Being a Game Master can turn what is usually a fun romp through a fantastical journey into something that is more akin to working at the cat-herding factory. It can be frustrating, time consuming, and often thankless. There are some crazy people who would actually prefer being the Game Master over being a player but I have a sneaking suspicion they just have Stockholm Syndrome after being roped into running games one too many times. Those who have read my previous article (Indie RPGs Everyone Should Own) know where I’m coming from.
You yourself have also probably been guilty of forcing GMing duties on another person. You continue the vicious cycle of gaming obligation until the learned helplessness sets in. Defeated, the GM just accepts their role as if there was no other choice. Does the following situation sound familiar?
“We got this new RPG and we’re so excited to play it! We already have a full party ready to go! If only soooomeone was able to GM it.”
The point is: you owe your GM some love. After all the hard work they’ve been putting into making sure you’re the ones having fun, you need to show them some kind of appreciation. There’s no better time to do that then now as the holiday season is approaching. Here are a few small gift ideas from 401 that GMs would love. Something to say ‘thank you for tolerating the players who keep derailing the carefully planned story that they themselves asked to be run’.
Dice could take up this entire list if we wanted them to! Everyone always underestimates the expansive selection of dice we have here at 401 Games. The picture above is just a glimpse of the diverse selection of styles and types of polyhedral dice we have.
Look at how sharp the edges are on these handcrafted beauties.
For those of you that don’t know what Gamescience Dice are, they are perfectly balanced, casino quality, hand inked dice. They are the highest of high quality dice. They aren’t tumbled in the production process like Chessex or Koplow dice and are actually 100% random. You may have seen D6s offered in this caliber of quality (Casino Dice, Gravity Dice, etc.) but only Gamescience currently offers precision cut 7-piece sets.
These are the dice that have the fun designs. Not just fun colours but fun lettering, motifs, and even metal! You can get some cool dwarven runic dice, metal dice, glow in the dark dice, and even dice licensed to your favorite systems like Numenera and Pathfinder. If you want some unique looking standard 7 piece sets, Q-Workshop is the brand to go for.
Now this company is an odd one. They make two types of dice. Their patented crystal dice(which emulate the shape of fantasy gems) and the standard dice made out of precious stone. So depending on how much you like your GM, you can get them completely useless shaped D20s or dice made out of REAL amethyst!
There are of course way more dice I could be showing off like the dice rings or those crazy d120s that The Dice Lab makes but I need to stop this list somewhere. Just take a trip down to the dice section of our website and see what craziness you find. There are also some dice that are way too weird for our site and can only be bought in-store. Have you seen those completely round D60s next to our checkout?
These are things that don’t make sense to people who don’t game. What’s the point of a tower? Why not just roll on the table? These are questions asked by people who clearly haven’t ever rolled more than 2d6s at any point in their lives.
Dice Towers are perfect for any GM that feels there isn’t enough room behind their screen. It keeps everything nice and compact so the players don’t see the GM’s super-secret rolls. Of course most GMs are only rolling dice because they like the sound anyway. The towers are also good for making those sounds even louder. Everybody wins.
Dice Trays are a present for everyone. It stops dice from falling off your table and the inevitable “I just rolled a 20 on the floor! Can I keep it!?”
The answer is always “no” by the way. Granted, we enjoy saying “no”.
In my group, our favorite is the Koplow dice tray which we have dubbed “The Octagon of Doom.” We have a very simple rule with this tray. If the roll isn’t in The Octagon of Doom, it doesn’t count. Follow that golden rule and you will solve so many arguments with your players. Your GM will love it.
This is the most specific item on this list and for good reason. These tiles are amazing! They take the best parts of the usual roll out dry erase mats and combine them with the best of the typical dungeon tiles. I know that I have wanted to make elaborate mazes for some dungeon crawls before but could never get it to work. Just using the roll out mat meant I needed to cover 90% of the mat with paper or books or whatever I had laying around to not spoil it. This barely works as the players are going to peek or the drawing will be near impossible to cover up completely spoiler free. The tiles are free from spoilers but then you need to somehow Frankenstein together the dungeon you want. Odds of having all the right shaped rooms and have them all be the right background is highly unlikely.
The Roll 4 Initiative tiles fix all that. You can draw on anything you want and then you add them as the players explore. They come in a bunch of different sizes too so it’ll work for most any game. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, I don’t know what could. I guess you’re the kind of person that grew up on text adventure games and makes the players draw it out themselves. I can’t blame a GM for doing that though. It’ll finally make the players do some actual work for a change.
“Get Ye Flask”
Honourable Mention: 401 Gift Cards
If your GM already has all these things or you really think not a single item on this list is appealing, just give up and get them a 401 Gift Card. It’s easy and the whole group can pitch in for it. And no, DO NOT tell them what book to get! Have you learned nothing from this article?!