When it comes to Dungeons and Dragons, there’s very few moments more exciting that that coveted “Roll for initiative” from the Dungeon Master. But between setting up maps, preparing your sheets, and actually rolling, it can sometimes be a bit of a tedious process even for the most well oiled machines. But what if we could make that process a lot easier?
1# Printable initiative tracker
Let’s start with probably the most simple of our entries. These printable cards are easy and quick to customize and there are tons of premade options around the web. If you’re artistically inclined you could even make your own! If not, there’s plenty free templates or ones you can pick up for a couple of bucks. Here’s some of my favorite:
The great thing about these ones is that they are completely customizable. Want to add pictures of your characters? Done. Wanna keep it simple with just names? Also great. Some of them even have clever ways to mark conditions.
The downside to printable initiative cards is dual. First, they are mostly used along with the DM screen. If you don’t have access to that, it might be a no go on this one. Secondly, paper, specially when handled often, tends to have a not so great life span. Granted if you have access to some higher quality paper, or even plastic this might not be an issue at all.
If possible I’d definitely suggest laminating the cards. Not only will you be able to write on them with dry-erase markers, but you won’t have to worry about rips and tears.
Paper clip initiative tracker
This is more of a quick solution in case you find yourself in a bit of a pinch. Perhaps you forgot your tracker at home, or find yourself DMing on the fly. All you need for this one is a couple o paper clips and some cardboard or just about anything really.
Definitely not the fanciest, but it’ll do the job for any impromptu sessions. Unlike simply using paper a pen, you’ll be able to update this one as you go along and can probably relinquish the upkeep to your players as you focus on what’s going on on your side of the screen.
Clothes Pin initiative tracker
This one has recently become one of the most popular options and for a good reason. It is cheap, somewhat customizable, and easy to use. All you need are some clothespins and a sharpie and voilà. Of course there’s pretty awesome designs for these things too. Here are some of my favorites:
I’ve seen these little initiative pins on a similar setup as above or even simply clipped to the top of the DM Screen. Unlike printables, these shouldn’t cover up your notes. Less is definitely more with these!
Magnetic initiative tracker
This is definitely the most expensive of the options discussed in this article, but even then it’ll probably only set you back a couple of bucks. Hear me out.
Who doesn’t love magnets? As with all other entries in this list, the idea is to have a final product that A) your players can set up on their own with minimum input from the DM, B) is distinctive, easy to understand, and clearly visible, and C) can be updated/isn’t static.
I think this could be a pretty fun and inexpensive project. All you need are a couple of magnet sheets, a pair of scissors, and your imagination. Heck, there’s really nothing stopping you incorporating this to the back of your DM Screen. Got a dice tower? Why not make it magnetic?
The wildcard: Initiative ball
Okay so this one I came across online and I couldn’t stop giggling at how silly it sounded, so I just had to add it in.
Tired of your players getting distracted and forgetting when they’re next in initiative? Why not have an initiative ball? If you’re wondering what that is, well, it’s literally just a soft ball (maybe one of those stress toys) that players can pass around the table. Kind of like a hot potato game. Keep your players grounded by chucking a ball at whoever is looking at their phone.
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