Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Card For Each PC - DM'ing Prior to the Home Computer Age

Yep, before we had computers, laptops, iPads and the rest of the computer age helping us run our games, index cards were the shit!

I wish I remember where I got the idea from.  If I had to guess, some issue of Dragon magazine, but I read all the gaming mags back then, so it could have been from nearly anywhere.

I used the 4x6 cards, as the 3x5 were just a tad to small to be useful.  I would write in the basic captions and the players would fill in the details.  I would then refer to these cards during the game, so I would know the stats, saves, weapons, items, etc of the players without needed to ask them.  The back of the card lists items and the thieving abilities.

I was a generous and benevolent DM during the campaign in question.  At the time we had 3, maybe 4 players, and not one was a healer if I recall correctly.  I'm going to say this was a AD&D 2e campaign, as I'm pretty sure those were the rules we were running with mostly.  None of us knew the politics behind EGG leaving TSR, and there was no internet to float the stories and rumors in.

So yes, the stats were inflated, and Paul dual-classed, which probably wasn't too hard to level, as we gamed every Sunday and during the summers we even snuck some extra sessions in.  Still, we had a blast, and at least these characters weren't using my "% increase" house rule that I ripped from UA's Cavalier class.  I quickly learned that was a path to madness.

Paul is the friend that we had dinner this past Sunday in memory of.  I actually found his index card (and Dave's and Brian's - they were at the dinner too) Sunday afternoon as I was moving and boxing even more gaming stuff.  Good looking out lad.  You brought back some fond memories on a day that had the potential to be truly depressing :)


  1. I still use index card's, scrap paper and other non-computer items when I DM.

    Just last Sat. when over to a friends house to watch some football. His youngest son (who's 19 and first year in collage)was having their 3.5 game going on. They all came in ( jerry jr. and 5 other frieds) said high and went up-stairs to play. So after watching a few collage games,I went up to say goodbye and each player had a laptop in front of them and was sending the DM (jerry jr.) messages. I chuckled little and said to myself "man i'm getting old" and so I went into "Old Man Mode". You know back in my day....and so on.
    The times are-a-changing my friend :-)!!

  2. I use 4x6s for monsters and NPCs. And I love them. I like the feel of the "printed page" more than PDFs or documents for RPG stuff.

    I laughed at this.

    Yep, before we had computers, laptops, iPads and the rest of the computer age helping us run our games, index cards were the shit!

    Great post.

  3. I totally use index cards. Also we toss each other notes during the game for secret sneaky stuff. Sometimes if playing I toss the DM a note that says something like "look at Mike, ask him to make a save vs. petrification, and pretend to write something down. do not return this note". Just so people don't know that every time I write a DM note I'm doing something sneaky.

  4. I'm a big fan of index cards myself. I use them most frequently to remind me of feats or spells, as I am very prone to forgetting, especially if something "stacks" with something else.


Tenkar's Tavern is supported by various affiliate programs, including Amazon, RPGNow,
and Humble Bundle as well as Patreon. Your patronage is appreciated and helps keep the
lights on and the taps flowing. Your Humble Bartender, Tenkar

Blogs of Inspiration & Erudition