Thursday, September 5, 2019

GM Tips: Storing & Organizing Your Tabletop RPG Pawns

Pictured: Rise of the Drow: 5E Collector's Edition Pawns.
By AAW Games.
Do you use pawns, such as those published by Paizo or Kobold Press, for your tabletop RPG games? Or perhaps you print your own custom-made pawns?

If so, then odds are at one time or another you've concocted a method for organizing, storing, and transporting miniatures to and from the game table.

Over the years, many GMs have shared a plethora of amazing ideas of how this can be done. Now I join the ranks as I share with you my own method.

For Storage –

I like to keep my sets of pawns in individual 3-inch three-ring view binders. For smaller sets, I may include two themes to a binder. They can be clearly labeled, and fit nicely into a bookshelf.

To stow the pawns in the binder, I keep the original punch cards, and slide each into a 8.5" x 11" BCW page protector along with a BCW magazine backing board. The pawns fit nicely into their original punch slots on the cards, and the backing board acts as a sort of drawer to keep all the pawns securely in place when you slide them out of the page protector for access.


The backing board acts as a drawer to keep the
pawns in place while you snag the one you want.

I find that every pawn set I've purchased will fit in a
3-inch 3-ring binder. View binders allow for easy labeling.

I use a 300-count BCW card storage box to keep my bases in. If you have multiple color bases, these are compact enough that you could do one for each color, or sort by base size if you want. I have about 100 different bases, and one box is big enough to hold them all.

For Organization –

If you are like me, you likely have several different sets of pawns, which means several different binders to keep them in. During a game night, you may need pawns from multiple binders, and afterwards when returning them to storage, it can be a hassle to figure out which binder a pawn belongs to.
A discrete mark on the bottom edge of a pawn
can be used to color-code which binder it belongs to.


The simple solution I've come up with to solve this is to put a discrete color dot on the bottom edge of the pawns, and color code by set. When the pawn is in use, the mark is hidden by the base, and when you are ready to return it to storage, just match the base color with color coding on its binder of origin.

If you have a particularly huge collection, you can use multiple dots of various colors to mark the pawn bottom edge as well (i.e. one red dot for one set, two red dots for another).

An Index can save you a ton of effort!

Most pawn sets offer a PDF version at additional cost. The best use for this I've found is in creating a universal index. When you're dealing with multiple, possibly dozens, of pawn storage binders, it's nice to have an easy way to look through them all to find the perfect pawn without having to take each one out and flip through it.

Printing out the PDFs for each pawn set and compiling into a single 2-inch 3-ring view binder with page protectors makes it easy to know exactly where to go for that perfect monster! The index can be made useful further by using small stickers to write on "page numbers" in both the storage binders as well as the index binder to denote which on which page in which binder a pawn is located.

I tend to go through my index, writing down the pawns I want and in what binders and on which pages they are located. Then using that list I can go directly to the binder and specific page for quick and easy access to my desired pawn.

Making a Go-Binder –

Lugging around binders full of pawns is far from convenient, particularly if you travel to game sessions - they aren't exactly light weight. This is where a "go-binder" comes in. I use an extra durable 2-inch 3-ring view binder for this purpose.

Before I run a game session, I transition any pawns I'll be needing for a game session (and usually a few spares for unexpected encounters) from their storage binders into my go-binder. However, you will want your go-binder to be durable, organized, and simple to access.


Using an upside down card protector sleeve secures the
pawn contents inside the card protector pages.

Easy to find and access the exact pawn I need at the
tabletop - even includes the pawn base.


My solution as been to fill the binder with a couple dozen BCW card protector pages, and slide one black Ultra-Pro deck protector sleeve upside down into each compartment. I specifically use black as it contrasts well with the white background of the pawns, making them easier to see.

The upside down sleeve creates a secure drawer in each compartment of the card protector page. I can place both a pawn and it's required base into the sleeve, and not have to worry about my pawns dumping out if the binder is tilted or turned upside down during transport.

For the largest pawns, which won't fit into a standard size card slot, BCW post card protector pages and Ultra-Pro post card soft sleeves can be used in the exact same way.


I hope this information is useful to someone looking for an affordable and convenient way to store, organize, and transport their tabletop RPG pawns! The pawns photographed in this article were created by Kobold Press and are part of the Tome of Beasts pawn set.

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