By - February 19, 2015 - 2 Comments

A tale of two fund drives »

dWteI-1Crowdfunding whether from Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or GoFundMe is the new way to make dreams happen.  But its not just passing the digital hat, it’s involving people in the process.  Believers become backers who become beta testers.  And then they become supportive consumers before ultimately (hopefully) fans.

Right now there is an RPG Rennaissance even bigger than the d20 era.  If you ever wanted to have an adventure or sourcebook or even a rule set published, now you can.  Assuming you’re both good at your ideas as well as good as getting those ideas noticed. There have been 622 RPG projects in ‘Tabletop Games’ just in Kickstarter. Currently 29 are actively live and 377 were successfully funded.

DungeonMastering.com is fortunate to have writers who have been involved in getting their ‘gaming baby’ born via crowdfunding; Pure Steam a unique steampunk setting designed for Pathfinder.  It was called “THE definitive steampunk resource for Pathfinder, 4.5 stars” by an expert named Endzeitgeist and that was his 1,700th review so he truly knows what the frak he is talking about.  We’re looking to see if the Pure Steam team can write more about that process, as beneath every DM is an aspiring (wanna-be) game designer.  Moreover they’re actually going to be running yet another Kickstarter in the next month to help create a new Western expansion (Pure Steam Wild West) for their setting.

But we’re here today to talk about 2 other fund raising efforts, both polar opposites.  The first is for a card game called Exploding Kittens, and if you haven’t heard of it yet then you will. Even more than Cards Against Humanity, this “kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette” has an absurd amount of support. 200,000+ backers pledging $8.4 million dollars. That’s Million million. For Orcus’ sake they’ve left 54,000 comments! This is the 50 Shades of Grey of games. I have no idea how good either the cards or the movie will be but I fully expect to be seeing both at some point.  And if you hurry, you can too- drive is still on through 02\19@9pm. Leave the Shades movie for a rental.

Now contrast all that incredible record-breaking raising (Exploding Kittens is literally the 2nd most funded project in the history of Kickstarter; chew on that for a moment) with an effort to help a sick gamer, via the awesome folks at d20pfSRD:

A fellow gamer needs a liver transplant and you might be able to help. We’re having a 50% off sale and donating the proceeds to his GoFundMe fundraiser. Click More details to see the info or “Ok Got it” to go about your bbidness

The gamer’s name is Joe Flores and he lives in Myrtle Beach, SC- land of the mini golf courses. He’s hoping to get just $5,000 to help him cover travel and medical expenses associated with the life-saving procedure he’s been approved for.  In 6 days, 50 people have raised $1,400ish. Not exactly a record. And it’d be nice to change that.

Here’s the link to buy good gaming stuff for this good cause:

http://shop.d20pfsrd.com/collections/d20pfsrd-com-publishing

Again, through 03/13 all proceeds go to Joe. “Goooo Joe!” [GI-Joe theme song] PLUS if you spend $20, you’ll get a free PDF from 14 titles ranging from wands to fighters to Evil. Lastly and perhaps most awesomely, thanks to a ‘Multi-Vendor Special’ you can also get a bundle of 18 (EIGHTEEN) titles for a measley $10!!

But lest you think the purpose of this piece was solely a guilt trip aimed at pulling your heart strings enough to get some of you to open your wallets for an impulse purchase with the added bonus of helping a man in need, fear not.  For there is a lesson in this Tale of 2 fund drives. And that is, quite simply, that if you are ever going to make a game, make a game that somehow has comical cats.  Why? Because there are at least 8 million reasons to.

 

And also, frak terminal diseases.

