Tabletop in the Digital age.
Pen and paper RPGs, the time honoured tradition of writing up a character, scribbling your notes on the back and letting your imagination take you on a journey. How have things changed in a digital age? What was that NPC’s name? You know you wrote it down somewhere? What did they look like? What’s the next step in the adventure? Where are the clues you have already discovered going to take the plot?
Who am I? I am a Game Master, a storyteller, a weaver of narratives and tormentor of players. I’ve been running games for the better part of a decade now and the character journey is one I’ve consistently tried to perfect in my stories, both as a player and Game Master. When I see a new character I want to know them and for them to learn about themselves. It’s through this looking glass of Character interactions that I find the most value a GM can have for their players, as this, by far, is the most challenging aspect of being a Game Master. Dungeons & Dragons has always been, for me at least, a game about friends, connections and an excuse to hang out with people in their busy lives. Connections in the game are some of my most treasured memories, which have made lasting experiences for life, from my ‘sister’ in a Game of Thrones game, or the friends I made as a spooky changeling. The interactions and characters evolved through what was expressed about the world around them/ Which makes any Tabletop RPG game a pretty special space to play in.
When Ardent Roleplay was started, the goal was to create something that brought a greater sense of the worlds you play in. We weren’t content to simply create another Augmented Reality viewer but something you, as a Game Master, was able to feed life into your game like never before. But Ardent Roleplay isn’t the only digital tool for your Game Master Arsenal. Here’s a few to help you out.
There’s Syrinscape, a system of sound effects encounters, music and ambience for encounters and combat is an excellent example of digital already affecting your tabletop experience. It creates a value for your players and helps flesh out the Game Master’s descriptions in a way which is both simple and direct for any game you are already playing in.
Cloud-based documentation via Google Drive is also a great tool for Role-playing. I was playing a Wizard in pathfinder level 7 (You know how it is for those which have played one) My spell book was full and referencing all the spells I had at my disposal was difficult, however referencing them with hyperlinks and having my gear all laid out for combat in a google document was a huge time saver instead of 2 minutes searching reading and referencing the book it was all connected through the Piazo Prd. Previously I was the guy who always hogged the book, referencing my abilities and spells and what was next and how to make what my character concept was going to evolve into as the games progressed. In a sense, the digital world and tabletop being on and the same path is not a matter of if but really a matter of when.
So where does Ardent Roleplaying and the projects we are working on with 89 Friends fall into this? Well, we are building a digital toolset for you designed for the Game Master’s among you to engage your players. Enhancing descriptions, incentivising your characters to share their information in a very real way through the use of Augmented Reality. AR viewers allow you to see what your GM is trying to describe, and these have their place in the evolution of the tabletop experience but Ardent takes that concept and runs that extra mile and allows for individual’s to see a something only they have access to viewing. If you are a Wizard or spell-caster in a fantasy game, stretch your abilities of magical sight and see the wards and magic in the scene you find yourself in. If you are the Rogue see the Traps lurking just under the perception of those not keen enough or not experienced as your character might be in the game to avoid the pitfalls to be caught off guard.
The creation of digital media is going to continue to support the existing structure of your tabletop, whether that’s through applications like Syrinscape, Ardent Roleplaying or even something as simple as a Google document. The argument for whether this enhances or detracts from your engagement in the game is something purists will debate, and the ‘no phone at the table’ rule is something which can really work for some. Though as new players join, their focus will be on how to maximise convenience and engagement with their story experience through the digital medium. Making it a part of the game you’re engaging with will keep you involved and create more of those experiences you’ll hold onto keeping them as images and moments with friends.