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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    Do you allow computers or PDAs at the gaming table?

    Personally, I think that if it distracts them, they can't bring it. However, sometimes an online dice roller will save so much time. Disintegrate, I'm looking at you.

    Tangential question: Do any of you DMs out there use your own computer at the table?

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Gerrtt's Avatar

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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    Considering that right now my computer is my gaming table, yes.

    However, under normal circumstances I would say no a player having a computer at the table.
    What I do every time I see someone complain that their DM is a jerk just because some class/race/book/feat/etc. is not allowed at the gaming table.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    streakster's Avatar

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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    Why not? Dice rollers are greatly convenient, and a computer character sheet is much more useful than a paper one.

    I'd say no to the net, though.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    My groups have everyone's personal laptops open, with tabs for the SRD, online char sheets, and searchable PDFs of the books. None of us use a dice roller, though. Gathering up 20d10 for damage is so much more fun.
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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    We usually have one computer at the gaming table. It is used mostly by the DM.

    A PDA per player for dice rolling could be handy at high levels though. Why dont calculators have a 'd' operator. Itd be so neat if i could just go 3d6+2=14

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    Our Party Leader and DM Wrangler ( he has been role playing longer then I have been out of the womb) uses a computer to keep track of party treasure and items. Also, He uses the online PDF of the Pathfinder Beta (which we are playing), so he uses it to update his character,and keep track of the rules.
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    AKA_Bait's Avatar

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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    I allow them, so long as they are being used for gaming. I've found it's less distracting for a curious person to look up something on their computer than to pull out the book and do so. It's also handy for me as a DM so that I don't have to print out everything I plan to use, particularly because I use a good number of the cool homebrew mosters people come up with over on that forum.

    That said, only a few of the folks I play with use laptops during play. I had used a dice roller myself for a while but decided I preferred just rolling real dice. As a player, I pretty much decided I don't need access to it, so I don't use it but I don't mind if others do.
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Smeggedoff's Avatar

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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    I keep a textpad document open to make notes, track my inventory and spells etc.
    in one of my old groups one of the players constantly spent his time on a game boy or surfing the internet, we kept having to shout at him to take his turns

    use responsibly basically, at the gaming table technology is a privilege, not a right
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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    My gaming table usually involves one spreadsheet monkey (a player, the wizard) with a computer, the DM with a computer, a rules encyclopedia player with the books, and everyone else just with their character sheets and dice.

    The computer is just too helpful a tool to pass up, even if it does chew up a lot of table real-estate.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    potatocubed's Avatar

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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    My new group has one guy who tracks his character on the computer. Everyone else just uses pen and paper.

    It bugs me a little, since it obscures my view of the player in question, but it hasn't been a distracting problem so far.
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  11. - Top - End - #11
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    W/ the discovery of online character sheets, my computer's saved my life in terms of updating.

    As others have said, only for gaming and so long as they aren't distracted.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    Our DMs sometimes use them, but players generally stick with books. We pass a calculator around if needed but most of the time we can stick with math in our heads.

    Personally I don't like computers at the game table. I find that they put up a barrier between people who are supposed to be interacting. The one exception I'll make to that is the situation where each player has a computer and they're using AIM or some such to speak covertly.
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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Kurald Galain's Avatar

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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    In a word, no. Too distracting.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    I have two groups.

    For the first, I allow laptops. Some of the players like to keep their character sheets online, and I encourage this, because paper copies tend to get lost, destroyed by soda, etc. Some of them use lots of splatbooks, and they favor PDFs to having to lug the hard copies around. Additionally, one of them keeps a spreadsheet for tracking treasure. I suppose I could forbid them Internet access, as they don't really need it, but I trust them to not let computers be a distraction.

