sweetRPG Blog

NOTES FROM UNDER THE GAME BOARD

New Technology

Posted: September 13th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

I’ve toyed with a lot of ideas regarding how to make use of digital assets, maps in particular, when running a table-top role-playing game. I like the idea of being able to place physical miniatures on the table-top. There’s something to the three-dimensional aspect of them, the physical reality. We perceive in three-dimensions. We understand spatial relationships.

However, drawing on the battle map is a bit tedious. You make some scribbles, draw some lines, and try to make your best effort (if you’re not an artist) to make the doors and other accessories look right so your players aren’t constantly asking “what’s that?” Then when the player characters move someplace that isn’t on the map, you have to either erase the map and draw the next area, or make flowchart-like connections from this hallway to that room and draw in an empty space elsewhere. And chances are that you could be using a published adventure with some really nice looking maps, or your own adventure where you’ve draw the map once already.

This is something that technology is good at. The map could be displayed on a screen or projected onto a table-top, and then adjusted positionally with ease, and if the tools are capable, lighting and fog of war could be rendered to make sure the players only see what the game master wants them to see. Alternatively, networked tools could dedicate one display for the game master, who sees everything, and other displays on desktops or tablets or a television would show what the player characters see.

This last week, Apple had one of their annual events where they announced new hardware. Rumored was a larger screen iPad, the “Pro”, which was announced with an accompanying stylus, the “Pencil”. Anticipated, and also announced was an SDK for apps for the AppleTV.

In my mind, these two products are a big deal for table-top gaming technology.

Imagine your weekly group gathered in your living room, and the game master is using an iPad to manage the encounter, both for initiative and tracking the position of all the participants. The players can see the map with tokens representing their characters on the TV. Some of them have apps on their iOS or Android devices that let help them plan their turns, submit their initiative rolls, and move their tokens on the map. The app even lets them know when their turn is coming up.


You Look Trustworthy

Posted: August 15th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Greetings, fellow adventurer!

I’ve embarked on an ambitious project with the help of some friends and family. You look trustworthy; would you like to join our adventuring group?

You see, I love technology. And I love table-top role-playing games. I’ve thought for a long time how I could use the former to make easier some of the things I do in the latter. After all, that’s what technology is for, right?

Back in high school, when I was playing 1st edition Dungeons and Dragons, I wrote a program for the Commodore 64 that would role ability scores—3d6 down the line—and determine which classes could be played given those scores. The program actually went on to choose a qualifying class and race, and create the rest of the character.

A couple of years ago, when Wizards of the Coast issued premium reprints of the 1st edition D&D books, my gaming group decided to start a new campaign using that system. We spent most of a Saturday afternoon session creating characters. One of the challenges we encountered was trying to determine the qualified class/race/gender combinations given a set of ability scores. It was a bit tedious. I thought “this would be perfect for an app”, and Counsellor was born.

A couple years before that, I built my first Mac app: an encounter manager called Proelia. There are some aspects of planning and running an encounter that are simple enough that a technological solution isn’t really necessary, but the parts that do need that help really need it. (I’d like to expand on that idea in another post.)

Apart from the app-making, I’ve been playing role-playing games since I was in junior high. I started with the Red Box Basic D&D set, and then moved to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons in high school. I found a group of friends with similar interests, and we played nearly every weekend for 3 years. Many, many years later, after meeting some friends on World of Warcraft, we decided to meet in real life (IRL FTW), and formed a D&D group, playing 3.5 edition and then 4th. We’ve experimented with a number of other systems, and are currently playing two 5th edition games and one Numenera game.

Along the way, I’ve given thought to managing character sheets, creating new characters, and tracking encounters and session using apps, web-based tools, etc. I’ve had a hard time finding something that I could settle on and that met my needs. And because I’m a programmer, I decided to tackle it myself.

What you see on this site, and what will be revealed both in the near and not-so-near future, is the work of trial and error and a lot of thinking on the topic. I’d also like to explore these topics more on this blog, and I plan to share some of our progress in a sort of development diary. I hope you’ll come along for the ride by signing up for our mailing list, trying out the apps (perhaps even participating in beta-testing), and leaving your feedback (both requests and criticism).

I’ve got my character sheet. Let’s roll initiative.