Since the release of 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons, one of the primary annoyances with the game is tracking the various status conditions. Cursed, prone, bloodied and dazed conditions on a single PC or creature quickly becomes a tracking headache. Various solutions are already on the market, such as the Alea Tools magnetic tokens or even using plastic soda rings. The latest entry to the 4E tracking market are the “Action Stands” and “Status Flags” from Dark Platypus Studio.
Although clearly designed to work together, the stands and the flags are sold separately, in case you want to home-brew your own solution. Here is a shot of the “Action Pack” that includes the flags and stands.
The stands are pewter posts, each one is 4 cm (1.5 inches) tall and about 1.1 mm in diameter. At the top of each stand is a small neodymium imbedded in the pewter. At the stand’s base is another “neo” magnet about 5 mm in diameter. There is also a small flat space on the base for a tiny number, should you choose to use it. A set of number stickers also come with the stands. This item comes unpainted.
The flag set contains tiny neo magnets and a page of double-sided stickers to wrap around the magnets. The magnets then stick to the top of the stands. For multiple conditions, you can stack flags up. It winds up looking rather like an overcrowded street sign.
The magnets worked as advertised and they are strong! Anyone can pull them loose easily, but they will not come loose without your assistance.
Working late one night, I assembled the kit, stuck the stands and flags on a steel paperweight and went to bed. Here is what I found the next morning.
I went back and checked the instructions and discovered the sticker adhesive tends to fail in high humidity. I am in Arizona in the monsoon season, so it was about as bad as you can get in terms of high humidity. Sometimes it pays to read the instructions. A little glue solved the problem and I trundled off to my game to test the stands and flags during real 4E combats.
My DM uses the Alea Tools magnetic markers and it was instantly clear that these stands and the Alea markers were totally incompatible. Either the magnetic polarity matched and toppled the flags or it did not match and physics pulled the stands towards the center of the Alea disk…swiftly. This resulted in the stands poking from the crotches of the various minis. Scrapping that idea, I abandoned the Alea markers and went strictly with the stands and flags and the next issue became apparent. You have to have a magnetic tabletop, either metal or one of the “Magna-Maps” from Dark Platypus. Without this item, the base magnet does not have enough weight to keep the stand and flags upright.
Since I had neither, the flags did not work particularly well. I did use them for a bit, just being careful to not bump the stands to keep them upright. I added a few status conditions and they did work for tracking conditions. The flags are brightly colored and easy to read, even from a reasonable distance.
Overall the flags will do exactly what they are designed to do and track conditions on a magnetic tabletop. If you already have a Magna-map or a steel plate under you game board, they should work much better than my test. My only serious issue is with alloy choice for the stands. Pewter, while a standard for miniatures for decades, is just too soft for regular handling. Since conditions change very rapidly in 4E, you will handle the flags and stands often, probably much more often than a regular mini. A plastic or steel version of the stand strikes me as a better idea.
If anyone else out there has used these with the correct playing surface (ie magnetized), please drop me a line in the comments.
Trask, The Last Tyromancer