A Gift-Guide for the Gamer Geek – 5 Gifts from Wee to Frickin’ Huge!

The holiday season is upon us: Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day…don’t you wish there was actually boxing on Boxing Day? No? Maybe it’s just me.

But whatever holiday you celebrate, it’s nice to think that we’re all bonded together by certain common elements. All of these holidays are celebrations of love, family, friends…and the unbridled desire to get awesome stuff.

I’m sure you’ll see lots of gift-guides this holiday season, but I wanted to give mine a specifically gaming slant. So here, then, are my choices for gamer gifts. Some of them are small, some are large, and some are downright extravagant. But if you have a Significant Gamer on your list (I’d refer to your SG throughout this article to save space and typing), odds are you could do worse than to give them one of these items. Bear in mind, of course, that I’m primarily a D&D fan, so many of these gifts are D&D-centric, but many of them will work for other games as well.

The Critical Hit Flashing D20

I want to be clear…I’m not adding this item to the list because E works at Thinkgeek.com. I’m adding this item to the list because it’s totally freakin’ awesome!

Imagine the scene with me. Your SG is battling the dragon…or fighting the zombie as we say around here…or whatever. The chips are down…it’s the bottom of the 9th with the bases loaded (See? I know something about sports!) He rolls the die…and it’s a critical hit! And no one can argue that they didn’t see the roll…because your D20 is flashing like crazy!

I love this die. It’s an oversized red D20, and when you roll a 20, it begins flashing. This was the gift at our household last Christmas. My husband and I have two tenants in our house. We’re all friends and all gamers…and we ALL got one of these little numbers last Christmas. So on any given game night, there could be up to 4 flashing D20s on our game table. Good times!

With a price tag of $9.95, this makes a great little gift, and it’s available through ThinkGeek.com.

Whose Turn Is It Anyway?

Almost all role-playing games have the concept of Initiative…a randomly (or not so randomly) determined order in which people take actions, generally for purposes of combat. A lot of games also contain the concept of actions which can change the order of Initiative…Readying an Action, Delaying, Refocusing, and so on. The days when one could jot down initiative on a piece of paper…well, they’re not gone, but it is a lot more difficult.

Enter Paizo’s GameMastery Combat Pad. It’s a wet and dry erasable board, so you can make notes in marker, erase them, make new ones, and so on. It’s also magnetic and comes with magnets that you can write character names, monster names, NPC names, and so on. If a character delays or readies an action, you can pull their magnet to the side to remind yourself that they have a pending action, and then re-add them to the initiative count when they take their action.

I have one of these, and it was a work horse for me throughout my 3rd Edition game. I used it to track hit points, status effects, and initiative, all in one place.

It’s available through Paizo.com and retails for $19.99.

Five Chromatic Dragons

For the record, that section title should be (somehow) sung to the “Five Golden Rings” of The Twelve Days of Christmas. On the recording, the singer would sing “Five…Chromatic…Dragons!” very dramatically…and then the rest of the recording would be sounds of screaming, dragons roaring, and the singer weeping and wondering aloud why his true love would do such a thing.

Okay, maybe not.

The name of the game is Dungeons & Dragons. If your SG is a DM, like me, they have thought that, while their game has plenty of dungeons in it, maybe there could be more dragons. Well, if what’s been holding your SG back is the lack of a cool mini, then this may be the gift of choice.

This handsome boxed set, in the vein of last year’s Beholder’s Collectors Set, has nothing but dragons in it. There are five, to be precise, matching the chromatic dragons from the first 4E Monster Manual. You get dragons in black, blue, green, red, and white. The green and white sculpts are actually brand new sculpts, while the others are re-releases of figures that appeared in the collectible sets of D&D Miniatures, but, since dragons were almost always rares, it may be that your SG doesn’t have them.

The really nice thing about this gift is that you can even give it to non-gamers who just happen to like dragons. Unlike Beholders, which are pretty much D&D-centric, dragons are pretty universal, and a lot of people like them, even if they don’t play a game that matches those dragons with dungeons.

