PDA

View Full Version : Electronic Resources and the Modernization of Gaming



Farcaster
01-23-2007, 02:40 PM
When I first started DM'ing many, many moons ago, I can remember the mountains of paperwork that I'd have to keep track of for each game. There were monster hit points to be kept and updated, what spells or effects were active on each one, the party's experience totals, dates, names, and the list goes on and on. Over the years, I've turned more and more to electronic resources to help manage my games.

At first, it started with me keeping track of experience totals in a spreadsheet on my home computer, organized by experience gains per session and player. Eventually, after I got my first laptop, I started bringing the laptop to the game to keep track of everything from player character and monster hit points to dates and names. I tried referencing PDF versions of my books on my laptop, but I eventually found that there was something about just being able to flip open the book and go to where I wanted to be by feel was something I didn't want to give up. So, I still lug a ton of books to my games... But, I have limited my dice needs to just one set of dice, instead of the mountain of dice I used to throw out at each gamed, by using a dice rolling program I wrote to make any dice rolls that involve more than one or two dice at a time.

All of this, I feel, have enhanced my game and freed my mind up to concentrate on the game itself, instead of the minutia. But, as I look up over the DM screen and see the faces of my players alit with the soft glow of their own laptop screens, I wonder if we haven't somehow taken something away from the game. Some certainly would say that we have.

I'm curious, what electronic resources do you use in your games as a player or a GM, for any type of game (mine just happens to be D&D). Do you think overall that the "modernization" of gaming helps or hurts the gaming experience? Do you have any programs or resources you would recommend to others?

Gethsemane
01-23-2007, 06:22 PM
Seriously. One day, when I make serious money I hope to have a room...


just


to have


this


http://www.d20srd.org/extras/mapProjection.htm

Skunkape
01-24-2007, 08:34 AM
Well, I'll finally be getting a room dedicated to gaming in my home. Probably won't be for a while, but it is coming.

I've seen the projection table, but for me, nothing beats 3d gaming terrain. I've got most of the model sets from World Works Games, and some of Hirst Arts molds. I'm going to start making more HA terrain, as most of what I have right now is WWG terrain, and while I like it, I can customize HA terrain quite a bit more.

As far as electronic resources is concerned, right now I use DMGenie to help with character advancement and NPC generation. Campaign Cartographer for mapping both at the dungeon/individual building level & campaign level. WWG PDFs, which I print on my color printer and make into 3d terrain. Dundjinni to map buildings & dungeons. A website to help players and others to see what's going on with the campaign.

Eventually, I'll be building a gaming table, to go in the future gaming room, which will have a sound system built in, and either a tower computer or a laptop, to generate the sounds, it'll also have some kind character tracking software on it, plus an internet connection.

I still use my dice and my books and have many different colored dice, which I use in sets to help with multiple attacks, for instance, an NPC/monster, foe of the players, has 3 attacks per round, I roll a red d20, and red damage dice for the first attack, an orange d20 and orange damage dice for the second attack and finally a green d20 and green damage dice for the third attack. I drop all of them into my dice tower and then look at the results.

The only time I require an extra dice roll is when the d20s generate numbers that are in the critical threat range. I really need to get a few more d20s, in similar, but different colors as my main dice. Since my current dice are all transparent, I could get some opaque d20s in the same color and those would resolve the critical threats, all in the same roll.

Farcaster
01-24-2007, 10:18 AM
I never coordinated my dice like you do, but I did carry around a bag chuck full of different dice. The problem I had is that as the night would ware on, it would take longer and longer for me to resolve attacks and calculate damage. This was particularly troublesome when I had a spell caster in the mix who was repeatedly throwing down high damage spells. The dice-roller has drastically improved the speed of combat for my group. Though I still use a normal set of Crystal Caste brass dice for attacks and other single die rolls.

And... Oh...

http://www.d20srd.org/extras/mapProjection.htmHOLY HELL! I had heard of that kind of rig from one of my players, but I hadn't seen it in action.

Skunkape
01-25-2007, 08:30 AM
I've been playing in a game run by one of the other members of the group, and since I'm not using a die tower, the rest of the players are seeing how my dice roll. First night we played, they were telling me, no wonder your monsters are always hitting us!

Most of the night, I was rolling 15+ on one of my d20s, and it's not a loaded die!

Farcaster
01-25-2007, 11:07 AM
Die tower... I'm not familiar with it and definitely haven't used one. How does it work, and do you have a link to picture of one?

gurusloth
01-25-2007, 06:24 PM
Basically a die tower is a tall wooden box that sits on the table. It has a hole in the top to put your dice in, and then the dice rattle down the height of the box and come out into a shallow tray at the bottom of the box. It's about the size of a cereal box all told.

