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Tokkens Review: Magnetically Appealing, but Flawed

A little while back, Fantasy Mint [1] asked if I’d do a review of Tokkens [2], their line of collectible metal magic item cards for the d20 System, and I jumped at the chance.

These puppies looked amazing at GenCon 2006, and the only reason I didn’t buy any then was because they’re collectible.

Tokkens are just plain cool, and your players will love using them — but random packaging and poor use of space hurts their utility as a GMing tool.

Let’s go a bit deeper — here’s an in-depth, hands-on review of Tokkens from a GM’s perspective.

For this review, I looked at an unopened Treasure Brick containing 25 Tokkens, plus another 75 or so loose Tokkens (which arrived in two deck cases), from Volume 1 of 4, First Edition. Volume 1 includes magic items 1-400 of 1,600 total.

Overall Appearance

The first thing you’ll notice about Tokkens is that they’re made of metal — this is one of the coolest things about them, and it’s hard to convey just how nifty they are to hold. They’re the size of trading cards, which means that they should fit into standard-size sleeves, binder pages and deck cases just fine.

The edges of each card are curved back in on themselves, and the corners are rounded, so there are no sharp bits for you to cut yourself on. This gives each Tokken a flat front surface and a slightly inset back surface (adding an interesting tactile element), but still allows them to be stacked neatly.

The Front

The front of each card is divided into three sections. Full-color artwork of a d20 System magic item takes up the majority of the card, with a narrow band of black down the right-hand side and a narrow band of white along the bottom (holding the d20 System logo and the Fantasy Mint logo, respectively).

The artwork is great — crisp, vivid and evocative. It’s a mix of hand-drawn and what appear to be CG pieces, both of which work well. None of the cards in my stash fell below average in the artwork department, and most were above average; there were several standouts.

Most d20 magic items are given cursory physical descriptions at best (with some exceptions), and this is where Tokkens really shine. I compared a few cards at random to their descriptions, and found that where details were available, the Tokkens artists captured them faithfully — and that where no details were provided, they improvised with excellent results. Hats off to Fantasy Mint for not stinting on art — it really shows, and you and your players won’t be disappointed with the results.

Most of the items are shown on a simple colored background (with a variety of colors), which is both a good and a bad thing. It’s good because it puts all of your focus on the item, but after you’ve looked at a handful of cards, it gets a bit dull. I wish the backgrounds had a bit more pizazz.

I understand the need to brand the cards individually, and the small band of white at the bottom does this without getting in the way — but the black bar on the side is a complete waste of space. It occupies roughly 1/6 of the card’s width, and the only thing on it is a tiny d20 System logo. Eliminating the black band and moving the d20 logo to the bottom of the card would have allowed the artwork to be slightly larger.

The Back

The back is broken down into three bands. The top band lists the card’s rarity, the item’s gp value and the item’s description. On every Tokken in my review stock, this description was incomplete — more on this below. Under the description is a silver (unpainted) band with the Tokkens logo on it, and below that is a pointer to the item’s full description on the Tokkens website, along with licensing and copyright information.

I find the use of space on the back of each Tokken irritating. Setting aside the licensing information, which is a necessary evil, the other two bands could be handled better.

The middle band — the unpainted one bearing the Tokkens logo — is visually appealing, but takes up too much space. If it were narrower, or if the logo were moved to one edge and the description were allowed to flow around it, the designers could have included more information in the top band — the item’s description, which is the second most important thing on the card after the artwork.

The item descriptions fall into two varieties: almost blank, and partially complete. Weapons and armor are all in the first category: the item’s name and properties are listed, and nothing else. So for full plate, +5 of etherealness, that’s all you get — no AC, no armor check penalty, no summary of the etherealness property. That will be enough for some players, but why not put the empty space to use?

The other types of item (wondrous, rings, etc.) all include partial descriptions. I sampled three cards at random, and each of them listed the opening few lines of the item’s description from the SRD, followed by “…[more]” — how much more, of course, varied by card. Just below the Tokkens logo is an instruction to search the Tokkens website for the full description, using a unique card code that’s provided.

