Monday, June 8, 2009


I've mentioned before how I create little cards for magic items (and in my latest campaign objects d'art and gems). Thought I'd share a few despite being utterly embarrassed at how atrocious my hand writing is. Really loved making these even though it became a lot of work. I'm no artist but I like to think my players enjoyed getting these as loot anyways.

Below are a few examples, more can be found on my flickr page. These are blank white 3x5 cards cut in half. I store them in 3 ring binder card sleeves (used for collectable sports cards, MtG and the like).

I cut out a potion bottle stencil from thick card stock which I use for most "potions". The Enbiggen "potion" happens to be a little ball of cake and not an actual bottle. I used different colors and mixtures for each potion. I actually worked out a semi-logical system of potion smell/taste/appearance so they could be identifed. But, my players were so not into that kind of play.

Sometimes characters knew what they got. So name/stats went right on the card. Other times stats would be added later, as they were discovered.

I really liked these vases. They came from the Tomb of Uro-o-Nubi, a Sun Kingdom (Egyptian culture, snake people) Governor. The designs on these hopefully helped generate the correct atmosphere. They also establish a Sun Kingdom style which came into effect later when the players were able to identify items as being from the Sun Kingdom based on their little drawings. Not via a skill check or with any DM intervention at all. Campaign clues were hidden in the designs and hieroglyphs. Instead of pursuing that the party decided to sell off this "junk." These were some of the most valuable items found but the party thief didn't think about it and got totally robbed (10% real value) by crooked merchant in the Bazaar.

A wand of healing made by priests of Mylien. I sometimes put a flavor phrase on items to poke the players' imaginations. When you have an entire world to describe to players it helps to create reoccuring themes. Such as the "Mylien loves you." which her priests say, and is carved on her temples and on all most healing magic items. Also garlic is her holy symbol and wildly regarded as a healthy, healing herb.

Some scrolls, couple rings, unknown staff, misc other loot. I made many blank scrolls and potion cards to use for quick treasure during games. Other loot was either pre-made by me or I gave the player a temporary card with just name of item scrawled on it. I have a small collection of these now. Not nearly enough though :)


  1. Consider getting some cheap business card stock to print on if you are worried about hand writing, put on the text, print and then draw the pictures.

    I've found fold out card paper at the dollar store.

  2. This is a great idea. If I weren't so lazy I would probably do this as well (although if you think you're handing writing is bad...)

  3. @Pobody
    Yeah, I'll probably do that in the future. But, I have a big mental block for doing things on the computer. Having to create the file, get it all aligned up, typing in the data, mulling over font and layout, It's all work! Cutting a 3x5 card in half and writing/drawing on it is play.

    Maybe the fact that I spend 99% of my work and free time on a computer. I cherish and don't want to give up this rare non-computer activity I enjoy.

    The other thing, nicely printed cards would bring more attention to my poor artistic skills. Right now it's sort of endearing and I hope I get an 'A' for effort. But if part of the card had production values and the other part was my art, that would just be sad. Difference between a bad movie that knows it's bad and a bad movie that's thinking it's Citizen Kane II.

    Thanks. It's fun to hand the players a fat envelope(chest of treasure) and watch them "fight" over the magic and treasure cards.

    You should try it with just one or two major/artifact items.

  4. I used to do almost the exact same thing (haven't gamed in a while). It seemed like my players appreciated even a piddling +1 dagger, when they had a card with its name, picture and knew it glowed on command etc.

    I think the fact the players built up knowledge of the Sun Kingdom style is cool. A sense of history and experience in the game is nice.

  5. Interesting. Our problem is that most of our campaigns only last 4-12 months and so we don't really take the time to do all of this fancy detailed work on the setting.

    Hopefully your players appreciate all the extra work that you are putting in.

  6. > Hopefully your players appreciate all the extra work that you are putting in

    Yeah, I know not all of them do and I wonder if any of them care. But that's ok cause I enjoy doing it. That campaign didn't last very long.

  7. I love 3 x 5 inch blank index cards, big enough for an NPC, monster or hireling, and when folded in half make great treasure cards.


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