Archive for Props

Modern Game Props

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 28, 2011 by boccobsblog

Props for games based in modern times have a serious advantage over those in fantasy or sci-fi games; they don’t have to be anachronistic or pass a believability test. Not to mention, modern props are so much easier to come by.

I don’t think a prop should just by a 3d representation in a game, I think it should be a puzzle you hand the players and allow them to follow the clues and leads it creates. When I was younger, I played a game by Infocom, called “The Witness” (1983), a text-based murder mystery that included several props: a matchbook, a real newspaper, letters, etc. I remember how those props added such depth and realism to the game.

You could get an entire campaign’s worth of adventures with a purse or wallet filled with props and leads, and for me that is the largely untapped potential of using props.

So here is a list of possible modern game prop ideas:

  • Flash drive/disk- You could fill this with clue, red herrings, photos, e-mails, links, documents, etc.
  • Toy gun/knife- beware, shoot your gm with an air soft gun and…
  • E-mail- Set up a fake e-mail account for your NPC and send the players cryptic notes
  • Website- Set up a fake MySpace or Facebook page, blog, Livejournal, etc. Fill the site with fake photos, and clues, and misleading information
  • Matchbook- You could take one for an existing business, or make one out of cardstock
  • Business card- You can buy business card paper for your printer
  • Cell phone- Take an old cell phone and put in a fake address book, take photos, set up  phony calls sent and received to act as clues to further leads
  • Newspaper- You could make a fake paper using programs like Publisher, or take a paper from the city your game is set in and add clues (circle dates, numbers, cut out articles, etc)
  • Video- Depends on how involved you want your props to be, you could make some amazing prop videos, fake home movies, etc.
  • Camera- digital, disposable, .35mm, filled with pictures to point to clues and adventure possibilities
  • Laptop- much like the above mentioned items, a laptop prop could be filled with enough clues, hints, and misleading information to sustain an entire campaign
  • Drug label- using sticker paper, make fake prescription labels
  • Diary- it would take some time, but you could create an entire fake journal for an npc that drops clues and hints about major plot points in the campaign

Larpers get to take the modern prop to the next level:

  • Address book- Is the killer listed? List addresses on npcs, businesses, and contacts. This could turn into an amazing cross town adventure tracking down leads
  • Bus station key- You could place clues in a bus station locker, and drop the key as a prop. The number of surprising things you could leave in there are unlimited.
  • Hotel key- A pricey version of the bus station locker key
  • GPS coordinates- use a Garmin or similar gps device to lead the pc’s to a remote location
  • Map- a low-tech version of the GPS, circle a location or make notes on a road map

D&D Props

Posted in D&D 3.5e DM Content, D&D 4e Content, The Crafty DM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2011 by boccobsblog

I have been reluctant to post this article, as my groups rarely use props (beyond the letter or map). That is not to say I wouldn’t use props, I think they could add a lot given the right group. Here is a list of possible props for use with your D&D, Savage Worlds, World of Darkness or any fantasy setting.

Beggar’s cup- put a few coins in to make noise, extend the cup to a player (form them to place a coin in), and tilt it so they can see a message folded up inside

Scrolls- Spells printed on parchment and sealed with wax and a seal or a ribbon

Sand timer/ hour-glass- I have always wanted to place a massive hourglass on the timer and announce that the players have one hour to exit the dungeon

Coins- Chocolate coins, foreign coins, or if you really want to shine: Campaign Coins

Lock Picks- Maybe the players didn’t know the NPC was a rogue in disguise until they search his room

Jewelry- I found awesome junk rings and brooches at the Good Will store for next to nothing (unless you count the weird looks from the lady at the counter or the hours of mocking from my wife)

Rocks or Geodes- Tumbled rocks can be purchased at a craft store for cheap. Maybe the work as keys or a spell focus

Compass- Maybe it points to treasure, or the last owner’s killer

Weapons- Every geek has a sword or a mace from the flea market or the Renn faire. Just don’t get all hopped up on Mountain Dew and start swinging it at folks

Sealed Letters- Card shops and specialty store carry fancy envelopes and stationary fit to write an invite to Castle Ravenloft on. Maybe find someone who can knows calligraphy to write the letter for you

Leather pouches- place a number of small coins, picks, props, notes, red herrings, in there and let the players figure it all out

Game board- I think we’ve all used a chess puzzle at one point or another

Cards- Skip a combat encounter and play a few hands of Three Dragon Ante with your players in their favorite tavern and give them xp for role-playing. Maybe use poker chips or campaign coins

Tarot cards- Read your players fortune and drop hints about upcoming adventures or let the cards write the next adventure for you

Runes- Take flat rocks and paint strange symbols on them. Make custom runes from clay, Sculpy, or Fimo. Place a codex in the dungeon to decode them

Keys- Buy some old skeleton at a junk shop or antique store. Use a fine tip Sharpie or a knife point to make cryptic markings on them

Books- Take an old book from the used book store or antique shop and hollow it out, or underline certain words that make a different message

Spell book, journal, – Take a blank book and fill it with dark symbols, runes, sketches, bits of information, lies, misdirection, distress, burn, waterlog the text to make it look ancient. Check out sites on Mythos Tomes to get ideas and inspiration

Puzzle Lock- One year at Gen Con, I went through a True Dungeon Session and we had to pick a lock, rather than rolling dice, the DM had an actual puzzle lock that we had to figure out. There are several degrees of locks available on the web, some are quite challenging

Old bottles- add water, a drop of food color, a cork and you got a potion.

Wooden Puzzle- I found some wooden puzzles at Mejiers for five dollars. My players kept finding small wooden pieces, and finally a strangely shaped lock. (note: you may want to build in a secondary path or make the locked room not essential to the adventure so things don’t grind to a halt if the player’s can’t figure out the puzzle.)

Puzzle Box- Hide maps, secrets, deeds, etc in a false bottom

Wand/ Staff- Take a stick from your yard, sand off the bark with coarse grit sandpaper, then smooth with a fine grit. Add a “crystal” to the tip by gluing on a piece of rock salt or quartz. If you really want to get detailed you could add runes with a knife or a wood burning tool

Figurine- A small glass or wooden animal could serve as a figurine of wondrous power.

Globe – Find an old globe at a yard sale, junk shop or Craigslist and repaint it with your game world map.

Gems- Take plastic or glass ‘gems’ from a craft store like Michaels or Hobbylobby and use them as gems, or Ioun stones

Hit those junk, antique,  and resale shops, as well as the Renn faire and find a prop for your game. As long as you’re willing to sculpt a story around the object, anything can serve as a great prop.

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