Now that we’ve discussed what you are required to do in preparation for a session and what materials you have to bring to the session, it’s time to discuss what optional tasks you can undertake to improve a session for you, your GM, and your fellow players.
As mentioned last time, players are required to bring a miniature, or some other similarly sized object (a token or a die, for example), to the session to represent their character. I strongly recommend a miniature. They are much easier to identify on the battle grid than a token or die. They reinforce the image of your character to the GM and your fellow players so that they think of your character, the player, when they interact with you. Besides, Wizards of the Coast now produces pre-painted D&D Miniatures. They are inexpensive, easy to acquire, and require no construction or painting, so there is little reason not to get one for your character.
Another useful item to bring with you to the session is a table tent (also called a character tent). This is a piece of paper or cardstock that is folded so that it stands up on the table. It allows you to display information about your character to the other players and your GM. A table tent makes it easier for players to remember what character you are playing. Typically it displays your name, your character’s name, her physical description, class, level, race, and region, and even sometimes a picture or a coat of arms.
Many GMs ask players to fill out a combat card (also called an initiative card) at the beginning of a session. This card has spaces for the most important information about your PC so your GM can easily reference it during encounters. The RPGA has produced a useful version of an initiative card available from the downloads section of the website. You can help your GM by printing out copies of these cards and filling them out in advance of your session. That way you can sit down at the table and hand the GM a card with the information needed for your session.
For players with spellcasting PCs, it is a significant time saver if you plan your spell selections in advance. Since different situations require different spell selections, it is helpful to make up a couple of lists of spells you are likely to select in various situations, that way you don’t need to spend a lot of time at the session selecting your spells for the day. Many players find it helpful to create spell cards, index cards with the details of spells they often use. With spell cards, you can simply pull the spells you are going to use out of the stack and you have all the details you need to cast the spell on the card (saving you from having to flip through the Player’s Handbook v.3.5 to find the spell).
You should plan out your purchases in advance of a session as well. Look over your adventure records and your meta-organization documentation after every adventure you play so you know what items you may wish to purchase during the next session. Items you find in your next session might alter your plans somewhat, but taking the time to plan out purchases in advance will save you and your GM a lot of time at the session. The same is true for advancing your PC; take time between adventures to plan out how you may advance your PC when she gains enough experience points to level. Magic item creation should always be planned out before you sit down to play (and the MIC form is required to be filled out before you play as well).