Poker Chips

Last week somewhere (sorry, I didn’t bookmark it) on a blog or forum I saw someone mention the idea that they were using poker chips in their game, which I thought was sort of cool. Back in the day we used a bowl full of pennies for various markers (especially with miniatures) but I hadn’t even thought of that since giving gaming another go a few years back.

So, I picked up a set of a hundred 8 gram Bicycle-brand chips at Target this weekend and last night we used them in play for the first time. It’s a one-on-one Labyrinth Lord campaign with my son (playing a 5th level thief) and we decided to use the chips to track hit points.

During play, the party was stuck on the wrong side of a one-way secret door that they had passed through earlier but had closed behind them. They could see the outline of the door, but no method of opening it could be found. Luckily, my son’s character had picked up a potion of gaseous form and he decided to use it to slip through the cracks and open the door from the other side.

However, as the potion effect was to last for a full two hours, he decided to do a little exploring ahead before slipping back and opening the door. We used poker chips to track his remaining turns and his movement during each turn, and it worked great. Sure, tick marks on a piece of paper would have worked fine, too, but the chips added a bit of fun to the record-keeping.

We’ll continue to give the chips a try. Like rolling dice, having something tangible in your hands can help make the experience (which is mostly in your mind) feel a bit more exciting, so maybe this will stick.

Does anyone else use poker chips or similar tokens in their game?

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6 Responses to Poker Chips

  1. kelvingreen says:

    I’ve seen dice (usually d6 or d10) used as hit point counters, with the player turning the face as they take damage, and discarding a die when it’s gone past 1. One fairly elaborate setup used different coloured dice, with the last one being red to enhance the “critical” nature. If you’ve got enough of them lying around, it works well for D&D-family games, with the mage having a line of d4s in front, the thief with a line of d6, and so on. Only for use at large tables though!

  2. Restless says:

    I posted about this over at Dragonsfoot a while back. In the end the game feel through, and the software I was thinking about writing (and mentioned on the thread) never got started.

    It’s been discussed some other places, too. For instance, Alexis discussed it on The Tao of D&D.

    So, I guess I’ve thought all about it, but not actually implemented it. I still see myself writing a program that keeps track of this stuff for me and it’s the “official” record of equipment/money/treasure/charges, notwithstanding what the players have on their sheets.

    • Kilgore says:

      Neither of those is the thread where I just saw this, but they’re both full of great info. Much more than where I read about it last week. Thanks!

  3. Ripper X says:

    Hmmm, I had never thought about using poker chips in that kind of way. BRILLIANT!!!

  4. bat says:

    An excellent idea, using poker chips for hit points. I remember playing original Deadlands, in which poker chips and playing cards figured prominently and added to the ambiance.

    • Kilgore says:

      Playing cards is something else I’ve been thinking about. One thing I mentioned somewhere recently (apparently not on this blog) is that I sort of liked the NPC motivation system from Twilight:2000 which used playing cards. Thinking about that got me thinking about other things playing cards could be used for.

      One thing I’m trying to avoid is going out of my way to find things to use the poker cihps or cards for. I’m trying to *simplify* things, but I catch myself thinking of *new* things that chips could be used for.

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