When I set out to map out my game for last week’s S&W session, I spent a bit of time looking at some RPG software online for something I might be able to use to do some basic notes organizing with. Of course there are various gaming programs out there to do all sorts of wonderful things. The folks at rptools make some excellent (if not complex) software for mapping, tokens and PC gen. The Gametable Project is far and away the best simple no-frills white board / game table if you just want something that can easily simulate you sitting at a table with nothing but you and some wet erase markers for your game surface. And for something with a smaller learning curve than the rptools software, but still powerful, you can’t go wrong with Battlegrounds. All of these are excellent tools (oh, and they’ll all run on your mac), but they weren’t what I wanted. I just needed something that I could write some notes about each room and the creatures and treasures contained inside, and then keep all those distinct, yet grouped notes together. I wanted a sort of virtual source book. Unfortunately, I didn’t find anything in the gaming software. Others have found various other solutions to this problem, Greywulf found Corkboard.me to be an adequate solution, and indeed, ultimately my screen wound up looking something like that, but I didn’t want to use a tool that I had to be online for.
Defeated in my search, I settled for using an old standby for many mac users: Antler! (or Stickies for those of you who didn’t use macs before OS X). And it worked great, different colored notes for different pieces of information, all laid out in a fairly organized and logical manner. In the end, my screen looked something like this:
Each bar with text is a collapsed sticky, double click it and it expands to show all its juicy goodness. Ultimately, I ran into a problem: I can’t save all the stickies at once, in one file. When you quit stickies, they’re all save into the stickies database file, and when you open it again, they all appear exactly where and how you left them. I could backup and make a new copy of the stickies database every time, but that would just be irritating to have to replace it every time I wanted to change encounters or maps. Also, if I ever needed or wanted to print this out, I’d need to issue a print command for each sticky.
So it was resolved, if I couldn’t find a program to do what I wanted, I’d make one myself. And Game Master was born. A simple app, game master stores a collection of areas in a single file, each area has 3 separate note fields, one for a description, one for the game master’s notes, and one for enemies, traps and other misc. stuff. Each file also has a single general notes field, so that information that applies to the entire dungeon or map is displayed no matter what room you’re currently looking at. Last but not least, you can tell Game Master to export your file and it will dump everything into a plain text file for you to do with as you please.
Game Master is definitely not a finished piece of software, and I’m sure as I game more, I’ll come up with new bits to add, but it’s quick, it’s easy and I thought others might find it useful to, so it’s also released and free. You can use it and distribute it however you want, all I ask is a link back here. Also feel free to let me know what you’d like to see in it if you like it.
Game Master is a Mac application, and though it should run on any mac running 10.5 or later I’ve only run it on my machine, and I didn’t muck with any of the build settings in XCode so I can’t say for sure. So far the only known issue is a memory leak when closing a file and choosing not to save your changes. I don’t know why it does that, I didn’t do anything weird to the document closing behavior, but it does. I’ll try to fix it in a future version. If you want to see the source, just ask me.