If I had to name the thing that intrigues me the most about role-playing games in recent years it would be technology and tools. I remember when I was young having a vision of a table where the players could all have a station where they could see up to date character information on a screen, send notes to each other electronically, and the GM could direct everything in the same fashion. And today that is certainly possible. But not all of that is really all that much fun or practical. But what is out there are a wealth of tools. And I recently decided to look at what tools I am using and maybe update or refresh what I use.
For example, every good game has maps. I am not what you would call an artist. Much of what I create for maps is pretty basic. And I have gone back and forth on what I use to make my maps. I have created some with Paint on the computer. I have created some by hand with pencils and paper. And I will admit that I was still not real happy with either one. But the boys campaign has reached the point where they do need a map. Or, at least, I need one to keep track of where they are and where they have been. I had created one by hand, using pencils and graph paper:
Pretty primitive, right? And I am always the first to admit my handwriting (or scrawl) is awful. But I wanted to give them some idea of where they were and what their goal was. Yesterday I realized that I could scan that picture, and then attack it with Paint. Which I did and I am happier about what I can now show them.
It is still not spectacular, but it does a far better job of communicating where they are, and the differences in the terrain. The thing is, many years ago, when I was creating a whole massive world, drawn on big pieces of poster board, none of these tools were even there. And that makes a difference in my game.
I mentioned on Friday that I was going to try to convert my notes to Evernote. And I did a lot of that on Friday. I have not tried to run a game using it yet, but I do think that it will be a little easier. This is not so much about tools I didn’t have, as about using different tools. I have had the option to type out my notes for quite some time, just haven’t made an effort to do so until now. But I can already see it being much easier for me, which is the point of using tools.
Last, I love my Character Sheet app I use: Fight Club by Lion’s Den. It really does pretty much everything I could ask for in an App. And I use the companion GM Aid from the same company, and that has been awful handy as well. All of this being a far cry from the days of chewing through reams of paper. But I have seen a lot of recommendations for Hero Lab. And I am thinking that I might have to take the plunge and try that for a change. It is more of an investment. But it does support multiple platforms and games, which would make it easier for me to have the same format for multiple games.
I am not going the full on and use one of the online platforms yet. Although I can see the appeal for the right group of using those. But my groups are not ready for that yet. The Denver game is too full of grumpy older guys to go full on electronic. And the boys are too immature, would probably end up playing games instead of focusing on our game. That is an option for another time.
As you can see I am still adapting, bridging the gap between pen & paper versus electronics. I can see how I would go full electronic at some point very easily. I think it would be a lot of fun to play that way. I am definitely enjoying the versatility of what is out there and embracing the new when it makes sense.