Cheapass DM Tools: Art Card Tokens

If you go to gaming conventions even occasionally, you’ll probably find yourself loaded down with a certain amount of CCG swag, or sometimes even pretty art cards that aren’t linked to a game at all.

These are often for games that you don’t play. Here’s a way to make some use of them for your D&D games.

You need:

  • Art cards
  • A one-inch circle punch (get it at a store that sells scrapbooking stuff)
  • Glue
  • Stiff card

In my case, I used a bunch of Magic: the Gathering cards; I used to play MtG but I don’t any longer, and this lets me make some use of my collection*. All you need to do is punch out circles and glue them to a stiff backing to give them a bit of substance. As you can see, some of mine aren’t perfectly aligned; that’s fine. I use reclaimed cardboard from food packaging for backs: cake mix and pasta boxes are just about right.

I assign a unique token to each recurring NPC, and use duplicate tokens marked up with little numbers for generic monsters that appear in groups. I keep sets like “Thugs,” “Vampires,” “Wild Animals,” etc., in labeled baggies inside the index card case you see in the picture. Most of the sets have a couple of repeated ‘grunts’ and one or more unique ‘leaders’ so I have material for mixed but thematic groups.

There’s probably about fifty finished tokens and a baggie of unused backs in there right now, and plenty of room for more. It’s really easy for me to just grab the baggie I need for any given encounter, and it takes up less space than a novel.

Cheapass Evaluation: I had all the supplies lying around in my house, so it didn’t cost me a penny. If you’re building something like this from scratch, expect to spend five to fifteen bucks for the circle punch, a couple of dollars for a big pack of mixed common CCG cards from the gaming store, and a couple for glue. I’m sure that you have already budgeted for food that comes in a box.

*: As it happened, the last con I went to, Wizards were handing out free preconstructed decks in all five colors, so I got a large number of beautiful, mostly-current commons that aren’t worth really anything. They made for great token fodder.

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3 thoughts on “Cheapass DM Tools: Art Card Tokens

    • Hey Darcy,

      That’s a good idea, I should have mentioned it in my post. As it happens, my own punch isn’t quite up to that task—it’s designed for paper and even one sheet of card is a challenge for it—but if you’ve got one that can handle it, it’s a good way to improve neatness. It’ll lower your backing yield, though.

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