Dungeons and Dragons, old style, with a twist

Posted on March 15, 2005

I’m not (any more) in the habit of making posts that basically only link to other pages, as I’ve started using del.icio.us for my link management quite some time ago, but this one deserves to be considered an exception.

As an old-school D&D fan I’ve tried many of the video-games that derived from it. Much as I do like some of them Neverwinter Nights being the supreme ruler of these), they never came close to the feeling you got when you took an afternoon off to sit in a crowded room with your friends playing with pen and paper and real dice.

The pen and paper were mostly used to draw out the maps of the places we were traveling in (OK, not “we”, our characters; but this blending was the real fun part of the game so bear with me here) and the DM would draw them out as we progressed.

Now, invariably there would be times when we would disagree over something like proportions, positioning, who can see what from where and in the end of any good gaming session the maps would be all but unreadable and totally scratched out.

This was something we had to live with because there was nothing better available and in the next session we would have to re-draw out the map as we knew it at the time and take it from there.

But now there is something much, much better. Something I wish I did have back then…
Via boingboing I’ve come to know about the [computer-controlled digital map projector](http://www.d20srd.org/extras/mapProjection.htm.

The idea is pretty simple, even if there are a couple of issues left to be ironed out as pointed out in the page linked above: you create your map in your computer (a laptop suits this function rather nicely), in photoshop or some-such, and then you hook up a projector to it.
You then put the projector over the gaming table and with a clever use of photoshop layering and real-time editing you can reveal the parts of the map you wish to reveal, while leaving the other parts hidden.

This is brilliant! You get the absolute correctness of a digitized map (which cannot shrink or expand just because you wish it to, you can make annotations on a piece of paper stuck to the table and later re-use the original map because it was not ruined from your annotations and battles (both imagined and real ones –over the rules and so on) and the drudgery of drawing things in real-time disappears as the DM only needs to erase bits of the masking layer to reveal whatever it is he wishes to reveal.

Kinda makes me wish to have another go at those games again…