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By - February 7, 2015 - 2 Comments

Playing D&D with football fans »

72d656aad53034590068069ad86943d930b08fea15c651956c7e625d062b61d1At DungeonMastering we CRAVE comments.  It’s the best way to give feedback & let us know how we’re doing.  We need you to tell us what you don’t like and what you don’t.  Case in point, our piece about lessons from the latest Super Bowl drew a serious rebuttal from one reader, Marcus.  Remembering the adage ‘for every customer who bothers to complain, 26 other customers remain silent,’ with a few dozen others who felt the same as Marcus, responding via article format seems best.  So here we go…

1. “Cheating at D&D is a problem when someone is bothered by it. Most of the time my group is so much more concerned with story telling, fuzzy math is ignored.” The story is indeed important.  But D&D is a game that completely originated from & still revolves around those funny-shaped dice.  There are plenty of other RPGs out there who are ‘dice light’ to use a term.  Heck, there are even games which are completely, totally 100% diceless: Amber, Dread, Everway, Marvel Universe, Nobilis, to name drop.  But if you’re playing Dungeons & Dragons the assumption is, based on the inherent design of D&D itself, that there’s going to be a lot of rolling and a lot of number crunching.  While you could hack down into a barebones d20 clone, there are other games which focus more on storytelling using mechanics such as from a bidding process for resolution to spending tokens to determine truths to literally not having a GM.  Granted, these games are a lot smaller than D&D to the point of being classified as ‘indie’ (as in ‘independent’ not as in, ‘the guy named after the dog.’)  But if you want true story-based, then smaller is better.

What I’m getting at is that for D&D the system to matter, than the numbers that drive that system should matter; they should be as accurate as possible.  And if they really don’t matter in your group, and your numbers are usually off from where they actually should be, than why are you guys playing D&D?  Why not use a much simpler engine to run your fantasy game?  By the way- this is all responding to the Fuzzy Math argument.  I’m going to assume that every DM is 100% against their players purposefully cheating.  If not, please stop reading and go Mod your Xbox.

2. “It’s far more productive to talk about WHY someone got emotional than instituting a zero tolerance policy on outbursts. What if they’re actually facing a legitimate tragedy, and so they got angry about something trivial? Talking without listening is not good group management.” Technically what I was suggesting was actually a 2-strike policy- true zero tolerance is a One And Done, usually involving a school administrator over reacting to a young child bringing/saying something harmless yet still seen as a serious weapon/threat.  So what I’m advising is that if someone has an emotional outburst, then its immediately talked about and through this process they’re hopefully helped.  If not, then they most likely need to take time away from the group to get things sorted out, and can possibly rejoin when their life has gotten back to normal.  Better for them that they focus on their personal issues, better for the rest of the group, and the game overall.

This of course assumes that they’re socially adjusted enough to actually care they’re seriously impacting the enjoyment of everyone else.  Again, I think we need to use some common sense to distinguish between a player who is going through a rough time versus one whose personality is such that they cause constant disruptions.  DMs should not deal with drama; we’re game masters, not therapists however if someone in you know (around your table or not) needs help with a crisis you should direct them to professional assistance: 1.800.273.8255

3. “Nothing will cause a group to fire their GM faster than a TPK-finale to a long running campaign. If it looks like the group is going to bite it, that’s a great opportunity to take a time out and figure out what the group wants to do as story tellers. Maybe they plan their escape, instead, maybe there’s a deus ex machina that let’s them survive, but underscores their failure; there are more ways of dealing with a hard battle than mass player death and deciding together can make every member of the group feel more involved.”  As they say,  you can’t be fired from a job you don’t want.  If I was running a game which had a TPK (Total Party Kill) finale and the player’s were going to just quit and go home because of how the end went down, then frankly it wasn’t a good fit anyways.  To be clear, I’m not advocating wanton wipeouts for the sake of declaring ‘victory’ and I want to pimp slap DMs who brag about their kill stats as if it’s a sort of badge of honor.  But come on, time outs?  Huddles?  Do overs?  Save that stuff for football.

There’s actually a ton more we could write about the important issue of TPKs, so much so, that its going to require its own separate article.  Meanwhile, what do the rest of you think: how do YOU handle cheating?  Have to deal with any disruptive players?  Join in and let Marcus and I know.

