Recently, I started a Witchcraft campaign and while setting up for it, I was struck with a sudden panic. Where were all my accessories I needed in order to run this game? I had the rulebook, a few supplements in PDF, and some dice. But somehow I felt that I did not have enough stuff to run my game.
So what kind of stuff am I talking about? Well in my recently completed Iron Heroes I campaign, I had:
- Hardcover Core Book
- PDF supplements
- Dice Rolling tray
- Glass beads for Tokens
- Chessex Battlemat
- Fiery Dragon counters
- Some 3D terrain
- Fiery Dragon Iron Heroes Battlebox (with all sorts of cards and stuff)
In the D&D 4e game that I play in, I have:
- Hardcover Rulebook
- Dice rolling tray (Dwarven Sweatshoppe)
- Character sheet
- Power cards
- Some glass tokens to represent my Healing Surges and Action Points
- A painted miniature
Plus the GM has most of that stuff plus:
- Map Tiles
- Alea Magnetic Markers
So when I started to put together my Witchcraft campaign, realized that all I had was the rule book and some dice. And suddenly I very naked. Where are the accessories for this game?
So I got to thinking about accessories. Are they necessary? Are they helpful? Are they fun? I made up a list of Pro’s and cons for accessories, and I present them to you now.
- They can provide help with the rules: No doubt that my 4e power cards, and the combat cards from the Iron Heroes Battle Box were very helpful at keeping track of various rules, and kept me from looking up rules in the book all the time.
- They increase interest: Before I bought my Fiery Dragon counters set, I use to represent monsters in my game with some dice. But after I started using the counters, there was an different feel to our battles. Now you could actually see what each creature was, and their correct size. Add into that some of the 3D terrain, and suddenly the table is far more interesting.
- They create a tactile quality to the game: Most of the play in an RPG is in your mind. While in a board game, you have cool pieces, cards, etc. There is something to be said for being able to slap down your White Raven Onslaught onto the table, at the climax of the battle. A similar feeling is generated when moving your fully painted miniature 5 squares down the battlemat.
- Accessories cost money: Accessories are nice, but they add an additional cost to the game. Each miniature you buy, every counter set purchased, each piece of 3d terrain, is often money coming out of your pocket. The cost conscious GM may not want to plunk down more money for a few bells and whistles.
- They are a distraction: with so many things lying around the table, the distraction factor rises. Surely your players are listening to you, but they are also picking through your latest batch of mini’s oohing and ahhing at this one and that one.
- They stifle imagination: What sets an RPG apart from boardgames, is that the majority of the game play occurs in the players minds, through the descriptive narrative of the GM. If the table has color glossy map tiles, and to-scale monsters, how much of the game is occurring in players imaginations? What separates a fully tricked out D&D battle from something like Tannhauser?
So, where do you fall when it comes to accessories for your games? Are you a strict pen and dice guy, or do you have bins of Mini’s and stacks of map tiles in your game room? Do you find it helping your game? Or getting in the way?