Augmenting TTRPG with Hi-Tech/Home Media

Tod's picture

For years I've used whiteboards, roughly 24"x30", for drawing tactical maps, positioning, etc. One day digital whiteboards will come down in price and I'll get one. Whiteboards are great for hand-drawn low-color sketches, but what about full-color maps and hi-res images of locations, characters, etc? One of the few things I like about PBF is the ability to link immediately to an image of a character or setting, to help set the mood or provide a visual.

Well just yesterday (late to the party), I realized that I could use the web browser in my Wii to connect to an HTML document I've linked to a bunch of pre-uploaded images, thus turning my flatscreen TV into a support unit for games. PCs enter a new setting? Click, click, "Here's what you see." Meet an NPC? Click, click, "Here's what she looks like." (Note: I found when preparing pics for the Wii browser, they work best when they're twice as wide as they are high; 800x400 works well for me.)

This got me thinking. What applications of home entertainment technology and other hi-tech gizmos are you using - perhaps not as originally intended - to support or augment your gaming experiences?

Arkades's picture

I’ve been using my smartlights to accompany the traditional background ambience music. I’m looking forward to dropping the room into darkness to accompany the PCs being blinded, but that hasn’t come up yet.

Kenny_J's picture

When I play I used to bring my laptop, or often at home when I was GM'ing I would connect to a screen and extend my desktop. I have used this to display concept art for the players to set the tone as well as give them the idea of what i was picturing. Having an image up there, i have even been able to use it an oracle tool to frame the scene and location.

But let's talk about the dark side. If you are just displaying prep, it works great. If you thought of something you would like to show that you can find pretty quickly, go for it. But the if you find yourself looking for something, either by searching on your computer or the internet, then you need to re-evaluate the need. It can quickly drag the game down if you are looking for something but can't find it. It's important to be able to recognize when that happening and just abandon the tech.

Another thing I'll say is that even when its good it should be used sparingly. These games are a shared imagined space after all so when someone starts throwing up photos then they are deciding for everyone. Not to mention the tools should only be that tools, not come to replace what makes the game great.

Now I usually leave the laptop at home. I would rather not be tempted to look something up. But my style has become even more improvisational than before so I don't usually have prep.

Tod's picture

I'm really looking forward to gestural interfaces for this. Imagine: The line between TTRPG and LARP will blur even more, because the difference between them is largely just a matter of interface.

Emmett's picture

I wonder if showing slides with a currently relevant rule would be helpful to players without system mastery? If you had a powerpoint and jumped between named slides with things like "skill check" or "racing rules" on them so the relevant slide was easy to pull up.