Monday, September 15, 2014

Game Props Part 2: Maps and Scroll Cases

I think maps were the first props given out in the TSR modules.  Some sort of players map you could copy and give to them.  Always a copy because 1) you don't want to defile your adventure module 2) the players grubby Cheeto stained hands and dexteritys of 4 would spill pop all over your map. 

Getting that map was very cool.  I don't remember what adventure module it was, but getting that map broke through a wall.  We had an artifact from the game we were playing.  Sure Monopoly had its fake money, but that wasn't a game of the imagination.  D&D, having that first map handed to you made the game that more interesting.

So of course what soon followed were homemade map handouts.  I think most of you grognards out there can back me up on this one.  To age the map we would take a lighter and burn the edges.  Never mind that it might be drawn on notebook or graph paper.  It was important to get that cool aged edge.

a properly google ganked image of the lighter edge technique

What happened more often than not you'd burn the entire map because you couldn't get the fire out.  Or you would burn off a section of the map that you wanted to keep.  Making aged maps was not for sissies . 

Another technique people use was using tea to age the paper.  I don't know about you, but I didn't have any tea in my home.  I had Coke.  Coke doesn't work.  1) it made everything sticky.  I hate being sticky.  2) the carbonation ate away paper fibers if you used the wrong kind of paper or 3) it devoured the ink off the page so it was an indecipherable mess.

use tea, as you can see there is no disintegration and it won't be sticky, very important
 If you wanted to get really fancy smacy and you'd almost be dabbling in arts and crafts at this point was making a map/scroll case.  I used a use paper towel thingy.  I colored it with paint, do some sort of half ass design and wa la.  Problem was I was never smart enough to figure out how to cap the ends.  So I would roll my freshly singed map inside and hope it didn't fall out.

This concludes Part 2 of my Gaming Props series.  


  1. This is a long comment - sorry!
    I used to use tea and coffee (but never tried Coke!) to age the paper, and then hit on a really good method which didn't leave a strong smell. Take your ordinary white cartridge paper and put it on an up-turned flat clean metal grill tray, smooth metal not the wire grille piece. Put it under a low grill and KEEP WATCHING CLOSELY! This will take a minute maybe, and the paper will essentially start to burn, or at least brown a bit. It will look darker when you look into the grill, but keep pulling the tray out every couple seconds to make sure it gets to the shade you are after. Obviously, as the grill heats up, the browning will get faster. It will be patchy due to the vagaries of the temperature patches inside the grill box.
    Once browned, let that paper cool for a minute or two, then take a straight-edge or ruler and hold it tight to the paper, parallel to an edge about 5mm in. Then tear the edge of the paper along the straight edge, taking off a little strip. This will give a hand-made paper edge, sort of. Do it after the paper is cooked, or the rough fibres will burn too fast.
    The paper will have cockled and warped, so flatten it under a heap of books for a day or so, then you can use the manual feed on your printer to put a printed map over the top, or just hand-draw for extra specialness.

  2. "Coke makes everything sticky."

    I should be writing this stuff down.

  3. I once did a map on a piece of cut out brown paper bag. I then curmpled and re-crumpled the paper until it was the texture of aged, thin leather. It worked really well.

    1. That's a nice idea, I'm going to have a go at that.