Thursday, December 18, 2014

Using Equipment Cards in D&D 5e

I use small cards to represent gear and other physical items that the PCs possess in my game.  I found that a standard index card cut in half is the perfect size for a gear/item card.

On the card I write the item's name, some important stats, such as attack and damage if it's a weapon, or it's illumination range if it's a torch or lantern.  If the item has multiple instances, like a group of torches or pitons, I write a number of circles on the card.  The player scratches out a circle as they consume an item.

On the bottom right hand corner of the card I write the item's weight.  This makes it easy for players to total up their weight for purposes of calculating encumbrance.  You'd be amazed at how quickly the weight of gear adds up, especially if you're using the Encumbrance Variant rule from the PHB.  All of the PCs in my game are at -10 speed.  A backpack can mitigate this, and I'll detail how I use this lowly piece of gear in a future post.

Now in my games, a PC doesn't have something unless they have the card.  This can really make the players feel the sting of losing items.  It's more painful to give up a physical card than it is to erase something from a character sheet.  The system makes it easy for players to exchange items (just swap cards), or to store their gear in a common pool in their wagon (throw all the common cards in a plastic baggie).

I also took advantage of this system when an NPC in the party started stealing from the group.  Whenever this thief succeeded at his DEX(Sleight of Hand) roll contested by the PC's Passive Perception, I surreptitiously removed the gear card(s) from their stacks between sessions.  Fortunately for the party they eventually caught the thief NPC red handed and quickly put an end to his shenanigans ... by killing him.  When they went through the slain NPC's gear cards, there was quite a laugh when they saw all of the items that he'd pilfered from them.

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