That’s a good fix for longer items, where there’s no chance of being able to squeeze the full description into a few square inches. But for shorter descriptions, it’s irksome — doubly so for weapons and armor, where a short summary would come in very handy.

Durability

Being made of painted tin, I was curious how durable my Tokkens would be. I stored them in deck cases until I was ready to write this review, and shuffled around a small stack of them while I was writing.

The paint is surprisingly durable — it’s easy to scrape it off with something sharp, but normal wear and tear is likely to produce only small scuffs. A good analogy would be the glossy cover of a paperback book in the bookstore: after it’s been on the shelf for a little while, you can tell it’s not brand spanking new, but what little damage it shows doesn’t detract from its overall appearance.

In addition, the paint itself seems to be coated or treated in some way. So most of the scratches and marks I made on my Tokkens were on that coating, not the paint itself — which meant that the artwork stayed intact and clear.

If you treat your Tokkens like trading cards, they should be fine. (In fact, being metal means that their corners don’t ding up nearly as easily as trading cards, which is nice.) Bend them in half or store them with heavy things, and you’re screwed — pretty much what you’d expect, in other words.

Cost and Distribution

Tokkens are collectible, so they’re sold in sealed packages — you don’t know what you’re going to get before opening the package. The pricing breaks down as follows (in U.S. $):

I accidentally mixed one of my five Treasure Packs into the pile of loose Tokkens, so I can’t evaluate the whole Brick in terms of duplicates — but when I opened the other four packs, I didn’t get any doubles. That seems pretty good to me.

Like all collectible products, of course, if you’re after something specific you’re either going to need to buy lots of packs, trade with your friends or buy singles (which are available online, and possibly elsewhere; the online prices I saw were outrageous).

It’s worth noting that potions and scrolls are included individually, not lumped together. This means each one gets its own artwork, which is very cool, but also that quite a few of your Tokkens are going to be single-use items.

That’s a plus because handing a player a card representing her PC’s potion is a great way to manage one-shot items (when she uses the potion, she gives the card back), but it’s a minus if you’re not going to buy enough Tokkens to build up a good stash of both permanent and one-shot items — in which case the potions and scrolls might feel like a waste of space.

I would have preferred more consistency in the distribution of items. Personally, I don’t care nearly as much whether or not I get enough rare (as in card rarity) cards or valuable (as in gp value) items, I care about having a variety of weapons, wondrous items, rings and so forth. Even if the random element was preserved, it would be nice to have the option of buying, say, a Treasure Pack that was entirely weapons, or all wands, or that had a guaranteed number of each type of item.

Highlights

Your players will love Tokkens. My D&D group’s GM got a Treasure Pack for his birthday, and we spent several minutes gleefully passing them around and admiring the artwork. I’m serious about the “gleefully” part, too — there’s just something cool about having little metal cards with pretty pictures on them, although it’s hard to quantify.

And the pictures are pretty. The artwork is consistently good, sometimes rising to the level of excellent, and the artists have done a great job of capturing each of the items. The art is unified enough to make all of the cards feel like they’re part of a set, but not so uniform in style as to be boring.

Tokkens are also a handy size — small enough to be easily stored and transported (and compatible with existing storage products, too), but not so tiny as to be frustrating to handle. Your players will have lots of options for keeping track of their Tokkens at the gaming table, from filing them in deck cases to just keeping a neat stack of cards next to their character sheets.

Taken in combination, the quality of the artwork and the cool factor of the metal cards make Tokkens unique among gaming accessories — there’s nothing out there quite like them.

Lowlights

Poor use of the limited space on the back of each card is a definite downside. The way item descriptions are handled makes Tokkens all but useless as self-contained tools — and if I heard them described as “Magic item cards with descriptions on the back,” I’d expect more in the way of a description.

I realize that it would have meant more work for Fantasy Mint, but to my mind Tokkens would be more useful if the description section included a truncated summary, rather than just printing the opening lines of the item’s SRD entry verbatim. Experienced players would be able to parse a good summary without referring to the rules, while novices could use the item’s code (or, more likely, the DMG) to find out all the details.

