Today's Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Homebrew Special blog is by Richard Noble (Brother Tyler), about a homebrew of a different kind. Richard wanted to organize his PACG cards, so he came up with some dividers and other tidbits to facilitate storage and gameplay. They're pretty boss, sez me. —Mike
As our gaming group's facilitator, it falls to me to control the game box, drawing cards and returning them to the box during our PACG sessions. It's like being the banker in a popular real estate game, but without the benefit of being able to skim money from the top.
Has something like the following ever happened to you?
With the town guard searching for Pillbug Podiker, Valeros offers to stand post at the city gate. Recalling a large chest in which the guardsmen kept confiscated contraband, he hopes to find some useful weapon. Finding the chest durably locked, he turns to his crowbar...
Simon: I rolled a 14, opening the chest. And I got a 1 on the d4 roll, so I get 1 weapon from the box.
Richard (reaches into the box and pulls out a weapon, handing the card facedown to Simon): Here you go!
Valeros quickly opens the lid of the chest and guffaws in delight, withdrawing a large glaive from within.
Simon: Alright! A Shock Glaive +1! Waitaminute, why is there a "1" in the top right corner? Isn't this a "B" scenario?
Or how about this?
Meanwhile, in one of the village houses that Pillbug Podiker was known to have visited before his disappearance, Merisiel is searching for clues. Hidden in the corner beneath a pile of blankets she finds a battered chest. "No problem," she says confidently as she pulls a set of slender tools from inside her jerkin.
Christina: I recharged the Masterwork Tools to automatically defeat the barrier, and I rolled a 1 for the number of items I get.
Richard (reaches into the box and pulls out a card, handing it facedown to Christina): Here you go!
Cautiously, Merisiel lifts the lid of the chest to reveal its contents, jumping back in surprise when a large beast suddenly forces its way out, growling in fury. As she reaches for her knives, she wonders how the chest's owner got the Saber-Toothed Tiger into the small chest.
Christina: (Looking archly at her husband): I said I get an item, not an ally.
Richard: Great googly moogly!
Now I won't say that neither of these types of incidents has ever happened to me, and I can't say that they haven't. Besides, my wife tells me that it happens to everyone. To keep things like this from happening again, and to satisfy my abnormal compulsion for organization, I developed some dividers to keep everything neat and tidy. I decided early on that I wanted to make the dividers sufficient to support whatever sort of organizational method different players might like, with color coding and text of sufficient size and font type to be legible at arm's length.
The dividers that started it all
Something else to consider was long-term storage. While the stock box comes with a plastic vacuum tray that can fit all of the cards, things get a little dicey when you sleeve the cards. Personally, I sleeve all of my PACG cards. I wanted to make sure that the cards last, even when my wife is eating potato chips during a game. I used the PACG organizer available from The Broken Token, removing all of the cards for the AP from their boxes. I needed to ensure there were dividers for all of the different card types as well as for all of the different deck indicators. This makes adding cards (say, a 5th player joins us for a game) or removing them (say, when we finish an Adventure Path) a snap.
The dividers in the stock vacuum tray (left) and in The Broken Token's PACG Organizer (right)
The basic dividers are tall enough so that the labels can be seen over the top of the cards when they are unsleeved, but they're short enough to fit in the base set box with the rules on top and the lid all the way down. If your cards are sleeved and the dividers are cut to the shortest height, much of the label is obscured by the sleeve, but the color bar is still visible. Some players might not use the base set box, and those that have a storage solution that allows for more height can cut the cards to different heights so that they can be seen above the cards even when they are sleeved. There are even different cut lines so that some dividers can be taller than others—perhaps you want the main WEAPON divider to be visible above the other weapon dividers (e.g., WEAPON—B, WEAPON—1, etc.).
A sleeved card (left) and an unsleeved card (right) next to a divider
The file for each Adventure Path also includes special dividers peculiar to that AP. The Skull & Shackles dividers include dividers for the ships and the fleet card; Wrath of the Righteous has dividers for cohorts, mythic paths, and the redemption card; and Mummy's Mask has dividers for scourges, traders, and the bazaar and defensive stance cards.