    I used to allow the other group to use laptops, but have since forbidden it. That group confirmed my worst fears about laptops - those who had them were constantly chatting on AIM (not about the game or anything), going on Facebook, playing flash games, doing homework, and generally just not paying attention. It got to the point where only two players were ever paying attention, and if I wanted anyone else to listen to me, I pretty much had to throw dice at them. I finally put my foot down, and I'm glad I did. Now, if they want splatbooks, they have to bring them, and if they want their character sheets online, they have to print them out, but the game is the better for it.

    So, it really depends on the maturity of your group, but don't be afraid to put your foot down for the sake of the game.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    Everyone in my group has a laptop we use for gaming. Setting up our laptops is the first thing we do at the start of a session.

    For our DM, having a laptop is critical, for a variety of reasons.
    He keeps a huge database of monsters and races at the ready, so if he needs to change a pitch or alter the tone of things quickly, he's got all the necessary baddies ready to fling at us.
    In the same vein, he keeps all of his NPCs there, along with a hoarde of "miscellaneous" NPCs he can drop into any given situation as needed, so if we randomly pester a shopkeeper, we find out that the shopkeeper is actually fleshed out (not because he was ready for us to talk to THAT shopkeeper, but because he had a name, face, attitude, history, and dialogue ready to drop into the fray).
    He also keeps a database of terrain/planar/misc rules. High level campaign? One of the PCs just decided to planeshift everything to the elemental plane of fire? Need to know everything there is to know about blinking and waking up in a bed of lava? No problem *click*.
    Maps? Campaign notes? Evil plans for us that we're not privy to? Got it covered. He also keeps copies of our characters (we send him when we level, or change gear, or what have you).

    Basically, our DM always seems like he's one step ahead of us, cause he's actually FIVE steps ahead of us.

    For we the players, it's pretty darn important too. It's easy to keep your character sheets digitally. We type up the info on whatever classes we're playing, so we don't need the books when we level. We also type up the spells we know, and manage our spellbooks digitally (both the actual spellbook, and the spells memorized for the day and what have you).
    The biggest thing though, is that we all use MSN messenger as a chat program during the session. We change our names on it to our character names.
    It lets the DM send us notes (if there's something only one character knows, he can just tell that one person). We can ask the DM stuff in secret if we're not doing something with the entire group (it's come in handy before). It also lets us whisper to each other without the other players (or the DM) automatically knowing what we said.

    In general, it's handy to have. We still roll actual dice, and we usually have a map printed out for the table, but it'd suck to go back to gaming without my lappy.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    adanedhel9's Avatar

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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    Yes. As a DM, I find that a laptop is nearly indispensible - SRD, campaign notes, name generators, spreadsheets for calculating XP and treasure, maps, and important images all at my fingertips. I have character sheets, houserules, and campaign notes stored in a wiki. One of my players regularly brings his laptop and another uses his iPhone to access this info during the game.

    As a player, I usually have a laptop nearby, but I get along with lots of printed character info.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Glyde's Avatar

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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    pdfs and the SRD save a lot of table space. I bring my laptop to gaming sessions. It also is great for keeping track of NPCs and dungeon maps instead of scattered pieces of paper.


    Though I wouldn't use a dice roller. Half the fun from Sphere of Ultimate Destruction is finding 36 6 sided dice

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    Yes, those of you who use electronic dice are committing sacrilege of the highest degree.

    You can have my dice when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.
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  19. - Top - End - #19
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    I allow computers, but I am beginning to regret it. They are just too distracting to several of my players (including one that can't even remember how to roll attacks, it's not that hard!!). I had to tell one of my players to, "Put the physics down damnit" during combat more than once.

    I, as the DM, keep my notes on the computer, so I bring mine, merely because I have so much info to keep track of.

    If I ever banned computers, I'd still bring mine, but then it seems like I am being unfair to the players, so odds are I'll not ban laptops. *sigh*

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  20. - Top - End - #20
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    Tablet computers would be wicked for gaming. All the goodness in a more portable booklike format that wouldn't get in the way of the gameflow as much. Of course, it's not like tablets are very common...

