As we near the end of the year, I wanted to take a few minutes to revisit some resources and articles on freely available tools and games that you can use to play roleplaying games. The Internet has an insane amount of resources available for you, no matter what kind (or how old) of a game you play. I highlighted some of the ones I felt were the best, and I wanted to revisit a few of them.
Chicago free resources
RPGChicago.com has quickly become a "go to" place on Meetup.com for people in Chicago looking for games and advice. Nate Scheidler, the organizer of the group, has worked quite hard to start up a series of GM Workshops, a monthly "mashup meetup" and getting people to advertise and organize their games here in the Windy City. If you live in the Chicago-land area, I definitely encourage you to stop by and check the group out - there are many games advertised and I have a feeling much more is on the way for 2010.
One of the free RPGs that I wrote about earlier this year made history. Swords & Wizardry, the freely available modern update/recreation "retroclone" of the original 1974 Dungeons & Dragons won a surprising Silver ENnie for Best Free RPG at GenCon this year. This served notice to the RPG industry that the "old school renaissance" has a lot of interest and energy behind it, as many people seem to interested in playing something different verus the complicated (and expensive!) modern versions.
The Free RPG Blog, written by the enthusiastic Rob Lang, has continued to lead the way in 2009 with the review and categorization of the many, many, many free RPGs that people have written and put on the Internet. Rob has undertaken the task of updating John Kim's list of 500 free RPGs and he also maintains a constantly updated Delicious.com list of Free RPGs around the Internet. If you're looking for a game, Rob probably has several in your genre of interest!
Free mapping tools
In early 2009, I had the pleasure of reviewing one of the best (and free!) hex mapping tools that I've ever used. Hexographer is simple, straightforward and yet powerful enough to serve all my wilderness mapping needs. Since first mentioning it in May, Hexographer has continued to grow and improve and expand. You can now easily build icosahedral maps, star charts (ala Traveler), overlay existing graphics (trace over a hand-drawn scanned map, for instance), customize your icons and edit just about every graphic/line/symbol feature available. Joe Wetzel, the author of the tool, continues to provide it for free from his website, but he also offers a "Pro" version for sale. I still use this tool for all my hex mapping needs as it easily outdistances the competition in the features-ease of use-price categories.
Finding games/Organizing games for free
It's almost ironic that in this age of Twitter, Facebook and thousands of social outlets, people still complain of having trouble finding players or games to play. It also is a truth that it's important to have easy to use organization tools for your campaign. I mentioned Pen and Paper Games earlier this year as an easy to use online tool for finding gamers in your local area, and I also looked at Obsidian Portal as a great organization tool for your campaign. In summer of 2009, the two sites joined forces! Now you can easily attract players and keep them informed through Obsidian Portal. Obsidian Portal isn't just a "campaign wiki" that allows you to create campaign resources, you can also have adventure notes, maps and customize the look of your campaign site easily. You can also have your campaign show up on P&PG's search, allowing players to easily find and join your game.
Now it's your turn!
Do you have some freely available tools, games, adventures or resources you think I should check out? Please let me know in a comment! I want to hear from you on how to make my column more useful for you!
Related articles: Gaming 101: Finding organized D&D play in Chicago, Gaming 101: Where are RPG gamers and groups in Chicago, Organizing your campaign for free or cheap, Finding your game for free or cheap, Maps and mapping tools for free, Dungeons and Dragons for free or cheap