The special cards for each of the Adventure Paths
Dividers for the organized play "Season of…" cards are also included, using the color black. Also, there are "blank" dividers that allow you to further customize. These use a light gray so you can write your own text.
Two of the "Season of…" cards next to a blank divider cut to a taller height
There are also some optional cards to facilitate different types of storage methods. Most of the card types have an IN USE divider. There are three options for removing cards from play, depending on what floats your boat: When you decide that you're tired of seeing the Mace come up during Fortress of the Stone Giants, you might simply put it behind the WEAPON—B divider. Or maybe you'd prefer to put it behind the WEAPON—BASIC divider. And when you finally banish that pesky Goblin Pyro during Spires of Xin-Shalast, you might decide to put it behind the MONSTER—REMOVED divider.
It's like the Whopper® of card organization: you can have it your way.
I use the full-size dividers. I print them on card stock, laminate them, and cut them to size. Lamination isn't absolutely necessary, but they're pretty durable this way, and any snack residue wipes away easily.
At some point it occurred to me that some people might already have dividers and just need labels. Some game supply companies sell dividers; and some players might use materials such as plasticard or cardstock cut down to size. To support these and other options, I added pages that only have the labels. Players can then cut out the ones they want and affix them to their dividers using tape or glue.
These labels have been affixed with tape to thick plasticard cut to size
Another thing I did was create dividers and labels for the class/character/add-on decks. There is a basic set of dividers applicable to all class/character/add-on decks (boons), and a set of dividers specific to each class/character/add-on deck (cohorts, if included in that deck, and each of the characters). Most of the dividers are exactly the same as for the APs, with the addition of two different types of dividers for the overall deck and small labels for your storage solution. Two of the deck dividers have the name of the deck and images of all of the characters in that deck. The other two deck dividers simply have the deck name and logo. Any/all of these can be used however you want, depending on your storage solution.
The boxes for my class/character/add-on decks from different angles
I use plain boxes for long-term storage. These generally don't have the majority of card dividers in them because I don't want to print up that many dividers. I have a special deck holder for when I use a class/character/add-on deck in organized play, and this holder has the dividers for all of the cards.
Cards for characters include the logo and/or name of the base set or class/character/add-on deck to which they belong. This way you can see at a glance that it's Kyra from the Cleric Class Deck romping around in the Worldwound and not Kyra from Wrath of the Righteous.
Dividers for all three versions of the iconic cleric, Kyra
Another part of my divider files is standees. When my group first started playing the game, we found that the tokens were sometimes difficult to see, pick up, and move, so we often proxied the tokens with dice (which didn't work well). Also, those tokens take up space, and we often played where space was at a premium. I decided that some sort of substitute was necessary. I would have preferred to use miniatures, but some of the characters don't have miniatures and I didn't want to have to either look for miniatures that were "close enough" or explain to players, some of whom can be quite persnickety, that the red-bearded dwarf miniature represents Agna or some such. Most of the characters have images that are part of the Community Use Package, making paper standees relatively easy. I made the standees in two sizes, though my group uses the smaller ones. These can be printed, cut out, and assembled to make triangular standees that are easier to see, pick up, and move. I also laminate the standees to avoid that annoying snack residue. We found that the standees needed some weighted bases to keep them from tipping over, so I found suitably sized art tiles at a local craft store and glued each standee to a tile, then cut small squares of drawer liner (available by the roll at local DIY stores) and glued them to the bottoms to protect the table surface. For those characters that don't have images, I have six blank standees, each on a different colored base. The standees can be stored easily in tackle box inserts.
Standees for the Rise of the Runelords characters, with a blank (left); my standee and dice storage (right)
Every time Paizo and Lone Shark bring us a new adventure path or class/character/add-on deck, I upload a corresponding set of dividers/standees to BoardGameGeek and provide a link to the files here on paizo.com. It will be interesting to see how next year's new core set and Curse of the Crimson Throne AP change things up. I'm always looking for ways to improve the dividers/standees. Hopefully, some of you have found these useful in some way!
Thanks for all your hard work!
I'm using those dividers in my Skulls and Shackles box and they helped a lot with also enabling other players besides myself to quickly find the correct card types in the box, increasing the setup speed by a great amount :)