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By - February 3, 2015 - 5 Comments

Cheating, unsportsmanlike conduct, & bad play calling: lessons for D&D from Super Bowl XLIX »

Now that the 49th Super Bowl has become the most watched show in television history (you lose yet again, M*A*S*H series finale from 1983) it’s time to look back at it from the vantage point of being behind a DM screen.   Or, how can the latest Big Game help your D&D games?  The short answer is, actually a lot.  But here’s the 3 biggest ways.

Super Bowl FootballEven a whiff of cheating can make a game stink: This year there was controversy even before kickoff, and not from the usual off field, WIL Save-failed shenanigans.  Allegations that the Patriots had been playing with underinflated balls became a scandal funnily referred to as Deflategate.  The reason being, less full balls are easier to grip.  {we at DungeonMastering.com are not going to bother making an innuendo from this low hanging fruit}  In any case, one test said 11 out of 12 playoff pigskins were below the league PSI minimum.  However, another report completely contradicted this saying only ONE of them was below the minimum.  Whatever the end result, just the suggestion of impropriety will leave a taint of scandal.  In RPG’s, cheating is common than we’d care all to admit.  And whether from ‘fuzzy math’ or outright changing the number rolled it taints the game.  FIX IT BY: insist that any official dice roll is only counted if rolled in a dice tray, and that the dice must be left there until all calculations have been finalized.  You even have the right to refuse the use of dice that are too small or too hard to read; i.e. those psychedelic ones.  And be wary of polyhedrons that have purposefully been rigged…

imgres-1Craptastic conduct deserves more than a flag: XLIX featured a few cases of ungentlemanly behavior that ranged from ‘juvenile taunting’ to ‘Wow, that’s gross.’  (Not to mention a brawl.) Suggestion to professional athletes- save showboating until afterward, because before that whistle blows, anything excessive could result in a penalty and maybe even cost you the W.  But sadly enough, jocks aren’t the only ones who can be imbeciles during games.   Whether with name calling, yelling, tantrums, or even table flipping us geeks can hold our own in the Dick Department.  And these outbursts can quickly become recurring episodes.  FIX IT BY: Nip outright misbehavior right in the bud.  The very first time somebody sitting around your table- and make no mistake, while behind the screen it is your table- pulls a juvenile stunt, stop everything.  Call for the session’s end to show that you’re serious.  Then on the boards or over group email, publicly say what was wrong, why it was wrong, and state how that’s the last time it will be tolerated.  Then stick to your guns.  If it happens again, demand the offending player be booted or say you’ll leave yourself.  Like nuking a site from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure the entire group doesn’t become corrupted by childishness.

imgres-2Pick power plays: Ever notice how if a coach makes an unorthodox call and it succeeds, they’re a genius.  But if that same call falls short they’re a bonehead? Part of that is just the nature of winning versus losing, and where the buck stops although sometimes you have to wonder what the heads under the headsets are thinking.  In this Superbowl the losing coach is being blamed for the play selection of their Offensive Coordinator: a slant pass route from the 1 yard line on 2nd and goal instead of a running play with the guy known as ‘Beast Mode.’  Now, there have been some analysis that this choice wasn’t the fault of the offense but rather how the defense managed the clock.  And that even Beast Mode isn’t that beastly when going from the 1 yard line.  However, let’s translate this scenario to D&D terms.  The PC’s opponents look to be with striking distance of victory.  They’ve driven the party back, looking to steal their success. But rather than use the obvious attack- the primary attack- despite being totally in advantage, the villains suddenly shift to a subterfuge strategy.  Imagine a dragon electing to not fire its breath weapon instead doing a tail slap on a cornered threat.  Wouldn’t. Happen. FIX IT BY: Go hard or go home.  If a Bad Guy is giving the PCs a bad day from a specific tactic, then unless their personality/backstory dictates otherwise, keep it up.  Don’t suddenly go soft.  Pound away until the bad day becomes a really bad day.  If the player’s don’t flee or at least adapt, then their doom is on them.  Not going with the tried & true when it’s clearly called for is a losing proposition for everyone; the bad guys blow a W they should have gotten, while the players get one they know they didn’t deserve.  After all, the whole worth of a victory is that it is earned.

