Further Thoughts on Digital vs Paper

I’ve written about this topic before, but with every new hardcover the Paizo produces, it’s something I have to think about: do I buy the considerably cheaper PDF, or wait and buy the expensive physical version? Now that I have bought a couple of hardcovers in PDF format, I have a much better idea of what works for me.

Ultimate Equipment. Although it is nice to simply type in the piece of equipment you want into the search bar, this means that you need to know what the item is called. I’ve found for use at the table, the physical version of this book works better. It allows both the game master and the players to browse through a specific section and find a suitable item, rather than having to guess its name.

Bestiaries. Although these are nice to page through while preparing a session, I almost never use these during play. They are simply too big to have open in the space I have. Usually I’ll find the monster on the PRD and print out its stats so I can make notes on the page. Sometimes I’ll use the book to show players what the monster looks like, but more often than not, I’ll try and find the image online anyway and show it on my tablet. I would love to have PDFs of these books so I could just print off pages as I needed them, rather than trying to squeeze stat blocks from the PRD onto one page for printing. Having the PDFs would also allow me to extract the images to show to my players without fear of them seeing the statblocks.

Monster Codex & NPC Codex. Like the Bestiaries, these are too big to use at the table, and printing individual pages makes it easy to make notes. I’ve made more use of my PDF of the Monster Codex in the short time it’s been out than I have of my physical copy of the NPC Codex.

Advanced Class Guide. This is not a book that I would actually need to use at the table, so a physical copy would be preferable for reading and preparing. The huge size of the PDFs (even the ones split up by chapter) means that it is quite cumbersome to navigate and so I usually end up looking up the rules online instead. The same goes for the other rulebooks.

Player Companions and Campaign Setting softcover books. The PDFs of these are pretty small and open easily on a computer and a tablet. I don’t see myself going back to physical versions of these.

Modules and Adventure Paths. I’m definitely leaning towards PDFs for these, for similar reasons as the Bestiaries and Codices, as I can print out relevant bits and make use of the images to show my players without exposing them to spoilers on the page. I do love my Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition hardcover, but it’s seen a little bit of wear and tear over the last couple of years of play, which conflicts with my neat freak tendencies.

Pawns. I’m happy to pay for the physical version of these, as they are good quality and come in a sturdy box. I’ve tried making my own pawns in the past, but that was really more trouble than it was worth.

These are all just my personal preferences of course. Do you lean towards paper or digital for certain types of books, or do you stick with one or the other? Share your thoughts below.

The Vault of Greed

250px-NalfeshneeAfter dispatching the mithral mage and his apprentices, the heroes moved on to the next room, which was full of golden statues in various combat poses. There was also a nalfeshnee demon present, who promised them “great rewards” in exchange for his freedom.

When the demon realised the heroes weren’t likely to free him – the monk was not fooled by his empty promises – the demon quickly summoned two vrock allies and attacked. Their screeches dazed Cecil, Radha and Ciaran right away, giving the demons the advantage. Their other demonic abilities further put the odds in their favour, but they did not expect the heroes to be protected from evil, and the sheer amount of damage done by Radha’s sneak attacks eventually wore down even the tough nalfeshnee demon. He would never have admitted it, but it was almost a relief to be released from his thousands of years spent guarding this room.

With the demons vanquished, the heroes thought they had probably dealt with the worst that the vault of greed had to offer, but in the next room they found a strange pool of water, pulsing with raw magical energy. They only realised the danger of the pool when it drained a part of Cecil’s life force (-6 ability drain to Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma). After that, they kept their distance as they tried to figure out just what the water was for. Ciaran successfully used mage hand to fill a flask with the water, after destroying a wand of scorching ray.

When they took the flask of water to the central Runeforge pool, it glowed with magic energy, but some components seemed to be missing. Ciaran conjured a magnificent mansion where they could all rest before attempting another wing of the dangerous Runeforge.

On Multitasking

I don’t usually post on Tuesdays, but I had a discussion with my husband last night that really got me thinking about my habit of multitasking.

We were watching The Amazing Spider-man on Blu-ray. This was the first time we had watched it, as is often the case with films and TV series for us these days: our TV isn’t connected to any TV channels at all, just consoles and the soundbar. Frankly it’s often cheaper and more enjoyable to watch films in the comfort of our own home, with no annoying people making a noise and no overpriced snacks, not to mention the fact that we don’t have to go out of our way to find a cinema showing the film in 2D.

As usual when we watch TV, I was also working on my latest crochet project. This meant I was spending much of my time looking down at what I was doing with my hands instead of looking at the screen. As a result, I was missing important pieces of information: characters that had appeared earlier in the film, establishing shots explaining where the scene was taking place, characters’ expressions or even just cool moves that Spidey was making. While these don’t seem like much on their own, they eventually led to me not knowing exactly what was going on in the film, and I ended up annoying hubby by asking him questions that I could easily have answered myself just by paying more attention to the screen.

About halfway through the film I decided to put my crochet aside and just watch. Instead of missing those important visual cues, I was absorbing all that information and analysing it as I normally do. And, I found I was enjoying the film a lot more. It was then that I realised that I had been reducing my own enjoyment of the film by trying to do two things at once. I was even reducing my enjoyment I get from doing my crochet as I was ‘distracted’ by the film.

The bottom line here was that I was trying to enjoy two hobbies at the same time, but I was really reducing my enjoyment of both by trying to combine the two. Once I started thinking about it, I realised I try and multitask at inopportune moments all the time: tweeting about a cool scene in a movie, leading me to miss important information being provided by that very scene, or trying to watch TV and play a game on my iPad at the same time, or even trying to watch tutorial videos and write at the same time.

All of this has led me to seriously think about my multitasking issue, and whether it is really helping me get more done, or actually leading to me doing multiple things at once, but completing those tasks with less satisfaction and enjoyment. As a (mostly) visually oriented person, doing other things while I’m watching TV actually seems like a poor choice, now that I’m actually thinking about it. The distractions of cell phones and social media are also difficult for me, as these break my concentration on the task at hand.

I think I’ll try and focus on just one task at a time, and enjoying that one, rather than trying to divide myself between multiple tasks.

Lego Set: Minecraft Village

Last weekend at Icon I ended up buying a new Lego set from Blox Universe, Lego Minecraft: The Village. It’s one of four Lego Minecraft sets currently available. They’re all smallish sets, around 450+ pieces (this one has 466 pieces) and costing about R450.

Village01

The pieces are all very small – the majority of them are those one square bitty things that are a bit tricky to put down neatly, but as you can see, the overall effect works very well in creating a Minecraft feel. There are also a few nice ‘secrets’, as there are in most Lego sets, like the removable ‘Tetris block’ see in the grey wall above. (This is definitely not a set for children, as it’s made up of miniscule bits.)

This set is built up from four smaller modules of the ‘village’, as you can see in the photo below. Each module connects to the others via the little black sticky bits that you can see in the bottom right of the image below.

Village03

The set also comes with three ‘minifigures’, which are really just a few small blocks stacked on top of each other, but again, it works well to reproduce the ‘people’ seen in the game. I must admit, it was the little pig that convinced me to choose this set over the other three available.

Village02

Despite being a little fiddly to put together, I love the final look of the set, as well as the fact that I don’t need a huge amount of space to display it. Plus, it actually fits back into its square box once you’ve built it.

If you’re a Minecraft and a Lego fan, you will want to check these sets out. There are also several more sets in the pipeline, due out later in the year.