You don’t need a high passive perception to see that the holiday season is creeping up on us. If you’re here, you’re probably searching for a simple stocking stuffer or reasonably-priced gift for a friend or colleague. Someone who is just getting into Dungeons & Dragons after playing Baldur’s Gate 3, or someone who has a bookshelf full of TTRPGs from Blades in the Dark to Dungeon Crawl Classics. There are a lot of products out there and yet you might not be sure of what they already have.
StartPlaying to the rescue! Our guide has everything from thoughtful side gifts to the perfect pick for a seasoned Dungeon Master.
For The Table
Starter Set For A New RPG
The perfect low-budget way to try a new tabletop RPG is a starter set. These bundles contain slimmed down rulebooks, maps, player characters, and a pre-written adventure to kick things off. It’s all a group needs to run their first session. Most games have a starter box for around $30-$50. There’s one for Avatar: The Last Airbender, one for Zweihander, one for Fallout, one for Call of Cthulhu, one for Alien, and of course, one for Dungeons & Dragons.
D&D 5E Player Mat
D&D 5th Edition can be overwhelming, especially for newcomers who haven’t played many tactical RPGs or board games. This sleek player mat from Total Party Chill does you the favor of displaying most of the important D&D 5E rules slimmed down to a sentence. Things like combat, spellcasting, and conditions are literally right at your fingertips. The material makes this mat perfect as a mouse pad or surface to roll dice on. If you know a new player, or a DM who runs beginner-friendly games, this mat would be a great gift.
Any player or Game Master will appreciate custom art– be it of their character, their homebrew monster, or a celebration of the game as a whole. Commissioning art, however, requires research, time, and quite a bit of coin. Good thing gift giving is about saving someone those things! StartPlaying has spotlighted a few TTRPG artists recently. Check here, here, and here for options in a few styles. Do note that more elaborate pieces take time, so it might end up being a late gift. Or, if you’re not 100% sure what your loved one wants, pay the tab and put them in touch with the artist directly.
This one’s for the visual learners. This pack of spell templates for $25 contains cubes, cones, lines, and circles of various radiuses. These are used to measure the potential distance and area of effect for spells used in D&D, Pathfinder, and other TTRPGs. They’re a convenient tool for helping players visualize the ins-and-outs of their battle magic. The end result will hopefully be less confusion and turns going quicker, leading to more exciting games.
Spell & Creature Cards
Why flip through a stack of books when you can have handy cards that detail your spells, magic item effects, and what animals you can turn into? There are a series of official D&D cards for just this. Some list the stats of various monsters, making them useful for DMs, while player-oriented ones give you all of a certain class’ spells. While D&D Beyond is the convenient digital option, some work better with physical tools at their disposal. For around $20-30 a deck, these card sets are a great value as they can be used time and again. Pathfinder also offers these cards.
Condition Rings And Flight Stands
Continuing the theme of helpful tabletop tools, condition rings are a straightforward indicator of all the dangerous effects a character could fall prey to. These plastic rings sit around their mini to show everyone in the game what they’re suffering from. It’s more apparent than taking a note and one less thing for everyone to just remember. For $20, it’s a great gift for GMs or players that play in a lot of games. Flight stands are a fun way to show a character is flying, and a good stocking stuffer for $10.
The concept of Cantrip Candles is scents to immerse players in the scene through scent. They offer any adventuring location you can think of, from grassy summer fields to a den of thieves. And while these candles do the job of setting the scene, they're honestly just great candles to have in your home. I love the Goldwheat Bakery candle, which smells just like fresh baked bread. I use it in my office to set a pleasant mood while working. Whatever you use it for, a Cantrip Candle is a lovely gift for the table and household.
For Dungeon Masters And Game Masters
Book Of Random
This inspiring series of books all go for around $17 on Amazon, and each one is well worth the price. The one linked here is The Game Master's Book of Astonishing Random Tables. Inside is a trove of ideas for all details of an adventure, be it who is the secret bad guy to what silly effect a potion might have. DMs can pull as they like from these ideas or let the dice decide by rolling, making this a gift that fits all styles of play. There are other awesome books (great for future gifts) that cover random traps, random characters, and even random dragons.
The Ultimate RPG Campfire Card Deck
A challenge for many GMs, especially those learning the ropes, is getting the party to roleplay. Not just doing stupid things because their barbarian has 8 Intelligence, but actually chatting with the rest of the party like friends. This is especially important to GMs who watch Critical Role or Dimension 20 and want those dramatic player character relationships. Enter The Ultimate RPG Campfire Card Deck, 150 cards meant for prompting deeper discussion during in-game rests. For $20, it’s a wonderful resource for roleplay-heavy games.
