Tablets and e-Readers

Apple IPad2 and Kindle Fire

Apple IPad2 and Kindle Fire

I’m wondering how much others are using tablets such as the iPad or e-Readers at the gaming table. I’ve long tried to work out a way to use computers for reference (as a DM) but it’s always been too much hassle. It seems to me that a tablet PC or a reader with a larger screen such as the Kindle DX or maybe even the crossovers like the Nook Tablet or Kindle Fire might fit the bill.

My main interest is for use by the DM: Maps, room keys, monster look-ups, etc. Also, searchable rule books would be a big benefit, as I’m one who uses the book at lot during play. Others claim they rarely reference the rules during a session, so that might not matter to them so much.

But an iPad would also make grabbing images to show the players quick and easy. You could have them loaded and ready ahead of time of course, like printed handouts. But you’d also have the option of quickly Googling something up on the spur of the moment and holding the thing up for the players to see.

Another thing I’ve seen discussed and I’ve thought about is the ability to text private messages to players (“Your PC has been charmed…Play along with the NPC”) rather than written notes. Since so many people have phones with text capability, this would be quick and easy. It would also allow players to communicate privately without other players (or the DM) overhearing. But it would also easily lead to non-game texts, checking football scores, and/or Netflix during sessions, which I think everyone except the guy watching the movie would agree is a bad thing.

So how many players use tables or e-readers? What sort of things do you use them for? And what kind of rules of etiquette do you have?

UPDATE: Wow. I’d missed a couple of posts at Bat in the Attic on this exact subject. Good info.

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10 Responses to Tablets and e-Readers

  1. We use iPhones and iPads to access our campaign wiki. We read up on old session reports and look up our character sheets if we can’t find the paper version. While gaming, we hardly ever use the tablets. While you have access to all the info on the tablet, you’re still limited to a tiny window, cumbersome controls and a slow machine. I don’t recommend it.

    • Kilgore says:

      I agree that a “tiny window” would be extremely limiting, though it seems that the Kindle DX or iPad would be fine, maybe even the 7″ tablets if used landscape.

      • Brendan says:

        The “slow machine” part is the key. I had an iPad 1, and I upgraded to an iPad 2 when it came out. I love it for reading linearly, but using multiple PDFs and applications during a game is really frustrating, even with good apps. I still find paper tools work significantly better, with the possible exception of doing one-off rule look-ups. Most of the time the iPad seems quite fast, but when you are talking to six people at once, tracking monster HP, and bounding between maps and room descriptions, tablet multitasking doesn’t really cut it (at least for me).

      • Ahmed says:

        The Keep on the Borderlands – Ghwiki. Jan 22, 2010 . The Keep on the Borderlands (B2) is a Dungeons & Dragons atrenduve module by Gary Gygax, first printed in December 1979. ..

  2. Joey says:

    I got my Toshiba Thrive for Christmas. I haven’t fully integrated it into the game yet, but I have been using it at every game we’ve had. We rely on electronic copies of the books we need for the game because we don’t all own the books. So I needed to keep my laptop handy and unfortunately it takes a lot of space on the gaming table. Now I have a copy of all the books we need on my tablet and it is great.

    I haven’t run a game in a while but some point next month I will be running the game again (Part 2 of my Tornstin Campaign YAY!) and for part 1 I kept all the NPCs and my notes from previous games on the laptop. SO now I will be slowly putting it all onto the tablet, much of it going into web apps I use of my home Development Server so it doesn’t take up too much of the precious memory of the tablet.

    Before the tablet I used my phone as a Die Roller, but only for when I needed to do things like, roll 15d6s.

    As for my groups character sheets, I keep an electronic version of it which is available to them on Drop Box but I make them all keep a regular P&P version in front of them at the game because it is normally quicker to write then it is to type (or Swype) into a tablet, Phone or laptop

  3. Philo Pharynx says:

    I use a full laptop, and it’s great for PDF’s, character sheets and rules lookups. It’s got enough power and enough screen size to be very useful. In some of my games, we even use our computers for virtual tabletops using maptool. I do have a Kindle Fire and it would be great for showing pictures, but I never think to preload it. If I were buying it specifically for gaming I’d definitely go with a 10″ screen. 7″ is too small.

    As for the distraction, it can actually be an advantage in that it keeps people busy when you are dealing with part of the group. We have a rule that you can do other things so long as you stay focused in the game. If you’ve got solitare up but you are aware of the game and participating I don’t really care.

    As for the size of the laptop, only one of my 5 locations is at a single table. Most are couches and chairs with a coffee table for the map. Often with the computer on a TV tray.

  4. bighara says:

    I use my iPad2 extensively for gaming. With GoodReader, I can have multiple tabs open and move between the pdfs (e.g. module and rules) fairly easily, plus thing like highlighting and adding comments to pdf for reference. I can also pinch and zoom to show graphics quickly.

    We use Obsidian Portal to track the campaign so I can pull that up too if necessary. I haven’t tried the Kindle, but I loves me the iPad! It was especially nice at Garycon last year. All my rulebooks in one spot so I didn’t lug a backpack full of my OOP copies on the plane.

  5. Eisenmann says:

    I use my iPad 2 almost exclusively these days. Early last year we moved into an older house with a lot of remodeling projects in the works so most of my books stayed in boxes. Just now, typing out this message, I realize how long it’s been since I’ve looked at an actual printed book.

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