Article by Hal Hill
*Pictures at bottom of article
Recently I took on the role of being the Dungeon Master for my sons homeschool Role
Playing Game group. I have to confess that I love firing kids imagination and inspiring them. So
I decided the morning of the game that I needed to do a prop. During the course of the game
the players were supposed to discover a note that doesn’t just lead them on to the next part of
the adventure but one that lays the groundwork for their imagination as well. Here is how I put
that prop together.
1. First I wrote up the content of my note, but I needed it to look like handwriting. So I went
out on the web where you can find free fonts. There are tons of these out there.
Downloading a truetype font for Windows or IOS is pretty easy, there are several quick
tutorials for how to do this on the web as well.
2. I needed an “ancient” language to use in the game to thrill the players. The language
had to look like an ancient language and have different letters as well. What beats that
than an actual ancient language. So I picked Koine Greek (since I am interested in that
as well) and went out to another site and took that font as well. That’s the last line that
you see on the letter. It translates into”wife/woman dragon” or wife of the dragon. How
exciting for the young players. I even gave them a mystery to solve and told them if they
could figure out what language it was and what it meant they would get an in game
3. I then printed the paper on a normal laser printer. Part of the process of printing on a
laser printer binds the toner directly to the paper. It won’t wash off! This is the last time
you will see the printed work so clean!
4. I then took my pan of coffee and immersed the paper in it as part of the process of giving
it the patina I wanted
5. Next I baked it in the oven at 400-425. Paper catches fire at 451, so you don’t want it too
hot obviously. In the picture below you are going to see that I have placed a silicone mat
under the paper. This is not really necessary. Remember, the coffee will give it the
patina, too much heat will make it brittle.
6. As the paper dries it will crinkle up, like water damage does to paper. This is part of
what we want anyway, it makes it look old. If you want added staining, flick more coffee
onto the newly dry paper and rebake!
7. Nothing says old like incomplete edges. I turned my stove burner on high until it was
cherry red (as you can see in the background) and just stroked the paper edges along
the burner. Not only did it brown it more, but nothing says ancient document like burn
8. (optional) if you have one of those special scissors that some scrap booking supply
stores sell, use those as well. I imagine it would make the edges even more erratic!
9. Finally just a little bit of leather string to bind it. I could have optionally lit a colored
candle and used the wax to seal it but I suspected the artifact was going to get opened
and re-opened. Bound with leather worked too!
explained what I did. I offer them bonus points to come up with their own props and engage in a
little “Makering” of their own.