8/03/2015

Frugal GM Essential Gamemaster Gear: Alea Tools

Frugal GM Essential Gamemaster Gear: Alea Tools
As part of a small series of posts I'm outlying what I consider some "essential" GM kit that I have found necessary to be able to run a game. I'm shying away from dice....for reasons...and I don't expect my opinions to be the end-all of the topic, but instead the beginning of a larger conversation.

I know I stated that I use generic tokens all the time, and I do, but I also use Alea Tools "markers" all the time and it pains me to see GMs not using this awesome product. These guys aren't top on the list of "+12 Links of Helpfulness" for nothing. How I've used these things has changed greatly over the years, but I keep them around for all my games and the few times I've forgotten them they have been missed.

I was fortunate enough to be at Ghengis Con about a decade ago when Alea Tools first hit the market. A buddy of mine beat me to their booth to be their very 1st customer. For the record....damn you Joe! The first gen markers were a bit too strong, but the current ones are great....

...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Alea Tools are small plastic "markers" one inch in diameter and about 1/4 inch tall. Inside each marker is a small, string magnet. The plastic really lends itself to writing on and the color coding really helps these things work as status markers. The magnets help them stick to each other and if you prep your minis (an easy task) to them as well. How you use them is up to the limits of your imagination.

Now I tend to only use the white, pink, and red markers, but I keep a small set if two each of a bunch of other colors as well. I use the white ones to differentiate my minis (which orc was that again?) by writing a letter or number on the side of the marker. Since I play HackMaster predominately, when a creature is knocked down with a Threshold of Pain I denote that with a pink marker and if a creature dies it is replaced with a red marker, kind of like a blood splotch in Frag. This lets me re-use some of the minis if it is a huge battle (often not everyone is on the field of battle the whole time) and just makes things flow smoothly.

The assorted colors I either use to change things up instead of white or to denote special statuses. I can see using a blue chip for every 5' of elevation for flying creatures....for example. Again your imagination is the limit here.

If you see me post a picture of my game in-progress, either as a player or a GM, odds are there are a few of these markers in the picture. Some folks think they are a bit pricey, but they are good quality and with the exception of those 1st gen markers, I use mine all the time. Alea Tools clean up super easy and don't really age at all.....I'll be using these for another 20 years easy.