Return Of The Lazy Dungeon Master
Return Of The Lazy Dungeon Master by Michael Shea, a.k.a. Sly Flourish, breaks the art of running a game down to its simplest parts. Since this is one of Shea’s later books, it collects more refined bits of his experience and that of many other DMs. The result: a quick read that imparts some easy-to-act-on knowledge for making your games more exciting and less exhausting to prep. You can find the paperback for $25, and a PDF for less.
D&D Lore & Legends
This visual history of the world’s most popular TTRPG has some of the best art in the biz. The 900 pieces of art is reason enough to give Lore & Legends to an enthusiast or DM. Us DMs always love having visual references on hand. Players would also benefit from having so many striking visual designs on hand to inspire character creation. The writing is fascinating as well, providing a dive into D&D 5E’s development from the perspective of the designers and artists behind it.
Battle Maps - Dry Erase And Book
It’s always great to have a physical reference for epic battles, especially for games like D&D that get into tactical combat. A dry erase board is typically the go-to for creating maps on the fly, making them the perfect gift for beginner DMs. Melee Mats is one of the biggest names in the biz. They offer basic battle mats for around $30 as well as special backgrounds like pirate ships, dungeon stonework, and forest floor. Another, more portable option is the Loke Giant Book of Battle Mats. This book is full of pre-printed boards like abandoned temples, desert shrines, town squares, goblin camps, and many more.
Roll20 Art Pack
For those running digital games, battle maps are still important but tend to come in JPG form. That doesn’t mean that you can’t spruce up your presentation. In fact, virtual tabletops like Roll20 feature creator marketplaces full of art for monster tokens, spell effects, and terrain. These can be purchased as a gift and redeemed through email, so a group of players could gift their GM more maps and even full-on campaigns.
StartPlaying Gift Card
Are we going to toot our own horn here? Yes! That doesn’t make it any less true that StartPlaying has a huge community of professional GMs that run all kinds of systems. Does your partner always DM and never play? Do you want to treat your group to an epic one-shot for the holidays? Grab a StartPlaying gift card and let them pick the date, time, game, and GM! As a bonus, use this StartPlaying referral code to get $10 off your first game!
DriveThruRPG Gift Card
If you need something for the forever DM, look no further. They probably have every book, every cool dragon miniature, and every dice set they could want. But they can’t possibly have every game published in the vast digital library of DriveThruRPG. Aside from D&D supplements, DriveThruRPG has classic RPG reprints, brand new RPGs, expansions, art packs, and more. Toss a DriveThruRPG gift card in their stocking, and give them the perfect challenge to throw at you next session.
Monsters, Aliens, and Holes in the Ground
This is a nice gift for the longtime TTRPG hobbyist. Monsters, Aliens, and Holes in the Ground: A Guide to Tabletop Roleplaying Games from D&D to Mothership aims to be a comprehensive history of the hobby. And it very much pulls it off. In a massive decade-by-decade account, author Stu Horvath accounts for more than 300 games published over 50 years. The hardcover, which is chock full of detailed art, runs for around $50.
As a collector myself, I LOVE using miniatures for my in-person D&D games. There’s just a wow factor on actually being able to plop down a detailed dragon statue on the table right before a boss fight. If your loved one is a collector or someone who likes building elaborate tabletop battles, consider getting them minis. WizKids, the official partner for D&D figurines, has a whole online shop dedicated to minis. You can find big dragons, packs of small foot soldiers, and everything in between.
Hero Forge Gift Card
TTRPG players get very attached to their characters. That’s why Hero Forge provides a platform to design and customize one’s dream miniature figure. You can recreate their magic weapon, give them pets, and even have them shipped with a paint job. A custom figure of one’s character is especially great for a long-running game. Such a character will hold a place in one’s heart, so why not give a Hero Forge gift card and let them design their perfect mini?
Some players love to escape into their character’s mind, while others just want to stay organized. Whatever the reason, note-taking is popular in TTRPGs. Many players even like dedicating a notebook to a specific character. The Campaign Journal is a great option for D&D, one that gives its owner sections for all of the details of their adventures. Users gave good reviews for fast shipping and product quality. For more general use, The Ultimate RPG Quest Keeper is a safe bet.
Dice, Dice, Dice
A pretty set of dice is the weakness of any TTRPG enthusiast. We can never have enough. Viridian Dice is a personal favorite, as evidenced by my amazing Kool Aid die. Dice Envy is a popular choice due to their quality and variety. They also sell dice trays and dice bags to accessorize. If you don’t want to make the choice for them, buy a gift card and let them shop. That’s honestly a gift in and of itself; dice shopping for a new character is always fun.
Local Game Store Gift Card
When all is said and done, there are an endless amount of gift ideas for TTRPG players and even more for Game Masters. You might be reading this list because you have no idea what to get someone with a bookshelf full of games and an endless array of minis. To which I say: A gift card to their local tabletop game store is completely valid. Not only does it let the gift receiver pick something out for themselves, it also supports an independently-owned store during the crucial shopping season. It’s a win for everyone.