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MoonHunter Sayeth 20170725


Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
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I have to admit. I am a frugal gamer.

You have seen me mention Magic Boards, one of the original cheap applications for note sheets, work sheets, battle mats, charcter sheets, and so. So you know I like smart and inexpensive game hacks.

This has been with me since the beginning. Back in the early days of gaming, I focused on the Fantasy Trip instead of AD&D (like all my friends) because I could buy all three books (In the Labrynth, Advanced Melee, Advanced Wizard) for the cost of one hard backed AD&D book.

Because of that game I used markers inspired by Melee and Wizard Microgame markers on my room maps.. They were cheaper and easier than miniatures. A plastic bag or a small craft/ fly box would hold an entire campaigns worth of markers. If that many markers were lead/pewter (or what ever they make them out of now), they would require a several cases worth of foam, dividers, and miniatures. Miniatures are heavy, bulky, required special packing (if done right), and expensive. Plus invested time in care, maintenance, and initial painting.

I also must admit that I simply can not paint. I can draw, but can not paint. I have experts and pro miniature painters as friends. Most of them have (mostly) given up on me. Thus, I don't have miniatures (except the ones they gifted me).

The other nail in miniature's coffin for me was V&V, Champions, and all those other supers games. Being a supers gamer made miniatures pointless as you could never quite match your character. (Okay I am using the mind flayer for Mind Mistress this week.)

So if your game needed a more tactical situation, like Champions (as written), GURPs (as written), and many games, a frugal gamer needs markers to replace miniatures. So here is what I do.

I am doing my markers in the V&V style. It works the best.

I used to do this with copiers with reduction and fade plus skill at real cutting and pasting mock ups. This technique took a lot of dimes. (If you want to know how this was done back in the day, PM me.) But now we can use our PCs to do this.

I grid out an 8x11 sheet with one inch squares. I use stock images for mooks and extras (police, ninjas, agents, school kids) and reduced them down with what ever simple program works. I prefer illustrations, but I have done photos. The image is reduced .75" square. I use the same image multiple times for the extras/ mooks. For named characters I use either hired art, good drawings, or we modify existing comic characters. I use the "portrait" view (shoulders and heads) when ever possible. It gives you the best view of the character.

If I am doing monsters, I crib images from the manuals. If it is an animal I get a nat geo inspired illustration. The image is there to just to give you a feel for the markered thing.

In the old days, we did these all in black and white and colored them by hand. If you have the printer for it, keep the images in color.

I create a name with a 4 or 5 point font. Mooks and extras are "type" and number. Sometimes I hand letter the numbers in, so I can replace markers dropped, lost, or hiding somewhere.

Note: You need to keep a master copy, online or on file.

Print the 88 or so markers on a light card stock. (I usually make two copies at a time.) You can use a ruler and exacto knife (or similar cutter) or cut carefully with sissors. Do you see why you print two copies (or more)?

I get a slug. I use a glue stick. I slather on it on. Then I mount it on the bottom of a marker. Depending on the day and age, I have used washers, point slugs, and pennies (and since washers and slugs are more expensive than pennies, you can guess which one I use now). Let them dry for about 30 minutes and sort them into bags/ craft slots. (Keep a glue stick and about 10 pennies in your game kit for instant repair)

A couple of notes:

Some animals are double or triple markers. So I will either have "a front half" and "back half" marker or just don't cut those markers apart. If you can find TFT or Melee Microgame, you can see how some multihex markers might be set up.

I also make status markers... so stunned, wounded, dying, mind controlled, and on-fire... are possible options. I use flying marker (and the altitude). Add them to their pile so you know what is going on. (These may or may not have a penny. Flying altitude markes will have several of them stacked on them.)

I also make markers for things like "auto weapon implacements", big red buttons, 4-6 hex cars, fire, and so on. I can slap those on the board to make things more interesting.

I keep a bunch of blank markers with weight slugs on hand so I can improv any makers I need. You never know when your plot goes into interesting territories or you feel that your police markers aren't right for the mall cops.

Now these are not my images. It is from someone here on RPG.Net... because his look good and are well hosted.



Viral Marketing Shill?
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Printing on magnetic inkjet paper saves the gluing step but it may be more than $.01 each though.


Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Well $.015 because paper, ink, glue stick, penny.

The Magnetic Inkjet bit is a good one. Those need a metal backed board. Not that tough to arrange and allows for the ability to hold the map up vertically to show the group something. They are much better for playing Ogre, GEV, and any number of war games.


Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
RPGnet Member
Validated User
One more thing:

You will want to make a sheet of 1" squares on the light cardstock. If you need unique markers, you can cut out the squares for it and glue on a penny or four. A few minutes later, you are ready to go.

You can make markers for cars, for fire hydrants, for light pole, for walls, for catwalk, for anything else that might be on the play surface (Battle Mat or Battle Board). If it can move or "be used" by players you might want to make it out of a marker.

Some people will put buildings down with larger markers.

I have seen people make "road" and "road with sidewalk" markers, with grids on them. They just lay them down instead of drawing them on a play surface.
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