Category Archives: RPG tools

Preparing for the Mass Effect game (Part 1)

Usually I don’t do much in the way of preparation and rely on my improvisation skills. But with the upcoming Mass Effect game I want to stray from my usual path. The Mass Effect computer game has a strong background setting and interesting characters, but also great visuals. To make good use of the game’s visuals I plan to rely on player handouts a lot. Why describe the interiors of the characters’ spaceship when you can show them images and a deckplan? Instead of describing what a NPC looks like you can easily provide them with an image. Being able to show the players maps of the planets they explore definitely helps with immersion into the game world and is fun. There’s also the added benefit that I finally can put tools like ProFantasy’s Campaign Cartographer 3 (plus the Cosmographer 3 addon) and Fractal Terrains to good use.

Today I had the idea to use TCG-like cards as handouts for my players. I could probably even create cards that not only include an image of the NPC/location/item/etc. but also include the game stats as well. While it would be possible to create such cards in a graphics or DTP program, I’ve decided to use the free Magic Set Creator. The MSE is pretty easy to use and is almost perfectly suited for what I had in mind. Here are a few cards I created earlier:

Ashley Williams Omega_ C-Sec Customs Officer

The first two cards are pretty simple. They provide the players with an image of the NPC or location respectively and a few lines of background information. The third card is an attempt to include all the stats needed to use the NPC in play. While I managed to squeeze everything onto the card, the result is not that great. But overall I like the idea of using TCG-style cards as player handouts. They are easily created and help to bring Mass Effect’s visuals to the gaming table.

What are your thoughts on my idea? Do you think it’s worth the effort? As always I am very interested in reading your comments. Feel free to post your ideas, criticism and advice in the comments below!

The Pathfinder Reference Document Updated (And a few other things!)

PathfinderIf you are a Pathfinder RPG fan you might already know this because Paizo has been very good at announcing it via social media and RPG new outlets have covered it, but just in case this is the one source of RPG news you read, and we can’t criticize your for your impeccable taste, I’m writing this post.

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Reference Document has been updated yet again! I have to commend Paizo for keeping their reference document current and making it a real tool for gamers on the digital edge. For me the reference document does not substitute the actual book, PDF, on in many cases both. The books have more details and explanations; of course illustrations, “fluff”, and I still prefer reading the information from the book. But to a digital Game Master it is an excellent tool.

I don’t run adventures at home so my space to transport books is at a premium. I have to choose what to take and having so much content available online is probably what makes running Pathfinder so easy for me. So what’s new? The content for the NPC Codex has been added, the stat blocks, not the specific NPCs for each stat block (and they make getting the book in print of PDF worth it!) as well as information from the Advanced Races Guide integrated into the indexes. Oh the indexes! The various indexes make it possible to sort through the ever growing number of spells, feats and magic items. Some people are overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices in Pathfinder but tools such as this make it much easier to run the game!

(That and Hero Lab, Perram’s Spellbook,these tools are integral parts of my electronic toolbox, but I digress…)

I also regularly use the Pathfinder SRD, it contains much of the same content as the Pathfinder RD, but organized differently, and the SRD includes 3rd party content, not on the official Paizo document. I typically have both open during games and switch from these online tools to my own home grown tools, such as my Excel campaign journal and work tool, an Excel encounter calculator, the campaign Facebook page and Google site. But the Pathfinder Reference Document is the center of all this madness, the most useful tool I have for my weekly game.

I’ve written about the updates before, and hope that Paizo continues to do this. It shows the commitment they have with their fan base, kudos to all the talented and hardworking people who work on my favorite fantasy RPG.

Ask The Readers: Gaming-related Android apps?

Android Logo Since I own an iPhone (and later an iPad) I’ve looked for ways to use these devices at the gaming table. Over the last years a lot of gaming-related apps have been released for iOS, from apps providing you with background music and environmental sounds, dice rollers, iniative trackers and map creation tools. Nowadays I mostly use my iPad at the game table to a) view PDFs and b) play background music on it. But iOS is only one of the popular smartphone operating systems out there.

I also recently decided that my next phone will be an Android device, so I am looking for interesting Android apps that can be used around the game table. Alas I haven’t followed the Android scene that closely in the last years, so I ask our readers for help. What are your favorite gaming-related Android apps? What are your experiences with using Android devices at the game table? As always any comment is highly appreciated!