Being collectible is what really shoots Tokkens in the foot for me. To illustrate why, I’ll continue my example from above — my group’s D&D GM having gotten a Treasure Brick for his birthday. He got that pack of 25 Tokkens several months ago, and we’ve asked him when we’re going to get to use them on several occasions. Each time, he says that he doesn’t have any of the items our characters use, or anything that we’ve found since he got the packs.

Maybe he’d luck out with another Treasure Brick, and that $16 expenditure isn’t unreasonable — but there’s a good chance he wouldn’t luck out, too. This is what kept me from buying Tokkens at last year’s GenCon Indy, despite being excited about them: knowing I’d probably have to buy several Bricks to get enough items for a campaign.

From a GM’s Perspective

Taking into account the fact that while they technically offer descriptions of each item, Tokkens don’t really have item descriptions, I have to view them as more of a luxury than an actual GMing tool.

That’s not a bad thing, it just means that they don’t stand well on their own. With the DMG handy, or a nearby laptop where you can look up descriptions on the Tokkens website (or in an online SRD), you have the complete package: a nicely illustrated item with a full description. And since not all of the magic items in the DMG are illustrated — far from it, in fact — having the artwork is pretty nifty.

Lack of useful descriptions aside, Tokkens have two things going for them: great artwork, and the fact that they’re made of metal. The latter gives them an undeniable cool factor, while the former means that they’ll enhance your game — and in combination, those two elements mean that your players are very likely to enjoy using them.

Were I running a D&D game using Tokkens, I would abandon their connection to specific items, and just use them to represent the party’s most powerful, most significant items. I’d ignore the backs, and just let my players enjoy having metal cards to represent their favorite items. (In this role, I could also use them for any fantasy game, not just D&D.)

Which is why I view Tokkens as a luxury: you don’t need them to run a good game, but like all props they can make a good game even more fun for your players.

Comparable Products

It’s worth briefly comparing Tokkens to Paizo Publishing’s comparable product: specifically, to a Hero’s Hoard Booster [3] from the GameMastery Item Cards line. Like Tokkens, the GameMastery cards depict magic items, with a very brief description on the back.

Unlike Tokkens, Paizo’s cards are cardboard, feature more vibrant artwork and do not represent specific magic items. Instead, each card illustrates one example of a type of item — a cool magic sword, for example — and has room for notes on the back. The artwork is in a very different style, more detailed than Tokkens, but comparing them is a bit of a toss-up: both are excellent. (Overall, I prefer the style of the GameMastery artwork.)

Paizo’s cards edge out Tokkens in graphic design (their fronts aren’t bland at all), and they’re also cheaper: $3.49 U.S. for a pack of 11 random cards ($41.88 for a box of 12 packs, 132 cards), and you’re guaranteed a card or two from each basic group (weapons, armor, rings, etc.). That seems like a better distribution than the more random approach used by Fantasy Mint.

The big difference is that Tokkens are metal, and GameMastery cards are not. That’s a hard difference to underestimate, too, as the metal cards are much cooler than cardstock cards — they feel special somehow, and I can see a player viewing a Tokken as a reward and a GameMastery card as more of a tool.

Should I Buy Them?

If you want to use Tokkens to represent every magic item carried by your D&D party, I recommend them — with the understanding that you’re going to need to spend quite a bit of money to build up a good stockpile. Even then, with only 400 of 1,600 items produced so far, you’re very likely to be missing some items that you need.

On the other hand, if you don’t like collectible products in general, or are turned off by the idea of not being able to use many of your Tokkens as intended (either because you can’t afford to buy every item you need, or because you want complete descriptions), give Tokkens a miss. As cool as they are, their downsides are going to bug you. Assuming the collectible aspect doesn’t turn you off of them as well, you’ll probably get more mileage out of Paizo’s GameMastery cards.

