Category Archives: DIY Projects & El Cheapo Gaming

The Return of El Cheapo Gaming

I don’t how long it’s been since I did an El Cheapo Gaming post. I just haven’t stumbled across anything new or cool. Let’s also face it that a lot stores are still closed, and inventories are down. But it doesn’t mean that I haven’t tinkered with some of my toys.
There’s a lot more options than when I started ranting about doing things on the cheap. 3-D printing was still pretty much in the prototype stage and readily available to your average hobbyist. Heck. I still don’t have one. Not sure if I will. But we shall see on that.
For this post, I want talk about my favorite things in DM Box of wonder. First, a few Legos or the generic knock-offs. You don’t need a lot maybe a dozen or so. I’ve used them for altars, tables, desks, whatever. They’re just all around handy.
The second toy that travels in my box are the wall sections that I made.

It took some experimentation but I’ve found the perfect system for me. First, go to your local hardware store and get some 3/4 inch stock. This usually comes in 3 feet section for only a couple of bucks. I looked at other sizes; 5/8 was just too small and 1 inch just seem too tall. I wanted something all of the players at the table could see over without any trouble. Then I just it down into convenient sizes: 6″, 5″, 4″, 3″, 2″ and 1″. The 1″ pieces are special. I use them for doors. Just stand on edge so it’s 1″ tall and the door stands out and is taller than the wall section. I just hand painted a door on there.
For the other lengths, I ran a little sand paper on the “top” two edges and rounded the corners a bit. This is really necessary but does add a little to the appearance when your looking up close. Then just paint them gray with cheap acrylic paint. After the paint dries, I mark off 1″ sections and paint lines with black paint. These don’t have to be perfect. It’s OK that they’re a little wavy or even off a bit. Makes them look a little more natural. You can add more details if you want but it just let stand as is as extra details can be distracting.
In play, I just lay out the walls for the room. I don’t worry about using any dungeon tiles. I use the markings on the walls as a general guide. I like to hit this weird mid-point between theater of the mind and using miniatures. I don’t worry about exact tactical movement. Just give everybody a rough idea where the party and the monsters are.
And there you go.

Return of the GM Notebook/Bag


I haven’t wrote about this a long time and I figured it’d be a good idea to update this rant. Because really you probably should update your GM bag/notebook with each new campaign.
Since I’ve picked up a lot of things since that last post and I’m a way different game than your normal adventure crawl I’ve taken some stuff out the rotation and added a couple of things. Since I’m running The Blight. I, of course, have that book in my bag. And that’s a huge chunk of weight. That thing is dang near 900 pages. I’m running it with Swords & Wizardry so there’s that book. I just got Bill Webb’s Decks of Dirty Tricks so that got added. Before I did have the Encounter, Treasure, and Hireling Decks for Swords & Wizardry but I took them out for this game. The most valuable thing I did add back was the old Chaosium Cities book. That thing is great for random when you’re running a city based game. I’ve kept my notebook very slim. The only things I actually use are some scratch paper and the handy Attack Save Cheat Sheet that I made earlier. And my dice, of course.
I dropped a lot the miniatures out of the big bag. You just don’t need a lot of the standard dungeon denizens if the characters are running around in the city. So the mini’s that I am lugging around are more like the humanoid PC type, undead and the occasional demon. That covers most bases. Remember that bag look like this when I running Labyrinth Lord.

I know this is just a rant but here’s my advice. Redo your GM bag and notebook, every time you start a new campaign. Especially, if you’re changing up rules too. And if you’re a player. Same thing. It’s a pain to lug around things you don’t need.
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My Little Swords & Wizardry Cheat Sheet

I really like one page cheat sheets. Maybe that’s why I generally don’t use your standard GM screen. More often than not, there isn’t the chart of table that I need. It’s not organized as well as I like it. Or there’s lots of stuff that I don’t need but it’s there just to fill space. So I cooked up this little sheet. Note: It does include my house ruled skill check. So here you go. Enjoy!
Attack Save Cheat Sheet

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Starting Some Cheap Dungeon Tiles

It’s been a long time since I found some cool and cheap. And this time thanks to wandering through Dollar General I found some contact paper. Bonus. Its in 1 inch hexes.

As you can see it works. Yes, it’s the color is a little light but it still looks sort of like stone. Now I just need to take the time and make attach it to something. I’ve got some left over cork tile as well as some of that foam poster board and think that will work best. I just need to try to match up the hexes when I apply the stuff.
Keep gaming folks!

Episode 2: DM Notebooks

Ah yes. Episode 2 of Playing It Wrong is release into the wild. This time I rant about my DM Notebook. This isn’t my campaign or adventure notes. And it’s not even my DM screen. This is a notebook that I have with various system neutral charts and tables from all sorts of sources. The thing that I notices is that there’s a bunch of those tables, while neat, I wasn’t even using. So it’s time to slim that thing down. I mean why carry extra stuff around. I probably already do carry too much stuff. Heck, it’s thicker than most of my OSR core books (except Dungeon Crawl Classics). So here you, give the episode a listen and share your thoughts.
Episode 2: DM Notebooks