Tabletop Gaming: Tableside Resources

Some of the resources I’ve talked about in previous articles are actually useful both as adventure/campaign building resources, and as table side resources, meaning that they’re helpful both during prep time and when you’re actually running the game. As I mentioned, these are just the ones I’ve read and liked best. If you’re aware of others, please share.

Tableside resources are the items you keep on hand to help you riff with descriptions, or to add a little detail that can entertain the players or bring the environment to life. I’ve previously mentioned the Raging Swan Press books like 20 Things I, II, and III, and I Loot the Body, and you definitely ought to be familiar with those and have them on hand. Ultimate Toolbox and the D30 books I mentioned last time have some wonderful aids as well.

Tabletop Adventures has some mighty entries in this entire category. If you need some interesting things to see if your players are walking through some caverns, or the plains, or the wilderness, or if you need some extra little incidents or a few extra rooms or curious land features, you can keep these cards on hand. They come in all kinds of flavors, like Bits of Dungeon, Dungeon II, Bits of Darkness: Caverns or Bits of the Boulevard (and more). And then there’s the whole Into series, like Into the Mountains or Into the Swamp or Into the Wildwood or Into the Open. In each supplement you get fantastic details that help bring the particular setting to life – the characteristics of a temperate forest versus a deciduous forest, say, and the kind of flora and fauna typical of each. Sometimes you even get a weird new monster to encounter as well. I’m pleased to have them all.

I’ve already mentioned Raging Swan Press and it’s time to mention them again with their Caves & Caverns, and Wilderness Dressing, and Random Wilderness Encounters. Creighton Broadhurst’s products seem ever reliable in their ability to provide interesting tables and ways to bring these settings to life, both before the game sessions starts, and while the game is running. Caves & Caverns and Wilderness Encounters double both as event books and as scene setters, whereas Wilderness Dressing, like its sister books in the urban and dungeon category, help present engaging sights and people for your adventurers to encounter in the countryside, or the sea, or, really, anywhere above ground that’s not in a settlement. Whereas I prefer to have my dungeons dungeons planned out beforehand, I like to keep the Urban Dressing, Urban Dressing II (mentioned last post), and Wilderness Dressing books in easy reach during the game.

Just to make things confusing, there’s another Wilderness Encounters from Assassin Games, with a random list of interesting encounters, divided into different times of day. These aren’t necessarily monster battles, just curious things that might be met out in the wilds. Their sister book, Random Urban Encounters, is in much the same spirit.

You want to generate some poisons and potions? How about some creative, inventive ingredients when your characters run across them? Try out two more clever and inexpensive supplements from Assassin Games: A Collection of Poisons and Potion Generation.

Smaller side encounters can add a little spice to game adventures, and I’m quite taken with Simon Forsters Book of Lairs that, wait for it, contains a variety of monster lairs. None of them are quite detailed enough to count as a full-fledged dungeon, and most won’t occupy a full night’s gaming, but each entry adds enough components to make, say, that encounter with the owlbear or ettin more memorable, and comes with a little map. There are even a few creative new monsters. I recently saw that he has some additional products in the same line…

How about some weird vendors? Numerous interesting people with numerous interesting goods for sale, and maybe a great backstory with some cool hooks that might lead to an entire adventure? Yeah, you need this: Wilderlands High Adventure: 100 Street Vendors of the City State. I’ve been using it for years and I’ve yet to get tired of it.

Finally, how about some cool weird lists to get the creative juices flowing or to provide answers to questions the players throw at you? Look no further than the (inexpensive) Miscellanium of Cinder or Tower of Krshal?

Honorable Mention: I can’t vouch for a product I haven’t yet read, but I hear great things about People of Pembrooktonshire for a set of entertaining, weird non-player characters.

Other articles in my “best of” tabletop gaming GM resources articles include 1. Hexcrawls, Campaigns, and Adventures, 2. Campaign and Adventure Design and 3. Treasure.