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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Using pdf's at the game table

Over at RPGNet, I made an off remark that "who would want to run a game from a pdf?". Naturally enough, a fair number of people got offended and said I'm some kind of luddite and that pdf gaming is the future. I understand economically that many game producers have to go pdf-only, or maybe have a print-on-demand option (I have had only good experiences with Lulu).

But I can't imagine bringing a laptop to the table to run a game. Maybe it would be easier for those who have an iPad, but I don't. And I'd be terrified that someone would spill a soda on my machine. Computers aren't cheap. And trying to look up rules on a computer screen, to me, would take too long. And I'd probably end up with a headache after trying to read too much. Maybe bookmarking helps a bit, but for me, pdfs will never replace real books.


cyclopeatron said...

I'm even more of a luddite than you, because I don't even like having books at the table unless it's totally necessary!

I'm on a computer all frickin day at work, the last thing I want is to have a computer on the table during one of my games.

Twig said...

I've run one game with my laptop.

A quick search in a PDF file makes finding a reference or rule on the fly so simple. It's great when you're GMing and juggling six different things at once.

I'd never want to sit down and read a full book in pdf format, but for quick reference, they're very handy.

drnuncheon said...

Hmm. One of my games has a player in a different state, a player who can't come to my house without severe allergic reactions, and two whose gaming would otherwise be cut short by child or dog care. So, a computer is what lets us game at all.

I tried running/playing with a laptop but it was not very convenient. Took up too much space on the game table and acted like a barrier between me and the other players.

The iPad, on the other hand, is fantastic as a gaming tool - it means I can have shelves worth of gaming material in my bag, plus music, pictures, maps, etc. It's small and light and can be set down flat but still be usable.

Christian said...

I have a no laptop rule at my table. They take up too much space and lead to distracting Facebooking. I would be fin with a Kindle, though.

jcftao said...

Perhaps using a netbook would work for you. They are far cheaper ($200) than a laptop and take up much less space. I've used a netbook at the gaming table and printed out the maps. All of it can fit behind the dm screen easily.