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TheDM

I think you're spot on with your criticisms. The content might be worth $10 a month for the gamer who wants to print it all out and not have the books.
But the books are the fun bit! Who doesn't love flicking through a PHB whilst nothings going on for your character and finding some esoteric rule? That was the beauty of AD&D v1 - nothing quite made sense, so you were always finding something weird and wonderful!
And that's also the appeal of homebrew rules...they set your character apart from all the rest. There's no "build" already published.
Long live the old skool gamers.

Graeme

Actually, after looking at this, it looks like it will have some flaws.

Firstly, it's pretty expensive for your average gamer at $10 / month for 12 months.

Secondly, it looks like it is very fixed to the rules, like core rules was and it doesn't look like it will let you account for your own homebrew rules.

Lastly, the online character sheet looks like a character generator from a PC game. It looks like it might be cool for the first few times but after that it would get old. I think this would take all of the imagination out of creating your character. There is a dungeon generator in there too but it looks like you have to use all of their preset features.

On the good side you do get access to all of the rules online.

Graeme

It looks like WoTC have come up with a similar idea (D&D Insider) for the upcoming release of 4th edition.

Take a look at http://www.dnd4.com/?p=44

TheDM

I need, among other things, a "hit points register".
Something that can be done with a spreadsheet I'm sure, but is there a better way? If I'm weblogging, it's useful to have this sort of info on the web nice'n'easy. I'd like to be able to have the ability to modify it as a DM, and also allow players to do it. A "track changes" feature as well, so you can show/hide the last 10 HP deals or so, possibly with a text field to explain if necessary what the adjustment was about.
DM should be able to see a "PC summary page", whereas players would have that same current info reflected on their own personal page.
Perhaps if this is a relatively simple exercise, we could develop this and test it before launching into a full scale production of the greatest customisable online character sheet EVAR. ("GCOCSE", obviously pronounced "gee-cee-oxy").

MrR

http://www.asp.net/learn/videos/video-43.aspx

After watching this I can see things are much more customisable than I first thought. My thinking is you'd use roles to decide upon the visibility of various parts of the page (say for example the columns the trainer uses in this video). In this way, the DM/Player could drag webparts to each zone so as to limit visibility to specific audiences. We might create user controls such as a "DnD Stat Block". It might even have some calculation built in.

I'd recommend watching the beginner videos here also - http://www.asp.net/learn/videos/

TheDM

With a Web 2.0, you only need one computer with internet + printer, then you can print your current version and go paper'n'pencil. Bob, Paul, Jason - all use paper'n'pencil anyway. I've banned e-dice from face-to-face, and clearing away the PC hardware from the player table wouldn't be a bad thing. I used to think it would be cool if we all we're laptop-ified, but there's a certain magic lost. It's great for rule lookups and other research, but a good ol' fashioned printout is cooler I reckon.

As for DM management, gmail is a bit cumbersome. Omni might be good, but then you may as well just use exploder after having saved up to date info in a directory structure.

But what about adding NPC's to this system, so that you could have links from PC's to NPC's indicating the relationship, and further you would have NPC info that is public and everyone can refer to out of session, and DM-only info so the DM can keep track of the secret stuff in an orderly fashion.

Having it web-based is good coz it helps with remote gameplay and "weblog" style gaming.

Having a killer gui for it makes it actually worth using, and fun. I think a useful resource for players and DM's, especially in drawn out games played across time zones like the Mystara campaign!

Owen

Doesn't a Web 2.0 based solution require a laptop with all the trimmings too? Sans laptop my curent solution is to print the sheet out prior to / at the session.

As for DM Management tool, perhaps you could create a gmail account and get players to submit char sheets to that account?

You'd end up having to deal with everyone's unique formatting, but you have a central, online repository (layout not well structured for your needs, but it is nicely searchable). And you prevent players sharing "private" data.

If you go with some sort of Web 2.0 solution, then players (well me at least) are going to end up maintaining their original character sheets as well as the online versions, which is unlikely to be maintained regularly.

Graeme

So can't we just post an spreadsheet character on onmidrive or officelive and then use a macro in excel to hide the DM or player specific comment ?

TheDM

Having thought about Owen's post a bit more, I wonder if the online character sheets idea isn't just more of a DM management tool, with an incidental bonus of being a last resort backup?

Omnidrive is good because everyone can customise their sheets as they need to, whenever they like, and at the start of the session, or as the DM is planning for the next big thing, the up to date sheets are available on Omni.

