I was running a D&D 3.5 campaign for a while. Frustrated with the complexity of the rules and the need to check the SRD constantly, I opted to convert to a rules-light system called Fudge. Unfortunately the conversion was really messy, and I regret doing it. I’ll never again try a mid-campaign rules change, and I recommend against it highly.
I want to run D&D though, because it has a rich feeling to it. My players enjoy combat sequences and using their characters special abilities, and by all rights they should! Rather than jump ship and move to a different D&D version that I don’t know as well, like 4e, pathfinder, legend, etc. I’m taking some inspiration from the D&D board game.
I’ve decided to put everything on the table, literally. D&D started as an off-shoot of miniature wargames, and that’s really where its focus has always been, combat and table-top play. I’m preparing the following for the next time we play D&D:
- Better, simpler character sheets.
- Action sheets: An addendum to the character’s vitals which gives them a list of what actions they can perform in and out of battle.
- Spell cards: I’m prepping cards for all commonly used spells as well as any spells that will appear in the dungeon or that the character’s know.
- Spell slot tables and tokens: Flip a token to use a spell slot. The tokens have the names of the spell prepared.
- Condition cards: Dazzled? Put the dazzled card on your character to remind you what that means.
- Ammunition tokens: Toothpicks for arrows, send one my way whenever you shoot.
- Combat Sequence cards: Simple reminders of basic combat sequence with a description of flat-footedness and initative.
- Monster cards: References more for myself than the players, customized for the particular dungeon/encounter in advance. No variable numbers will appear as they will have all been decided already.
- Encounter board: Probably a whiteboard with the initiative order and magnets for each player, monsters, and their current conditions.
- I’ve found pre-drawn large graph paper at the 100 yen shop which should serve well as an in-game map and playing board. We will draw the player map as we go, based on my DM maps.
- Effect spreads, diameters, 15′ cone, etc in the form of cardboard cutouts.
What game aids do you use to help your D&D 3.5 game? I’ve heard of using M&Ms as counters for special abilities, eating one whenever it’s used, then restocking after sufficient time has passed. Beyond that the DM screens of ages past were always nice references. I think more than anything I want to get away from my laptop as much as possible when I’m DMing, and have everything visible on the table.