Holy crap, is Cirsova participating in a blog carnival again? It’s been ages! Like, I may have been a guest-blogger at Dice Monkey the last time I did one of these…
Money is usually tight following the holidays, and gamers are not exempt from this. You are likely going into January gift-rich and money-poor. Which isn’t a bad thing, but it might mean your tabletop game spending has to take a backseat for a while.
Or does it? January’s RPG Blog Carnival topic is Tabletop Gaming on a Budget: how to get gold piece value gaming supplies and resources for copper piece prices. Useful just after the holidays? Sure. But maybe you’re new to the hobby and want to dip your toe before diving deep into your wallet. Or you want to try some new games without breaking the bank. Have you considered taking the leap into game mastering, but the laundry list of GM supplies is daunting? This month’s RPG Carnival posts will help you play games without spending big dollars.
This is the anchor post for the month, so if you’re taking part in this month’s carnival drop a link to your blog post in the comments below. If you just want the tips, bookmark this page and stop back throughout the month. I’ll also post a wrap-up at the end of the month, bringing it all together. And keep your eye on the blog, I’ll have my own post on the wonders and delights to be found at your local Dollar Store.
If you’re seriously concerned about gaming on a budget or are new to the hobby, there are a few things to consider.
Don’t: Buy a full set of core books. In fact, I’d say, don’t buy any core books until you’re certain what system you’re playing or running. I’m also not a fan of systems that are spread out across multiple core books (sorry, most editions of D&D!); these can prove to be a big money sink for potential players who don’t know what they want from a game or if they really want to play this or that system. Do: Research the game you want to play. If you’re new to tabletop gaming, there are a lot of great systems out there that are less weighty in terms of both rules and the literal weight of the stack of tomes you’re asked to invest in. My favorite version of Dungeons & Dragons (B/X) can be found for a few bucks in PDF; many clones of earlier editions are available for free–OSRIC’s presentation of 1st ed AD&D is much friendlier than the original in terms of organization of content.
Do: Buy a full set of dice (d4/d6/d8/d10/d12/d20). Don’t: Go all out and buy weird and highly specific or ridiculous dice with prime-numbered sides (d3/d5/d7/etc.). If you’ll be playing in a game that needs these, you can probably borrow rather than invest in the rather pricey sets.
Do: Get some cheap loose-leaf paper, a notebook, and some pencils. Character sheets are nice, but not essential. Still, good ones can be found free online for nearly any system. Don’t: Spend top dollar on a moleskine notebook, day-planners, calendars, etc. IF you’re running a game, a dollar-store calendar might be a good idea, because keeping track of time in a game is an essential aspect of running a meaningful RPG.
Don’t: Buy a whole bunch of miniatures. Miniatures are a ton of fun, and are sort of a hobby in their own right, but having totally accurate minis is not an essential component of tabletop gaming. Do: Find some cheap, but durable tokens that can be used. Most editions of D&D use combat rules that hinge on some use of miniature combat–some folks like theatre of the mind, but for that to work, you’re discarding a significant chunk of the actual game rules, and adjudication becomes a fuzzy “eh, whatever” instead of a fair game mechanic. The same applies for dungeon props, tiles, maps, etc. Those can prove to be hobbies in their own right as well, but if you’re new or on a budget, they’re extraneous and can be supplemented with all sorts of things (my group breaks out a Jenga set sometimes). It’s not the right time of year for it, but Dollar Tree carries halloween miniatures and decorations that double as dungeon dressing for cheap (I’ve got a bone gazebo! For a dollar!) But again, it’s extraneous.