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Equipment for Solo-TTRPG Players

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So you want to do some solo tabletop gaming? We went absolutely batty during the pandemic and starting to explore all sorts of ways to get the most out of our games. I started buying up half of Amazon trying to improve my games. Much of the lists on this page are things I would put in my backpack if I was going to a park or would generally just keep on my desk to help me out (see more of my kit in this article). Eventually I thought I would start asking others what they use to help their games and decided to share this list with you!

These are organized into the following sections:

  1. The general kit
  2. Oracles & generators
  3. Recording & art
  4. Organizing & mobility
  5. Getting into the "zone"
  6. Maps

This list will constantly be expanding any time I find or learn of something I think should be added. Have a suggestion? Reach out to @bugandclaw on Twitter. The main things that won't be on this list is gaming books. The best books of things like oracles, random tables, and so on, are such expansive topics that we'll get into that separately. There are also items on this list that may have you ask but why wouldn't I use my computer/phone/device for that? And the answer to that might be go ahead, but if you're feeling like a purest, don't want distractions, to get pulled out of the experience, or just want to avoid the glow of a screen, some of these options are for you. They're options, not prescriptions.

So, without further delay...

Equipment tables

The general kit

D Item General Use Quick find
1 Polyhedral dice No tabletop gamer is without them Dice Envy
2 A deck of cards Many games use these as well as or instead of dice Amazon Theory11
3 Regular journal/diary Where you take notes, track your journey, or play the game Amazon
4 A coin Quick yes/no decisions
5 A big D100 Rolling on giant tables, much more enjoyable than the two smaller polyhedrals Amazon
6 Snacks & drink Keep that energy up!

Examples from the general kit

Oracles & generators

If you aren't familiar, oracles are game mechanics that uses randomness to answer a questions or guide narration in an uncertain situation. They have evolved a lot over the last few years, especially during the pandemic when solo play gained major traction. There are entire books of self-contained oracles, as well as artificial intelligence apps that play the role. As for me, I like dice, cards, simple game mechanics, prompts, and imagination, before I head to a hefty book or table. If you get used to it, it can keep things moving faster, too. Try some of them out!

Examples of oracles and generators

D Item General Use Quick find
1 Game Master's Apprentice Deck Replaces many oracle systems on a deck of cards DTRPG
2 Scrabble tiles Writing prompts & inspiration, name & word generation, tokens. Read how I use them, here. Amazon
3 Emotion, weather, direction dice Randomly determine weather, NPC reactions, replace oracles Amazon
4 Dungeon, wilderness, terrain dice Randomly generate entire dungeons, terrain, treasure, more Amazon
5 Blank D6 Make your own simple random generators or oracles Amazon
6 Blank polyhedral dice Make your own complex random generators or oracles Amazon
7 Interrogative dice Replace oracle actions: who, what, why, when, how, where Amazon
9 Decision dice Replace oracle actions (yes, no, maybe) Amazon
10 Being and helping verb dice Replace oracle actions Amazon
11 3-sided dice Stand-in for yes, no, maybe oracles Amazon
12 Colour dice Replaces colour-selecting oracles. Mostly adds flavour. Amazon
13 Hit location dice Automates where enemies attack you, afflictions, etc Amazon
14 Time dice Set a random deadline, timer, clock, etc Amazon
15 Game spinners Like blank dice, make your own oracles & randomizers Amazon
16 Deck of Worlds Prompts for lands, lore, and story-driven maps Kickstarter
17 Tarot cards Folks use these as story prompts, oracles, and adventure prompts Amazon
18 Quest decks Random quest, side quest, and adventure prompts Dice Dungeons
19 Monster Cards Track 5E monsters, organize by CR and draw for random Monster Cards
20 Dictionary & thesaurus For interpretting and playing off of oracles and prompts Amazon
21 Rory's Story Cubes So many prompts for writing, ideas, what's around, oracle replacement Amazon
22 MtG Cards Magic the Gathering cards as prompts, game gens, inspiration
23 Other game decks Use cards from other board/tabletop games as prompts or oracles for your current game

Recording & art

If you're interested in adding more sketching and art to your gaming kit then, as a trained illustrator and professional product designer with a bachelor's degree in design, these are some of the starting bits I recommend. I will try to add to this over time as well. I can't speak enough about straps/pen loops and roll-ups for your pencils though so they don't bang against each other causing the leads inside to break or for the tools to otherwise get messy.

