Tools for the Cheapskate DM

Tools for the Cheapskate DM

Custom Dice Tray

I made a DM tool this weekend that I'm really proud of and would like to share. Have you ever tried to roll dice on a crowded table or better yet on a book while lying on the living room floor?  Or how about playing a game with little ones who tend to throw the dice off the table?  Well I got to thinking about this. I've seen dice mats on line, but being a cheapskate, I would never shell out the big bucks for these.  I thought about making my own dice table out of wood and staining it a dark color, but then I thought about something easier.  A trip to Walmart and about $4 later and I have a perfect dice table that any DM would be proud to own.  Picture frames come cheap (plastic ones anyway).  And I was able to find one with an antique brass colored frame.  I popped the glass out, used some spray adhesive and attached a black felt cloth to it.  The felt actually had a backing on it and had I inspected it more carefully, would have realized that the paper pulled off and had a sticky backing ready to go.  Nevertheless, when reassembled, I had a flat, noiseless, rolling surface with a classy frame.  The dice stay in really well (unless you get carried away and really fling them hard).  This could be solved by finding a frame with deeper sides.  Anyway, there are millions of styles of frames out there and many are cheap  to come by.  The whole process took about ten minutes and was well worth it.


DIY Binder Clip DM Tools

Disclaimer--I have researched the internet for something like this, but have yet to find anything exactly like it. I can honestly say, that this is an original thought for me. It felt like a brainstorm at the I hope it will be useful to you. This will either seem like a great idea or hmmmm....been there done that...

Here's the situation. I've often wanted to incorporate images the players can view while the game is in session. If your game table is like mine, space is scarce being filled up with notes, figures, dice, more dice, rulebooks, DM binder, DM screen, oh and more dice. I've seen DMs place post it notes along the top of their screen and I thought that I could improve this a little. Let's say, I have a cool image of an enchanted forest (maybe download from National Geographic's website) and I want to display it to help set the atmosphere when the players enter the forest. I can use binder clips to make this happen.

Another use for this would be to display a coat of arms whenever the PCs enter certain noble's territory or maybe the file card can have a picture of the orc clan's totem to declare to the PCs that this is the tribal lands of the Broken Bone clan.

Here's what I've done.

You will need: two binder clips (small ones work great), one paperclip, and one filecard.

Step 1: Put the binder clips back-to-back.

Step 2: Place the paperclip between the two binder clips, holding them together.

Step 3: Fold up one binder clip's metal arms (but leave the other down).

Step 4: Yes, this may be a painful one (especially if you have a brand new Labyrinth Lord DM Screen!) but dm screens are meant to be used. Clip this creation to the top of your dm screen making sure one set of binder clip arms are sticking up.

Step 5: Place file cards, photos, etc. in the clip arms. It should keep the file card secure and allow your players to view the object without it getting in your way.

That's it! Love it or hate it, maybe you can use it for your game!

Enjoy!  ~jcftao

A Dice Corral Woodworking Project for the Adventurous DM!

If your'e like me you often have to turn the gaming table upside down to find your dice. Here is a simple project for you...simple that is if you have a father-in-law with some carving tools! (Thanks Tom!) Using some gouges I spent about an hour cutting out the center of a piece of wood. This would be the start to carving a bowl or tray using hand tools. I left the rough marks purposefully because it looked interesting. And there you have it...add a little wood stain and you have a custom dice tray. Love it or hate it...let me know what you think.

Cutting a large circle with woodworker's gouge

Dice Corral

Woodworking Project Part 2   Turn Tracker

While carving out my dice tray (see project above), I decided to make a turn tracker. Use the same process as for the dice tray, but carve six small circles and a larger oval for the end. When you need to keep track of a spell, torch, or other game duration, just place an object in the appropriate circle and move it once towards the oval at the end of each turn or round.
Let me know if you use something like this, how you use it, and what you think.


Using a gouge to carve the circles

Almost done...need to cut the board to size and stain it

I use colored stones to mark passage of time (six turns = 1 hour)