Wizards of the Coast suggests that this item retail for $44.95, but many online stores have it for less. Do a little poking around, or actually physically go to a Friendly Local Gaming Store and give them a much needed cash infusion. They’ll thank you for it!

Magnets…How Do They Work?

While 4E D&D didn’t invent the need for something to track status effects in gaming, it can be argued that there are so many status effects in 4E D&D that you really need a good system for keeping track of them. Some people prefer to do it on paper, while other use pipe cleaners, the rings from around soda bottles, or even official markers available from Gale Force 9.

I, however, like to use magnets. Because it’s science!

Okay, well, perhaps not, however, my preferred method for keeping track of who’s marked who, who has been cursed by the warlock, who has been quarried by the ranger, and so on, is to use the magnetic markers from Alea Tools.

They’ve made markers in scads of different colors, and they sell them both in individual colors as well as in sets. I bought one of their starter sets, as well as an extra set of reds (to keep track of people’s Bloodied status). These markers have a powerful little magnet inside that specifically wants to adhere to metal and other magnets along an “up-down” vector, so that you don’t have minis dragging each other across the battlemat. You take one of the handy adhesive magnetic labels and affix it to the bottom of your mini, and then the magnets stick to it, no problem.

In my regular game, everyone has their own color: the Warden is Dark Gray, the Ranger is Yellow, the Fighter is Orange, and the Warlock is Light Gray. I have lots of other colors to use as the marks for monsters, or other status type effects, and we use Red for Bloodied. When I flick my eyes to the battlemat, I can immediate see who’s Bloodied, for purposes of monster attacks, or who’s Marked. Our group’s Cleric can immediately check who needs healing the most. Your group could assign different colors to effects like Dazed, Blinded, etc. They’ve even started putting out 2-inch markers for Large creatures.

These little jobbies are available through aleatools.com and come in all prices, but I would recommend the One-Inch Ultimate Neo Game Master Pack for $74.99. It comes with 5 each of 19 different colors (10 for red), the labels, and a cool carrying case.

The Ultimate DM’s Screen

So, let’s be clear here…I usually refer to myself, in gaming parlance, as a Dungeon Master. D&D was my first game, and, while I like all of the other titles…GM, Referee, Storyteller, Keeper of Arcane Lore, and so on…I really do think of myself as a DM first.

That being said, I like the various GM’s screens I have to be specific to the genre of game I’m running. For a superhero game, I want something 4-color and bold. For Call of Cthulhu, I love the old Chaosium screens with the Elder Signs and the weird symbols…

And for D&D, I like a gigantic stone keep!

A ways back, stores received huge resin cast castles billed as the “Ultimate DM’s Screen.” They were only available to stores, and I gnashed my teeth over my inability to get hold of one. Until earlier this year, when Gale Force 9 indicated that they’d be making them available to everyone. I prepaid for one, and it arrived at my house a month or two ago. It is…well, let’s be honest. It’s ridiculous and glorious at the same time. It’s in three pieces that, when placed together, are over three feet long. It’s made of heavy cast-resin, so it’s sturdy and will NOT fall over unless you really work at it. It has trays for holding minis and tokens and such. And two of the towers are dice towers. One faces towards your players for public rolls, and one faces you for private rolls.

It’s also a very attractive piece. It looks like a gray stone castle wall, complete with towers and crenellations. There are non-functioning doors in one wall, and the doors have a knocker design that may look familiar to people who own the original 1st Edition Player’s Handbook.

You can find this item through Gale Force Nine’s website at http://www.gf9.com as the “Dungeon Master’s Keep”, but their online store is regrettably in New Zealand Dollars. It’s available through many other websites as well with a price tag of $150.00.

Your Turn

Have you received one of these as a gift and been happy or unhappy? Is there something you’d recommend more than these? Let us all know so that our gift lists can benefit.

About GGG

Andy/GGG is a gay geek guy for sure. He's been playing D&D since he was 10, and he equates reading Tolkien with religion to some degree. He's a writer/developer for a Live Action RPG called The Isles, and he writes a comic called Circles, a gay, furry slice-of-life piece that comes out way too infrequently.

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