The traveling GM kit

So earlier in the year, I changed the subtitle of the blog to “In 2021 it is about solo wargaming and online TTRPGs.” But is it? I’m already fully vaccinated, and in a few weeks my entire family will be as well. More and more friends are getting vaccinated as well. And while being vaccinated doesn’t mean you are completely safe, I think the timeline to returning to in-person interaction, and in-person gaming in particular.

Which is good news for me, because while Roll20 is terribly convenient in a lot of ways, especially when it comes to throwing stuff together, but in terms of my own enjoyment it is profoundly lacking. But it is unlikely that I would be gaming at my own home; it is just not conducive to having a lot of people over right now. That means gaming at a store, a friend’s house, my place of work (which is surprisingly useful that way), or even a local bar that is built about having people game there.

Which got me thinking about my travel kit for gaming. Previously I carried everything around in a plastic storage bin which was bulky and heavy but also contained everything: two Player’s Handbooks, a Monster Manual, Dungeon Master’s Guide, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, a DM’s screen, a filament box of terrain, a wipeable battle mat, and two bins of WotC pre-painted miniatures. That’s not including the three ring binder with my adventure info in there. That was a lot, usually two trips’ worth.

So what exactly do I want in an ideal travel kit? Let me say, first off, that I’m not interested in digital options, like rulebooks on tablets. I just don’t like how they work and operate more easily with a real book. But I don’t need every book I have; for example, I don’t really need Xanathar’s Guide, or even a Monster Manual if I have the stats for the monsters of the session. So again, what I’m looking for:

  1. Small enough to be carried in a single case
  2. Enough of the rules to run a typical D&D session
  3. Terrain
  4. Miniatures for the session
  5. The Level Up gaming table accessory
  6. My gaming session notes

This will be a bit of an ongoing project, but I’ll keep you all updated. Suggestions welcome!

Something like this is at the top of my concept list


  1. Kevin Crawford (stars without numbers) has a very refreshing approach to monsters…..use about 6 or 7 statblocks, reskin them, and add some weird abilities. Your space devoted to critters drops to a few pages. Most of us carry way too many dice as well. I’ve managed to get my dice, pens, and index cards into a single small pen case for gaming. Then I just grab a relevant rulebook.

    Notes I typically type up in ‘evernote’ because it’s accessible on all my devices and is searchable. Compared to keeping track of loose paper, or a book per campaign I like it a lot more. I do, however, really detest digital ‘books’.

    Speaking of books, you probably only need one or two. You can almost always rely on players to have a copy of the core book for any sort of non indie game you are doing a campaign for. So the book you bring can be a gamesmaster reference or adventure or splat book. Ideally you don’t really need to reference them much at the table.

    Minis and terrain is the obvious space and weight sink. Go 15mm?

    • I like the re-skinned monster idea. In a fantasy genre, for example, there are so many that are basically humanoids. The old Fiend Folio actually featured the same creature as an illustration, just drawn a little differently over and over again.

      15mm is interesting as well. I use almost entirely 28mm, but a smaller scale would also allow for “larger” set-ups in terms of what is visible on a table at once.

  2. […] The traveling GM kit @ Strange Vistas – This is a nice, practical idea. It totally makes sense to have an RPG/GM “Go-Bag”. I think that a lot of this stuff features in my own bag, but I tend to go heavier on books than I really need to. I think the author is right to points out that we don’t necessarily need many books to run a game if proper prep is done. […]

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