Sports have a lot to offer our tabletop contests, and big sports have big offerings.  Even if you aren’t a fan, consider including some of the elements from them into your D&D games.  Their lessons can be….wait for it…Super.

Watch the Big Game?  Disagree with our 3 selections?  Tell us below.

 

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By - February 1, 2015 - 3 Comments

How to have a Super Bowl for your D&D games »

The-Big-GameOn the first Sunday in February, Americans will order 12.5 million pizzas, guzzle 325.5 million gallons of beer , and eat 1.25 billion- that’s billion with a ‘B’, chicken wings.  No word on how many Potions of Pepto Bismal, although rumor has it that additionally 8 million pounds of guacamole are consumed via 15,000 pounds of chips. All of this gastronomical excess happens while watching over-sized guys in colored shirts run around on some grass.  (yes, this year there’s actual grass and I don’t mean in Seattle)  If you’d like there to be a ‘Big Game’ finale for your D&D campaign, here’s how.

Opponents that oppose: An exciting contest can’t happen against a single BBG with a few mooks.  It has to be against an effective team, with a deep ‘roster’ of NPCs and monsters.  They can all have individual motivations yet still are willing to work together towards a common goal that they want to ‘win’ at.  Model the opposing side after a real football organization: there is an offense, a defense and even a special teams. Each of these separate specialist sections has their own coach/leader who in turn report to a Head Coach.  ‘Free agents’ are mercenaries.  Fans are cultists or other supporters.  Cheerleaders are…evil version of bards?  The actual head of the entire organization is akin to a football team’s owner; a powerful patron, running everything from behind the scenes.  A great example of this setup is the structure of the various villains from the Old School classic super module, T 1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil, the lot of whom practically fill in the org chart.

Have a Halftime: When having a ‘Big Game’ in your campaign it is crucial that for reasons of dramatic tension, at a suitable stopping point there is a lengthy pause in the action.  It can anything from each side retreating a short distance away so they can re-group to several days or even longer in between the fighting.  This lull is the calm before the storm.  The chance for the players to think over what’s already happened and what could happen next.  But it’s also an opportunity to let you adjust your strategies, which can make a huge difference.  If things are heading towards TPK-town (and this is ok, even desirable to have the Players feel the heat) you can see what might swing the upcoming battle towards their overall success.  On the flip side of the coin, if Team Evil is having an off day even with some ‘roll assistance’ on your part, it’s time to change things up.  Re-look at spells, special abilities, and strategy.  If necessary reach out to other DMs via websites and ask their advice.

Serious stakes: The Super Bowl is about as big as it gets in sports competition.  (Yes, I’m ignoring you, World Cup)  Each person on the winning team each gets a payout of $97,000.  Even the losers are guaranteed a bonus check of $49,000.  And this doesn’t include endorsements or contract extensions.  Commercials cost $150K per second yet generate an estimated $10million in revenue.  Betting- both legal and otherwise- is in the billions.  Platinum pieces everywhere.  Perhaps equally important is the glory.  Fame for the winners, infamy for the losers. Just ask Scott ‘Norwide.’  Give your group something equally serious to have on the line.  It doesn’t have to be the ‘Or the World Ends’ from an occult ceremony cliche, but something important enough to make everyone sweat the outcome.  When it comes down to the final fight, make it an all-or-nothing affair.  A ‘Do or Do Not’ kind of scenario design.

So if you make a suitable team of opponents with focused positions, have a defined break in the action that causes dramatic tension before setting up the final battle, and make the end game about something worth dying over you’ll have the Super Bowl of a D&D campaign.  Ok, any other suggestions?  Did we come up with some good ideas?  Need to work on our sports metaphors?  Let us know in the comments below- or else the {insert your favorite team} won’t win.

 

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By - January 26, 2015 - 1 Comment

The Best Damn Dungeonmastering.com of 2014 »

TRENDS

“That’s a spicy meatball!” said aloud by yours truly, after going back through all the articles published on DungeonMastering.com last year.

