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Tabletop RPG: Essential Tools for your First Session

Tabletop RPG: Essential Tools for your First Session

So you’ve got your rulebook and you’ve convinced your friends to clear their Friday night. Character sheets are printed, pencils are sharpened, dice have been bought and a table has been cleared. You are ready to get your roleplay game on.

But before you start rolling the dice, there are a few things to consider grabbing before the game gets going. Like keeping a piece of chalk in your adventuring pack, these items are cheap to pick up and extremely useful when needed. And they’ll prove you’re more than ready for this roll.

Index Cards

Use them to write down stuff that doesn’t fit on your character sheet. Those lines are tiny and — let’s face it — you never have enough room to write all the things you need. Scribble out your spells, special rules or abilities. They’re also especially useful when writing down loot from a particular instance (to split, of course). Keep a card for each of your magical items with unique or homebrew properties. I also use an index card as my “purse” — noting my actual monies on it rather than my character sheet as that tends to get erased the most.

DMs can also use them as reference cards for enemy mobs, keeping stats of common enemies they can pull from a box or other reference notes instead of continually flipping through a book. They’re also useful to pass specific information that is made clear only to a single character and thus a single player. There’s a certain dramatic flair to describing a letter written in Elvish and then passing a note to the only character who can read Elvish in the group, who is also a compulsive liar.

A Good Eraser

And I’m not talking about those tiny nubs on the back of your mechanical or conventional pencils. A good white polymer eraser won’t tear up your character sheets as you adjust skills will cost you less than a dollar and is an investment in clarity when you’re not looking at dark smudges when trying to figure out how many hit points you have left.

A White Board/Dry Erase Board


As a player, a white board can be substituted with index cards, but for the fledgling DM, you can draw basic outlines of dungeons, lay out the field of battle for an instance, track enemy mob health and damage, keep initiative organized, and whack players with it when they’re misbehaving.



We’re social creatures, and eating together is actually an activity that binds groups. Also: low blood sugar is the enemy of fun. Whether you’re planning a marathon 12-hour session or running a tight, action-filled 2-hour module, food is an essential element to fun times. While I’m partial to popcorn, finger foods that aren’t sticky are generally best. Shareable food will be appreciated by all as well (particularly by your DM, who you want to keep happy).

And a Final Word on Loading Up on Additional Supplies

There are a pile of other things that you can get to enhance your gaming experience. Electronic devices and associated support apps for building characters, fancy grid paper (which you can make yourself with a yardstick and a roll of craft paper), pretty miniatures or cool looking terrain (which can also be made inexpensively) can and do add to the gaming experience. But if you’re just starting out, working with just the basics will help you get to know what your needs are beyond the essentials. Play a few sessions and decide if you really do want a model to represent your character, or want to actually build ruined buildings and other terrain features.

What do you think of this essentials list? Let us know in the comments what you’d consider a gaming essential!

Interested in other tabletop games? Want to paint miniatures for you games, or build your own custom terrain? Check out Teri’s YouTube Channel for videos about tabletop and miniature wargaming.

Follow Teri on Social Media:
Twitter: @thatterigirl

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