4 Essential items to up your RPG game!
You've finally managed to get a group together to start your game. You've studied your Game Master's Guide and marked the pages of your Monster Manual, ready for the game to begin. But before you jump straight into the wide and wonderful world of role-playing games, there's a few things you can get that can take your campaign from a short-story Tolkien-fan-fiction, to an immense series of imaginary adventures.
A Game Master Screen
A lot of fresh Game Masters seem to forget about the number one resource for running your game, the Game Master screen. Now, GM screens exist for every RPG out there, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's perfect for you. While the stock standard screen will come with some of the minutiae of statuses and environmental effects, they may not necessarily apply for your game.
If you're playing Dungeons & Dragons, Gale Force Nine has created campaign-specific screens that have information more important for that campaign. Need a breakdown of the nine hells for Descent into Avernus? Then the Descent into Avernus GM Screen will help you. Running Eberron and want to have the Dragon Marks readily available? Then the Eberron screen has that handy.
If you find yourself pretty handy with an image editing program, you can even design, print, and build your own using a few A4 pieces of thick card and a trip to a stationery or print store.
A Range of Notebooks
Now, we all have notebooks hiding around right? Who doesn't have a subtle addiction to notebooks. Well, that addiction sure comes in handy when running your RPG campaign.
The first use is obvious, keeping track of what happens in a game. It's not necessarily handy to have a laptop out on the table to take the odd note you need to remember later in the game, but jotting it down in a campaign-specific notebook can help you retain that piece of information for later in the session, or even the campaign.
It gets better when you start using the different types of notebooks as well, especially the gridded ones. A gridded notebook is the perfect way to get your game maps out of your head and prepped for a game. With each square acting as a five-foot space, you can easily translate it at scale to an Adventure Grid or map tiles. Speaking of which...
An Adventure Grid or Battlemap
Now this is where you can really make your RPG campaigns shine, by having a map for your players to refer to while they're playing. There's some great options available to step up your game in this regard.
If you're looking for a blank slate to add your own map to, you can get a D&D Adventure Grid, or one of the Chessex Battlemats. These provide a canvas for you to draw your own map onto using wet-erase markers (don't use Dry Erase on these).
Alternatively, if you're looking for a bit of art to assemble your map with, there are the Dungeon Tiles series from Dungeons & Dragons that allow you to build your map using a range of shapes featuring environmental artwork.
You have your screen, your notebooks, and your map ready to go. Now it's time to populate it. Both the Pathfinder Deep Cuts and Nolzur's Minis ranges have an amazing array of miniatures, both hero and monster, for you to choose from and, if you can't find what you're looking for, it's likely that the Reaper range has it instead. All of these minis come unpainted so you can grab some paints and make them look however you want.
If you're not keen to paint, there is also the Wizkids Booster range of prepainted minis where you can roll the dice* to get some random minis to add to your collection.