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7 props for your D&D game

Written by Expy - Published on August 24, 2007
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Instant Campaign Builder Part II: Props

This article is part of the Instant Campaign Builder Project.Impress your players

Your players don’t need to know that you only spend 1 hour or less preparing for each game. They just want to be entertained. They want something different.

Why props?

It makes an imaginary world more real, tangible. If you tell your players that their characters find an old ring in a chest and you actually hand them a worn ring, they’ll be impressed. It definitely adds something to a game.

7 props suggestions for your D&D game

  • An old parchment. Soak a sheet of paper in watered down coffee then let it dry. You’ll have a crispy, old parchment.
  • Gold pieces – real ones! Check out the Campaign Coins website. I learned about these thanks to this Treasure Tables post about GenCon products.
  • Jewelry. You can find worthless necklaces or rings at thrift stores, garage sales, or even at home.
  • A bottle with a message in it. A little cliche but your players should forgive you if you actually hand them a bottle. Opening the bottle and fetching the message inside will be like opening a Christmas present.
  • NPC character sketches. I like to browse JCM’s RPG art every now and then for character sketches. He takes requests and commissions too.
  • A sand rose or volcanic rock. Anything strange or unique object will do.
  • An old compass or any anachronism. That could be a good plot hook!

What now?

I posted this article early in the series for a reason. If you design your adventure and then try to find props that fit you might come up empty handed. By finding a prop and then molding a scene around it you make sure you can enliven your game and you just might be inspired by all the random odd objects you find in your garage!

Meta-props

Sometimes I do this with miniatures. Before I plan a scene around an encounter I peruse available miniatures – whatever I find is what the PCs will face.

What props have you used or seen in a game before?

Please share your ideas and experience!

This article is part of the Instant Campaign Builder Project.

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Written by Expy

Meet Expy The Red Dragon

Expy is the mascot for DungeonMastering.com and the real mastermind behind Expy Games. He likes to hoard treasure, terrorize neighbors, burn down villages, and tell white dragon jokes..

No matter how fearful the legends claim dragons are, they always end up being defeated in 5 rounds by adventuring parties they encounter. That’s what dragons are – experience points for the heroes in your Dungeons & Dragon party. And this mascot is no different, hence the name Expy.

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11 Responses to “7 props for your D&D game”
  1. Psygnnosed says:

    A few years ago, when running a campaign around here (Portugal), I used an NPC that pretended to be a beggar, and addressed the players in a tavern.
    I used an iron mug, with a few coins inside, to make noise, and leaned the mug towards one of the players. Inside there was a folded paper with a message. When he saw it, he pretended to place a coin in the mug and took the paper without the other guys noticing. :)

    Very funny!

  2. Yax says:

    That’s a fun idea. And it takes very little prep time too.

  3. Freyja says:

    For a horror campaign that I ran, which was inspired by Lovecraft’s style, I actually created the ancient book which turned their villain insane (I have too much time). I included a ton of future plot hooks, such as maps and references to mysterious places and artifacts. When we play again, the adventures already have framework. When the book was found, written in drow and babylonian, it became so popular that one of the players didn’t want to let it go. I had to pry it from her when we were done every night.

  4. Yax says:

    I talk a lot about reducing prep time on this website but when time is well invested, preparation can make a huge impact.

  5. mutt says:

    I had an old carbon copy receipt book in my shed, the kind that had the black sheet that left the ink. Well I noticed that if I look at it with it back lit that can the what was written. So I used it as a secret message that could only be revealed by fire light.

  6. Gijaxx 20/cleric 7/fighter 5/rogue says:

    We have a great artist in our group and he happens to be our DM so a lot of time we get the picture literally. We end up having a lot of fun. I tend to stick to a rogue-like appearance so ill dress in black cloth and I’ve got a couple daggers that were a gift so it ends up looking real nice.

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  1. […] readers had great props suggestions for a D&D game. I got an e-mail from Erica and she introduced me to Propping up the Mythos – a guide to making […]



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