Now it’s the 21st century, and classic games like Dungeons and Dragons and Shadowrun are still kicking. The fanbase continues to grow as we, the pioneers, pass our interests down to our kids and help Ted from accounting find his inner half-elf barbarian. The games we love are now even going digital. Where three books and a spiral bound notebook were needed, now we just have laptops. Recently I got an iPad, which is mostly used for surfing on the couch, but on the weekends it helps me keep my characters straight with some neat websites and applications for the modern gamer who prefers to travel light.
Dungeons and Dragons Interactive was launched abreast of Wizard’s newest rule revision to its flagship RPG system. For a monthly fee you get access to weekly magazines giving players and dungeon masters more ideas for monsters and new abilities. Along with that feature, the program also gives you access to the online character creator. As the name suggests, this gem will assist you in the creation of your newest character, but it doesn’t stop there. The program will help you keep track of your various stat bonuses in case math wasn’t your strongest subject. The Interactive service also includes an easy to search compendium that will help you navigate game information quickly, allowing you to spend more time playing and less time trying to find a damage chart for a vorpal sword.
Iplay4e is a Google based character sheet that works with your ddi profile. The site has fields helping you track your health and other often changing stats, all without smudging your character sheet. Iplay4e also has a mobile version so if you grabbed the wrong character sheet you have a virtual back up on your smart phone.
But what about story? Has all this technological advancement not helped us improve this important part of roleplaying? If that’s your question, Obsidian Portal is your answer. The Portal allows parties and game masters to set up wiki pages for their adventure that include places for art, character bios and a message board. You could set up a page for each session to help keep your crew on the same page. You also have the options of checking out other campaigns for more ideas.
Drivethru RPG offers another service that will help keep your game fresh. This site is a store where you can buy PDFs with adventures and rulebooks for dozens of system including White Wolf’S World of Darkness,and Catalyst’s MechWarrior and Shadowrun. All of which can be easily printed out or uploaded to a smart phone to read on your lunch breaks or help guide you through an adventure.
As we get older, one thing that we really can’t control is distance from our friends. Sometimes its really hard to get 5 people together with jobs, wives, and kids in the same room at the same time. Now with programs like Skype, Google Plus and FaceTime distance is no longer the foe it once was. There’s nothing like getting together with you buddies but, teleconferencing players together can help bridge the gap and let you roll in with a full party.
Tabletop gaming is still alive and kicking. It’s changing in ways we didn’t anticipate, but I like the idea that with a laptop or tablet we can still play the games we love with the people we care about. Not to mention it gives us an excuse to play with new toys.