Seasons greetings and happy holidays to all this fine Christmas Day! To show our appreciation to you, our dear readers, we Gnomes are giving you a gift for being such dedicated devourers of the stew!
Here is our gift to you. Enjoy!
What did I get? What did I get?
Your gift is a zip file with the files needed for you to create your own tokens (or pogs) to use as replacements for miniatures during your next gaming session.
The site that inspired me to do this is Newbie DM and I encourage you to read the original blog post. It is a great resource. Read it, and you will not be disappointed.
Now I am not suggesting that you stop using miniatures. I have quite a collection of them myself, but tokens have some advantages and you might find them to be well worth your time to create. They are lighter than most miniatures, they are easier to store and transport than miniatures, and you can create the exact kind of token that you need as long as you can find an image suitable to use. Plus tokens are considerably cheaper to create than it is to buy and paint miniatures.
If you run a lot of convention games like I do tokens are sure to become one of your favorite GMing tools. Being able to carry literally hundreds of tokens in a small container in my backpack allows me to bring entire armies to the game table without lugging around heavy cases. And unlike miniatures tokens do not get easily damaged when dropped. Not that a damaged token is a huge loss to begin with, but a damaged miniature can be tragic.
This solution is for Windows users, but with a little work and some substitute applications I know that the basic process can work with Linux systems and Macs as well.
Update: Gnome Stew reader Theodore Minick has provided this file for users of The GIMP (another free and multi-platform friendly software package). He also provided the following instructions:
1) Export your token from Tokentool as a 256×256 pixel image.
2) Open it in GIMP.
3) Add the Layers by clicking File/Open as Layers and select the .xcf file.
4) Toggle the visibility of the layers that you don’t want to see (I’ve added a “Facing” triangle, since I use facing rules in my game).
5) Save the image.
I have provided all of the templates that I use for creating tokens as PNG (Portable Network Graphics) so that you can easily port them into any application that you would prefer to use.
To create your own tokens you will need:
- To download and install Paint.Net (this software is free).
- Also download and install TokenTool (also free).
- A printer and paper (I prefer to use #110 cardstock, but regular paper will work as well).
- A large 1” hole punch.
- A white glue stick.
- A pair of scissors.
- Some form of a backing. Cardboard, large washers, etc., will work just fine. You just need something to glue the token faces to that is approximately the same width in diameter. For 1” tokens I use these wooden alphabet sticker tiles.
You can buy large hole punches in several sizes both larger and smaller than 1”. For larger tokens I cut my backer out of foamboard with a circle cutter, and for tokens smaller than 1” I use a foamboard hole drill.
Acquiring all of these different tools can be expensive (I already had most of them for another project), so I suggest only creating 1” tokens to start with as you will only need to buy a 1” hole punch (about $8) and the wooden alphabet tiles (a package of 52 costs $2). If you like using the tokens you can then move onto making larger and smaller types.
First Step: Find images and “tokenize” them.
Launch TokenTool and change the token border to one of the circle options provided. Also change the Width and Height settings to “96” as this is the DPI (Dots Per Inch) that is used by many systems.
Now search the web for an image (<insert bad pun here>) and drag that image onto TokenTool’s workspace. Center it and adjust as needed using the Edge Correction and Zoom buttons. Choose to save the token from the File menu providing a name and a location. TokenTool creates a PNG file for you.
Below you can see the token I created when I searched the web with the phrase “terror of the gaming tables”. Who knew?
Second Step: Layer the token.
Extract the contents of the Tokens.zip file to a location on your system. Launch Paint.Net and open the file Tokens.pdn that you extracted.
On the right you will notice a window named “Layers”. Paint.Net allows you to have different layers and if you check a box next to a layer it becomes visible. I have provided several grids to help you place tokens of various sizes. For now just leave these alone. They come in handy when you want to create many tokens at once, but you do not need them if you are creating only a few tokens.
Tokens.pdn is setup to use a DPI of 96 and it is 7.5” x 10”. This means that you can print it using half inch margins on an 8.5” x 11” sheet of paper.
From the Paint.Net menu select Layers and then “Import From File…”. Select the token that you created earlier. You can now drag the token to where ever you like on the workspace.
