Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Customizable gaming tokens: Does this product exist?

paper tokensEven though I'm currently playing World of Darkness and Amber, and the next game I run will probably use either Spirit of the Century or Mutants & Masterminds, I do occasionally end up needing miniatures at the table. Because I am a cheap bastard, I don't own any real minis, but instead end up using a whole lot of folded pieces of paper weighted down by pennies. This kind of sucks, because it's extremely easy to mess up the whole board with a careless gesture.

virtual tokens in MapToolSo I found myself thinking of the character tokens that some online RPG applications (such as MapTool) use as virtual miniatures, and wondering if anybody out there was making a physical equivalent of those things. It'd be the simplest thing in the world, right? Each one would just be a couple of plastic disks--maybe with some metal bits for weight--that snap together to hold a piece of paper in place. You could print out character art stolen off of deviantART and ConceptArt.org, maybe even with a different front and back for each character to represent different states (alive and dead, for example), and get more utility out of a handful of cheap token rings than a whole bucket full of miniatures.

Hell, you could even use them to represent things other than characters positioned on a grid. Status effects come to mind, for example, for things like injuries and buff spells. They might also work to keep track of point pools, if you've got enough of them.

physical tokens from Z-Man GamesSo anyway, this seems too obvious not to exist, but the closest thing I could find were these things, which are cheap and metal, but don't seem to be especially customizable. And, apparently, they're no longer available anyway. They do make me think a bit more about how my own ideal tokens would be constructed, though. Maybe metal discs with a clear plastic cover that snaps in place over the inserted portrait would be the way to go. And the cover would have to be opaque at the edges, to hide the ragged edges where the portrait's been cut out.

This is too simple and obvious. This has to already exist, right?


B. Zedan said...

My mind is whirring with how to do this. I can't cast snap-apart bits (too complicated), but I wonder if there is some girly, design-your-own jewellery kind of thing that one could scavenge from?

Matt Sheridan said...

Yeah, like something meant to clasp around a photo or a glass gemstone or something? That could definitely exist.

Brigid Keely said...

Hm, interesting. This reminds me of an idea I had to distribute participation points.

Bascially, everyone gets X amount of tokens that are maked (by color, symbol, etc) that they are to pass out to other players when those players do something awesome, memorable, etc during the course of the game. You can also give out tokens others have given to you (for instance, you've handed out all of yours but received 2 from other players, someone does something cool, you can pass those received tokens on). The color coding/symbol is basically to keep people from hoarding their own tokens. At the end of the game, whoever has the most tokens gets extra XP, but even those who don't have the most still get recognition for their actions/RP/etc.

The tokens need to be smooth edged so nobody looses an eye, heavy enough to be tossed and end up where they are aimed at, but not too heavy. And small-ish. About the size of a poker chip. And customizable would be good, too.

I think the same base could be used for the character tokens AND for the RP reward tokens. They could also be placed on a board upside down to represent traps, treasure, foes, etc. When a character token reaches that upside even token, it gets flipped over to reveal what, exactly, is under there... a troll, some rpe, a pit, etc.

Maybe instead of something that snaps apart, something that's threaded so it screws together? Or two lucite disks that are taped together with the art in the middle?

B. Zedan said...

So, I looked through girly jewellery kits and found nothing but moderate amusement and horror. From the photography studio side of it, there are these frame/button things, but beyond that one will only find keychains by the gross.

There is a slightly more complicated option, that would make you tokens, but not let you change them. Pick up some bezel settings, stick your picture in, then pour resin on top of it. Or you could use those clear, domed/dimensional stickers for scrapbooking instead of resin.

Matt Sheridan said...

Brigid - Cool, cool. I dig all those ideas. I think marked poker chips would work perfectly for player recognition tokens. Also, I totally plan to use them to represent fate points in our new game.

Brenna - Oh, wow, bezel settings and clear stickers really sound just about perfect for small scale, permanent stuff. They'd make kickass markers for player characters, certainly. They even feel really period appropriate for the 1930s thing we're about to start doing. Thanks!

DVUS said...

I just started to make some tokens of my own. I've been using Sculpey polymer clay and cutting 1in circles out of a sheet of clay. I bake it in the oven to harden the clay, then glue the character/monster/whatever art on top. To seal it, I've been painting on top with Sculpey glaze, which is an acrylic glaze.

Matt Sheridan said...

Aw, hey! Sculpey! That is definitely something I hadn't considered before. That sounds pretty cool. That'd allow you an infinite variety of colors and shapes for the token bases. Maybe different colors for PCs, allied NPCs, different categories of monster, etc.

Melissa Moritz said...

I'm in a WOD game right now where another player has created tokens for each of our werewolf forms. Each token is a small wooden disk that has been spray painted black and has the colored token symbol glued to it. Each player has a different background color for their tokens and each player has a token for each form (Human, Urshul, etc). The form symbol is a black silhouette. One side of the token shows the icon with a black ring/border on it (to indicate that the character is in the shadow). The small wooden disks were "blanks" that are apparently easy to find in hobby sections of stores.


I'm creating magnetic tokens for my upcoming Vampire game. I use a magnetic dry erase board for combat. I found small round disk magnets that have an adhesive side. I'm going to print round paper tokens and adhere them to the sticker side of the magnets. These magnets are also available in craft departments.


Matt Sheridan said...

Man, that sounds fancy. I bet those look pretty cool.

I wouldn't have thought there'd be a lot of need for maps and tokens in a World of Darkness game, but I've only played it a little myself. And that was the old WoD system. Also, we barely actually used the system, come to think of it.