Gaming is all about flavor. Tasting the atmosphere. Tasting the fear. Tasting the demoness’ kiss. Tasting the kiss of that steel tearing through your bowels and punching through your back as you stare in horror at your own mortality. Tasting that sweet victory while mega joules of power petrify and pulverize the side of a warship, yanking it from orbit and absently dropping it like another silly Andromadan’s treaty to the planet’s surface below.

As a game-runner, it’s all about the story with me. Numbers and pluses and negatives and bonus stacking what you’re after? If they don’t have purpose and reason and flavor, you may as well be clicking with the rest of the WoW sheep.

Sifting back through the articles of 2014, it was all about the nuances, the dive into the senses, the compelling story behind the gory that thrilled me and jazzed me for a 2015 prepared to game game game! Board games, card games, and enough dungeon crawling to have you screaming “RPG!” so much it sounds like a sequel to Blackhawk Down.

John Wick’s “Four Simple Questions was gonzo blast of refreshing ideas, a non-descript van inviting unsuspecting gamers in with his promise of candy and player involvement. He asks the simple questions, commands the whole damn table to answer, and makes no excuses in getting rid of the “me versus you” aspect of the RPG table. Taste the flavor the players actually add to the adventures own creation.

Tastes like too much firepower punching through your tanks upfront? Too bad, Chef Badass, that was the sachet you dropped in the pot.

Mythicparty helped with “Creating Better Criticals, breathing fresh life into attacks designed take both your breath and your life. Taste the fear! Fear of getting hit, fear of getting hit again. Tremble at that minor villain’s attention. The last time he hit you, your momma felt it. Taste the fear of DYING! In fact, I may be getting rid of dead-raisin’ all-together when next I manage a table. God-mode for DMs, indeed.

Colin gave us some awesome Adventure Seeds, and should be darn well encouraged to keep them coming. What? Too many adventure seeds are here already? Bull-crap. Ask my table what the words are carved on my crypt after the books are closed for good “You Can Try ANYTHING”. Instead of leading the party by the nose, using magicians tricks (Illusions, Michael…) to keep them on the right path, make them taste the freedom of an entire world, and the pain of distracting themselves with shiny objects. All the adventure seeds Colin gives you become side quests for the adventuring party left off its leash.

Embrace the red balloon floating down the street, because it may or may not lead to a sewer with a clown.

Tom is the Titan, and his Toolkit smells like fresh sawdust and possibilities. Adding the flavor of the past, the foreign, and the forgotten, makes this dish spicy and exotic. The ideas he brings with personalizing magic for certain locations or eras have been brought before, but his examples are a nice platter to partake from and can be channeled to other disciplines beyond magic. Try different flavors with feats and skills.

Finally, the four Creative Class Constructs by Paul Rehac are a generous helping of flavor damn well designed to get the most out of imagination and input from the character. Why are they like this? What skills are they looking at? Get them away from that thick, goopy pablum in the trough of min/max and have them try silicate succulence and subtle aromas specific to a character’s LIFE. Find their heroic subtleties and pad them with invention and imagination, rather than blind and meaningless bonuses. A deliberate and studious wizard rebuffs your need for Haste spells. Your finesse driven fighter feels clumsy when their strength matches that of an artless ogre.

Game-runners can add all of these flavors to the grand dish we put out on the tables, and delight our guests with for as many times a week as we invite them to dine. We want the repast to be filling without being too heavy, light yet satisfying. The best of 2014 will help make you Martha Stewart meets Monte Cook, and that’s a Chaotic Good thing.

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By - January 23, 2015 - 1 Comment

How to keep your Players even MORE focused »

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Last time we talked about a seemingly common- if admittedly annoying- issue that inevitably comes up at game tables: maintaining player attention.  Those 5 strategies were largely out-of-game methods.  So now we’re figuring out tips that will increase attentiveness through actual in-game changes.  Here we go.

Vary the batting order: D&D combat RAW (“rules as written”) has an unrealistic I go/you go/I go/you go of turn order each round.  That’s just not how fights happen.  But it has another negative impact.  Because when players get too used to when they’re supposed to be acting, they tend to tune out when it isn’t their own turn.  Although it adds more rolling to the process, try an initiative every round approach.  If you’re using a product like Hero Lab or another die roller the math is simplified a bit.  And while this breaks up what a player’s actual round will be, the chaotic nature of this better reflects actual fighting.  More importantly, it keep players on their toes since they might be going next.

