Sometimes life gets in the way, and the next session can’t come soon enough. Work, family, global pandemics – sometimes a game just isn’t in the cards. So what can you do when you’re aching to get into the D&D spirit, but you can’t play?
This may take some more out of the box thinking, but there are actually a lot of things that can be made as accessories for D&D. And nothing feels better than getting to use something you made at the table.
I’ve included some ideas below, but the only limit is pinterest inspiration and your own creativity.
- DIY Beholder Christmas Ornament
- Props for minis – trees, rocks, walls, furniture – get creative and design yourself, or check out train set props at hobby shops
- Knit and crochet- dice bags, cute little beholders, scarves with your character’s colours, the options are endless!
- Polymer Clay – minis, tokens, monsters, props – it’s like play-dough, but better and hardens in the oven. Found in all craft stores.
- Party Swag – decorate mugs for your fellow players with their character’s name or class, use felt to make pennants, D20 sugar cookies
- Resin Homemade Dice
Build a New Character
Pull out your books and get thinking of your next PC. It requires thinking of backstory, rolling stats, making class and race decisions – it’s D&D in its most concentrated form.
Oh, you’ve made enough characters to fill your own campaign already? Then take it to the next level – write your own campaign! It’s time to try your hand at DMing yourself.
Drawing – Characters and Maps
You know what your character looks like, but it can be hard to describe them to the rest of your team. Get out those pencils and paper and sketch them out! Search out historical armor, weapons, and clothing references online as inspiration. If drawing isn’t really your thing, you can make a collage of online images that are close to what you imagine. It helps everyone to be able to visualize your character, plus will come in handy if you decide to commission art work some day.
Map making isn’t just for DMs. Do you have a place in your game that is special to you or your character? Maybe a home town, or a house that your character lived? Use graph paper to draw your village or building.
Don’t consider yourself an artist? That’s ok! There are online map generators and makers that you can play with. Or use them as inspiration, and then draw out your own version.
- D&D Compendium has a great list of sites and tools to help create many different kinds of maps.
- Medieval Fantasy City Generator – my personal favourite for city map inspiration
- @whereintherealms – How to Draw Guides on Instagram
- Learn To Draw #01 – Sketching Basics + Materials – YouTube Drawing Course
- Historical Clothing Guide
You know that detailed backstory you figured out in your head? Now is the time to write it down! DMs love to have more backstory information to bring into the game, and writing it is the best way to share that information. You don’t need to be a great writer. Put it in point form, make a time line, make lists of people and place names that are important to your character.
Do you enjoy writing, but struggle with knowing what you want to write? Here’s your time to try your hand at writing out some session experiences, or some more personal moments. You don’t need to share it with anyone if you don’t want. Write for you, and enjoy exploring the details and feelings.
- Audiobook: Writing Great Fiction: Storytelling Tips and Techniques (available on Audible.ca here)
- Online Course: The Foundations of Fiction (Writing Mastery)
- Free University courses: Brandon Sanderson’s writing lectures
Organize your stuff
Are you one of those players with minis, dice and papers all over the place? Or is your D&D stuff kept in a box or drawer or closet? Use your D&D motivation to spend time organizing all your gaming things. You’ll get the benefit of exploring everything you have collected, plus tidying and cleaning.
Everyone has their own preferences for neatness and organization. I keep my character papers in separate binders. Others use folders to keep everything together. Large maps can be put in a cardboard tube. Minis do well in various storage containers, or on display if you have a gaming room. Whatever your needs, take time to get your gaming gear in order, and enjoy the process.
Paint your Minis
Is this something you’ve always wanted to do? Or are you like me and have the supplies and minis, but just never seem to find the energy to just do it? Well, pull out your paints and brushes, and dive in! Instead of setting up your table for a game, set it up for painting. There are lots of YouTube tutorials for various skill levels. Stop stalling and get that paint on those minis!
If you have the means, commission an artist to bring your characters to life. There are many places online to find artists, but if there is a specific artist you enjoy, send them a message to ask about commission work.
- /r/HungryArtists – Subreddit to find artists
- D3ltari – Commissioned artist for Mym’s Well
- @IchiMakes – Example of Twitter artist you can contact for commissions
If you’re not really interested in character art, Etsy has a lot of creative and talented people who make D&D items beyond drawings and paintings.
Still not your thing? Look for custom clothing places, online or locally, who can put together tshirts or hoodies with your party’s logo or your character’s name.
You get something incredible, and support small and local artists and businesses. Everyone wins!
The next game will always come, sooner or later. Instead of mope about how much you want to play, let your creativity shine through other means. It’ll help get you through this time, and also let you enjoy the results of your work.