The Player Starter-Pack

By Ben Scerri

Recently I've read a lot of articles pertaining to GM Binders. (For those interested, here are the best ones; Newbie DMThe Crafty DMRoleplaying Tips Weekly, and RPG Blog II) But one thing keeps coming back to me:

The GM gets so much love, so much time to prep for his game, and so many resources to do so... But players don't get that same love. What about the players? What about a Player Binder?

Now, I encourage players to keep folders or binders of their characters/sheets, etc, but what I'm talking about is a goodie-bag full of stuff that the GM gives to their players before the campaign starts for them to get settled in. Consider it like a show bag...

The Player Starter-Pack

I am going to do this very thing as a test run with "The Sands of Athla". If it works, I will expand it to all my games. Here's what I'm going to do...

First of all, I'll need a folder, or something to put everything into. I recently had the chance to get my hands on a nice black cardboard folder and was informed that it was sourced from OfficeWorks. So, I guess I will be headed there for that resource. Something awesome and official looking that I can attach the campaign name to would be great.

Second, I need to fill it with stuff. Thinking on it heavily, I've decided the following things are most important for the style of campaign I am running (a hexcrawler):
  • A campaign map, printed in colour on A3, folded up and slipped inside.
  • A fresh character sheet, with a quick primer on the rules for character burning (this is Burning Wheel, after all).
  • A campaign calendar, with slots for the days, months, and years, with enough room for the players to write important dates down.
  • A small notepad, with room for the players to make notes during the campaign about rumours and things they'd like to look further into.
  • A set of blank index cards for the players to write down loot items, NPC contacts and powers they gather for ease of reference.
  • A short "travel" pamphlet on the setting, detailing on one A4 page the world, nation, and city they are in, as well as what surrounds the city, so they have some leads on where they might like to check out.
  • A primer on the cultures and races of the world, all on one A4 page.
  • And finally, a mechanical pencil and eraser.
All of this will snugly fit into the folder, and be at the player's finger tips when they need to reference something. Therefore, no longer will I have to root around for the campaign map, nor everyone crowd around to see what is going on. I wont have to remember every date in the campaign, for the players will record their own important happenings, and they will already know enough about the world before they make their characters to be informed enough.

Has anyone else ever done something like this? How did it turn out? What did you do differently? As a player, what would you want in there yourself?