Mad Props - Handouts for Your Pulp Horror Game

imageIf you play Call of Cthulhu or another game with a pulp horror setting, you're going to like this....

I've recently stumbled upon a site with all sorts of Lovecraftian props, and it's a good thing I did. Why? To my horror, I discovered that mine was not the first brilliant mind to consider an article about using props in your pen-and-paper roleplaying game.

"Props for the Peeps" already does a good job of presentin... [View original blog post]


  • I love using props in all of my games, regardless of genre. Even back in 1st Ed. AD&D, my group used all sorts of toys to represent monsters, environments, and so forth. Later, I started collecting trickets, baubles, costume jewelry, and what-not to use as "real treasure" to be handed out to players. These items helped define the look and feel of the world...and made bookkeeping quite easy. No big deal if something didn't get written down; the player has the item right in front of them on the table next to his dice!

    Nowadays, I use lots of Paizo's item cards ( I keep them all in a big orange binder full of collectible card sleeves. When I hand them out to the players, we keep those in a small red velvet dice bag. Item Cards are cool in that they feature generic (but well-written) descriptions. There is nothing on the cards about item capabilities. These could be mundane, masterwork, magical, or even relics...that's up to the DM. And the bookkeeping is made easy, thanks to an area for adding an item code. DMs keep a master sheet of item codes so they can identify the card items quickly and easily when the PCs learn something about the item. And there's a writable/erasable block on the back beneath the description, perfect for allowing players to add notes as they learn more about the items. One cool thing, too, is that players become acquainted with some of the various items that I have duplicates of (these I use for healing potions/scrolls), and they start to recognize what they have simply by visual cues. This has helped to keep PCs from hoarding potions and scrolls until they can get to someone with an Identify spell (usually an NPC in the next town). Now, when they recognize certain potions, they use them as needed, even if they are still uncertain about the exact power level. (Potion of Cure Light Wounds or Potion of Cure Serious Wounds? Who cares? Just drink it before you die!)

    This familiarity also opens up the potential for DMs to slip in cursed items that the PCs believe they "recognize" as something beneficial. I wouldn't suggest setting them up for something particularly nasty, but use this as an obstacle that creates interesting and unique roleplaying opportunities.
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