Tag Archives: #cooltools

What’s been going on…

I had some life get in the way of things, including keeping this site updated. Suffice to say, it’s not necessarily finished yet, but we won’t know for sure until November at the earliest. So, in the meanwhile, I tossed an idea out that might keep me updating this thing more regularly both to my Facebook followers, and my tumblr and there seemed to be enough interest…

The idea, such as it is, is that I have a rather large RPG collection that I have amassed over my 40+ years of gaming… yeah, I don’t like thinking about it that way either, but the idea is take a game off the shelf each week and make a character for it, and then discuss  this process, pros & cons, ideas, etc.

Ultimately, I also want to collect these in a wiki for archival purposes, but that can wait until after I get started. I’ll aim for the first post by this weekend. First up will likely be Basic D&D, since that’s where I first got into tabletop RPGs to begin with.

If you have suggestions, AND I own that game, I’ll prioritize those first. Please make these suggestions in comments. Some games will prove more complicated than other… *cough* Powers & Perils *cough*.

Also, if I am able to find software tools to facilitate charatcer gen, I’ll break that out as well.

Cool Tools for Gaming part 2 – Dundracon Tools Seminar Links

I will eventually turn this into a page of its own, but for tonight I’m making a blog post.

So, I ran my first seminar at Dundracon and did okay… some lessons learned in regards to having machine configured ahead of time so as to not waste the first five minutes of everyone’s time, but otherwise it went well. Unsurprisingly, I did NOT get to cover everything I put in my outline, and Mr. Steve Perrin suggested that I could easily break this down into two or three separate seminars so as to discuss certain topics in more depth. So at least I got that going for me…

At the end of the seminar I handed out business cards with my wordpress URL and promised that the links would be published post haste… so here they are. If you want to know more about something specific, please comment and I’ll see about doing a review & deep dive.

Physical Tools

  • Chessex Battlemats – Not a lot to say here, as everyone knows about them, but thanks to improvements in printing technology, you can now find them with backgrounds and such.
  • Void Star Studios Tact-tiles – similar concept, but these are 11×11 hard plastic dry erase tiles that connect to each other like puzzle pieces. There is at least one similar product that it’s heavy laminated cardstock rather than plastic.
  • Gaming Paper – I love this stuff. Very inexpensive, especially if you’re buying multiple rolls at the same time. They also offer several pre-designed dungeons that are on letter sized paper that you can assemble and use.
  • And finally, I mentioned that you can find all sorts of really useful stuff in your normal office supply store. The easel back binder is a good example of something that’s just too useful.


Honestly, trying to aggregate all of the cool tool websites is likely a full time job. This will never be complete, but this is what I discussed this time around.

  • Hero Lab Online – This is Lone Wolf Development’s next advance of the Hero Lab character creation software. It’s a very slick, full blow web app. Currently it only supports Starfinder, but other systems are planned. It has a regular subscription/cloud storage fee.
  • Obsidian Portal – Think gaming campaign world wiki. Web based, has a community built up around it so people can share content and ideas.
  • Randomizers – this is a broad category, and I am sure that there are more out there that I am not aware of. I highly recommend the Donjon website. He has random generators for world maps, dungeon maps (and populating them), name generations… you name it.
  • Dave’s Mapper – Remember dungeon geomorphs? That’s what Dave’s Mapper does. All sorts of geomorphs from different artists in different art styles and you can combine them.
    • Having mentioned Dave’s Mapper, I should put a specific callout and plug in for Dyson Logos. I love his maps and I support his Patreon, and I encourage you to check him out and do the same.
  • Hero Forge – Very impressive website that allows you to design and print your own custom minis. This one really does need a blog post of it’s own.
  • Worldspinner – I backed the Kickstarter for this one. It’s a website that will generate random world maps… but it does a lot more. You can then place races & societies on the map and advance the timeline. This one ALSO needs a blog post of it’s own. By the way, once you have what you want, you can then have them print gorgeous poster maps.
  • Uncharted Atlas is a twitter bot designed by mewo2 that regularly posts very attractive computer generated fantasy maps. You can learn more this on his personal site, mewo2.com
  • I shouldn’t have to introduce Drivethrurpg.com, but their Windows desktop sync client is the reason I started writing all of this to begin with.
  • World Engine – from the people that gave us d20 Pro. It’s targeted at making maps specifically for use with VTT software, It is still in Alpha.


  • Virtual Tabletop software. Run games for local and remote players online and manage the map for this. There are a lot of options out there but the big three at the moment are:
  • Okay, maybe a VTT is overkill. You can often get by with a simple Voice over IP client, or combine it with a VTT for an even better experience.
    • Discord – Discord is the newest and wants to be the client of choice and in my opinion, is the best of this sort of app available.
    • Ventrilo – Not as current, used to be the client of choice, especially for online gaming guilds.
  • Mapping Software
    • ProFantasy – I can’t not mention Campaign Cartographer. It’s immensely powerful, but has a very steep learning curve and can be difficult to use. There is a whole community of users that has built up around it and they can be a fantastic resource on mapping. They have other mapping apps as well.
    •  Inkwell Ideas – They publish Worldographer, Hexographer, and several other applications for mapping. I am a old school hex crawl guy, so I really like what they have done with Hexographer 2. Of note, their Dungeonmorph dice were inspired by Dave’s Mapper.
  • Campaign Management
    • Lone Wolf Development (Hero Lab) have another product called Realm Works. It is similar to Obsidian Portal, but has many additional capabilities. They have a “fog of war” system so the GM can publish maps that only show what the players are currently aware of. It also has built in relationship mapping between PCs and NPCs. I backed this on on Kickstarter as well and I really like it. Another candidate for a deep dive.
    • Since I mentioned it, Hero Lab character generation software. It’s the 800 pound gorilla and supports many different game systems. They also offer purchasable add on content to add support for new books as they are released.
    • There is also PC Gen. It’s open source and worked on by volunteers. There are many others out there as well.
  • PDF readers
    • Tons, but I will specifically recommend Goodreader for iOS as a best of show PDF reader. I have not been able to find an equivalently good app for Android.
  • 3D Printing – This could be a seminar onto itself, but…
    • Shapeways – Marketplace and service provider for 3D printing. Check out their store for existing models, or submit yours to be sold to others and/or printed.
  • Character Art
    • Hero Machine – flash based character art program. Assemble art for your character.

Cool Tools for Gaming part 1

Generally, every year Bruce Harlick and Ken Hite do a seminar at Dundracon called “What’s Cool” where they basically discuss what’s new and cool in gaming. Last year, Ken made the comment that he feels that we’re in sort of a golden age of gaming at the moment. Between the cost of producing a game having come down to where  just about anyone can afford to publish, and because of marketplaces like DrivethruRPG, there is more being published, and more experimentation in the tabletop space than ever before.

Chatting with Mr. Hite over a scotch, I made the comment that I think this is also true of gaming tools, software, and technology as well…

Fast forward to today…

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