I’ve seen opinions vary wildly on how appropriate, or inappropriate, electronic devices are at the gaming table. I don’t presume to tell anyone what’s going to work best for them. However I have no problem talking about what’s working great for my group. We’re very digital friendly at this point. The majority of players use their phones, tablets, or laptops for both reference, as well as their character sheet. When I’m a player I tend to prefer having a digital sheet myself. A large number of my players are even maintaining their own digital sheets at this point. Each highlighting their own preferences for how to manage things.
It’s true that digital devices are also an easy distraction, and that can potentially be a big issue. But anything can really be a distraction. If it’s not a comment on Facebook it’s a joke or side conversation with the player sitting next to you. It’s up to the players to have the respect to stay focused on the game. Perhaps the GM to politely threaten them if not. But I definitely believe digital devices have a place in my games.
On the GM side however, I don’t just see digital devices as just having a place, I see them as a must. I’ve gone through many revisions of my own processes, and at this time now, my most vital tool is OneNote. It’s a great way to organize data. I can have a tab for reference pages, a tab for templates for use in my GMing notes, and of course, my notes. In fact, I do have all these things. (Screenshots bellow!) This also highlights why I’m a huge fan of PDFs. I can copy and paste text, or even a section of the page as a raw image as needed for my reference material. Why flip through a book, or even a whole PDF if I can have everything I need for quick reference just a couple clicks away?
(As a side note, if you look at my skimpy notes for a Numenera oneshot, you can see that I shamelessly borrowed a creature idea from The Gentleman Gamer. I don’t regret it. It’s too good an idea not to.)
I’ve also grown accustomed to using an Excel based initiative tracker. The current one I’m using for 13th Age I’ve added the feature of changing colors to indicate when a monster becomes staggered. It’s also easier to keep track of damage when you’re not having to do the math. Though I do plan to make some major modification to it down the line. In particular I want to give it the ability to keep automatic track of the number of mooks currently alive. Next time I go to use them in a session I’ll probably get to that. I don’t see this as being quite as vital, especially in games where initiative is a simpler matter. But for a d20 derived system being able to quickly sort the combatants is a big time saver. With 13th Age I just took it a few more logical steps further.
Now with all of that said and done. I’d love to see how other groups are using more and more technology with their games. So feel free to comment bellow if you have something to add there.