Wednesday, October 31, 2012


So most of the times when we refer to technology we look at ways to use computers and smart phones in our gaming environment. I've selected a few fancy pieces of technology and a few not so fancy pieces for what works best with our group (an so far some of them are really paying off for me at least). These work pretty much with any RPG though they're written in the perspective of our Dungeons and Dragons game.

So first up, we start with the initiative tracker. I used an Android app on my phone for a while. It was nice but only I could see it. I suppose only I need to see it, but it's nice to have something everyone can share. Before I used these awesome initiative tracker cards that included mini character sheets on them. I loved those since I had all the AC, HP and things I could need right there. However I went even further low tech than that. I took 3x5 cards and cut them in half (1.5x5 strips). Fold them down (1.5x2.5) and write the character and player names (character names are bigger) on both sides. Then on one side I drew a red line through the characters name. I hang them over my DM screen and place them in initiative order. I also have an "A" "B" and "C" card for monsters. I then have an arrow card (just a strip with an arrow drawn on it, pointing to the next player) that moves down the line. So everyone at the table knows where the turn order is, who is bloodied and who still has a turn. The only way I can think to improve this is by adding paperclips for conditions. Of course this means clipping and unclipping both sides constantly in combat, so I haven't done it yet.
Next up is the wishlist items. Sure having everyone write down and hand me a wishlist of items is fine and dandy, but then I have 6 sheets of items mixed in with with all my other stuff and I have to sort through everything and miss nothing. This is where a high tech solution comes in. Freely editable, collaborative and simple. I went over to Asana for another project I'm working on and have forced a method of character wishlists into the system. Not the best for just a wishlist (also severely under-utilizing their awesome system), but it works and it's a site I'm on already. Honestly a shared document in Google Drive (Google Docs) would do just as well. But I'm hoping to use this to expand on other issues and collaborate on Quests and more later on.
Now once I use those wishlist items, I need a good way to hand them out to my players. I again go to 3x5 cards for just about everything. I write on the blank side what it is (Quests, Treasure, Power, etc). I then fill in all the information I can about the item on the card. I have to do this for 6 items every level, so doing it myself is not too much work. Quests are much more simple as I just write a quick blurb about what I want them to do and explain more at the table or in the game. The rest goes in their notes. I also write in purple how much XP or reward they get from completing said quest. This means that they know exactly what's in it for them and know what they're missing out on. I figure this XP into my leveling chart (later). Powers are denoted by type (at will, daily, encounter, utility) and are color coded. For the player I sometimes fill in for, I also make cards related to the treasure. So if she gets a Treasure card giving her an item with a power, I make a matching Power card for it. I also hand out Key cards. Basically for whenever there's a key item or a  key piece of information, or similar. The only one we've used so far was for a puzzle we did.
Keeping them together, I just use envelopes we had laying around for another project. I label them for Treasure, Quests and Parcels. The Quest and Treasures also have matching envelopes for blank cards that I wrote Treasure and Quest on already.
The cards work wonders for any game. Adding 3x5 cards is the best way to help organize anything in Savage Worlds, World of Darkness, Legend of the Five Rings, or any game really. I can think of a thousand ways I could use them. Invest in stacks and go wild. The initiative trackers is amazing too. If you have a DM screen it's great. If you don't have a DM screen, stand them up and use them like that. Make standees out of them. Asana isn't such a great fit for RPGs but I like it. If you have a large group (like a LARP or such) Asana is just too expensive.
So that's the major low tech and high tech things we use that I can think of right now. If more comes up, I'll make sure to write another post about it. Until then, have fun gaming.

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