RPG a Day: Resourceful

26. What’s an RPG item that provides awesomely useful resources?

There are so many games that provide wonderful resources, whether it’s game-mastering advice, bibliographies, play aids, online content, or a vibrant support community. It’s hard to pick just one, but I will go with Fiasco because there are now so many playsets you can enjoy, both official and fan-made, that you can now use the framework to do much more that its original mission. Few people are availing themselves of of it for continuing series, I should write something on that one of these days! but in the mean time, you have so many worlds to pick from…

#RPGaDay2017

 

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RPG a Day: Fan-Made Resources

Scrapbooking tools

22. What are some awesome fan-made RPG resources?

Today’s default question was too similar to others I’ve just answered (”What RPGs are easy for you to run?” calls for an answer that’s pretty close to the one I gave for “What is an awesome RPG you enjoy adapting?”) So I decided to ask myself a different question, and answer it. 🙂

I want to celebrate fan-made and shared materials. There are so many, so I will just point to a few of different types.

Yes, I do realize that the distinction between fan and professional is very subjective in the world of role-playing games. I’m just trying to shine a spotlight on quality resources created for love of the game and generously shared.

#RPGaDay2017


Credits: Image by Ali Edwards, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

 

 

 

Mashup: Scrivener + #RPGaDay2017

Hey, it’s that time once again! Thanks to an initiative launched by David Chapman, for the fourth year in a row August is #RPGaDay in the Google+ circles I follow and on Facebook. How it works: every day throughout August you get a writing prompt related to roleplaying games.

It’s a good way to share what we love about our hobby rather than kvetching about geek world annoyances, and an encouragement to write more often for bloggers and authors who can use the practice.

For me, the secret to completing this challenge is to write several entries in advance. On previous years I drafted them directly on Google+ (2014) or in WordPress (2015 and 2016). But this year I had an idea: since I was just talking about how useful Scrivener is, resulting in a number of questions on the software’s features and how to use it, I thought I would write my drafts in Scrivener. This will allow me to plan and compare entries more easily.

More importantly, though, this will allow me to share this mini project. I set up a Scrivener project with 31 sections showing each day’s prompt, and I added the graphic version of the prompts and a list of useful links in the Research folder.

A zipped version is located on Google Drive, feel free to use it. You can see I jotted down quick ideas onto the index cards; I could have removed them from the version I’m sharing, but I thought they would serve as examples of how I use Scrivener in planning my writing. I hope this will encourage people to participate in #RPGaDay2017 and/or try Scrivener.

I expect this little project will result in 6,000 to 12,000 words for me throughout August.

Software Review: Scrivener

OMSFSM, Scrivener! I love it so much!

I wrote War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus on LibreOffice and it worked well enough, but by the time the manuscript got to about the 50% mark, it started being a real chore to revise and restructure. By the time I finished, it was 221 pages that we were passing back and forth between writer and editor to handle in LibreOffice and MS Word, and it was rather unwieldy.

Towards the end of the process I downloaded Scrivener but I was too far along to try converting the document. However, when I worked on the Open Content materials from War of Ashes later on, I tested a variety of more advanced writing tools (mostly distraction-free editors and LaTeX-based power tools), with the most promising being LyX and Scrivener.

In the end I decided that Scrivener was a good option for me. It was powerful, flexible, inexpensive, multi-platform, easy to learn thanks to its great tutorials and manuals, and supported by a vibrant community.

When I say inexpensive… The macOS, Windows, and iOS versions go for $40, just enough to cover minor support costs, and you can download a free trial version. The Linux version (that’s the one I use) is free because it’s unofficial but the user community is very helpful, and I ended up sending my $40 as a donation because it was worth every penny.

It has so many features and so much flexibility to work the way you want. I use it right from the planning stage to create my structure and outline, and to gather my writing resources: publisher’s guidelines, references, examples, cheat sheets, lists of names, notes I jotted down, etc.

I use its metadata features to add notes to each section such as keywords, actions needed (“Write examples of play,”) references cited (“Top Secret, TSR, 1980,”) status (“first draft”), or who will be a collaborating author on this section.

I have Scrivener set up to save the draft in my working folder and create a backup on Dropbox, in addition to using iDrive for my regular computer backup. On top of that, every time I stop working for the night or reach a significant milestone, I compile an export version of my draft in .docx format and post it for my publishers on Google Drive so they can follow my progress, and have a work product in hand if anything happened to me.

But I kind of got used to its ease, and I forgot what an improvement it was! Except that when I stopped to take stock of my progress tonight, I looked at the page count and realized what a chore the current drafts would be to handle on a basic word processor. In addition, I had reworked several individual sections of the Tianxia Rules Companion this weekend and instead of being a major hassle to locate the sections to edit in the middle of a manuscript, it was a breeze. So I just had to say a word for useful software!

Really real?

Fence Cat, step 2: closeupI love to do arts and crafts.  I draw and do photography, but also collage, tole painting, calligraphy, and even on occasion make lamps or quilts.  In the last three years or so, however, more and more of my work has been digitally created.  I’ll go into the reasons why in a minute, but first I want to talk about something I noticed recently: when people compliment my work and ask how I did it, they almost invariably seem disappointed when I say that it’s drawn or painted digitally.

It reminds me of the look you get on someone’s face when they praise the cake you brought to the party, and you tell them it’s from a box mix — or Costco.  Somehow, most people reevaluate downward their appreciation of the image; it’s like I’ve cheated them.  Often, they’ll say something like: “Oh, my friend X does the real thing, you know, with paint.” Continue reading “Really real?”