It's the little details that often get overlooked in advice for dungeon masters. I'm going to delve deep into some of the overlooked intricacies of the tools we dungeon masters like to use. This. series will be a look at what I tend to towards and maybe some comments on what others use. So step into my workshop as we delve into the tools of the trade.
Paper has been a cornerstone of role playing games as much, if not more, than dice. I tend to be a 'digital DM,' but I still use my fair share of paper. In fact I still use paper for thing I could probably do on my computer. Mapping is the big one for me, visual aids and laying out battle mats and accessories for them are also pretty high up there. I still take some notes on paper sometimes and track certain things that don't happen every session as well.
For general one sided printing, I use 20 lb copy paper, but I think I'm moving to 24 lb paper for double sided or heavy inkjet printing. I like the feel of it and my fineliner pens don't bleed through as easily. I haven't found a graph paper that I like, so i use Photoshop and make my own. I print my own hex paper as well so I can customize the sub hexes to the number I need. For printing something that's going to be around a while, maps, minis and props, I may use some 110 lb card stock instead. There is all kinds of specialized gaming paper as well, but I'll cover that when I do a battle maps article.
One of the things that had saved me terms of paper use is a lamination. Anything I plan on using multiple times i laminate. Turn trackers, character sheets, encounter worksheets, I even laminate my pawns! I used several methods to laminate depending on the situation. For permanent I use 5 mil thermal laminating pouches. I like the way they feel, with a sturdy, plastic cover, as compared to the floppiness of the 3 mil pouches. They come in various sizes, from full page to 3x5. To temporarily laminate I use page protectors, this works best for character sheets, but if you use spell cards, monster cards or make your own they come in various sizes too. Lastly, when making something I need to cut in a cutting machine, I use self-sealing pouches.
Speaking of cutting I use a couple of tools for different jobs. Sometimes plain old scissors or a hobby knife just won't cut it. My wife bought a Cricut that I use to cut out repeatable or intricate shapes. Mostly I use it for paper miniatures, but every now and then I cut out a paper prop with it. If I need a straight cut I have a paper cutter, it's basically a giant pair of scissors attached to a board for aligning the paper and cutting straight edges. I use it a lot for cutting the edges off of what I laminate.
|Disc bound books
So where do I put all this paper? I use to use binders for everything, but I've since moved on to disc bound folders. Basically there are discs every inch that the specially cut paper fits onto. The punch is a tad expensive, but I started with a cheaper single page punch. The thing that really sold me was the ability to easily remove and reorder pages without unlocking anything like a binder. The first thing I mass punched was my 5e monster manual. The binding cracked and pages started to fall out (a common problem) so I weighed my options and between binder, page protectors, or spiral binding, I went with disc bound. When my curse of strahd's spine cracked I went straight to my disc punch. I love being able to pull out pages and have the book like open flat.