Archive for the 'recession-proof gaming' Category


recap: recession-proof gaming and useful tools

C’mon – you knew this would happen sometime… so just imagine Don La Fontaine doing this voiceover!
First there was recession-proof gaming.  Then there was the sequel.  The field got opened up with no money, no time, no problem!  Then proof that the internet provides.  The search for stuff introduced pocketmods, graphic tools and yet more generators.  Then the discovery of undiscovered toys that could save you time.

Yet it’s not just about the financiapocalypse.  It’s also about making your life as games master easier – whether you have a game in sixty minutes, need some steampunk or use kanban to help you develop characters.  Add useful web 2.0 tools, browser tricks and TiddlyWiki, mindmapping and writing tools and you have an arsenal to draw on when creating a game. With resources like these, it’s getting easier to make the game you want to play.


recession-proof gaming VI: the undiscovered toys

The financiapocalpyse is dragging it’s feet.  So if you’ve used up all the other materials, here’s some more stuff for you to peruse and play with.

Free games

For those of you who fancy a bit of sci-fi goodness, there’s steampunk alt.history courtesy of Broken Gears (which uses a d12 resolution system).  As it’s Hallowe’en soon, the classic Witchcraft RPG is an intriguing one-shot or go for 44: A Game of Automatic Fear – a fast game of robot replicants and 1950s paranoia. 

If you need a system to hang your setting from, try the Tri-Stat dX system or the PDQ Core System while story gamers wanting something different may try the No Dice RPG PDF that uses cards in various ways to power a system limited only by your imagination.

Scaldcrow Games have a page of random generators (I like the abominations and town details) that can provide rapid inspiration. RPGInspiration provide another page of random generators (from Greek city-state names to orcish hunting parties and sci-fi soldiers).  Dingle Games has a 3.x edition NPC generator that will save plenty of time for the harried DM.

Web Tools
For no frills building mapping, Small Blue Printer is good as it can do isometric and 3D perspectives but if you want full layout use Autodesk’s Project Dragonfly.  Both are intuitive interfaces and easy to print out.

Re:Subj is an e-mail-based group discussion tool almost perfect for play-by-email.  It uses public, threaded e-mail conversations to structure the information provided, works with any e-mail client and doesn’t need any registration.  Information is sent by invitation and there’s some healthy development in the works.

And if you need a fire & forget web page, then take a look at DinkyPage – create a one-shot page which you can customise to your heart’s content.  Abusive content, malware and phishing is not welcome but if you need to put something out quickly you could do much worse.


recession-proof gaming V: the search for stuff

Times are hard – when faced with this kind of situation, you can either put the children out to beg for tobacco (as these people did) or you can game your cares away.  Not only is gaming healthier for you and your family but the links in this post also have no cost to you beyond using a computer and your printer.  Those kids don’t look happy about the prospect…

Character Sheets – RPGSheets has sheets for a lot of available systems.  If you’re a 4E player, then you likely already have the official 4E character sheet.  Then again, you could visit Dragon Avenue.

Graphics – Online graphic manipulation is getting more prevalent. Big Huge Labs in particular has some very neat tools that allow effects, badge making, trading card making, photocubes (a.k.a really big dice) and lots more.  Also there are timesinks like motivational posters and Flickr tools.

PDFs – Printing PDFs is easy.  Re-arranging pages and editing is a little trickier but there are still sites and apps out there for free.  I can vouch for PDFTK and PDFTK Builder.  For a web-based version take a look at MergePDF or PDFEscape.

PocketMod – A one-page disposable PDA (in the manner of Hipster PDAs).  The original site isn’t so active so the torch was taken by re:PocketMod with online and offline flavours.  A Word template can be found here but I’ve found custom mods can be made using Scribus.  More on that later…

Random Generators – A nice selection of 3.x edition-friendly tools can be found at donjon. Grognard DMs who like 0e and who are in a hurry will appreciate the Moldvay Dungeon Generator.  For random names take a look at’s RPG tools and for cyberpunk plots take a look here.

Bonus PocketMod level: Here’s a couple of custom mods I’ve done using Scribus and converted into PDF for general use.   A five-room dungeon planner (based on Johnn Four’s idea) and an Adventure Funnel planner (based on Dr. Rotwang’s idea).

Got more ideas for recession-proof gaming?  Leave a comment already!


recession-proof gaming IV: the internet provides

It’s been a while hasn’t it?  The web 2.0 market appears to be clustering around common services in a big way so finding new stuff has been fun.  Yet there’s tools and services which can provide useful for gamers so don’t despair even if we’re on the slow road to recovery.

Free systems – If you like mecha, take a look at Gunwave. Those of you who fancy Harry Potter (slashfic ahoy!) can consider Broomstix (a light RPG).  RPG Objects are offering the Two Worlds RPG for free.  If you prefer your action a bit more Hong Kong/Korean-style give Wushu a shot..  Those of you fancying a bit more collaborative-paced story may want to try Archipelago II.

Organisation – Shout’em is a service that lets you make your own microblogging social network similar to Twitter.  It’s also mobile compatible for those who can’t stay in front of a computer that long.  Some elegant privacy and integration options as well.  Use this to organise gaming groups or fan clubs. 

PrintablesPrintable Paper offers you multiple styles of paper including storyboards and perspective grids as well as the more typical hex and square grids.  Love for calligraphy, musical notation and printable games makes this even more impressive.

Talking – If you’re looking for a (currently free) voice-chat client, try Voxli.  It handles up to 200 folks at once (which deals nicely with online flash mob style gaming and interview chats) and has no limit on the number of rooms.  It also stays within the browser.  Enough for anyone, surely?