    Ooh, ooh, even better, the whole table is a tablet! Haha, that would be awesome, and probably require a government grant to be able to buy/develop.
    Last edited by Erom; 2008-10-24 at 02:58 PM.

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    Quote Originally Posted by Erom View Post
    Ooh, ooh, even better, the whole table is a tablet! Haha, that would be awesome, and probably require a government grant to be able to buy/develop.
    Microsoft is already developing table surface computers. I think the application they had in mind was for bars and restaraunts though.
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    My laptop is my GM screen.

    Nothing that distracts the players (magazines, comics, cell phones, puzzles, rulebooks for other games) should be allowed, but hell if I can be assed to police 25-year-olds.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    About half of one of my groups brings laptops every time, and it's rarely a problem. Well, except, oddly enough, the only girl in the group, who has a habit of playing WoW during combat when it's not her turn. Slows things down a lot.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    adanedhel9's Avatar

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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    Quote Originally Posted by Erom View Post
    Tablet computers would be wicked for gaming. All the goodness in a more portable booklike format that wouldn't get in the way of the gameflow as much. Of course, it's not like tablets are very common...
    This is exactly what I do - I chose a convertible tablet specifically for DMing. Except last time I forgot my props that let it sit at an angle that's comfortable to use, so I just opened it up like a normal laptop for the night.

    A surface computer as a game table would be pretty cool - it'd be even cooler than the projector game tables that I've seen around. Of course, a surface computer is pretty cool no matter what purpose you put it too.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Ravyn's Avatar

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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    My group would usually have three computers open at any one time, usually because it was easier for us to carry pdfs than actual books. Didn't seem to slow things down too much.

    Then again, in my game everyone's on the computer. We can't help it; it's the only way to get to session.
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  26. - Top - End - #26
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    As a DM, I always have my laptop. Everything, monsters, maps, NPCs, etc, is stored in the dnd folder, with it further organized by campaign. I only use computer dice rollers though when I forget to bring my dice.

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    InaVegt's Avatar

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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    Quote Originally Posted by goram.browncoat View Post
    A PDA per player for dice rolling could be handy at high levels though. Why dont calculators have a 'd' operator. Itd be so neat if i could just go 3d6+2=14
    Programmable calculators FTW (I use a TI-84+ m'self)
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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    Quote Originally Posted by Gezina View Post
    Programmable calculators FTW (I use a TI-84+ m'self)
    Love the 84. I took the time to write a die rolling program in TI-BASIC. Makes it a lot easier when I toss out a disintegrate or something.
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    InaVegt's Avatar

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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    Quote Originally Posted by monty View Post
    Love the 84. I took the time to write a die rolling program in TI-BASIC. Makes it a lot easier when I toss out a disintegrate or something.
    I had done the same, then I had to nuke my TI because my TI-ASM program screwed up something.

    Yes, I had to nuke my calculator, in the same vein you nuke a PC.

    I had all sorts of fun stuff as well. v.v
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  30. - Top - End - #30
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Temp.'s Avatar

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    Default Re: Computers/PDAs at the gaming table

    Back in highschool--when we were all convinced that public D&D would be social suicide--my whole group played bookless: using calculator programs for dice and notes scrawled in the margins of math notebooks for our source references. Nobody could ever know that half the school lacrosse team was camped out in the library for D&D, we thought. Really I doubt we convinced anyone, but the secrecy was half the appeal.

    Now my group uses computers regularly. This is partially due to convenience (d20srd.org is a hell of a lot easier to navigate than the PHB/DMG/MM), partially due to the fact that between the six of us we have maybe four legally-obtained rulebooks; two of which aren't written for editions we play (We have Serpent Kingdoms, Sandstorm, the 3.0 PHB and the AD&D PHB).
    Last edited by Temp.; 2008-10-25 at 02:51 PM.

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