RPTools is an open source tool set for PC designed to enhance pen and paper role-playing games. If you’re a RPG fanatic you are probably already aware of these tools or at least heard of them from your fellow gamers. After experimenting with the tools in my own Pathfinder and D&D games I decided to dig a little deeper and obtain an interview with the folks who have made these tools openly available to the general public!
NERD TREK interview with Frank Edwards & Keith Athey of RPTools.
Jonathan Nerdtrek: Hello Keith! Please tell our readers a bit about your RPTools programs and your role within the company.
Keith Athey: RPTools is a community devoted to producing open source software for the online gamer. By online we mean folks playing together from across the globe or those with projectors or networked laptops who use RPTools to speed game play. MapTool is by far the most used product but we have others including DiceTool, CharacterTool, InitiativeTool, and TokenTool. My role within the community is that of Bard. I do my best to spread the word about RPTools and try to bring even more people into our community of users.
Jonathan Nerdtrek: I have been checking out your RPTools programs and find them very impressive. Watching this tutorial video for MapTool has blown me away. Your attention to detail is astounding- love that you can click on an item to see its contents, open and close doors, and obtain a light source for each character on the battlemap.
Frank Edwards: I can’t take credit for most of the code — that belongs to the RPTools founder, Trevor Croft. However, real life has become much more real for him lately and he has left the product development in the hands of myself and Craig Wisniewski. We are attempting to carry the banner forward!
Jonathan Nerdtrek: My business partner Todd Gamble (D&D 3.5 Core, Forgotten Realms 3.5, 3x Ennie Award Winner) and I have built a website called Adventureaweek.com. This website is under beta testing and launches in 2012. I was curious if you had any ideas of how we could work together to benefit your tools and our game. We will have a lot of people who would probably like to play online with their friends. I think it’s quite amazing that you ask for nothing in return for your tools which in itself lends great credibility to your product.
Frank Edwards: You may be familiar with the name Jonathan Roberts of Fantastic Maps? He and Rite Publishing have produced the first commercial adventure (that I know of) that includes a MapTool campaign file as part of their module. We worked with Jonathan over the past couple of months to ensure that any tweaks we made to MapTool weren’t going to cause him any headaches for his campaign macros. If you haven’t seen The Breaking of Forstor Naga then you should check it out. He has a product entry on Paizo’s web site (the module is generic enough to run in any game system, but the campaign file is primarily for PF) that links to a YouTube video that shows how he has configured MapTool. I will warn you: he has set the bar pretty high IMO!
Jonathan Nerdtrek: Thank you Frank! I checked out the module you mentioned. It looks great! Are the Pathfinder statistics that are worked into that adventure generally available on RPTools programs, or are those custom stats that Jonathan Roberts worked in on his own?
Frank Edwards: Jonathan created his own “framework”, i.e. his own set of macros and game statistics. There are also user-contributed frameworks (on our forum under User Creations > Campaign Frameworks) that cover various game systems such as D&D3.5/PF, D&D4e, ShadowRun, GURPS, and so forth. I believe he created his own so that changes in the community version wouldn’t affect the functionality of his project, although he could have included the existing framework as part of his product (there are no royalties or similar issues with frameworks; most are covered by a Creative Commons license). I suppose you’d need to ask him that question. If you register on our forum at forums.rptools.net, he goes by the username torstan.
Jonathan Nerdtrek: Can you please tell us more about these tools and what each one does?
Keith Athey: MapTool is RPTools primary product. It allows online players to share maps, tokens, and chat across the internet. It allows for customization for whatever game system you use but can be used with almost any game system. DiceTool is a computer dice roller that allows for complex dice expressions. This code was folded into MapTool proper as time wore on but it still functions as a stand alone product. TokenTool allows you to rip images from the web or your local machine to quickly create tokens for use in MapTool or other VTTs. InitiativeTool was created to keep track and roll game initiative. MapTool has absorbed much of this functionality as well. CharacterTool is used to create custom character sheets for differing game systems. All the Tools are cross-platform, meaning they run on Windows, Mac, or Linux, and game system agnostic. All the software is free and game system agnostic. You can even download the source code, if you like.
Jonathan Nerdtrek: Keith and Frank, thank you for talking with NERD TREK.