Today is one week since we should have flown off for a 11 day holiday in Canada. Since I’ve had to stay at home and have continued working, I am trying to invest more free time in rpg writing.
I’ve also indulged in some virtual spending since I’m not spending all the money on food, drink and entertainment while on holiday. Websites like Drivethrurpg offer a huge library of new and old digital roleplaying manuals, adventures and supplements. I bought the latest couple of Shadow World/Rolemaster supplements as PDFs, mainly to support the developer in these difficult times. They’ll also be interesting reads and, I’m sure, a potential source of ideas I can steal for my live campaigns. My other purchase was a D&D module that I may run for family in the near future, though it’s one I fully intend to extensively re-write its plot. This was available as as a Fantasy Grounds module via the same website.
That brings me to the title of this post: digital roleplay products come in more than one form nowadays. I buy very, very few printed manuals for any roleplay these days. The new Eberron manual for 5E D&D, Rising from the Last War, is the last one that I bought and that was the first such purchase in years. But, I have two major digital alternatives: I can get them directly as PDFs, or I can buy them as Fantasy Grounds modules ready to run or reference in my campaigns.
Buying PDFs is the obvious analogy to having the manual in print form. Usually they are ‘indexed’ PDFs so you can search through them easily. I generally find it more efficient to run games with PDFs on my laptop because of the power of this search facility, flipping through the pages of a book may be cathartic, but it is hardly speedy.
The second alternative is to buy what I need as a Fantasy Grounds module. That gives me access to the content within the virtual tabletop client, both in a browsable ‘reference manual’ form and by enabling any character, monster or setting options throughout the rest of the system. So the adventure’s content will appear in the Story section, any new monsters under the NPCs library, artwork will appear in Maps and Tokens and the encounters will be preconfigured under that menu option.
It’s possible to DIY newer classes or unique monsters within the system, but it’s far easier for me to have it already done and available at a click. The D&D Starter Set adventure, and the Starfinder adventures that I have run using a FG module have been so setup light in comparison to my own homebrew because of this. A noteworthy bonus of Starfinder and other Paizo Fantasy Grounds modules is that Paizo generously provides you with the PDF version* for any of their rpg products bought on this virtual tabletop platform – the best of both worlds!
A PDF version is more accessible – I can read it on my phone or on any computer and keep a copy in cloud storage for easy access from almost anywhere. The Fantasy Grounds version requires my computer (or another running it and my login details). It’s always good to have options, and having everything in one platforms makes my IT pro self somewhat uneasy, so for now I’m happy having a mix of the two.
*Requires you have an account with Paizo.com and Fantasy Grounds, and that you setup Paizo Account Synchronization