Here's a pic:
http://www.shophistofig.com/boutique/images_familles/18.jpg

fmitchell
01-26-2007, 06:54 AM
I use a smaller, more portable "dice boot" from Chessex: http://www.funagain.com/control/product/~product_id=015997

Skunkape
01-26-2007, 08:44 AM
Quite a few companies make dice towers, from ones like what fmitchel posted, to this cardstock one by World Works Games, http://worldworksgames.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=78

To patterns that allow you to build your own, http://www.io.com/~beckerdo/games/articles/DiceTower.html

I need to find the one that I used as a pattern for mine, and take some photos of it.

For your enjoyment, here are a few more sites with dice tower projects.

http://www.io.com/~beckerdo/games/articles/HirstDiceTower/HirstDiceTower.html
http://www.io.com/~beckerdo/games/articles/CampanileDiceTower/CampanileDiceTower.html
http://www.dicetower.com/Woodwork/DiceTowerPics.htm
http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/12/12613.phtml

By the way, I made mine out of foamcore board, then put a modified World Works Games tower cardstock model texture around the outside of it. But at the moment, I don't have pictures of it. I'll have to take care of that this weekend.

Farcaster
01-26-2007, 08:50 AM
Interesting. In all my years of gaming, I've never seen anyone use one of those. Do you have your players use it too, or is it just for your dm-rolls?

Skunkape
01-27-2007, 09:27 PM
Mine's just for my die rolls, but I considered making some kind of roller that consisted of a large funnel beside each player, attached to the table. Then PVC pie would go from the bottom of the funnel to the center of the table and finally to a tray beside my chair. It would be covered, so that only I could see the results.

That would allow the players to roll their own spot/listen/etc checkes, but only I would know if they succeeded or not. I never went any further with it than that though.:)

Grimwell
02-05-2007, 12:39 AM
oooo shiny! Those dice towers look pretty cool. I'm going to have to plot the acquisition of one soon as all this 'moving' crap is over with.

The only real electronic tool I relied on in past gaming is DM's Familiar, for ordering combat and NPC's. Beyond that I keep the link to the d20 SRD handy to quick scan things, and go with books.

I don't let players use their computers at the table, as it breaks focus. Nor do I spend all my time looking at mine... electronic aids are only aids if they help keep the focus on the people.

Skunkape
02-05-2007, 10:37 AM
I did see something that I though was kind of neat one time as far as electronic aids, but it could break focus. The Ultimate Gaming Table crew use a Motorola IMfree wireless instant messaging system and 7 hand held units to send notes back and forth.

Nice thing about it, you get less break in the game focus as far as note paper flying back and forth around/across the table, but you still would get loss of focus when the GM or a player stops to send an IM. But it might not be quite as obvious as to who got the message, specially if the GM sent one to everyone, with the real message going to the person or persons who need it and a "No message for you" message to everyone else.:D

The site for the table is, http://www.ultimategamingtable.org/
Check toward the bottom of the page for the messaging system.

Another cool messaging system, though not electronic is with another Ultimate Gaming Table, along the lines of something I'm going to build in another 5 years or so, that is unless my wife changes her mind about letting me!

This one uses metal spice balls to sent the message using a series of tubes. http://www.agyris.net/v3/ugt/youve_got_mail_jpg.asp

To see the whole table, start at the following link, http://www.agyris.net/v3/ugt/default.asp

Ezrandi
05-14-2007, 06:27 AM
Mine's just for my die rolls, but I considered making some kind of roller that consisted of a large funnel beside each player, attached to the table. Then PVC pie would go from the bottom of the funnel to the center of the table and finally to a tray beside my chair. It would be covered, so that only I could see the results.

That would allow the players to roll their own spot/listen/etc checkes, but only I would know if they succeeded or not. I never went any further with it than that though.:)



For special rolls like that I used to roll for them,
Because I wanted them to continue without knowing whether they succeeded or failed. It caused a lot of arguments in the beginning, but after a while they got used to it.

your idea might have worked to allieviate at least some of the strife.

Ezrandi
05-14-2007, 06:33 AM
When I first started DM'ing many, many moons ago, I can remember the mountains of paperwork that I'd have to keep track of for each game. There were monster hit points to be kept and updated, what spells or effects were active on each one, the party's experience totals, dates, names, and the list goes on and on. Over the years, I've turned more and more to electronic resources to help manage my games.

Yeah I used a log book per game, (Character notes)
You know the ones, the lab workbook for chemistry class..
and my game notes were kept in a binder .





