Musings from an old school GM and first time EpicTable user

edited September 2012 in EpicTable Discussion
I've lurked in EpicTable's shadow ever since I first met John two years ago at Gen Con (and received a groovy ET coin) and recently decided to come out and show my support by purchasing a Box Set. I have been playing RPGs since the mid 1980's (told you I was old) and in recent years I've seen our quasi-regular game group fracture and eventually fall apart due to, in many cases, circumstances often attributed to 'real life'. Having introduced my wife and son to RPGs, I was able to extend my love for the hobby, yet, even that has died away as my wife fulfilled her gaming itch with FB social games and the boy has grown into his teen years to find the allure of sports & girls drawing him away.



So, here I am...hoping to use EpicTable as a catalyst to once again bring my gaming friends around a common 'table' for RPG lovin'! There are several goals for this thread. First, I need a location (that is easily accessible) to share my various notes/findings as I learn the finer points of the EpicTable tool. Hopefully, other new users of ET will benefit from some of the lessons learned along the way. The second goal for this thread is to list the third party tools/utilities I will ultimately use to make future ET sessions run as smoothly as possible.

Comments

  • While you are checking out 3rd party tools to use, you may want to check out Obsidian Portal (you may already know about it. If not, watch that intro video on the main page for a description of what it does.)



    It's got a fairly robust 'free' feature set that helps with game organization and such things. It's especially nice for the things that you'd like to 'share' with your gamer group.



    I just figured I'd mention it, I LOVE threads like this as I ALWAYS seem to glean something from how other people end up using tools. I'll definitely be checking in on this one from time to time.



    thanks for posting! have a great day!!
  • Before I can begin to explore the functionality of ET, I felt it important to decide on the initial ruleset that will be used to draw in players to future sessions. Going with Paizo's Pathfinder was as easy a decision as one could hope for in a situation such as this. I am very comfortable with the d20 mechanic and sticking with 'what you know' will allow me to focus less on the rules and more on how to express (codify?) them in ET. Additionally, the fact that Paizo has so many pregen adventures (PF Society) tailored for short, one-off sessions will make it easier on me to integrate the scenario into ET. There will be time in the future to finally dust off the Paranoia XP source material and run some classic-style missions!



    I have started rolling through the videos in the ET Academy to acclimate myself to this VT and it's tools. While reviewing the System Embracing feature page, my attention was drawn to the image of the 'Dogs in the Vineyard' character sheets (or should I follow the ET lexicon and refer to them as 'Notes'?). Because Pathfinder PCs are required to keep track of so much info on their character sheet, it is imperative that a common format be applied to all PC's sheets, lest character maintenance become a time-consuming and logistical nightmare for both the GM and PCs. Thankfully, Paizo licensed the Pathfinder ruleset to Lone Wolf Development to create a Pathfinder port of their Hero Lab character generator. Using Hero Lab, PCs can now create and maintain digital copies of their characters while exporting the Pathfinder statblock to be used as the character sheet in ET.



    Thus, I now have a ruleset to play with in ET, and a tool to create/maintain consistent PC data. Finally, I have a format for the character sheet (note) that will be used to identify one PC from another, an ally from a foe.



    ET New User Guideline #1: Ensure you know the ruleset you want to use as early as possible and that you have a uniform, but succinct, format for your character sheet.
  • I'd love to setup a Skype session or G+ Hangout sometime and see what you're up to. Better character sheet support is one of those future features, and I'm always interested in how people are bridging the gap in the meantime.



    In games I've been involved with, we've used just-ET for rules light games and HeroLab for Pathfinder. I've been doing a little thinking on what would constitute a useful HeroLab integration. I'm not interested in trying to build the next HeroLab, and it's a fantastic product if you're using a crunchy system. Mostly, we've been managing character sheet detail in HeroLab and dice rolls in ET. One could envision dice rolls that draw upon HeroLab data, or get "refreshed" from HeroLab periodically. There's also the notion of conditions (wounded, held, etc). It seems within the spirit of ET to interact directly with tokens on the tabletop to tweak things like conditions and hitpoints, so some sort of "backflow" to HeroLab might be useful.
  • Obsidian Portal and other web-based campaign management techniques (wikis, Google sites, etc.) have been really helpful to our online games.