If you want to use Tokkens as I suggested above — as physical representations of the PCs’ most important items (ignoring the descriptions) — then you should absolutely pick up a Treasure Brick or two. For $15.95, you’re buying something that your players will enjoy: nifty props that will enhance your campaign.

Have you used Tokkens in your campaign? What did you think of them? After reading my review, is there anything else you’d like me to cover?

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Comments Disabled To "Tokkens Review: Magnetically Appealing, but Flawed"

#1 Comment By Cody Jones On July 17, 2007 @ 6:26 am

I’ve received some free samples of Tokkens, and while cool, I think the money could be better spent elsewhere to enhance your game. To me, the price curve for a random, incomplete pool of cards doesn’t work for my game. I’d rather splurge on new miniatures, combat pads, battle mats, etc.

#2 Comment By Rick the Wonder Algae On July 17, 2007 @ 6:45 am

I wanted to make a post about these when you were asked to review them, but I never got around to it, so I’ll drop my thoughts here:

1- Maybe your players aren’t n00bs like some of the idiots I’ve had at my table, but I cringe at the thought of giving metal cards to some of the people who I’ve hosted over the years. It’s nice that the corners are rounded, but if the thrown dice and dice BAGS at my table are any indication, it won’t be long before someone thinks it’ll be funny to toss one of these things like a ninja star to return it to you or loan it to another player and someone will take one in the eye pretty hard.

Also, while I feel that these items might be fun to have, collect, and use around the gaming table, I think the company is really reaching when it comes to their claims of how many ways to use them there are.

2- If you read their documentation, they advertise that you can simply give out packs instead of rolling on the treasure tables as both a time saver and to “add some randomness to the game”. Given that even the most basic pack contains at least one item worth 9K, this seems like a less than feasable use.

3- They likewise claim that players can trade these back and forth between campaigns to represent their characters trading items. Ignoring for a moment how the characters from my Greyhawk campaign met the characters from your Forgotten Realms campaign, and our buddy’s Ebberon campaign to trade items, supporting this practice means that at any time, your players can order a box of Tokkens and then trade for an awesome 60k item that no DM ever actually let into his campaign.

4 – I think the company is trying to create a “collector” atmoshere with the advertising and distribution of this product hoping for the same mentality that inspired people like me to walk into our FLGS and buy entire boxes of Magic, the Gathering cards but the scheme of distribution that makes that possible runs contrary to what would make them a good gaming product. If they wanted a good gaming product, they’d trash the “rarity” of cards and sell singles on their website for a set price. Who wouldn’t want to buy a pack of 10 potions of cure light wounds to pass out as their players bought or found them?

#3 Comment By Scotticus On July 17, 2007 @ 7:05 am

When handing out loot, I don’t necessarily want to give my players a card that tells them EXACTLY what each item is and does. I like a little mystery and making my players have to work at it sometimes.

For that reason, I prefer the GameMastery cards which just include the obvious observable traits of the item it depicts. I think this adds a lot of flexibility to how the cards can be used, as well.

#4 Comment By John Arcadian On July 17, 2007 @ 7:11 am

Tokkens are a really cool idea that, I think, fell just short of their mark. I would so buy “pack of magic swords” and “pack of magic wands 2” to use these for stuff, but I outgrew CCG a long time ago, right after they outgrew my budget. If I were going to be a “collector” the randomness wouldn’t bother me, but if I don’t know what I’m getting then I’m out of the race from the get go.

I’ve always loved this kind of idea, but when I could control it. Enemy cards like this would be great. The pack of 10 potions, or the “set amount of gold” thing would be great to hand out. I would be on their website dropping 100 bucks if I could get a bunch of good representations of stuff that I am actually going to use.

Rick the Wonder Algae is right that some people just can’t have nice things. There are 2 players in my group who turn childish when the spotlight isn’t on them. They throw coasters at each other and you have to tell them to shut up. Issues like this have been resolved when I started docking XP for game interruption, but putting things in the hands of people like that can cause issues. That being said it isn’t most gamers who are like this, but I prefer to have non lethal things at the table.