Downside is that they're not uniformly formatted, and your "private" character info is available to anyone with access to that Omni account.

TheDM

Ok Uncle Scrooge...

So what if you don't have a laptop? What about if you forget to put it on USB key? Your system crashes?

I understand the customisability of excel is teh awesome - powerful and easy and full of love.

With a customisable Web 2.0 app, you could have the choice of doing a "basic" version with your necessary info, with our without your rules built in, that has all your up to date data.

If the app is good enough, and you have a good template to start with, you might find that you're willing to abandon excel for the online version.

The online version could also allow DM's to access the up to date version, as well as allow other players to view the basic info that you want to share with the rest of the party.

I guess we need to spec the "problem" that we're trying to solve - Owen would say there is really no problem with using Excel, but I think this is dependent on having a laptop and all the trimmings available to you wherever you go.

Owen

Two main problems I've found with all the char sheet tools I've ever used.

1. I can't customise the sheet to fit my character into it.

Nigh every character has unique, rule-bending customisations. That's what makes them characters. I always end up compromising due to gui limitations. I know Mark scrapped his char sheet generator due to the fact that everything in a char sheet is modifiable these days.

2. By automating char sheet generation/levelling, there are rules associated with my character that I am not familiar with. These invariably cause delays in a session.

How does turning work again? What are the bonuses for barbarian rage? How many times can a 4th level paladin cure disease per week? etc. Class specific rules that you know of, but don't have the specifics to hand.

Other issues I've had:
• Poor layouts (or layouts I simply don't like).
• Char sheets that look like ass when printed (not such a big problem these days) or alternatively look like ass when viewed on a PC.

My current solution is to write all my character sheets from scratch in excel, and carry them around on laptop/USB Key/gmail account.

I get:
• All my character specific customisations, with no limit to the amount of info I put into the sheet.
• All the relevant rules (in cell comments mainly) - which means I'm not looking things up during a session - and the fact I've added them to the sheet myself means I'm usually pretty familiar with them.
• Customised layouts that I like, and are specific per character, that can include images, rich text, and pop up text.
• Excel obviously has robust printing options and previewing.

Excel is my answer to Graeme's "powerful and well designed" application.

The obvious drawback here is the lack of automation. It's a significant outlay of time to build a sheet from scratch - but I end up getting exactly what I want, I don't have to look much up during a session, and it works with any edition character.

I really can't envisage shifting away from excel as a char sheet generator. Perhaps a few layout templates, and some basic automation like calculating your mods based on stat scores. But any automation would HAVE to be transparent and editable. I could certainly make use of an online repository. Something like the omnidrive concept that included "last modified" dates and comments.

EG. Taran.xls - Modified 5/12/2007 - Comment: "Updated to 9th level, modified equipment".

However, I can basically use gmail for this.

In conclusion, I am unable to envisage a better solution for my requirements than I already have.

PS. Bah! Humbug! Poo poo to you!

Graeme

OK, I am guessing that we want this thing to be pretty generic, so that it could be used for D&D 2nd edition, 3rd edition,merc 2000 , toons or it came from the late late late show.

This means that the character sheet layout tool is going to have to be powerful and well designed, since it could be used to store any type of campaign specific information. In fact, if you did it right, it could then be customised to store any type of formatted data online (recipes, sports scores etc)

The other question I have is how structured do we want the storage of characters to be?

i.e. we could just have it all in a flat structure and when you create a character you nominate a user as your dm.

or, we could have it structured, where a dm creates a campaign, sets up the basic format of the character sheet and then invites his players to join his campaign.

TheDm

Movable Type 4 is a blog development tool which seems to be customisable.

http://www.movabletype.com/products/mt4.html

It's what this very blog is based on!

Looks like you need to know a bit about XML, HTML, and CSS for customising pages.

For programming, the "Atom API" is used, and MT is "plug-in-able". Or "pluginnable". Ya know what I mean.

For plug-in's I think you need to know something about Perl and CGI scripting?

There is also an open-source Movable Type: http://www.movabletype.org/opensource/

Graeme

The URL for that only 3rd edition character sheet site is

http://www.roguepenguin.com/castellar/profiler/

Mark a.k.a MrR

I'll talk to Tristan next time I see him (he's in India) as he's into the whole webdev thing. I'll see if there's an existing framework we can use.

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