Weekend Report: D&D leads to handycrafts.

Disclaimer: The Chaos Grenade does not promote, endorse, condone or take any stance on the issues of drug use. The references below were written for satirical effect. Remember to play it smart and play it safe!

Origami Mind Flayer
Origami Mind Flayer

Ya know, as much as we rag on the awful “Gaming is Evil” mentality that has swept sensational media for decades now, I do have to give the naysayers some credit when they try to compare the gaming hobby to recreational drug use. Dennis Leary once said “Marijuana doesn’t lead to other drugs, it leads to fucking carpentry.” I think the entire tabletop gaming hobby can be revered in the same light….we’re not learning evil spells and wicked religions, we’re learning the basics of cartography, geometry, and to a greater degree: arts & crafts.

We paint minis, we horde small plastic bottles and cans for scenery. We save up tokens to represent health, mana, 1/1 creatures, etc. A lot of games don’t really require additional creative handy work; but sometimes you just can’t help it.

Since D&D 4E is becoming a big hit with my WoD circle, I’ve decided to keep the miniatures and visual aspect going for them to keep the excitement and interest building.  When we arrived for game night on Friday, we got to play with one of our newest toys: a clear tabletop cover with a standard D&D-sized grid on it.

Table Cloths for Gamers.

My brother used to use a tablecloth in his D&D game that was pretty simple: Black and White checker board pattern. He’d have a bag of pennies that he sat down and numbered with a white out pen; and the times I played with him I usually brought my Mage Knight minis so the players had representation. He’d also buy the little bags of army men, dinosaurs, assorted decor for aquariums, etc.

I had originally planned on buying something similar for our group. Last time I used miniatures hardcore I did something a bit more elaborate: I created a 15×15 grid snapping together floor tiles from MageKnight: Dungeons and making a permanent table board with it. When I was attempting to run The World’s Largest Dungeon with it, I’d slap down walls and doors  for the combat encounters and, of course, used my Mage Knight minis along with rubber halloween critters (little black rubber mice were in abundance that year.) The only problem was it did become a hassle snapping doors and wall pieces down and still wound up eating some of the game time setting up combat.

My fiancee’ wound up with a better idea than the checkerboard, though: We purchased one of those of those clear, thick plastic tablecloth covers from Wal Mart for about five bucks. The one we nabbed was actually too big; we ended up cutting off a section of it (not even half!) and it was large enough for their dinner table perfectly.  My awesome fiancee’ spent a few hours the next afternoon going over the section with a sharpee and a straight edge.

It’s a simple thing, but it’s very fun and very handy. We also snagged dry erase markers (that actually came with erasers on the ends!) so we could draw on the grid whatever we needed. The only caution I can tell everyone is make sure to FLIP the top side of the cover (the side where you drew the grid) on the bottom facing the table and draw on the back…apparently the acids in Dry Erase markers can eat up permanent marker, so we have some gaps in our grid we need to tend to. We ended up writing “BOTTOM” in a corner so we knew which side to have face down.

Also, since the cover itself is clear, it’s handy knowing we can print out maps and slide them under to get an instant grid over them.  This week I’ve purchased a pack of Dungeon Tiles from the bookstore after using the set from the Starter game, and I noticed that there were no grids on the 3rd edition tiles but just tiny little plus signs to mark the corners of spaces. Also, I had a map from a D&D minis pack that I wanted to use for an outdoor encounter that night but the grid was barely noticeable…sliding that monster under the cover grid prooved to be really handy.

Getting my Cards Shuffled

The Power Cards concept for 4th edition seems to really be the biggest advantage to the edition. Once again, on Friday night I managed to sit down with someone who was totally new to the game, and after 5 or 10 minutes of brief overview of what her stats meant, she was ready to roll. First round of combat her cleric was positioning herself just right to blast some critters and aide her allies.  I’m wondering why we didn’t even think about this with previous D&D games; it’s not like the concept is tied to just these rules (although the way these powers are presented, it’s a bit more designed with this in mind.)

Friday night was part two of an introductory adventure, using encounters from the Starter set and some random things I threw together to prolong the night. After successful completion and some good combat, it was decided my group did enjoy it enough and wanted to play an actual campaign of it. I sat down with most of the group over the weekend, got some characters rolled up and everyone’s looking forward to our first campaign night this Wednesday. One thing I plan on treating everyone with is actual cards for their characters. I picked up a couple backs of Topp Deck card sleeves and some cheap playing cards. I think I’ll print off everyone’s power cards and give them actual backing so everyone can have a hand to look at as well as their character sheet.

EDIT:
The picture above came from Joseph Wu’s Origami Page where he displays actual origami re-creations of the monsters as illustrated in the Monster Manuals. I found this via an article on BoingBoing.net but I had to share it here!