Last week’s poll was on RPG Tools. That is, software tools for the DM or player. We wanted to know who used them, what tools would you like and what game systems you wanted them for. This poll was in conjunction with Dingles Games who have just launched a free D&D 3.5 monster generator and are planning a range of DM tools.
Are You A Regular Tool User?
How often do you use RPG tools or software? was the first question. The result here surprised me because I did not think it was very widespread but it turns out 41% of people use them regularly and an additional 32% use them occasionally. Only 4% of people never use them. These results may be biased because of the internet savvy of the 6d6 readership so I wonder how many off-line gamers use DM tools?
What DM Tools do you Want?
The next question was on what sort of tool do you use or would use if it was available for your system. This resulted in a dead heat between monster / NPC generators and character generators. As these tend to be the most time consuming activities away from the game table I’m not surprised by the result. Close behind in the wish list of DM tools was mapping software. This is the one that I was always wanted. For the adventures I write, I have always wanted to be able to create maps that are near to professional quality as possible.
GM Tools for all Games
The results for which game system you wanted the DM tools for were interesting. D&D 4e won out but only beat 3rd edition by 6 votes. However Pathfinder, a sort of D&D 3.75 edition, did very well. It got half the votes of D&D 3e but that is not bad for a game system that has not yet been officially launched. World of Darkness, Mutants & Mastermind and Traveller all did respectably well.
Free DM Tools? Yes Please
The final question was on whether you would pay for the DM tools of your choice. Not surprisingly almost half said they would only pay if the paid-for version was massively better than the free version. On top of that, 21% said they would never pay so in effect 68% of people will never pay for the tools. 31% said they would pay depending on the features or on the tool making their life easier. This is probably an over-estimate based on how well other web services do. Must online resources that offer free and paid-for versions only get a very small percentage of people paying.
Tools for the Future?
It certainly seems that gamers want DM tools and use them if they can but they aren’t that keen on paying for them. No doubt this is one of the reasons that many of the tools are amateur both in approach and quality. Another factor is that games manufactures are not keen on seeing professional or semi-professional tools developed. Companies always see it as a threat and shut them down rather than something that can help grow their brand. This is true of both the bigger games companies and the little ones as well.
A new game system, such as Pathfinder or the new Traveller, should actively encourage fans and professionals to make DM tools for their system. As Wizards have demonstrated, RPG published are not very good at developing software. So leave it to fans and entraupeneurs who will do the hard work, take the risks and are effectively giving the game free advertising. RPG publishers should concentrate on producing good quality rule books and supplements.
Image Credit – Polling Station Belsize Park by Matt Brown – CC-BY-2.0