RPG Accessories – How and when to use all the stuff from your dungeon crates

by Wayne Brekke

I started Dungeon Crate after a trip to GenCon 2015. I was enamored with the vendor floor and all the fun items to purchase that can be used for gaming. I wanted more. Since I couldn’t find a sub-box service that offered me all these cool items, I made one. Now I have access to more RPG accessories that I ever imagined.

As a Dungeon Crate subscriber, you also now should have a collection of gaming accessories like dice, coins, miniatures, adventures, dice trays, and other interesting treasures. In many cases, gamers have a set way of playing and I’ve found that many are now looking for ways to use all these items in their games.

Role Playing Styles
With so many playing styles out there, many have set ways of running the game table. Some use terrain and buildings, dungeon tiles, and handcrafted furnishings. Others use a standard battle map with wet erase pens and miniatures. Some don’t use anything but their character sheets and conversation (personally I shiver at this concept). So without cluttering up the table with a mass of cards, tokens, coins, terrain, dice trays, dice dungeons, and dungeon tiles, what’s the best way to use all the items you get in a Dungeon Crate?

Planning Game Accessories is Key
Every game session takes a lot of planning by the Dungeon Master. In my experience in running multiple gaming groups, I have found that each group has a different way of playing, which means they require different types of accessories that will complement their game.

For instance, my one group, we will call them the “Alpha” group tends to be more thoughtful and tactic oriented. In this case, while they like a full table set up with tiles and terrain, they tend to blow through the dungeons. I spent hours working on a full wizard tower for them to traverse with stacking levels and furnishings. It took a while to set up as well and the adventurers quickly fought their way through. The lesson learned was that this group is better suited for easy maps on an erasable battle map with little furnishings or embellishments. Small terrain items, tokens and light furnishings go a long way and make changing from one encounter to another fast and easy.

Then there’s my “Beta” group, which is a small group of close friends. We are very casual in our play as it’s also a time to catch up with some hilarious conversation, but we do manage to get some epic adventuring in. With this group, I’ve been able to incorporate more items as we kind of test out the use of some of the table top accessories to see how they play. They’re also much slower in traversing a dungeon than my other group. In this group we’ve used full size map printouts, dice towers, tokens, terrain, and whatever else I bring for test play.

Picking and Choosing Your Tabletop Accessories
I’ve found that even though I have more gaming accessories than I ever imagined I’d have, picking and choosing the items each game session is key to a more fun adventure. Using items that make sense for that particular encounter and not cluttering up the table makes for a smooth and entertaining game.

Some items we offer like the leather dice trays, tokens, coasters, minis, dice, etc. seem to be a constant at every game, but while the other items are fun, they can distract from the flow of the game if set up takes too long. So the best bet is to pick and choose, leaving the rest of your awesome accessories on display until they are needed. The concept seems like common sense, but sometimes the fun-bug hits and it’s hard not to use everything every time. Below are some ideas and guidelines for using all these accessories.

While you may be a collector of coins, money doesn’t come up in every game. You can use coins and gem tokens as actual money in game if players are excited about real metal coins and the ability to carry their personal wealth. Players then can use the coins like they do in a Monopoly game and pay the Dungeon Master when they make purchases at the town or tavern. At the end of the session, when party treasure is divided up, it’s always fun to actually receive your share of the treasure in weighty, metal coins and gems.

Unless you are setting up a diorama where your players will spend most of the game session, setting up terrain can be an arduous process. Make it easy by selecting the terrain that best fits the encounter. You want enough to give an impressive scene, but not so much as to waste valuable game time tearing it down or setting up the next encounter terrain.

Many use simple battle mats for the dungeon crawl, then break out the terrain and dungeon tiles for a specific encounter, especially if the terrain offers options for tactics like cover and lines of sight.

There are tokens for just about anything. From character condition to inspiration, tokens can enhance gameplay if used with discretion. Figure out what you really need tokens for and only bring tokens that may be used in game and leave the others home.

Spells, poison, blood spatters, or markers for multiple enemies can be used in most every game. Others can be organized and kept in the box until needed. Players can also keep a collection of tokens for their characters as well, using tokens to show invisibility or spell effects. The trick is to have them organized and readily available when needed as sifting through a bin of random tokens can slow gameplay with little payoff when found.

Card Decks:
We’ve offered quite a few decks in Dungeon Crate. Dungeon decks, critical hit, critical fail, DM critical hit, and will have a couple more in the upcoming months. I’ve found that it takes a little effort to use decks and that since roleplaying isn’t really a tabletop game, cards have to be used with discretion. Some use spell cards and if there are multiple decks on a table, it can get confusing.

Use decks you find fun and shelve the others for later. Critical hits and fumbles are always fun to experience with decks and some Dungeon Masters let you choose between the deck and standard rules. Dungeon building decks or decks used by the DM are great if used when needed. This could be for one-off games, or when characters need a little side quest and nothing is prepared.

Other Accessories:
Even though I don’t use all the accessories in every game, it’s nice to have them available. Keeping everything organized is the key to being able to find and use them when needed, especially if you have to pack a lot of gear up to go play outside of your home base.

Sometimes I will write or download adventures based on the accessories I have. For example, a tavern encounter where players get to use their coins in gambling games. Maybe there is a trap-centric adventure where you would find condition markers extremely helpful.     

As far as everything else, you’ve got a great start on a gaming collection. Trade them, display them, or offer them to players. Dungeon Crate accessories can bring fun and excitement to many game nights and give you a collection of items that might just inspire some epic adventures.

For Dungeon Crate subscribers, you can hit up our Dungeon Crate Trading Post to trade or buy items from other subscribers so you maximize your subscription. 

Check out all the items we’ve offered HERE