Real Life Beats Rolls: Since a lot of DMs make Perception/Spot Checks behind the screen, you have the perfect opportunity to have those rolls do more than just tell if a character has seen something or not.  They can influence your games for the better.  Do this by at least partly basing the outcomes on who is actually paying attention to you.  While this crosses the character vs. player line, if someone is blatantly ignoring what’s happening around the table they shouldn’t then be rewarded with a good in-game result.  This will only reinforce the negative behavior.  Instead, encourage attentiveness with those concentrating being the ones to notice things.

Hand Over the Dice:  I’m a huge- nay, Colossal- proponent of the Unearthed Arcana variant, Player’s Roll All the Dice whereby instead of a DM chucking dice behind the screen to decide if the monsters are hitting the characters, (YAWN) or saving against the player’s spells, the players themselves make checks to try to not get hit/have their magic work.  In addition to removing the Us Versus You attitude that can inevitably happen when you’re running the Bad Guys, letting them make these rolls forces them to focus.  And that’s what these articles have been about!

Pay Attention or Pay a Price: If I’m running an adventure, and my players start jabbering amongst themselves, that’s a sign that I need to shift things up.  If there hasn’t been a combat in awhile, then it’s time for a wandering encounter- perhaps initiated by a distracted player’s character literally walking into a sleeping monster.  If the party is already actually in a combat but is still not taking the battle seriously, then the real fight is against boredom.  Beat this by changing the current arrangement to regain their interest.  Introduce additional enemies/reinforcements, create an environmental/circumstantial difficulty, or add a challenge/time constraint.  Combats may not always be a matter of life and death, but they absolutely should be a matter of everyone at their battle stations.

OK, so those are some suggestions to mitigate distractions.  It seems counterintuitive that in an attempt for everyone to have fun while playing an RPG the people sitting next to you need assistance in the process.  But inevitably people require a nudge to, well, stay on target.  What do you guys think of these latest ideas?  Have any of your own to suggest?  Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading.

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By - January 18, 2015 - 5 Comments

How to keep your Players focused »

stay-on-target-500x370_zps89c28767Last Thursday my weekly D&D group for the first time in almost a month.  The holidays, some illness, and Murphy’s Law had combined to put Darkwarren’s ongoing Runelords Adventure Path campaign on a mini-hiatus.  Finally back to the table with a full group, our party of intrepid adventurers were supposed to return to assault a Stone Giant fortress.  The problem was that although it was a fun night and a good time was had by all, the evening was more Delays & Distractions then Dungeons & Dragons.  {cymbal crash} In 3.5 hours of session we barely made it through 1 encounter, and even that was simply a straightforward ‘attack-a-guard-tower.’  Too much side stuff resulted in too little story stuff.  After thinking it over, here are some suggestions I came up with to help your games keep their proper focus.

Review and Preview: Start each session reminding players what they did last time, and what they’re supposed to be doing this time around.  Come back to these prompts as necessary with Intelligence or other checks to put the goals in everyone’s mind and place everyone on the right track.  This is a teaching technique that effective educators use, and worth trying.

We’re all in this together: Successfully running an immersive RPG requires a lot of effort.  So have some help.  Share the workload by assigning some of the record-keeping and other minutiae to those on the other side of your screen.  This delegating tasks to other people not only keeps their heads in the game, it lets yours concentrate on the more important things.  If you divide the labor, you’ll conquer the boredom.

Half-time: Carve out a set break period each session, making sure to periodically inform players that this designated pause is the perfect opportunity for catching up or otherwise discussing non-game things.  When you’re ready to return to the action, begin again with another Review and Preview to both set the scene as well as return the group’s mindset to play.