#5 Comment By Frost On July 17, 2007 @ 8:15 am

After the initial deck of item cards was released, Game Mastery switched to random distribution in booster decks for the next two sets. The result was an overwhelming negative response to this type of distribution on the Paizo message boards. The 4th set in the series switched back to a non-random deck. A non-random set of mundane adventure gear was also released. There is a 6th set of item cards scheduled for an August release that is also non-randomized.

I’ve been using Game Mastery Item Cards for several months and my players really like them. I’ve got enough variety that I am able to represent the weapons, armor, and equipment for all the players. Each player keeps their cards in a 9 pocket binder sleeve. I prefer the GM item cards because I can decide what the specifics of each card is and write it on the back as opposed to the Tokken ones.

I am missing a few Item cards from the 2nd and 3rd sets because of the random boosters, and I am really glad that they switched to non-random distribution for future products.

I did some research on the Tokkens when they were first announced, but they didn’t really seem to meet my needs. I didn’t want random, and I didn’t want predefined magic items.

#6 Comment By Mary On July 17, 2007 @ 8:59 am

This is an outstanding product review that sets forth the key pros and cons of Tokkens.

I was introduced to the Tokkens product when my husband brought some samples home from Gencon last year.

My husband recently purchased two display boxes, each with 125 random Tokkens, from an online retailer (only $50/box – sorry FGLSs!) He’s been crafting a campaign around the items that he got and has been enthralled. Just this weekend our group received Tokken “rewards” after some thrilling encounters. Everyone was shouting for more. My husband is wonderful at developing memorable adventures; the Tokkens further enhance the accomplishment of having one’s character overcome perils!

Our group spends several hundred, if not a thousand dollars, on various D&D suppliments and accessories each year that have had marginal utility in retrospect. We’ve agreed to set aside a good portion of these monies to buy more Tokkens that will belong to our group.

I personally think Tokkens has taken the d20 license and finally developed something that is high quality and outside-of-the-box.

In defense of the shortcoming, Tokkens is similar to D&D Minis as they don’t have all the monster’s stats and description on the base and they are also sold in a collectible random format (Ok, I confess… I collect the Minis too) For both Tokkens and D&D Minis, a non-random format would probably appeal to a larger base of customers but would probably have less commercial sales potential. In a nutshell, WOTC/Hasbro and Fantasy Mint are trying to make money… should we be surprised?

Just my two cents!

#7 Comment By Sarlax On July 17, 2007 @ 9:19 am

The only real use I’d have for these is to represent treasure while GMing. Martin’s exactly right about the pros and cons to Tokkens and while I haven’t used them (being the GM above). I’d really like to use them, but the best thing one could could do with this kind of product – simplify treasure and item management – isn’t so easy to achieve.

What I’d love to do is dump a pile of these on the table after a big battle with magic pimped NPCs. The players could just dig in and pass them around, splitting everything up nicely.

There are two things going against Tokkens. The first is randomness. Unless I sink a whole lot of cash into this product, only some of the items that I’d like to hand out will show up as Tokkens. It goes two ways – stuff that players want like a +1 Flaming Greatsword just didn’t show up in my first sets and who knows when I’ll get it? On the other hand, there are quite a few items here that aren’t very suitable to any one in the pary, like the two +2 defending rapiers I have.

The random element overlooks a big part of the current edition of D&D game: it’s assumed the players sell what they don’t want. Unless the Tokken card in question represents something the players actually want, it’s useless, as the item in question will be sold immediately.

Another problem is the lack of complete descriptions. This is the biggest failure of Tokkens. If I dump my Scale Mail +2 of Slick on the table, someone’s going to start flipping through the DMG to figure out if it’s worth using. Why have the card at all then? With incomplete or absent information, it’s just more clutter on the table.

As a GM, what I really want is a tool to build a treasure hoard according to the needs of my game. The Game Mastery Item cards have a decent approach but need their own improvements. Looking at the reverse side of the card where notes can be written, there are no specific lines for common elements in magic item quality. There should be a line for the item’s activation, cost, duration, uses per day, etc. as well as its specific effect.

