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3D Gaming

I wanted to talk for a second about technology in table-top gaming. There are several (free) tools out there that can do a really remarkable job of helping to either recreate or enhance the Table-Top RPG experience online. The most obvious, of course is voice (or video) chat. We tend to use Google Hangouts--but Skype an Discord are available and arguably more popular.

The other thing that online gaming can bring "to the table" is good interactive maps. Roll20 is a good tool for handling maps (with Fog-of-War and pretty smart icons). The interface requires a bit of getting used to--but it's a great (free) product.

We tend to use Google Docs which allows for shared documents that have graphical elements and we can move counters around. While it lacks some of the niceties like Roll20, it's also very flexible and easy to get started with.

Finally, there's actual 3D programs. What you see above is a portion of a city-map for a fantasy game done in Sketchup (a free 3d program). I used the collateral from their massive on-line library to plonk houses and things down to give the players a top down map to use when they arrived.

Of course I could also give them a nice street-level view (I added the skybox backgrounds in GIMP).

This sort of thing was nearly--if not entirely--impossible to re-create with 80's or 90's tech the way we all grew up with table-top gaming. In some cases I have even taken the characters inside the models using a shared desktop (again, with a free service) to walk them through fairly complex 3d models giving them a "first-person view" of what their characters see.

In an age where our group--together for decades--exists in multiple states and across 100's or 1000's of miles, this sort of thing allows for an experience that combines the flexibility and creativity of table top RPG play with a degree of visual collateral that would only have been previously available with extensive miniatures collections and a high degree of painting skills.

I think, as time goes on, we'll explore this kind of enhancement more (imagine playing around a physical table with Augmented Reality maps springing up from the center).

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