    Here's an idea I've been toying with:

    Join an ET game via a link. So the GM/organizer could post that link in an online calendar or an email invite, the would-be player simply clicks on it, and if they already have ET installed, it takes them right into the game. If not, it takes them to a download/install page that explains what's about to happen. No more invitation codes (as interesting as those might be). It's a simple thing, but it might make the getting-started process less cumbersome. Thoughts?
  • Seems interesting...



    Actually i allways have to tell again and again the password sentence, because there is allways one player who forget or loose it. :mad:
  • John Lammers;2788 wrote: I'd love to setup a Skype session or G+ Hangout sometime and see what you're up to. Better character sheet support is one of those future features, and I'm always interested in how people are bridging the gap in the meantime.



    In games I've been involved with, we've used just-ET for rules light games and HeroLab for Pathfinder. I've been doing a little thinking on what would constitute a useful HeroLab integration. I'm not interested in trying to build the next HeroLab, and it's a fantastic product if you're using a crunchy system. Mostly, we've been managing character sheet detail in HeroLab and dice rolls in ET. One could envision dice rolls that draw upon HeroLab data, or get "refreshed" from HeroLab periodically. There's also the notion of conditions (wounded, held, etc). It seems within the spirit of ET to interact directly with tokens on the tabletop to tweak things like conditions and hitpoints, so some sort of "backflow" to HeroLab might be useful.


    Interesting...Does Hero Lab have an API that you can hook into that allows read(/write) access to fields in the character portfolio?
  • tontione;2790 wrote: Seems interesting...



    Actually i allways have to tell again and again the password sentence, because there is allways one player who forget or loose it. :mad:


    Why is that? Are they changing computers a lot or something? Once they've accepted the invitation once, it's in their game list from then on.
  • romelwell;2791 wrote: Interesting...Does Hero Lab have an API that you can hook into that allows read(/write) access to fields in the character portfolio?


    I don't know. I presume that either they do, or where there's a will there's a way.
  • John Lammers;2792 wrote: Why is that? Are they changing computers a lot or something? Once they've accepted the invitation once, it's in their game list from then on.


    Huho, i didn't notice that ! My nephew just said to me it works correctly.



    You must be right, my players did many changes, new installations etc, it's the reason why.
  • Sorry I have been away. (Positive) changes with work (architecting/designing/coding) have eaten into my free time, which, in turn, has taken away time from my hobbies (to ensure I have ample time for my kids). I do have a new post for this thread almost completed, and really hope to post it later this evening. I am eager to share my latest musings as I'm sure it will solicit a reply from Mr. Lammers. :)
  • I use Skype, as the Google Hangouts feature's performance appears to be slowly degrading as it gets more popular.



    EpicTable + Obsidian Portal + Skype is a powerful working combination for my game, though. I'm very pleased with the way it goes.
  • KingFrog;2824 wrote: I use Skype, as the Google Hangouts feature's performance appears to be slowly degrading as it gets more popular.



    EpicTable + Obsidian Portal + Skype is a powerful working combination for my game, though. I'm very pleased with the way it goes.


    Glad it's working out for you. That's the same combination I use. Depending on the game, I sometimes add HeroLab to the mix. I'm thinking about some light integration with Obsidian Portal. It hasn't escaped my notice that I sometimes have images (for instance) on Obsidian Portal and/or Dropbox and EpicTable....
  • I can think of several things that would be nice, and easier, with some OP integration. That would be a welcome feature!



    Of course, we're all secretly waiting for the arrival of TrueVision! Don't let that get derailed! :D
  • John Lammers;2789 wrote:

    Here's an idea I've been toying with:

    Join an ET game via a link. ...



    It's a simple thing, but it might make the getting-started process less cumbersome. Thoughts?


    I would love this. I think it's an EXCELLENT Idea.
  • It's got a feature set that helps with game organization and such things. It's especially nice for the things that you'd like to 'share' with your gamer group.
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