CheapassDM: Condition Markers

Toddler size hair tiesI see your Alea tools, and I raise you a pack of Goody brand child size elastic hair ties! These things will run you 5$, not 70 and you won’t have to magnetize any mini’s either. If there’s any one thing I’m good at it’s being a cheap ass which is why I’ve decided to start a regular column I’ll be entitling “CheapassDM” because a witty prefix to “DM” is the only way to go in case you were unaware!

Granted this isn’t really an alternative to Alea tools as they aren’t nearly as eloquent, nor can you stack them beneath the base of mini’s with any sort of usable result. They are around the perfect size for D&D miniatures however and you can easily hang or bind them around your mini’s depending on which conditions may be effecting them, even most “medium” size class miniatures don’t have problems. They also stretch to the perfect size to wrap around the base of medium size mini’s also!

I’m a ware this has probably been done before, or that there are a literal F-ton more ways of making cheap condition markers but I thought I’d pass on one of my solutions just in case it might help others out. I look forward to making this a regular thing, so until next time fellow gamers, play thriftily!

Update: The actual product I’m using here are called “gentle ponytailers” made for babies/toddlers, we bought a pack for my daughter (I believe it was 50-100) for 5$ at our local walmart. Also added a link to Alea tools within the article.


  1. A great alternative to these are pipe cleaners. Cut one into fourths, bend into rings, and presto! Instant condition markers. Great for hanging off of minis. My group has been using them for about a year and, in addition to affectionately dubbing them “froot loops”, we love them.

    • I second this. We use these in our LFR games all the time and they work quite well. They are cheap and come in all the colours you can possibly need. If you somehow run out just twist 2 together. I recommend you get the short haired ones at a craft store (5mm I think, though I could be wrong), as they stay on the miniatures just a tiny bit better.

  2. I used a circle cutter to create some 1″, 2″, and 3″ discs out of rubber sheets (you might also try the foam sheets). Given how thin the sheets are, I glued two discs together to get something that’s more visible when underneath a mini, token, or counter.

  3. Okay I’m getting close to a cheapie award. I use the bottom part off soft drink bottles as rings to mark conditions. The part that comes off when you twist the cap off. My players hate it when they see lime green ones come out because they know they are poisoned. Hair idea I really like and I’ll have to see what I can get from the wife.

  4. Kick ass ideas guys, I know there a million and one things to use for stuff like this. I’ve tried pop can tabs, the plastic rings from pop/milk jugs, pipe cleaners, rubber bands. I’ve just found these to not dangle around so much because of their smaller size and don’t seem to get too out of hand when you have 2 or 3+ conditions on one mini.

    I do really love pipe cleaners though, those sometimes make good ghetto fabulous 3D dungeon scenery, maybe next CheapAssDM I’ll do a ‘how to’ on making some pipe cleaner dungeon scenery.

  5. I fall into this category as well. I went to walmart and got a pack of some 100+ plastic banded hair ties of varying colors and sizes. Though the smallest of the size was too small to use. But the middle size was perfect for standard minis while the larger size was good for bigger minis. Now this only cost me like $3 and change if that.

  6. I am also a cheapskate DM, I use beer bottlecaps in exactly the same way you describe

    I don’t even use minis (too expensive in my part of the world). I use colored glass beads to represent medium-size or smaller monsters, and impromptu playdoh sculpts for larger monsters

  7. We us poker chips, they fit nicely on the bottom of any miniature designed for a one inch square grid. Most people already have them, but if you don’t they are cheap and they come in a ridiculous variety of colors.

    • Poker chips are pretty great for action points too. Come to think of it I also had a DM use sticky tack as markers by making hats for zombies. If you’ve not seen a zombie with a floppy hat, you’ve not lived.

  8. actually, if you would really like to be cheap, take the ring that separates from the cap of soda bottles off of the bottle. Those caps are perfectly wide enough to fit around, or hang on, minis. Also, you can designate certain colors for certain conditions. Plus, if your game is anything like mine, alot of soda is consumed at sessions, and we just collect the rings. ENJOY and HAPPY GAMING

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