At this point you can print the token, but I have included “bloodied” layers and labels that you might want to add as well.
The “Bloodied” layer.
Repeat the import of the token file so that you have two images of the same token on your workspace. On the second image you can add a “bloodied” effect.
Within Tokens.zip there is a folder named Bloodied. There are several files within that are all the same image in different sizes. These semi-transparent images can be imported into the workspace the same way as the token image was, and you can then layer the image on top of the token to create a “bloodied” effect.
Why do this? Because now all you have to do is flip the token once the character is bloodied. It also looks really cool!
Here we see what happens when Martin is thrown into a D&D 4e game:
The bloodied layer originally came from Newbie DM’s web site. Have you checked it out yet? (Hint: You should.)
You will also find a folder named Labels. You can use these when you will be creating several duplicate tokens but want an easy way to tell them apart during game play. Just add one of the labels as a layer just like you did with the bloodied layer.
This is what it would look like if you decided to field an army of Martins:
Do not underestimate the Martin empire!
Print, punch, and glue.
The rest of the steps are incredibly easy. Print the project using half inch margins. Use the hole punch to punch out the token. Glue the token to your wooden alphabet tile on one side, and then glue the bloodied token to the other side. That is it! You now have a token that is a great substitute for a miniature.
You will probably need to trim your paper with scissors to punch out the token. For me the easiest way to punch out the token is to hold the punch upside down. It has a clear plastic bottom piece, so lining up the token is easy when done this way.
Now that you have your tokens you can carry a whole session of gaming goodness in your pocket! Just look at the amazing scenarios you can create with your custom tokens:
Without tokens I could never run a scenario where Martin picks a bar fight with a chainsaw wielding polar bear! Well I could, but the tokens make it so much more memorable.
Did I mention Newbie DM?
We gnomes can only offer you this gift because Newbie DM already did all of the heavy lifting. Show the guy some love and check out his site. When I contacted him to get his permission to expand upon his token tutorial with a more Windows friendly version he was all for it, so this Christmas let’s see if we can give him the gift of a record number of web site visitors.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good game!
I hope you enjoy this gift from us gnomes to you our readers. It is only because all of you are such awesome folks that we gnomes have had such a great time writing for this site. In many ways you have given us the gift in the form of your time and your comments, so please leave your holiday greetings below (and you can comment on the token file stuff too).
For now we gnomes wish all of you health, happiness, and fantastic games! And remember that the GM is a player too. Have fun with it!
Looks like Martin’s in trouble there.
Thanks for the tip. I used to collect pogs, back in the day, and I think I still have a pog storage tube somewhere…
I’ve done this before. Though the tiles were hand-drawn pictures on the fly, and I taped them to pennies instead of washers.
In fact, I think pennies may be cheaper than the tiles or washers and heavier than cardboard.
Thank you sir, for the link love!
I hope people learn to love the greatness of clearly labeled tokens at their table over repetitive minis.
One of the great things about tokens is the ability to create a truly custom image of your pc or npc in the DM’s case, if you are an artist or have any ability using image software.
Although I have my own photoshop system for creating my tokens by now, I will be using your number labels in my future creations. Thanks for that, and for the mentions! Merry Christmas to all the gnomes and a Happy New Year!
@Bercilac – Martin is not in trouble. Martin brings the TROUBLE!!! 🙂
I never got into pogs, but I bet they would make great tokens for games!
@Eliza – Pennies are 3/4″ and thin, so I prefer to use the wooden tiles as they are 1″ and much thicker. But whatever works for you is what you should use.
Just a thought: With dowel rods and my band saw I could probably make whatever backing I want for really cheap (< $0.01 for raw materials), but I just don't know if I want to spend the time chopping a 3' rod into 432 tiles!
@newbiedm – Thank you for the original article! Happy holidays to you as well!
I agree that with just a little effort you can create some great custom images and tokens. As much as I like minis, tokens just work better for my style of game. I’m actually starting to build foamboard tiles and tokens for terrain as well. They rock!
No, just to be clear: I am frequently in trouble.
Great Christmas article, Patrick! I didn’t know what you were going to put up, and this was an excellent read and an excellent choice.
@Martin Ralya – Thanks Martin! Not just for the kind words, but for being a good sport about using your image for the article. 🙂