Technology at the gaming table

When I first got involved in role playing back in 2005 gaming consisted of getting together with a group of people and rolling dice. The DM/GM/ST had a spiral notebook or 3 ring binder in which was all the necessary information to tell great stories about vampires. I began my DMing career in the same style.

At some point I began using my laptop to organize NPCs, making them a bit easier to reference quickly during the game. I eventually came across a few useful programs that were made for Vampire: the Masquerade and increased my dependence upon technology at the gaming table.

After some frustration with the combat system of V:tM, and nearly every other White Wolf product past and present, I made the switch to Dungeons and Dragons v3.5. Switching to 3.5 dramatically increased the amount of information that was required to stat out NPCs and the perceived need for using a computer to manage it all grew. The vast number of online tools such as dice rollers, XP calculators, encounter calculators, monster filters, random loot generators, etc. got me even more hooked on using the computer because there were just so many toys.

Recently, I have found that I was spending far more time fighting with spreadsheets and word documents than I was actually planning for my games. Sure this looks really cool, but how much prep time is required to get that map set up with 1 monster put down? I switched back to a plain old 70 page college ruled spiral bound notebook, the only things I use my computer for is to track initiative, to quickly look up monsters or disputed rules in the SRD, and to softly play music that meshes with the setting I am running.

I have a few players who use their laptops during games and it seems to create a lot of distraction. This Friday I’m going to ask that everyone put away their electronic devices, hopefully that will alleviate some of the distraction issues that I have been having .

How has technology benefited or hindered your groups?

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~ by katallos on October 22, 2009.

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