Clue Them With Cues: Battle about to be joined?  Play a specific song.  (We like to use, ‘A Knife In the Dark,’ from the LotR soundtrack.)  Have a long part of the adventure to read?  Announce “Boxed Text” and train your Players to get in the habit of repeating that announcement until everyone is actively listening to what you have to read.  Going to be doing some serious role-playing? Ding a glass as if you’re about to make a toast, stand up to convey an NPC’s power, lower the lights to set the mood, etc.  Whatever helps increase drama will increase their participation.  Just send out the signals.

Leave Boring Stuff for Boards: Whether it’s arguing over dividing treasure, shopping for new gear with that divided treasure, or planning tactics, many aspects to D&D are best suited for messageboard format.  We use Obsidian Portal to handle all the ‘downtime’ and upkeep.  Lot of this bookkeeping isn’t interesting to everyone anyway, nor is it even necessary to do around the table.  So post those things that may get eyes to glaze over to stop boredom before it starts.

Ok, how’d we do with keeping your focus?  Think these tips will help you out?  Anything we miss that could assist in focusing players?  Thanks for reading and please take a moment to comment below.

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By - January 9, 2015 - Leave a comment

Apps that make your D&D games better »

We’ve previously shared a number of great deals on books, maps, miniatures, and terrain that we thought you guys would like as gift ideas for the holidays.  There were definitely a lot of cool things for your D&D games on these lists, but some of were admittedly not in the copper piece range. (of course hopefully you expect to spend a few silver on custom-made terrain, such as your personal Lothlórien)  With that in mind, we’ve complied another list.  This time of either FREE or nearly Free apps that our gaming groups use that can help out at your own tables.

imagesTinyScan Pro: “The little app that scans everything.” WHAT IT IS- an App that lets you take pics, which it then quickly transforms into PDF files.  HOW WE USE IT: Allows the DM to show parts of the adventure (map sections, NPC illustrations, item images, etc.) when we’re playing without holding the module up and awkwardly trying to cover up the stuff that still remains to be discovered.  When the PDFs are converted to JPEGs (here’s 4 ways to do that) they can easily be used with Obsidian Portal or other campaign site.  But all these PDFs need a place to be stored which leads us to…

blue_dropbox_glyph-vflJ8-C5dDropBox: WHAT IT IS- “a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Never email yourself a file again!”  HOW WE USE IT- DropBox is how our group shares things; from the telephone tree to Player’s Guides to sessions pics to actual book PDF’s.  Their app allows us to do all this via smartphones for the ultimate convenience.  In fact, we use it so much that we’re running out of room- if you’re interested in accessing a gaming library from your hand, please use our referral link: https://db.tt/OkFQ8MKc as each referral gives us both 500MB of bonus space!  Which you can use for…

imgresHero Lab character sheets: WHAT IT IS- A free viewer of Hero Lab, “award-winning character management software for RPG’s.”  If you want to give Hero Lab itself a try, The Starter Edition is free, although it only supports Paizo’s Pathfinder Beginner Box and Evil Hat’s Spirit of the Century.  HOW WE USE IT- while Hero Lab is now available for iPad (and 3 members of my group use it on their Apple devices to good effect) Android support isn’t here yet.  Luckily the Hero Lab Character Sheet app let’s us non-Steve Jobs take our characters on our Bugdroid phone.  While the character sheet doesn’t allow editing ala the full version, it still allows tracking for hit points, subdual damage, spells, Stat adjustment, etc.  Basically all the critical stuff.  It’s a great little app.  Speaking of great little apps…

imgres-1DMDJ: “DMDJ is an audio engine application that allows DMs to add environmental background themes to their D&D sessions.”  WHAT IT IS: Sound effects from Dragons to fireballs to light rain.  Or heavy rain.  Or a full-blown monsoon for that matter.  HOW WE USE IT: Environmental sound files like the bubbling from an alchemists laboratory, the crackling of a campfire, and the bustle of a village marketplace instantly set the scene.  While we’re used to having music/soundtracks in the background, actual sound effects completely add a dose of realism to the tabletop experience.

So what do you guys think- will any of these improve your games?  Know any apps that we missed?  Tell us below.

 

 

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