Club Facilities Discussion
We recently had a discussion as to what changes would be worth implementing at the club to make the gaming better. Mike Willis recently spent time down at the club putting up additional shelving and boxing then labelling terrain. This is itself was a great help finding specific items of scenery.
Then I was asked what I thought may be a good idea, so I replied
After Mike and Kevin had finished looking at me with a strange almost surreal confused expression on their faces I elaborated.
What I want to do is bring digital role playing into the club’s social space. That sounds a bit fancy but what I mean is to blend the technology available to Internet based roleplayers with software like Roll20 and mix it with a face to face table top experience.
Why you may ask?
A fair question! –
Well if you have ever run a pen and paper roleplaying game you will understand the issues involved in managing the all the aspects of play; the story, the players, the resources, the monsters, the maps, and the figures if you use them. It can be a lot to deal with, but to some that very challenge is what makes being a games master all the more enjoyable and rewarding. Speaking personally though what I never enjoyed was hand drawing maps on a large battle grid or arranging what tiles we should use for a particular map, and solving the puzzle of which bit goes where.
It becomes even more difficult when you try to reproduce a map provided with a published module as module designers assume you own the map pack they have used or expect you to buy it to recreate their adventure. It is rare to find a module that uses simple graph paper dungeons any more.
Even when you are lucky enough to have the right sizes, shapes, and colour of map tiles for the adventure you have to stop for 20 minutes while the map is built. Or you spend hours of your time and money preparing and storing the maps in advance for use on the day, which can cause more problems if multiple maps use the same terrain pieces.
I personally have tried everything from printing the maps in advance and laying them out covered with black paper, to casting my own plaster mould dungeons and and building the scene as the party moves forward with walls and room appearing as the group edge ever onward.
None of the methods I described really make it easy for me to run my campaigns and they all require money spent on ink, paper, plaster, paint, glue etc etc.
So what would be the advantage to merging these two worlds into one?
Well most if not all the adventures I run are published and come with beautifully prepared maps. and for the ones I run which are not published I use on-line sources like Wizardawn to create a unique random map from thousands of Geomorphs. In effect all my roleplaying games have ready to use maps available, the issue is that normally I’me the only one who sees them.
What my players see is my crudely drawn facsimile of the dungeon area or wilderness location they are travelling. My plan is to combining a scanned version of the map scaled to the size of 1″ to 5ft with a full HD 40″ TV Flat screen I can then let the players move their figures across the image as though I had reproduced it faithfully on the tabletop.
I can also use the built in speakers in the TV to create an ambiance in the room befitting the scene in the adventure. Roll20 is free software that not only allows you to create all the maps and music in advance for an adventure but also includes dynamic lighting effects, this means for example if you move your character forward your light source will follow you illuminating the passageway as you go. This particular feature is not free though and we have not tried it yet but I have seen videos with it in use and its amazing.
The Project is Planned
So once a case for the table upgrade was made and accepted we needed to build it, I was tasked with sourcing the TV screen and the Perspex to protect it from the figures and table cover we planned on building. Mike Willis took on the challenge of redesigning the table to house the screen and build it, and Kevin Haynes agreed to do the electrical work and build a power block with HDMI inputs for the sound and video connectivity.
The screen cost us £270, is is 40″ Flat screen 1900 x 1080 resolution, the perspex cost £30.00 the wood cost around £56.00 and the electrics cost approx £10.00. Mike had the wood cut to size, borrowed a circular saw for the smaller cuts and set to work building the table, I have put a bunch of the pictures taken in the building process below.
As the project develops I will post more and more images then at the end I will post a video of the table in use.
I quick look at the table with the screen embedded and revealed for the first time!
Here is a brief video using the screen in a recent AD&D session the adventurers are making their way through the Hoole marshes in Keoland to confront a giant crocodile when they meet three smaller versions in a random encounter