Monday, August 19, 2013


Good evening, readers, and welcome to this week's Black Hat Writing blog post. Today is a GM technique discussion post on props.

While a session of Theatre Noir requires only a rule book, dice, character sheets, and scrap paper, sometimes a session just needs more. For example, I wouldn't want to be part of a Pathfinder session unless I had a miniature to represent my character. Miniatures make battles in D&D and Pathfinder systems easier to follow, while also bringing the game to life.

Props, unlike miniatures, aren't essential to game play unless you add extra meaning to them. They do, however, enhance the game play experience by adding a tactile component.

Costumes, while not exactly props, also enhance the game play experience. I know a player who likes to wear clothes similar to her character to help her get into character. In one campaign she played a tough werewolf and wore a leather jacket and heavy boots to match her character.

As a GM, you can even incorporate props as part of your plot. Perhaps the next wizard your characters encounter has runes, which, when cast, actually change the coming plot? Perhaps note cards allow the GM to pass certain characters secrets? Props often add a sense of realism to a plot, with a bit of borrowing from the world of LARPing.

Here are some other prop ideas to consider for you next game:
  • Worn out journal pages made with this aged paper tutorial
  • A deck of tarot cards for your wizard or modern occultist
  • Cheap, but nice looking jewelry (Maybe something will happen if one of your players decides to wear it?)
  • Fake flowers (Are they from a nice NPC, or are they cursed?)
  • Plastic coins
  • Masks, for your next masquerade
What are your thoughts on props and other, non-essential gaming items?

If this discussion has inspired you, consider signing up to become a playtest GM for Theatre Noir.

Want to learn more about Theatre Noir or would like to help? Email us at


  1. Aged maps add greatly to the atmosphere of a game. Even if they're drawn on the blank side of a brown paper bag, it's much more immersive than graph paper.

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