22 July 2011

Digital RPG books

In the comments to the Grognardia post, “Books, young man. Books.”, faoladh writes:

When digital books improve considerably, I will consider going there, but for now they are too clumsy (especially for the particular sorts of use that game texts see), there are problems with issues of ownership vs. “licensing”, and they are too expensive for initial entry, among other potential problems.

I can’t say that faoladh is wrong. This is his opinion and experience, and I can’t argue with that. What I can do is look at my own experience and opinion...

I don’t bring books to sessions anymore, unless it is a book I can’t get a digital version of. I just bring my iPad.

The Hypertext d20 SRD site is, for me, better than the books. It has all the open content from several D&D 3.5 books in one location converted into easy-to-read and easy-to-navigate web pages including good hyperlinking. The licensing is clear enough and without issue. (Especially from the “I’m just playing the game” point-of-view.) And, it’s free.

I also really like the SpellbookMaster app that imports the SRD spells into a database.

I bought the Mekton Zeta and Mekton Zeta Plus books from RPGNow. Mekton Zeta Plus I actually bought, downloaded, and used in the middle of a session. They are watermarked PDFs and DRM-free. I don’t remember the prices I paid, but those PDFs are currently $10 and $12. They are pretty clumsy to use, but I have the same issue with the hardcopies. The problem is in the lay-out itself. In fact, the ability to add bookmarks to the PDF may actually make them a bit easier to use.

Not to mention the number of RPG books I can carry with me almost anywhere to read or reference at a moment’s notice.

And it really comes down to the iPad. It was the final piece of the puzzle that made this practical for me.

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