Thursday, August 18, 2011

Equipment and Treasure Cards?

I've been playing with the notion of equipment and treasure cards for the players for some time now. It seems darned handy for four reasons:

First off the players can have all the information about the item all in one spot and accurately recorded. One can record saves for the item and even things like freshness dates for rations and potions, all the stuff that players would usually never bother keeping track of or simply don't have ready access to in one place.

Secondly it makes encumbrance relatively easy...count the cards or tally the weight on the cards.

Easy book keeping, if you have the card you have the item or the treasure, don't have the card you don't' have it.

Lastly a DM can confirm the item card is actually on hand as it has physical presence, no "magical" appearances on character-sheets and no forgetting one is hauling around a ladder or other large item.

Secret and incomplete info has to be kept secret from the player and tracked by the DM, sure this is the normal situation but it does reduce the true utility of keeping cards.

A bunch of cards can be hard to keep track of physically and a person losing their cards in the real world loses them in the game world.
A DM would likely have to invest in some card holders to keep track of all the cards.

Big parties with a number of henchmen,hirelings, and pack animals are going tot need a lot of cards.

This method does introduce an interesting chance to alter play style. Instead of a DM reading a long list of items found after a good haul the DM can simply drop the cards on the tabel and have the players paw through them and discover what the treasure is, player actions will slow down play not a reading by the DM.
It may make sense to contain the contents of a pouch or chest in an envelope.
Maybe wrap the items held and carried by a foe in a rubber-band.

So any good ideas or criticisms against homemade equipment and treasure cards?


  1. I wish the Pathfinder cards had more utility. I have a whole bunch of pathfinder cards and they cover most of the items, but they dont have encumbrances and they usually only have one of an item.

    HOmemade cards are great, except that they are homemade and are thus lower on the cool art scale.

    Jim was working on some cards using an online template, as I recall.

  2. I remember always seeing the 'Dungeon Tac Cards' from Judge's Guild at the hobby shop back in the day, but I never bought a set. Now I wish I had.

    I remember having a few games where I was around 14 where we had little scraps of paper with words like 'torch' and 'sword' and 'shield' written on them on the table in front of us. We had gotten into so many arguments over who was holding what and when with questions about how you could climb a rope while your hands were full, etc., that this was our solution... if you had something in hand, it had to be written on a paper on the table (and you could only have 2 out at a time... unless you had extra arms I guess). We were argumentative teenagers.

  3. I've actually been considering templating up some basic item cards in Inkscape (complete with generic item images on the fronts) and printing them up for my game.

    Super bonus- If I can get them to print on cardstock, I can make "blank item" cards that you can scribble on when you're in a hurry and think of something cool.

    Of course, I'm extremely cheap and so would probably just take some index cards, write what's on them, and call it a day.

  4. I think it would be cool, I also like the idea of shuffling a "hoard deck" and randomly dealing treasurer.

  5. Im a huge fan of using like cards or something. I was making a couple when I was playing Pathfinder, I had a card for index card for tracking how long a barbarian can rage and another one for the amount of fuel left in a lamp. I want cards and stuff for spells too, I like my players handing me stuff when they want to use an ability or resource.

  6. Why not have the cards with a generic image (like a sword icon representing general "sword" items, etc.) and then have some blank lines beneath? Laminate the cards and use dry-erase markers to fill in the details.

    This writing of details can be prepared beforehand by the DM, in cases where the players would get an "envelope of cards" which has basic information on each item, and updated by the players or DM as more information is discovered or added, such as correct (or incorrect) identification, spells, purchases, detect magic, etc.

  7. The standard use of 3x5 cards is to take about fifty blank ones, roll up an entire Traveller subsector (including NPCs, starships, planets, etc.) and rubber-band two standard dice to the pack. Voila, an entire Traveller campaign, ready to roll.