It’s day 10 of the Blogging for GMs project, and I’d like to talk about props. (My internet connection was down all weekend, which is why I had to skip days 8 and 9 of the project — sorry about that!)

I’ll share the story of my favorite prop to get things rolling, but I’m more interested in hearing your answer to this open question: how do you use props in your game?

What got me thinking about this topic was my friend Don Mappin’s post about props, Props for the Peeps. His post is the best overview of using props in your game that I’ve ever read, largely because it addresses what props are for, and it’s well worth a look.

As far as my own experiences go, I was pretty into props when I first started GMing, and I’m much less into them now. I don’t know exactly why things changed, but I suspect it has a lot to with time constraints — I was 12 when I started GMing, and I had a lot more free time then than I do now, at 28!

At the same time, as a player I love props — simple or elaborate, it doesn’t matter: I like having stuff to interact with at the table. That’s part of the reason why I’m curious how TT readers employ props in their game — I wouldn’t mind getting fired up about props again from the GMing end of things, because they can be a lot of fun.

My favorite prop that I’ve ever made was kind of a two-parter. Part one was the actual prop: a message written in a fantasy language on something that looked like parchment. In its own right, it was a pretty average prop. The second part is what made it interesting: when the player handed it to a sage to get it translated, the sage named an enormous price; the player said no — so the sage tore up the message.

The player came up with the idea of gluing it back together with flour and water — which was setting-appropriate, and actually works — and with me helping (as an NPC), we did just that. I was pretty young at the time (maybe 14 or 15) and I probably wouldn’t have torn up the message if this had come up in a more recent game — but at the time, we both had a lot of fun with it.

Of the props you’be used for your game, which ones are your favorites? Do you use props at all — and if not, why? Any tips for speeding up the process, or making props that look elaborate but are actually quite simple?