Friday, February 17, 2017

Discussion: Visual Aides

I'm curious what visual aides you use in your game. Do you go out of your way to provide visual aides? Do you find they help? If you do go for visual aides, how much and how far do you go?

Do you use battle mats for combat? If so, do your PCs have custom miniatures, generic miniatures, or are you fine with just representing them with a pretty stone or other marker?

Do you have pictures for key NPCs? Do you have pictures for special weapons? Locations? Do you reference locations that your players may or may not know when describing locations?

In general I'm fairly light on visual aides, but it's something I've been toying with. In my D&D game I use a battle mat for some combats, but the PCs don't have special minis and I tend to use starbursts for enemies - this way my players can eat what they kill which basically rewards them for being murder hobos.

I don't tend to use pictures for NPCs - unless that is how the NPC started or one just falls into my lap. I do use them for my characters when I'm a player quite frequently though.

Beyond that, I'm pretty light on visual aides. It's a new thing in my D&D game that I have maps for the world. It's a fun thing to play with though, and something I may do more with.

What about you?


  1. Let's see... As a picture can say a thousand words, I rather like using images to enhance my game. Usually where it saves me a very long explanation. Still, if I don't have them it's no problem either. Where I often tend to give recurring NPC's an image, there's a few NPC's that have been in my game for years but still don't have one because I can't find one that fits the NPC. Though I like to draw my own PC's, drawing NPC's is both harder and less rewarding because they don't appear as often.

    When my players visit a specific area, I tend to use images there as well to give them an idea of the mood and feel of the place. I like doing that to ensure my players have a similar representation of the area, especially when there's small details or things in the image they can use to their own advantage. But again, if I don't have an image that's no problem either.

    I do like to use maps though, I've made few myself, but when I don't have the time to do that I look up a nice map online. It can be surprising what you can find by digging through archives of local history, not necessarily in your own language (yay for google translate on French websites). And my players created their own headquarters in Minecraft. It's epic.

  2. Check all of the above and I also get my players to make them too. I strongly urge my mages and clerics to make their own spell/prayer books.

    I give them playing card sized "item cards" for magic weapons and other treasures that they might discover.

    Maps are a must to help everyone collectively visualise the same thing and to control movement and combat during the session.

    I encourage them to find and use their own representative miniatures which helps everyone to know who is who when they are in the heat of battle. It also helps them to invest in their character. It is not just a piece of paper with some numbers on it.