Here’s my dream game aid: A bit of software that allows me to drap and drop gear from a built in SRD to printable card templates. There’d be about 9 cards per page. Along the side of the window would be a collapsing list of items by type then by name. I can read the item description on its own before dragging it onto a blank card, which is then populated with the name and picture on the front with a complete SRD description on the back. When I’m done, I print it on the sturdiest stock I can find and cut the cards out.

#8 Comment By drow On July 17, 2007 @ 9:56 am

thanks to an artificer PC in my eberron campaign, less than half of the stuff the party owns is SRD stock, and they keep almost none of the magic items they loot. everything is either sold for gp, or salvaged for crafting xp.

#9 Comment By Dave T. Game On July 17, 2007 @ 12:06 pm

While I’m not anti-collectible, it seems really strange to me that this product is. I’ve bought Paizo’s magic item cards, but only in the two “starter packs” and that should give me enough to run my campaign, since they’re not specific magic items.

D&D Minis are the same way to me- even if I don’t get specifically the monsters I want to use, I can still use them to fill in for other monsters.

Tokkens are a bit too limited, and I don’t have the budget to buy lots for essentially a vanity item. Besides, I know that players are going to be enchanting and customizing their own magic items, so do I have to seek out every specific combination of abilities?

#10 Comment By stupidranger On July 17, 2007 @ 4:18 pm

My husband and I purchased Tokkens last year at GenCon. We enjoyed the euphoria of opening the packs and the excitement of finding treasure.

We always intended to use them in a campaign, but somehow, they are still sitting in the box, exactly where we put them when we got home last year. I don’t think we’ve every really looked at them since.

Martin – I think you did a great job of capturing what we found to be the highlights and downfalls. They are beautiful, and from a player’s point of view, there’s something very special about having a visual representation of the awesome treasure you just acquired. At the same time, they’re just a little clunky in that you need an additional resource to fill in the blanks.

For me, while I don’t regret having purchased them, I still have never practically used them.

#11 Comment By Sarlax On July 17, 2007 @ 9:10 pm

I don’t know that the comparison to miniatures is valid. I’m going to limit the comparison here to discussion of minis and Tokkens as game aides.

D&D minis can substitute for other monsters. I use the minis in every D&D game for almost every combat encounter. Despite owning hundreds, I don’t have a mini for every monster. I can approximate monsters with other minis. Dwarves can round out azers, half-illithid lizardfolk can be regular mind flayers, and huge fiendish spiders can stand in for the hydra in a pinch.

The Tokkens are all-or-nothing. I can’t really use the Scroll of Prismatic Sphere in place of a Scroll of Teleportation very well; there’s no good place or way to write on the metal. We could create some kind of master sheet that tracks these changes, but that’d be headache and leave me wondering why the players don’t just write the gear down on their sheets like they normally would.

Additionally, once a player is equipped with an item, the Tokken doesn’t help at all – no one but the warblade will use the +1 greatsword of speed (represented by the +2 dancing rapier), so the card doesn’t need to be passed around. Since it doesn’t have any reference information on it, it doesn’t help in that regard. It’s just metal that sits in front of the player.

Tokkens might be made more useful if they did *less* work on them. Keep the current metal design but clear the entire reverse side except for a place for the name, activation, weight, etc. There are pens that can mark metals, which the GM or players can use to make whatever notes they need.

#12 Comment By Martin On July 17, 2007 @ 9:22 pm

This comments thread is exactly why I like writing reviews on TT, even though they’re the most time-intensive type of post to write.

I’m glad folks have found this review useful, and I love seeing different takes on how to use Tokkens, what Fantasy Mint could have done differently and feedback on other products, as well as differing points of view on Tokkens themselves. Really good stuff all around, and thank you for taking the time not only to read this monster review, but to comment on it as well.