D Item General Use Quick find
1 Gridded journal Aids drawing maps, tracking numbers, keeping alignment Amazon
2 Specialized RPG journal Has a mix of paper types for different tasks Amazon
3 Sketchbook Blank paper to sketch maps, creatures, characters Amazon
4 Pencil/brush roll-up For travelling with art/writing supplies so they don't break/get messy Etsy
5 Travel watercolor set Great for quick sketches, maps, etc. Forced limit on palette. Amazon
6 Water brushes Fill with water for use with watercolours on the go Amazon
7 Ruler It measures things, draws straight lines, helps draw maps, tables, character sheets. Amazon
8 Voice recorder Used in some games, record your plays
9 Flash/Index cards Track things, make oracles, make NPCs, many uses
10 Straps/Pen loops Holds pencils and other tools safe from breaking leads or making a mess Paperlote

Organizing & mobility

I've noticed a lot of folks trying to sell these big, expensive, specialized TTRPG bags with all of these neat compartments for dice, printouts, and things like that. I don't think we need things like that. A simple bag or backpack to put things in, and a few things to help you read, travel, and roll (or however you play), is all I think you need. I was hesitant to add point counters to this list but a lot of folks report them aiding memory and the tactile aspect aiding like a fidget spinner would with attention.

D Item General Use Quick find
1 3-hole punch Punching holes in print-outs to put into a binder/duo-tang Amazon
2 Clipboard For gaming on the go Amazon
3 Pronged Duo-tangs Hold your printed sheets that belong together, like adventures Amazon
4 Binders For items you'll add or remove occasionally Amazon
5 File folders Hold sheets you want to keep loose Amazon
6 Dice tray Keep dice in one place, stop rolling onto the floor, make any surface rollable Etsy
7 Dice bag Carry your dice wherever you want to go Die Hard Dice
8 A printer Print your adventures, character sheets, etc to help disconnect from tech Amazon
9 Point counters Track HP, XP, damage, and other "points" Etsy

Getting into "the zone"

There's no one item that can help you get into the zone. I've had some really interesting recommendations, though. For example, one person on reddit told me they would use spent bullet casings as their tokens in a game where their character had to shoot a gun to track ammunition. Many folks like to hold something (like a focus object), fondle or squeeze something (I sometimes wear mala prayer beads and flip them back and forth between fingers), or some other folks just like to have interesting objects nearby. I've read about a couple of players who like to try and eat what their character might eat while they play– though you may want to be careful with that!

You might even bleed this into your other equipment: playing a spy game that requires a deck of cards? Maybe you get a James Bond themed deck of cards. Whether it's a shiny stone, candle, or spent bullet casing, it's important to add items to your solo roleplaying equipment that help get you into "the zone".

D Item General Use Quick find
1 FM Radio Limited controls for distractions, ambient noise Amazon
2 Headphones In case you need focus
3 Sand timers Force yourself to complete tasks in set amounts of time Amazon
4 Candles Atmosphere
5 Shiny gems Atmosphere

Maps

D Item General Use Quick find
1 Dry erase gaming mat For when you get tactical, want to plan, understand how something would work Amazon
2 Dry erase markers For use on the dry erase matt, mixed colours Amazon
3 The Dungenerator Generate random dungeon maps with cards Kickstarter
4 Atmar's Cardography Generate random dungeon maps with cards Kickstarter
5 Black Fortress' RDGs Black Fortress' Random Dungeon Generators do what you think they might! DTRPG
6 Inked Adventures Generate random maps (and dice) by drawing cards Etsy
7 Old game maps Print old video game stages as TTRPG maps
8 City/trail/area maps Print maps of the real world as TTRPG maps Google Maps

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