By Anthony “LibrariaNPC” DeMinico, 6 March 2019
With about a decade of running games at events and walking around conventions as The NPC, I’ve always been on the lookout for ways to make rewards interesting and giving people something they can leave with. While my standard business card has proven to be a multi-purpose tool for attendees (many getting autographs or using them as another form of memorabilia), I’ve been kicking around the idea of stamps for some time.
Seeing the Kickstarter for RPG stamps from Kenku Press/Weird Works gave me the brilliant idea that I MIGHT be able to use these for those sessions I run at local game cons. Now that they’ve arrived, it’s time to put them through their paces!
Inspired by the R.I.P. stamps by Goodman Games for Dungeon Crawl Classics, Weird Works created a line of self-inking stamps that began with R.I.P. but expanded into other designs to commemorate different events. Did you finish a dangerous dungeon? Find a new town? Get a snazzy new spellbook? Die a terrible death?
There’s a stamp for that!
These stamps are made with “a tough plastic shell and are rated for about 5,000 impressions.” They are self-inking, so no need for an ink pad in your bag of gear.
==What You Get==
Each stamp measures about 2”x2”, each with a hard rubber face and a self-inking mechanism. For the Kickstarter, a number of inks were available, as well as a number of designs. For my purposes and review, I went with a red “Cause of Death,” a blue “Quest Complete,” and a black “Welcome” stamp.
As a bonus to Kickstarter backers, we were sent sticker sheets and journals to go with our stamps. There is also a Character Record Sheet available from the Kickstarter page to allow you to better commemorate these events.
It’s difficult not to scream out “This is a fun idea!” when I break these out with my gaming friends and start stamping things like a group of giddy children. Seriously, there’s just something akin to childlike joy that each of us experienced when we started slapping “Cause of Death” on sheets of paper and writing in hilarious causes (and at least one of them for foreshadowing a game a friend was in!)
For a first impression (ha!), they went really well among my friends, many of them demanding where they can get them from and local GMs getting brilliant ideas for uses. As a con-going GM, I know we were on the same page.
When it comes to the build, I have to say that the stamp face is actually rather nice. In fact, I think it should be able to easily clear the 5000 impression mark, as the material on these stamps is rather similar to some of the stamps we use in my library. One of these stamps at the library has been around for at least ten years, if not longer, and is used at least four times a week, usually more. While the ink has long since run dry, we still use it with an ink pad and it still comes out looking rather nicely.
To be honest, there’s a bit of a learning curve with using these. There were a number of tutorial materials provided for them with tips of getting the most out of these stamps, but I still found them a bit odd for a while. You need to press hard enough, and sometimes you need to “roll” the stamp for a solid impression, but if you hold down for too long you’ll start to bleed through the page. If you don’t get the right roll, you’ll end up with blurry text, too much ink on an “empty” space (like a corner) or a loss of detail in your stamp. That said, if you don’t roll at all, you can actually miss edges of the stamp impression. I’m still trying to get used to it.
I’m also a bit wary of the build with these. While using them one-handed, I sometimes feel as though the stem of the stamp is a bit flimsy, and I’m afraid that if I hit it too hard I may end up snapping it. It may just be me, but I’m not too keen on that feeling so flimsy.
Honestly, there are a few things I’d love to properly test, but sadly can’t, but I want to place them here for anyone who isn’t thinking the same way.
First, I don’t know how long the ink will last, or if it’s even possible to refill it. Any time I get something like this, I always worry it will dry out before I get to properly use it, so there’s a bit of a concern there.
Second, a colleague of mine was wondering how well it would work on flesh, such as stamping the back of a hand, and how long would it stay there. While I like the idea in principle (as people love that sort of thing at events), I’m not sure how well this ink washes out, and due to the size of the stamp, it will have to be on adults only with a large enough hand. Additionally, due to the nature of these stamps, you’ll need to basically compress someone’s hand between the stamp and another hard surface, so if you are looking at using these in such a way, you have some limitations to worry about.
Neither of these are really deal breakers, but they are based around usage methods I am unable to properly test due to time limitations.
After many “first impressions” and plenty of goofing around, I have to give these stamps 3.5 buns.
These stamps do exactly what they set out to do: stamp their impression onto paper with a self-inking mechanism so you don’t need to worry about extra gear for your game bag. You can commemorate events, big or small, and it makes for a fun takeaway from a one-shot game session. It’s a fun idea, and if it’s your sort of thing, then they are a must have for your collection! There’s also a sheet on their website to use for your own campaigns, making this a home campaign item instead of a one-shot gimmick.
Sadly, I do have some concerns about build quality and the longevity of the casing, even if the stamp itself should survive for years to come. The stamps, as of this time, are also rather niche, catering to fantasy tropes with a stretch into Victorian/early 1900’s-themed games. If you run a variety of games, you may find some limitations in the current selection.
The RPG Commemorative Stamps are available on the Weird Works website, and are currently running at $15 each. Most stamps are available in black and red, with some of the other colors available based on the stamp.