Roleplaying: Tactile Loot to Enhance Your Player's Immersion

November 11, 2016


The Feel of Coin!

My player groups LOVE looting the bodies of fallen foes. Whether checking the coin pouches of raiding Orcs or delicately picking the trapped lock on a chest atop a dragon’s horde; it is engrained in them to loot, loot, and then loot some more! To enhance their experience I use real coins, gems, trinkets, baubles and miscellaneous items as their reward for their gameplay. I deliver these items in real pouches, chests, boxes, and other eclectic containers.

Loot Containers

The Results

After the culmination of near death battle with a Mind Flayer and its Orc minions, my players will ignore their bleeding wounds and swelling bruises and immediately start searching the monsters for loot. As they search the minions I will toss a few small bulging pouches to the players representing what they found. They love hefting a heavy pouch and hearing the chink of metal on metal, the anticipation of opening it to see what lies within it growing. Is it a few silver coins, or will a glittering gem and a pile of shining gold pour out onto the table, or better yet… a pile of rusty nails the Orcs were using for toothpicks? And what is that behind the Mind Flayer's alter? It's a wooden chest with a strange lock that causes a player to reach into her pouch and remove a metal skeleton key she found several chambers back. My players seem to appreciate the tactile weight, the mysterious sounds, and the brilliant shine of metal coins as their reward; far more than simply writing a number down on a piece of paper.

Supporting This Playstyle

I also customize the players areas as best I can to support the fact that they will be receiving actual 3D items they will need to store until they next venture into a town to sell them. I supply each player with: a custom play-mat, a large pouch to store their ever-growing wealth, a wooden bowl for items such as potions, inspiration dice and a dice tower. I label and color coordinate all the items to each player. Some may think I obsess too much on minute details, but as long as they enhance my players experience it's worth it to me. I also give each party a large chest to store common loot that is to be shared amongst the group.

Player Area

Make It Affordable!

I am always looking for fun loot items to surprise my players with. Some places that have been jackpots for me; flea markets, garage sales, and hikes through nature. Dollhouse suppliers have great items as well. I love filling chests and pouches with; nuts and bolts, wires, fish bones, exotic handcrafted bottles, sewing kits, miniature chess boards, sextants, peg legs, bags of marbles, feather dusters, shark teeth, pyrite ore, candles, jugs, etc. etc. etc.

Loot Oddities

Continue the Immersion

I also have potions bottles filled each with various colors. Each color represents actual potions and oils found in the game. Players seem to enjoy trying to find out which potion each color combination represents. Also, like the coins, they enjoy having actual potions to hold and use when needed, over crossing off a word on a sheet of paper.


Poach Your Other Games

Use coins, items, and tokens from other games. Kickstarter is a great souce for this resourcing. I take advantage of Paizo's Loot Cards for magic items. They work great for D&D or Pathfinder. I place the item card in a clear sleeve. I then print out the magic items details and place it behind the card backwards so the players can't read it. Once they identify the item they may flip over the description. This gives them a nice visual of the item but still allows them to role-play out what the item does. Using metal Hanayama Puzzles and wooden Tangrams make for more immersive puzzle and trap challenges as well.

Item Card

Worth the Effort!

This type of preparation takes a bit of time and effort on a GMs part, but it really helps your players immerse themselves into the world you have created for them. I am happy to answer any questions any of you have who are interested in implementing tactile loot to your campaign. Peace!

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