Dungeon Monitor Kits – The DM’s Tool Bag

by DR Webster

The DM Kit is a Dungeon Monitor’s tool bag. It’s a basic first aid and rescue kit. Even if a venue or organizer provides first aid supplies and other equipment, having the things you need with you means you don’t have to find the supplies you need before you deal with whatever situation may require your attention.

A simple, basic DM Kit can easily fit into a pouch you can comfortably carry on your belt. You may find it easiest to carry a couple of things outside of that pouch. What should go into it? I’m glad you asked….

Contents for a basic DM Kit:

• Self-adhesive bandages – both medium and large sizes. I prefer “tough” plastic bandages, since they’re stronger and more durable, which can be important if they’re applied mid-scene.
• Antiseptic swabs
• Hand sanitizer
• Non-latex examination gloves – nitrile is ideal. Latex should be avoided due to a fairly common allergy, non-allergic reactions and potential anaphalactic reactions.
• Flashlight
• Safety cutter/hook and/or EMT shears (preferably both, since either can fail)
• At least one zip-lock sandwich bag, for emergency biohazard disposal
• Pen & paper

Additional contents items for an expanded DM Kit:

• Liquid Bandage (medical grade crazy glue, usually with a disinfectant component)
• Standard handcuff key, along with any additional ones you may encounter that are noticeably different from the interchangeable standard key.
• Triangular bandages (3 is standard for first aid kits)
• Large gauze pads
• Medical tape
• Tweezers
• Knife
• Antihistamines (diphenhydramine)
• Other first aid supplies (finger splints, pressure dressing, etc.)

Of the items listed above, the only item I don’t currently have in my own DM kit is a pressure dressing.

Personally, I carry my flashlight, safety hook and EMT shears on my belt separately from my DM Kit and my handcuff keys are on both my primary and secondary key chains.

Notes on some DM Kit equipment items and some product recommendations:

Flashlight – Any flashlight will suffice, but an LED flashlight with a high lumen rating is my first choice because the batteries last forever and your light is very unlikely to fade at a crucial moment. My personal brand of choice is the Energizer HardCase brand. These days I’m carrying the LED inspection light model that uses 2 AAA batteries and has a 40 lumen rating. It’s brighter than the Mini MagLite that uses 2 AA batteries and an incandescent bulb and carries a 15.2 lumen rating. The Mini MagLite LED is even brighter than the HardCase, but lacks the features I’ll outline now. The HardCase flashlight case is square, which means you can set it down without worrying about it rolling away. They’re water-resistant and shock-resistant to 15 feet, so dropping them doesn’t break the bulb and regardless of the conditions in which you’re using them (inside, outside, kneeling in a puddle of spilled water), they will almost certainly keep working.

Safety hook/cutter – I carry a Gerber EZ Zip, which is a gut hook designed for hunters, but ideal for use as a safety hook. It’s large enough to easily accommodate 3/4 of an inch of rope, unlike many safety hooks/cutters on the market that are really designed for seat-belts and can’t accommodate more than about 1/4 inch of rope at best. If you need to cut through the rope supporting someone in a suspension, you’re going to have more than 1/4 inch of rope to cut and I’d rather not have to individually select and cut half a dozen strands of rope when I can carry a cutter that will simply slice a bundle of 1/4 inch strands.

Hand sanitizer – This is for use before you put on a non-latex glove as well as for use before performing basic first aid that doesn’t require gloves. Otherwise, you’re contaminating the gloves when you put them on.

Pen & paper – If there is any incident that requires intervention beyond supplying first aid at the level of disinfectant & basic bandage, you should make some notes about it. Some DM crews have a formal reporting system for incidents, others don’t. Even if you’re working with a crew that does not have such a system, making notes is useful for your own reference, for the party host’s information, for EMTs if it’s serious enough for them to be involved and for legal purposes should any legal issues arise.

Liquid Bandage – I carry this and encourage other DMs to do so for the simple reason that when you cover a minor wound with it, the wound stays covered. Regular fabric and cloth bandages and even the “tough” plastic bandages can be knocked off very easily with a flogger or other toys. That doesn’t happen with Liquid Bandage. The only caveat I have with regard to using it is that it requires a minute or two for drying, so you need to warn people to whom it’s applied to avoid anything, from toy to chair, coming into contact with it for a couple of minutes after it has been applied.

Standard handcuff keys – Believe it or not, people do sometimes use a pair of handcuffs before realizing that they left the key at home. Standard handcuff keys are sold without a set of handcuffs. Look for a key from any of these brands: Smith & Wesson, Peerless, Hiatt, Bianchi, ASP, Safariland, Hiatt-Thompson, CTS-Thompson, Schrade, Uzi. Most inexpensive thumb-cuff sets come with a standard handcuff key that is interchangeable with the major brand names.

Knife – As noted above, this is strictly a last resort cutting tool that does not get used unless every other more suitable cutting tool has failed. Using a knife in proximity so someone’s skin is dangerous and should not be done if there is any other way of removing the rope with sufficient haste. My DM Kit carrys 2 knives. One is a light-weight but hefty Gerber folding knife with an inch of serration at the base of the blade that is suitable for cutting rope away from someone’s skin, such as the rope supporting a person in suspension and is suitable for far heavier rope than is normally used in bondage. The second is a stiletto with a blade 1/8 inch wide. With a slight curve toward the tip from the spine of the blade, it is possible to safely slip this blade between a piece of rope and a limb, if you’re careful. It is highly unlikely that I’d ever actually use either knife in an emergency situation, but my approach to safety is multiple redundancy… belt & suspenders… plus a backup just in case.

Antihistamines (diphenhydramine) – According to the US National Library of Medicine, as long as a person is not yet having trouble breathing, taking antihistamines is a useful stopgap measure for anaphalactic shock. Diphenhydramine (common brand name – Benadryl) is the type of antihistamine used by medical professionals for treating anaphalaxis… and bees, peanuts, etc. are all things that could be present at a play party. For that matter, offering someone who’s suffering from routine allergies an antihistamine could be the difference between that person being able to enjoy the party or having to go home.

This article covers DM Kits from my perspective. While I sometimes wear a T-shirt that jokes about it, I make no claim of knowing everything. I welcome comments and additional suggestions and will incorporate any that I find useful into this article. This article is intended to be a reference and resource for anyone who is a DM, a party/event organizer, is considering becoming a DM or cares enough about safety to carry the tools/keep them on hand for their own play.

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