284 Innovation in RPG Delivery and Presentation

It’s “low hanging fruit” not “low lying fruit”. It’s the lowest hanging fruit on the tree, the easiest to pick. It is not the fruit you find on the ground around the tree.

Though, I bet that fruit laying on the ground is SUPER easy to pick. :wink: (admitting that you’re right)


@LaramieWall I mean a game where chapters are presented on webpages and the website combined pulls off what you need from a traditional book. In a way, if you only had D&D Beyond and learned to play without their books.

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I want PDF’s for any game or module I’m running in addition to the paper version. As to Joshua220 intuitive online game tool. They have the non-intuitive one like Fantasy Grounds. Well, non-intuitive to me, obviously Ahzad knows his stuff.

And just because, this is my review of some online platforms that I have tried.

I have tried Fantasy Ground, Tabletop Simulator, Roll20 and have been looking at Astral tabletop simulator. The systems I run are Fate based, self created, small press and D&D.

I am a bit of a Luddite and computers often leave me scratching my head. So, take the following with a grain of salt.

First up Roll20. I never got it and my computer savvy friends were not interested. So, I cannot say much about it. I use it to buy online resources like tokens.

I like Tabletop Simulator, but it is a bit clunky and non-automated. By non-automated I mean that it does not track and update stuff. I used it for maps and rolling dice. The other drawback is that everyone must own it to use it. $20-30

I have landed at Fantasy Grounds. If you, as a ref drop $120 on a\n Ultimate license then your players can play for free using the demo version. It has non-automated character sheets for Fate and Fate dice, but you have to buy the add.on. That said, it has many systems like D&D with all the automation and bells and whistles, if you like that sort of thing. Currently, I am using it for the 1983 Fantasy Trip RPG (early Steve Jackson). I ignore most of the features, because they don’t work with the system, and use it for maps and dice rolling. I am sure computer literate sorts could harness it capabilities, but not me. That said, I works the best with my buddy in Belgium so that’s what I use. Drawbacks, cost for the ref. AND this is the big one, it a was a nightmare to setup on my Mac. I walked away from it for years and used TS, but hooking it up was much easier with the mesh network I use now. Without that, I would not be using it. Finally, I will have to buy it again, at a discounted rate, when they finish their beta testing for the new edition. This is still my top choice.

As for Astral Tabletop (DriveThruRPG’s) it looks promising, but does not have all the wrinkles worked out yet. But it has a big upside. It looks like it’s good for Small Press games because it has customizable character sheets and if you pay for a subscription you get access to 2,000 maps. However, it does not work with all browsers (Safari) and the interface is awkward and freezes on me.

Oh, one last thing we use Skype for audio. Not video because it takes up screen space and is distracting. We have also used Discord occasionally and that works great too.

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True! @Sean and I prefer the lowest and easiest fruit - thus anything laying on the ground is something we key in on :slight_smile:


Echo Spook, I dropped that whatever dollars for the ultimate licence 8 years ago. I think I’ve gotten my money’s worth, so I have no problem dropping it again for the Unity version. At the time, my table (6 others) offered to split it, so that’s an option for some to offset cost.

I have no automation, as we play hackmaster, which is not supported, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a place for us to roll dice, put up maps/ pictures, and a friend and I are making a character sheet as best as we can.

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Somebody is going to be a busy boy.

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This one is a really interesting subject.

Now, I’m not a developer of any kind and have only a layman’s understanding of most of this tech but I can see all kinds of challenges and only a relatively small audience for a new (online?) publishing format for RPGs. I’d love to see it happen though!

Let’s just imagine you can get that perfect solution together that allows publishers to combine text, images, video, hyperlinks, maps, layered maps compatible with a wide range of virtual table top systems, tokens for the same, sound effects and music. How would you market it? Do you keep it for your own RPG product? (assuming you’re a publisher) That would be narrow mined and likely to lead to a more fragmented market place. Would you license it out to other publishers for a fee? Maybe, but bear in mind that many RPG ‘publishers’ are tiny, DIY operators. Would you make it freely available in the hopes of this becoming the new format and effectively replacing PDF or other ebooks? Awesome! but you then have to swallow a pretty hefty development cost!

It’s a great idea, but I suspect the cost developing the perfect solution may mean we’re stuck with PDFs for a while yet!

Incidentally Purple Sorcerer’s DCC modules are really great in PDF.
Most come with an appendix that contains stuff intended for printing: paper minis, maps (often with and without battlegrids) and handouts but it’s also relatively easy to grab images and use them to make tokens and maps for online play.


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I think you nailed it on the head there @Bruce_C. It’s not necessarily cost effective to create innovation for yourself but to open it up for others. Roll20 probably wouldn’t have been as successful if it was made solely for their homemade Roll20 RPG (on that note, didn’t they come out with their own game?). For the industry to make any dramatic steps, someone gotta make something sweet for all of us to play in.


Sort of like Valve creating Steam to distribute other publishers’ video games in addition to their own.


A quick thought after listening to Episode 284.

All the suggestions catered to players and GMs without physical challenges - what about the deaf, blind, etc participants? I recently purchased a Braille dice set. You would be astonished at the size of a Braille game book!

Audio, video, and technology requirements may actually set up walls to more and easier playing.

Still an important and interesting episode.


Damned good thoughts/insights! That would be some pretty kick-ass innovation to be able to support those gamers at that level.

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Jacob Wood runs a blog/RPG company that deals with a lot of accessibility issues and solutions in games. http://accessiblegames.biz


What was the map keeper tool Tim used in the ASSH YouTube game? I tried searching for it but I couldn’t seem to track it down. Tim and Brett both sounded positive about it. I’m trying to find something easy to use to add to my online games.

Thanks for the help.

this is the app: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/mapkeeper-net/id1373749943

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Only available for Apple.

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Once Brett put up the link I did some digging and found a version for android.


Thanks, Brett!

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I think it would be bizzare to have a blind since birth DM. They experience the world so differently and don’t have much reference for certain things. Think about the fact that color doesn’t matter to them or that they don’t have any reference for fantasy creatures beyond descriptions.

Which is why I’d go with a blind GM to run a game of fantasy characters travelling into our world. Without that bias of how things look, they can make our world seem magical compared to how sighted GMs do it.

A small detail can make a big difference in RPG delivery and presentation for some and not be noticed by others.

“Atkinson Hyperlegible font is named after Braille Institute founder, J. Robert Atkinson. What makes it different from traditional typography design is that it focuses on letterform distinction to increase character recognition, ultimately improving readability. We are making it free for anyone to use.”