Favourite GMing Tools

Stack of D&D manuals

30 Days of GMing

I love tech at the gaming table, but use precious little of it. My 10 year old battlemat is still being drawn on with washable markers, and we only just moved to using minis from using dice to represent characters. Such is the ghetto table of the starving student. I use a lot of tech in my online game, Google Hangouts, Gametable and Xsplit, but they all seem like pretty simple tools to me. Just software that gets the job done. But not all tools are tech.

Probably the greatest tool I’ve found for GMing is online communities. Reading accounts of other people’s games and playing with various character builds in forums like the Gaming Den and Brilliant Gameologists was how I sharpened my understanding of D&D years ago. Now I get ideas from awesome people on Twitter, watch games on Youtube, and and get to meet people who are playing in all kinds of crazy cool games. I do my best work when talking with other people, and forums and social media have shown me a wealth of people who are brilliant and love the game as much as I do.

My second favourite is easily wikis. I was in the process of setting up a blog-style website for my game when I wound up chatting with the guys who run Obsidian Portal, and watching a talk they gave at GenCon¬†about the wonder of wikis. I dipped my toes in at first, but now I love it, and I’ve got lots of plans for improving my wiki. It’s manualstackgiven my players a space to find information about the game world (even if none of them read as much of it as I’d like), encourages me to keep developing it, and lets me employ interesting strategems to keep players engaged outside of the sessions like including easter eggs, images, and links to useful or fun videos. It also holds the logs from our sessions.

It’s interesting to think about all the tools we use for GMing and how things have changed. When I started it was pencil, paper, and a few actual, physical, hardbound books. Now I’ve got my laptop with .pdf copies, a battle mat, miniatures, streaming software, microphones, webcams, spreadsheets…Sometimes they bog me down a bit and I like to go back to pen and paper, but I always come back.

3 comments

  • The rise of wikis made it clear to me that access to the material is not why players have traditionally not engaged with the details of a DM’s adventure. We engage most with what we help create, and someone else’s creation, however interesting can never hope to engage us as much as (certainly not in the same way as) it engages them.

    • That’s why I switched to the wiki from merely having a website. It makes it so much easier for everyone to participate in the creation of the setting.

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