(Alan) …ultimately a bit negative, potentially risking review product in the future…

I’ve honestly never thought about this, and it’s an interesting point. My goal is to write a fair review that serves TT readers (like you said) — as long as I feel that it’s accurate, I’m not concerned about the outcome. If the tradeoff is credibility and utility to GMs and publishers vs. getting more free stuff/opprtunities to write reviews, I’ll take the former every time.

#13 Comment By Dremel On July 17, 2007 @ 9:54 pm

Sarlex,

I think if you can creatively use your D&D Minis, you could also creatively use Tokkens if you desired.

Why not put the Tokken in a card protector with opaque back and call it something other than the printed description. Or, how about using a transparent card protector to hold the Tokken and insert a paper with written description behind the Tokken – now you have something customized that plays off the image on the front.

Personally, our group use the Tokkens as is – both in campaigns and for TokkenMaster. For those of you who are concerned about being unable to derive flexible utility from Tokkens, you don’t need to be. It’s a versatile product for any creative GM and player who likes high quality products with great artwork.

JMHO

#14 Comment By Sarlax On July 17, 2007 @ 10:41 pm

“Why not put the Tokken in a card protector with opaque back and call it something other than the printed description. Or, how about using a transparent card protector to hold the Tokken and insert a paper with written description behind the Tokken – now you have something customized that plays off the image on the front.”

Both of these could work, but if I adopt them, I’m investing time and even more money to correct the problem. I don’t want to buy another product to fix a design problem. For the Tokkens I have, it doesn’t seem to be worth the trouble. I don’t have enough variety in what I have to get regular use out of them, so why bother?

#15 Comment By Sarlax On July 17, 2007 @ 10:56 pm

A follow up to my first “fix” ideas. You could print out sticky labels (like address labels) with lines for Price, Body Slot, Caster Level, etc. (following the quick format of the Magic Item Compendium) with the remaining space for quick summary of abilities. For those who are interested, this would be a quick-fix for Tokkens. In the future, the company could produce them as-is with a number of these blank labels included so users can change them at will. This would permit the Tokkens to more useful as a game aide and allow the product to retain its status as a collectible.

#16 Comment By Rick the Wonder Algae On July 18, 2007 @ 6:13 am

Some white primer and a fine-tip marker that would write on said primer is all it would really take to turn Tokkens into generic cards that you could write notes on the back of. Whether that’s worth the extra time, effort, and expense (on top of an already comparitively expensive item) is entirely dependant on your opinion on the value of the material and artwork of Tokkens as compared to the products that come generic and note-ready.

#17 Comment By Martin On July 18, 2007 @ 7:07 am

Using blank stickers to cover up, then customize, the backs of Tokkens occurred to me, but I like Sarlax’s idea of pre-printing the common elements better. And I bet there’s a stock mailing label size that would do the trick pretty well.

On the manufacturing end, professional stickers definitely sound doable. FM could also change the structure of the cards a bit: instead of curling all four edges back in on themselves, leave one uncurled (making sure the edge isn’t sharp), and then produce cards that slide into the resulting shallow “slot” to describe different items. I don’t know for sure that that would work, but it sounds like an option.

#18 Comment By Mary On July 18, 2007 @ 7:13 am

My husband and I enjoy Tokken Master too. This is where Tokkens’ collectibility and D&D specific items make a lot of sense. Tokken Master’s rules still needs to be polished up – but as you mentioned, still beta version.

For campaigning, my husband uses both Tokkens and Game Mastery cards. Our group has had delightful discussions about the two products; we like them both. However, our observation is players consistently feel a greater sense of accomplishment when they receive a Tokken – there’s something about the metal card and printed D20 description that make us feel we got “something legitimate” or “the real thing”
(not to say what my husband assigns to the Game Mastery card is fake – perhaps if his handwriting was better…just kidding!) For example, we were comparing a Tokkens +3 longsword with a Game Mastery generic sword that was assigned to be a +3 longsword. We collectively pointed to the Tokken and called it the “real thing.” It felt better in our hands, it had +3 longsword printed on it, and it had an authentic rarity to it rather than having been arbitrarily assigned (even my husband timidly agreed to the last point!)

