TTRPGs are great fun - and there are so many different systems to play, so there's a game out there for everyone!
Unfortunately, it can become expensive as you start collecting new hobbies and RPG systems. With living costs rising (at least in the UK), here are some tips to keep costs down while still enjoying your RPG sessions!1. Choose a system that requires minimal materials
Some TTRPG systems require less equipment, such as specialist dice or miniatures, making it more affordable to play. Here are some suggestions;
- Blades in the Dark by John Harper. All rolling in this game is done with D6s, and could even be done with just one D6 and some paper to keep track of rolls! There are no miniatures, maps or terrain required. We occasionally draw out a rough map to give the players a rough idea of the space they're moving through, but nothing complex. The PDF rulebook is available to buy for just $20 USD (approximately £16 at the time of writing this).
- Dungeons & Dragons by Wizards of the Coast. Yes, you can play D&D and keep it quite cheap! Using the free System Reference Document (SRD) and the free basic rules, you can build characters and run a campaign!
- Savage Worlds by Pinnacle is designed as a fast-paced and action-packed TTRPG system and uses the same polyhedral dice sets as D&D. The core rules can be purchased as a PDF for just $10 USD (approximately £8 at the time of writing this).
Yes, the terrain and miniatures used by groups such as Critical Role are incredible and really help engross you in the world. However, this sort of set-up is absolutely not required to play D&D! Focus on the storytelling and descriptive language, alongside simple hand-drawn maps and the game will be just as fun.
We have an A2 paper pad from Hobbycraft that we use for a lot of our maps. Coloured pens and pencils can be used if you desire, but ours are often just black pens on white paper.
No miniatures? How about just getting some coloured thumbtacks and using those? Simply remove your paper from the pad and put it directly on top of the board/cardboard bit at the back of the pad, and insert your thumbtacks easily and move them about.
Some people love their gridded maps and being able to accurately count out movement each time, but if you decide on a scale you can easily use a ruler or piece of paper to check movement speed and distances between obstacles.3. Get creative - Reuse and repurpose
On a similar note to point number 2, utilise items from around your home to create props, maps, terrain and other materials. Perhaps you have some lego mini-figures who'd make great miniatures for a session, or how about some bottle caps? You could even do a bit of paper-mâché and painting if you wanted to get super creative!4. Share costs with your group
Quite often it can become the responsibility of your Game Master to cover all costs, as well as organising and planning everything. If you're able to, consider splitting the cost of any materials and equipment with your group members to help reduce costs for everyone.5. Use Second-hand materials
If you keep an eye out on local groups and at local game shops, you may be able to find second-hand materials such as dice, terrain, books and miniatures.6. Play online
Online tools such as Roll20 and Airtable can be great for virtual tabletop gaming. While you can pay for more features, these are entirely optional and we played many sessions without the extra features.
Discord is a great (and free!) program you can use to talk with your friends during the session. You can make your own private server for you and your party, voice call, video call and share images whilst playing.
Plus, playing online might make it easier to schedule sessions!
That's it from me. Do you have any ways you keep costs down while playing TTRPGs? Share them in the comments!