Tag Archives: role-play

Role playing on the super cheap.

I’m going to tell you a little secret, you don’t need all the crap. All the books, figures, maps, expansions, subscriptions and who knows what else. In fact, role-playing is one of the cheapest hobbies out there, second only to watching paint dry, and much more fun.

You’ve probably seen the paragraph in your favourite game core rule book entitled “What you need to play the game.” It probably mentions a pencil and scrap paper, dice and the book the text is printed in, with a copy of some of the main books for the Game Master (GM) and a book of baddies. This has been the trend with a number of books, but some publishers have offered the whole game in one book, such as Mouse Guard, Warhammer FRP and many indie games. These companies usually offer a number of additional books to help you expand the game, but generally you can get by without them. Some games, including some really good ones, are absolutely free. Just google Pokethulhu and download a copy of the rules, it’s a great system that can be adapted to play in any setting.

You will need to buy dice, and role-players are pretty grumpy when it comes to sharing their dice, so be sure to buy your own set. I don’t think there’s such a thing as good or bad dice, roll them hard enough and you’ll eventually roll high. I recommend getting a set including at least a D4, D8, two different coloured D10’s, a D12 and a D20. Anything else is superfluous. For the D6’s I recommend getting a set of board game dice in a few colours, which you can take from Monopoly, because who plays Monopoly since Settlers of Catan came out anyway?

Another neat trick about dice that will save you some cash, but generally slows down play is to use a D6 to make up the rolls of less common dice:
D4: roll a D6 but refill any result of 5 or 6.
D8: roll for odds or evens, then roll as you did for the D4, multiplying the result by 2 if you rolled evens.
D10: roll for odds and evens, then roll again and reroll any sixes. 1-5 is your result if you got odds, 6-10 if you got evens. Use this method to roll up D100’s as usual.
D12: roll for odds and evens, then a roll of the D6 is 1-6 for odds and 7-12 for evens.
D20: roll like you would a D10 above, but with an extra roll to decide if it’s a result from 1-10 or 11-20. This is quite a hassle, but a neat party trick. I’d recommend you get a D20 though, it’s like a sign that you’re a role-player, an open minded individual who sees the world in full colour and not just as little game pieces on a fold out game board.

As for the rest, there is so much free stuff out there that you can get deep into the hobby without much overhead. Still, I’d like to say that I’m all for supporting the game developers and publishing houses that sweat blood so we can play better games. As a writer I have some idea of the effort that goes into brining quality to the table, and it isn’t cheap. You can support them without breaking the bank by buying digital versions of your favorite games from places like Drive Thru RPG.

It’s NaNoWriMo month so I’m back to the trenches. Let me know what tips you have for saving hard earned cash and especially any free RPG’s you’d like to recommend.

Getting Mappy!

Today I’m going to give you some quick insights into map making, so you can make your location and encounter maps even more awesome.



Good planning is the key. Draw out a rough map of what you want in pencil, so that you can change it as you go. You’ll usually find that as you draw the map out certain things become apparent, such as a door which needs to be moved for better access or a room that is just too small for its use. Once you have the basic design, redraw the map on grid paper using an appropriate scale, you’ll find it’s helpful to refer to your rough map to get everything to fit nicely. Flesh out your map with details and make note on what you’re creating, such as who were the origional inhabitants of the place and how special features operate. Knowing what each room is used for will help you add details that make the room more alive.

Bringing it to the Table

There are a number of ways you can bring your map to the table. You might use a dry-erase board or you might want to use map tiles or draw out your map on grid paper if you want to use it as a battle map. If you’re going to use the map as a handout, a good idea is to make a GM only copy with notes and secret doors marked on it, and another players copy that only shows what the PC’s would see.

Reuse ‘Em

Seriously, as a GM you’ll be creating loads of content, and you should re-use everything, even if it’s just keeping notes on what works and what doesn’t work so you can recreate something later. As a writer of role-playing content I’ve seen the benefit of re-using something to get a better something and the time saving can be huge.

Remember that nothing exists in a void (unless you’re designing a room in a void), and there should be reasons for everything. Details like furniture, tools and even waste add meaning and make a map more real.

Do you have any map tips? Share them with us by leaving a comment below.