#19 Comment By Rick the Wonder Algae On July 18, 2007 @ 8:22 am

Mary Said:
“and it had an authentic rarity to it rather than having been arbitrarily assigned (even my husband timidly agreed to the last point!)”

You have to remember that, in fact, the rarity of a Tokken is no less arbitrarily assigned than the rarity of a Game Mastery generic card or a collection of items randomly rolled from the DMG.

Further, the greater market value the rarity arbitrarily assigned by Fantasy Mint confers only retains value as long as the market demand remains steady.

Thus, we can not assign validity, value, or worth (in relation to a Tokken’s use as a game aid – it’s use as a collectible is another story entirely) to a Tokken in relation to another gaming aid based on their relative rarity.

#20 Comment By Martin On July 18, 2007 @ 8:36 am

(Mary) However, our observation is players consistently feel a greater sense of accomplishment when they receive a Tokken…

This was the hardest thing for me to convey in my review — that fuzzy quality of “Hey, this is cool.” I’m glad it comes across in play for your group.

#21 Comment By Mary On July 18, 2007 @ 9:32 am

Rick makes a good point. Fantasy Mint mentions on their website that the Tokkens rarity “approximates” the statistical frequency for magic items found on d20 random generation tables (I’m guessing they mean tables out of the DMG) So the rarity assigned by Fantasy Mint is not exact either assuming one recognizes the DMG as the legitimate source.

I would still venture a guess that there are fewer rings of regeneration coined by Tokkens than there are rings of regeneration penciled on the backs of Game Mastery cards (in our group there are four Game Mastery rings of regeneration – each player has one.) I have the same conjecture for Vorpal Swords, Robes of Archmagi, and other high power items. I think that’s what my group was driving at – true scarity.

Tokkens is kind of like a currency that is regulated at a market level (albeit by a single company) while Game Mastery is regulated case-by-case at a clique level. That’s probably why there is a “perception” of Tokkens being more legitimate, it’s a third party setting the frequency of an item appearing rather than each and every GM out there calling the shots. Perhaps that’s also the taboo that may brush some or most GMs the wrong way — it’s difficult to relinquish authority you’ve become used to after playing God 🙂

GMs can try asking their players what they think. If GMs don’t threaten to smite down characters belonging to players who give wrong answers, the GM might just be surprised that players welcome magic items “legitimized” by a third party. Simply put, when you get a Tokken, you know your character earned something truly precious.

#22 Comment By Dremel On July 18, 2007 @ 5:00 pm

Mary,

Our group would agree with your insights. Tokkens has a certain “cool factor” that is awfully special. A lot of it has to do with the metal as Martin also mentions.

One issue with Tokkens is that players, myself included, want to keep it rather than give it back to the DM when the adventures is over. This poses to be a problem. I don’t like seeing this “it’s mine” attitude during my gaming sessions. Do you see this issue going on in your group? If so, how does your husband handle it?

#23 Comment By Mary On July 19, 2007 @ 8:57 am

I can’t say that we have the problem your facing. My husband bought the Tokkens we are currently using so they belong to him. No players have the expectation of keeping my husband’s Tokkens.

In the future, player will be chipping in to buy more Tokkens that my husband will use in building our campaigns. As a group, we have decided that these Tokkens will belong to everyone who contributes to the purchase.

Nice thing is that an online retailer called Troll and Toad (www.trollandtoad.com) sells and BUYS Tokken singles. If needed, we can sell the Tokkens to Troll & Toad. They offer 40% to 50% of their selling price for rare Tokken singles, and roughly 25% for uncommon items. Common Tokkens they purchase only if their supplies are low, offering $.20 to $.25 a piece.

So perhaps your group could do what we’re doing, all chip in — play with them until your through with them, at which time you can sell them and maybe even turn a profit.

My best friend’s husband has a ring of invisibility in our current adventure. He plans to buy the Ring of Invisibility Tokken online. So maybe this is another solution for you. If your players really like something that their character earned but it belongs to the GM, they can buy one online and call it her own.