I recently spent money…
I too was taken aback by this turn of events, but I was presented with something I had never seen before. Ok, so I have trawled through an abundance of shops and online stores for RPG resources for items that fit a tight budget but still look nice, and I have to say that while there’s a lot of very nice products out there, I rarely encounter anything that shows me something particularly different.
Between the MDF, printables, and neoprene mats, I encountered at the Nationals in Bradford, Inked Adventures:
Map and Dice Cards
What an excellent idea. Each of these playing cards is marked with a roughly even distribution of results from d6, d20, and d100 rolls, at least as best as one can distribute those results within fifty-two cards. The cards also feature a small square dungeon map, plotted to eight exits (two to a side), measuring ten squares on a side, and featuring a variety of layouts and contents, from simple chambers, to winding caverns, and a handful of highly detailed and more storied rooms like barracks, vaults, and even a bar of sorts, and kudos to Inked Adventures for including a cesspit.
The maps are well drawn, broadly simple but carrying enough detail to keep them interesting and diverse, and in a pinch – yes I’d gladly throw together a rogue-like dungeon or emergency adventure site when the players have me backed into a corner. They’re small – the grid being approximately 5mm, I don’t have a ruler to hand – easily translated onto a paper or wipe-clean grid (or even in conjunction with the second item, below), or used as a simple indicator of locations to make descriptions quick and easy they’d serve as a handy prop.
For players of Savage Worlds and other games utilising playing cards I can see these being an invaluable addition to the table, but I wrankle at the idea of using them as a dice replacement – even in an emergency – because of the skewed outcomes, even a little uneven makes me feel reluctant. Still, the dice are a minor part of the cards, otherwise a worthwhile investment at £12, and a clever idea.
My second pack of cards is not designed to remain in one piece. Small sheets of stone-tile floors, wood-tile floors, and a vast array of set dressing that ranges from sweeping staircases to the bodies on the floor, even some emergency minis appear in the form of representative symbol tokens. Monster tokens are typical small pointy-eared silhouettes with visible underbite, but include a little variety to change things up, and characters are weapons, shields, hoods, and the standard-issue pointy hat.
The idea being of course that the tiny cards should be cut to size, each card being a 6×9 grid of 8mm (about a third of an inch) squares. With a healthy supply of wood and stone floors, plenty of stairs, doors, trap doors and various standard dressings and decorations to populate each room, all beautifully hand-drawn and in full colour, one pack has a vast amount of versatility, and are durable enough to see a lot of use for the comparatively low cost.
My concern is more my own damn issue, as someone who is intensely clumsy and ham-handed, the size of the individual squares is a massive problem. If I can successfully cut out the shapes I require I would have to fix floor plans to a surface that would prevent them from being scattered by my hand or any of the other pairs of hands at the table, and mobile components run the risk of being lost to a sneeze. It is a mercy that each pack is filled with spares, and for the price – £8 a pack – I’d say it’s worth the experiment for a cheap and beautifully drawn map, even if it is tiny.
The rest of the catalogue available from Inked Adventures (via DriveThru RPG) is a host of print-at-home simple artwork for dungeons and adventure settings fit for most practical purposes your average adventure could ask for*. While predominantly fantasy basics, there’s a handful of sci-fi resources to pick and choose from as well. There’s a few free resources on there I’d advise downloading to sample, but if your interest is even a little piqued then it’s worth perusing the rest of the art on offer.
*Perhaps a note to Inked Adventures and many, many other groups competing in the same field: everyone does deserts, forests, tundra, swamps, and obviously dungeons and caverns. What about a handful of resources for those of us who like to get extra-planar? Hades, Pandemonium, Limbo, the Astral Sea, are hard to represent with stone, sand, and grass. Am I too niche a market perhaps?