At first, it started with me keeping track of experience totals in a spreadsheet on my home computer, organized by experience gains per session and player. Eventually, after I got my first laptop, I started bringing the laptop to the game to keep track of everything from player character and monster hit points to dates and names. I tried referencing PDF versions of my books on my laptop, but I eventually found that there was something about just being able to flip open the book and go to where I wanted to be by feel was something I didn't want to give up. So, I still lug a ton of books to my games... But, I have limited my dice needs to just one set of dice, instead of the mountain of dice I used to throw out at each gamed, by using a dice rolling program I wrote to make any dice rolls that involve more than one or two dice at a time.

I currently (although it is PBEM) have been designing a website for the players to access to get common information. I have also set up files per character, complete with character sheets and other info such as contacts, allies, and enemies.

I rely on the computer a lot.

Although I guess it doesn't really apply.. since most of my games are sent on the computer too.. So there's no real interaction to interrupt.

Perhaps another cup of coffee is in order before I continue to post :rolleyes:

As for Dice, My games are based on a percentage system, so there's only two dice needed at any given time. As for Damage and initiative its all based off of the stats you are using.. that cuts down my paperwork immensely



Ezrandi

twesterm
05-18-2007, 02:19 AM
I've tried running games with stacks and stacks of paper and notebooks and I've tried running games mainly with my laptop and I must say I love the tools on my laptop.

I made my own monster manual program (lets me add and easily pull up monsters and custom monsters), an initiative program (lets me reroll initiative for everything every round, puts a fun twist on things), easier to keep track of story and player progress, and a spreadsheet for player experience that itemizes by player and breaks everything down nicely.

Also, I've found having battle music really helps things. It started as a joke with playing Final Fantasy battle music in the background but I've found that it really helps keeps players focused, especially in those larger and longer battles.

Moritz
05-18-2007, 08:56 AM
I just want a room in my house for my HO scale trains.

Farcaster
05-18-2007, 12:08 PM
Also, I've found having battle music really helps things. It started as a joke with playing Final Fantasy battle music in the background but I've found that it really helps keeps players focused, especially in those larger and longer battles.

My group likes Mortal Combat during fight scenes, and if I put on Gladiator and play "Fields of Wheat," they get really nervous. ;)

Ed Zachary
05-18-2007, 12:38 PM
Funeral for a Friend by Elton John is a good way to open up a gaming session.

Another good one is Dead Ladder by Intermix... "This is your home, and you're dead... dead... dead...".

Moritz
05-18-2007, 02:32 PM
how about:

South Park Dead, Dead, Dead Lyrics


Dead, Dead, Dead, someday you'll be dead
Dead, Dead, Dead, someday we'll all be dead.
The minute we're born, we start dying,
We die a little more every day..
Young or old, rich or poor,
There's nothing we can do to stop it..
So look long at that Christmas tree,
It may be the last one that you see..
Decorate your house in green and red,
'cos someday you'll be dead..

Dead, Dead, Dead, someday you'll be dead
Dead, Dead, Dead, someday we'll all be dead.
It might happen in a couple months
Or 50 years from now..
But no matter when it happens
It will seem too soon to you..
So be sure on Christmas eve
When you snuggle into bed..
That you thank God for your family
'cos someday they'll be dead..

Dorquemada
05-28-2007, 09:53 PM
I find that, as a GM, using a laptop is very helpful just so I don't have to print out portraits of every NPC. I have one player who routinely breaks out his laptop during games, but a well-placed combat wakes him up in short order.

Something that I really like about my Lenovo is its Peer-to-Peer functionality, which allows me to send files, chat, and whiteboard with other Lenovos on the wireless network.

My group is probably heading toward the days of everyone playing from a laptop, but I don't think that anything will ever replace good old miniatures and dice.

Incidentally, this is my preferred dice receptacle:
http://paizo.com/store/gameAids/storage/diceStorage/v5748btpy7cl8&source=search

Moritz
05-29-2007, 09:24 AM
In all reality, I find using my laptop, or anyone else using a laptop, just adds to the distraction of the game.

Ed Zachary
05-29-2007, 09:30 AM
Speaking of unwanted distractions, anyone else ban cell phones from being on during the game?

Moritz
05-29-2007, 09:41 AM
Ya know, cell phone banning has never come up or been an issue. The biggest issues I've ever had are kibbitizing and screaming children running through the room.

Ed Zachary
05-29-2007, 10:11 AM
I have a cat that likes to sit on my character sheet and roll dice for me.

He also likes to attack miniatures. That once led to me as DM attacking the party with a 100 HD cat.

Farcaster
05-29-2007, 12:01 PM
Speaking of unwanted distractions, anyone else ban cell phones from being on during the game?

Oh, but have I wanted to sometimes! :rolleyes: