took up time to set up each hallway and room. Of course he did not build it ahead of time because we could only see the dungeon as we explored. The walls did look great, but it was tough to keep the flow of the excitement because each time we moved it took five minutes to setup the walls. This took me out of the game and I would gladly sacrifice the ‘look’ for the ‘play’.

The other con for me was that when you tried to move your figure there was a difficulty level 25 to not to knock down the walls as you moved your figure. I failed my check a lot. And beware of bumping the table. You know how graceful all us gamers are.

Rob was given the dungeon walls and I heard that set ran about $80 to $100 and you could only built a few corridors and rooms with them so the same pieces needed to be reused as we explored. He would have needed to buy at least four to five more of the sets to build the dungeon.

I ask the question is it worth to other out there in blog land? For me keeping it simple and bump the table resistant is the best. Miniatures on a erasable battle mat is about as wild as I like to get. Okay, maybe different color markers to make the water blue and trees green, but that’s only when I’ve gone mad. So keeping it simple on the props, keep the focus on the adventure and to maintain the mood you’ve worked so hard to develop is for me.


  1. I'm with you on this one - never been a big fan of elaborate props during play.

  2. As long as you've got a buy-in from your players, you can pull off the huge Dwarven Forge table-sized dungeon. Just tell them at the outset: "Tonight we are going to do a dungeon crawl using these awesome toys and props I just got." That way they will revel in the tactile experience of the evolving dungeon, and won't be too disappointed if the game's pace is rather slow.

    Sounds like a couple great games!

  3. When I bother to, I use either quick sketch-maps on paper, or for more elaborate set-ups, a dry-erase board on the table, with different coloured markers.

    Most of the time, I simply describe.

    That said, I do own a couple hundred plastic minis (MageKnight, HorrorClix, and Heroscape), and a few Master Sets of Heroscape terrain. However, I don't often mix my minis with RPing, but rather, 'wargaming'.

  4. It was the room and passage set from the Mastermaze series from Dwarven Forge.

    I looked at the $100 or so price for the other stuff and mostly "blah" about getting any more.

    I am not going to use it when I goto GASPcon in Pittsburgh.

    But the accessory stuff seems worth it. They got a nice tavern set that I can throw out quickly as well as dungeons dressing and dungeons stuff.

  5. I rarely use props, but when I do I go all out.

    Not for exploring though, usually for when the PC's are defending an area, or in known terrain. Like defending their manor

  6. Thanks for the cautionary tale.

    I have some Hirst arts dungeon pieces that I recently built.

    I think I will stick with Timeshadow's recommendation, and keep those aside for wargaming and dungeoncrawl nights.

  7. Blue and green?

    Oh man, I gotta tell the guys about this - we've been using red and black for months now... ;-)

    I've found that dioramas can help play but prep is essential to make it stand out.

  8. I usually use a sketch map, when something is need. We'll probably go to a mat with markers and minis, at the request of some of my players, but only for those instances where spatial relationships are important to the action. We have four cats so we don't do anything elaborate around our house, including puzzles, breakable holiday decorations, or plants (we have a cat that thinks house plants are his personal salad bar--he once ate six poinsettias without ill effects, at least any we noticed).