The Battle Board
I made the battle board after I accidentally killed one of my PCs on at level 3. I was new to DMing, and I hadn’t realized it was going to kill his character all the way dead. I felt terrible, and I told him I wasn’t going to give a penalty for resurrection, but being more experienced than I, he opted to make a new character per the rules. It all worked out, we had a great time, and we’re still friends- but still, I didn’t ever want to do that by accident. I am the kind of DM who will fudge the rolls in whatever way I think will be most fun for the players. So, regular rolls during battles and skill checks I’ll leave as is, but – say a player has been rolling poorly all night and successfully putting that kobold to sleep would offer a morale boost, or say the battle is a little too easy and it might be more of a challenge if the enemy got an AC boost, or say a character is going to die and simply going unconscious would retain a sense danger and seriousness while being less devastating to the player – in these cases, I fudge all the time. The battle board helps everyone in the game be more aware of PC stats during battle, which leads to players working together more strategically and helping each other out as a team, and helps me not to accidentally kill anyone if it isn’t warranted or wouldn’t add to the game.
So, enter the battle board! It’s a magnetic white board, and each character has a laminated sheet with their character picture and stats. I use pieces of magnetic tape to put them up on the board, and we rearrange them each battle to keep track of the turn order. The sheets have boxes for AC, hp, status effects, and relevant skill check rolls. They are pretty simple, so once design it’s easy to pop a new picture in and print/laminate a new sheet for new characters. We have a few blank ones as well for NPCs that may be present during battles. We used to make ones for animal companions as well, but found it was more convenient just to keep the animal stats on the same sheet as the PC.
We also make custom tokens for each character! It helps people get into the role play when they can see the characters as they’re meant to be imagined. Plus, when we move on to new campaigns I often keep the old characters in the world as NPCs. The tokens are fairly simple to make. I’ve attached the templates we (my husband gets most of the credit for the tokens) use as pdf files. We print the tokens on sticker paper, then stick the stickers to cardboard and cut them out. The backs of notepads work well for these if you use two layers of cardboard (one for each sticker). You can also just print them on paper and glue them to the cardboard, it just add steps.
Obviously, these can also be used for enemies and monsters. We have a lot of the pathfinder tokens we use for this, but sometimes you just need three dozen more goblins to complete your goblin army.
(WordPress doesn’t support InDesign files, ping me if you’d like me to email them to you. Contact info is on the Research page.)