Tuesday, July 05, 2011

A Laptop In Play (and a Cool Generator)

I brought my laptop to last Saturday's Slaying Solomon session. This used to be a common practice for me but lately I've been getting by quite well with old-school paper notes. I transitioned to analog mostly because I found that I was over-preparing for my sessions. If I knew I'd have the ability to view word files and spreadsheets and other assorted tools during play then I'd often spend more time generating overly detailed episode plans, write-ups of NPCs, and too-pretty maps.

But I do miss having the power of the Internet at my fingertips. On a whim, I hauled along my work laptop to the game and queued up several pages from the Slaying Solomon website (keeping track of continuity can be a bitch in a 7+ year campaign). I also immediately began using various tools and generators. Besides the Kleimo name generator (essential for games set in modern America), I also quickly realized that I needed a good way to generate awesome arcane tomes. Enter the donjon! There are many excellent generators available to our community (Chaotic Shiny and Seventh Sanctum come to mind), but I stumbled upon the donjon's fantastic tome generator with an "oh shit, I need an evil book" Google search. This and other useful generators can be found on the index page, which is much more comprehensive than the list of tools on the site's sidebar.

Anyway, consider this your "tip for Tuesday".


Greg Christopher said...

To me, the only drawback can be getting my wireless running once I am on site. I worry that the internet will be down and that will f-up my game.

GeneD5 said...

Very timely! I recently posted those and similar links: http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/DnD3VanishedLands/message/9447.

GeneD5 said...

I've had to ban laptops from my face-to-face games because they and smartphones proved to be a constant distraction to some role-players. As a Game Master, I do miss having numerous references at my fingertips.

On the other hand, it's best to keep computers away from clumsy players' drinks, and I try to keep my most frequently referenced notes and books handy.

drow said...

that's what an index is FOR :)

Risus Monkey said...

@Greg: My laptop would have ceased to be useful had the wireless gone out at our play site.

@Gene: I haven't had to ban laptops, but I can totally see why it would be necessary for some groups.

@drow: Of course. But I arrived at the tome generator directly through Google and was puzzled when I didn't see it in the sidebar. Then I noticed the index.

Dangerous Brian said...

I don't allow players to bring their laptop or phones to the table (except for the party note-taker, if a player is willing to step up to the bat in that regard).

I do however, keep most of my rulebooks as pdfs and use my notebook at every game I run and play. That way, I have every single reference I need to hand (and don't have to break my back carrying them all).

Honestly, these days I can't imagine running a game without it.

Guy Hoyle said...

I didn't know about donjon. It has a lot of resources I remember from years ago that I thought had disappeared forever!

Does it say anything about me that, when I first heard about iPads, I thought, "I can use that for gaming!"

Risus Monkey said...

@Dangerous Brian: My players are pretty cool about the computers and don't get too distracted. And for games when I don't have my laptop, I can always rely on them to Google stuff for me (mostly historical trivia that is relevant to the game).

@Guy: Same here. That's why I know that I'll be getting an iPad at some point. it would be now if it weren't for the rumor of a new model come September.