Sunday, 26 February 2017

History of my DIY Bennies - the road so far

I have been making custom Bennies pretty much from the start of my Savage Worlds "career". Right now I am able to produce Bennies tailored to every game I want to play in or run, but the road to get here has been a long one. Let me tell you the story of my making custom Bennies from the beginning.

The very first Bennies I used weren't actually something I'd call "custom Bennies". They were simple glass beads, which I sorted by colour and assigned one to each player. I got them from Amazon, in a big bag of mixed form beads.
They served their purpose, but they didn't really add anything to the game. They were markers for a meta-resource used in the game we played, not props helping us to immerse ourselves better in the universe we were playing in. I wanted to get some nice-looking Bennies, but the official ones were impossible to get in Germany for reasonable amounts of money. So I had to get creative.

The first step on the road to the great Bennies I bring to the table now was a rather small one. I had bought wooden disks to use as markers on a battlemap, about 1 inch in diameter. Through a lucky coincidence I found out there were sticker sheets available, pre-cut with circular cuts, which fit those disks. These became my first true custom Bennies, made for Savage Warhammer 40k (Dark Heresy) and Savage Deus Ex games. They had some big problems, though. As you can see, the Imperial Crest isn't truly centred, and there's a black line going through the cyberpunk Benny.

This happened because the sticker sheet came with an MS Word document to align the images on the page to where the pre-cuts were on the sheet, but they didn't truly align, no matter how I modified the printer settings or which way I inserted the paper. The idea was sound, but using the pre-cut sheets clearly didn't work for what I wanted to do.

The next step saw two major changes. First I changed from the wooden disks to actual poker chips. Those I could also buy in bulk, and they came blank. They also had an inner diameter of exactly 1 inch, which was perfect, as I could buy a circular 1-inch-diameter paper punch tool. Now I was able to freely design motives for the Bennies, print them onto full-sized sticker sheets, cut them myself and apply them on the poker chips. I used this method for a long time, producing Bennies for games I ran (Deadlands Reloaded, Savage Rifts), and games I played in (Saga of the Goblin Horde).

This worked well, but after a while I got frustrated with the plain look of the Bennies. Also the 1-inch print area proved to be rather limiting. I tackled these problems in two steps. The first step saw me switching to a different brand of poker chip, which came with a shiny surface and, luckily, a design that still fit the 1-inch cut prints perfectly.

While this improved the visual aspect of the Bennies, I still wasn't happy. By another lucky coincidence I stumbled across a paper punch tool with a diameter exactly equal to the inner area of the new brand of poker chips, 1.25-inch in diameter. I experimented with this new tool and the result was stunning in difference:

I lost the shiny border around the smaller 1-inch print, but I gained an incredible amount of area to put the actual Benny image on. I quickly started to replace my older Bennies with new ones, with better designs now that I had so much more area to work with.

This is my de-facto standard for producing custom Bennies right now. I am very happy with the outcome. They handle like poker chips, and if it wasn't for my cheap inkjet I probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference between mine and official Bennies.

If you want to produce high-quality custom Bennies for your own games, please watch this video I made explaining the whole process. You will also find links to the tools I use in the video's description:

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