Woolgathering – Want to throw some ideas at a wall?  Asking for feedback?  Give Wallwisher a try as this virtual wall lets people put virtual notes on with a 160 character limit on. Being able to embed images, links and videos are options as is setting up a private wall or two.  And it integrates with your Google login.


standing on the shoulders of giant automata

For those of you who crave a little more steampunk in your life (and my that’s a lot of you!) this humbly-submitted post may be the panacea you desire. So without further ado, my lords, ladies and gentlemen an octet of links for your research and edification… please share in the comments!

Aether Emporium Steampunk Essentials – An essential collection.
Brass Goggles Steampunk Name Generator – A lot of fun.
Christian Lorenz Scheurer – eye candy in deluxe jars.
NAGS Society – free version of Terra Incognita (FUDGE RPG setting).
Steampunkopedia – A truly massive resource.
The Linacre School of Defence – Instruction on how one defends oneself.
The History of Costume (1861-1880) by Braun & Schneider – An excellent reference.
The Steampunk Timeline of Futures Past – A history of technology and pulp literature.


questing kanban and character development

Blame Justin Achilli and Capuchin Captions at Dice Monkey for linking in my mind kanban and player handout cards. Everyone does quests to achieve items or benefits. Unless the DM has told you exactly what you need, you may not get where you need to go. And how do players learn of prestige/paragon classes/paths/epic destinies or that specific feats or rituals exist?

Unless a DM is kind and prepared enough to give NPCs with relevant abilities and opportunities to meet/share their knowledge, your character has a hard time knowing of such things. Doing so adds to prep time and may lead to conflicting agendas between players. Unless you’re willing to collude with players, it’s inevitable somebody will lose out.

Some games may not need (or want) that focus/preparation so it’s handwaved you learn about such things in downtime or by dice rolls. Nice if you know the books (prestige classes in 3.xE are found in the DMG or other sourcebooks) but some players don’t have/want to read them. There may also be a matter of timing – the campaign may have secrets dependent on those classes.

Kanban is a Japanese method of boosting efficiency. You say what you need and it’s supplied – the default method uses signs or cards (kanban) that convey what’s needed often using graphical notation for example 4E power icons or a picture representing a particular attribute. Even if you don’t have killer artwork or a perfect representation, you can just use words.

Godeckyourself earns its recession-proof gaming tag. I’ve mentioned other card creators – this one doesn’t require you to download software and provides ready-made PDFs of your deck and shares others people have made. There are even ready-made quest cards you can adapt for your own game. A tangible reminder can keep your players focussed.

Put them together and you get cards to convey what’s needed and how you might get it. The DM controls what cards are handed out and players can choose from those options what’s available. Smart players may see routes to their objectives that can spark off adventures and the element of choice is still preserved. And you get to re-use the cards for future games.


recession-proof gaming III: no money, no time, no problem!

What? You need more? Hey, don’t you know there’s a recession on? Here’s 10 things to keep you going while times are lean in case you’ve already gamed out recession-proof gaming and recession-proof gaming II: the sequel.

System Free

Cartographer’s Guild – People making maps with Campaign Cartographer then putting their hard work on the web for your use. High quality, name-checked in Penny Arcade no less and deservedly so.

EpicWords is a campaign forum/wiki/inventory set-up similar to Obsidian Portal. While there is a paid user option, you aren’t reading this to hear about it. Simple, effective and low-key; it has no specific programming language requirements.

Gozzy’s Dungeon Map Generator – One of my perennial bugbears is the provision of maps for dungeons (I used to be able to lovingly hand-craft maps…) so finding a map generator of this kind of quality makes me very happy; and the output is high quality which makes me happier.

HP Lovecraft Historical Society offer a number of fonts eminently suited to the manufacture of props for Call of Cthulhu (or it’s cheaper relative Nemesis) which you may find suitable; some very nice blackletter fonts for those Gothic horror games you keep hearing about too…

RPTools – Java applications to help you roleplay at a distance. Dice, tokens, maps, characters and initiative trackers. All OS agnostic, you can network and game to your heart’s content on installation; check the community for FAQs, tips and tricks.

System Specific

For 4E, there appears to be a quietly active community of people outputting free stuff for you to download (some of it in PDF – take note Wizards!) which can enhance your game.

Asmor.comWhy haven’t Wizards hired him yet? Seriously??

DragonAvenue offers a selection of character sheets and power cards.

PlayWrite – Has the magnificent CrawlNotes and the 4E Power Toolkit to let you homebrew your own 4E stuff. Here’s a thought exercise. How long would it take you to use the 4E Power Toolkit to simulate the 3.X classes & prestige classes in the Complete (Splat) books? And could you release them under GSL before Wizards do? Enquiring minds etc.

Other systems have a different pool to draw on: has a number of random generators (including a nice batch of Tunnels & Trolls stuff) as well as more generic (FUDGE dice) and system-less tools.

Role-Playing Assistant (RPA) – A veritable Swiss Army application – it’s been around a while and I was reminded of it’s utility the other day. We’re doing well if we forget applications this good…
A character generator for the following systems: AD&D 2nd ed, D&D 3.0 and 3.5, Star Wars (d6 and d20), d20 Modern, Cyberpunk 2020, Alternity, Rolemaster (2nd ed), In Nomine (French) and Dragonball Z (this is beta mode).

It also includes a name generator, spell book generator, monster and encounter generator, weather generator, NPC party generator, dice roller, fractal mapper, DM character summary and D&D3.0 treasure generator. You can also create your own tables and modify outputs as well as generating templates for various uses and export the results by e-mail.