'Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,' the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. 'Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.'

-Robert E. Howard
Beyond The Black River

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Google Slides for the RPG creator.

I'm working away on a post, but it doesn't look like it will be done this week, so to hold you guys over I thought I would talk about my secret weapon.

GOOGLE SLIDES


I certainly use most of Google suite for various things, but I use Google Slides the absolute most. If you have a google account you have access to it, but before we begin let's look at the chief pros and cons of the software as I see it.

PROS
  • Free - No cost besides a google account, which is free. Additional storage can be purchased.
  • Cloud based - Data lives on the cloud so you can access it anywhere you have a connection to the internet on a wide range of devices.
  • Support - Large user base means lots of support online through forums as well as Google.
  • Export formats - Exports as PNGs as well as PDFs, and a variety of others.
  • Extendable - There are a wide variety of extensions you can install from 3rd parties.
CONS
  • Not a graphics editor - Although it can do some rudimentary graphics and can do vector shapes it is not going to replace a full graphics program.
  • Cloud based - I know! I thought this was a pro!? Your data lives on the cloud, you can back it up locally, but by default, your data is on servers outside of your control.
  • Not as fully featured as similar software - Google Slides is a fully-featured piece of presentation software, but even so Power Point can do more.
  • Fonts - Although it has a wide variety of fonts it doesn't allow us to add new fonts to it.
For me, and what I use it for? The pros heavily outweigh the cons, to the point that when I was looking for a new laptop I decided on a Chromebook.

So what do I use Google Slides for?

Adventures

There is something to be said for having a notebook with you at all times and writing out your adventure. Writing in a book can feel more creative than working at a computer, and there is plenty of research that shows it aids in memory retention over typing on a keyboard. With this in mind, my first use for Google Slides might not be its best use but it seems like a great place to start.

You can easily write up quick adventures and notes within Google Slides. The default presentation works fine for jotting down a scene name and some notes. Even a map or image can be dropped onto the slide. This makes a pretty convenient way to either write an adventure or capture ideas quickly.


While we are talking about adventures I searched a long time for something simple that would simulate jotting down notes and shapes for flowcharting an adventure. I do this to get an idea of how the adventure may proceed as well as possible paths for the players. Again I generally use Google Slides for this now, finding nothing else that met my needs any better.

Reference Sheets

It is easy to set your slide size to any custom size you want. Setting it to 8.5"x11" or letter sized, for those of us in North America, allows me to layout a document as I like. I can place each item in its own box and place it easily on the page including lining it up with other items on the page.



Cards

As I said you can set the slide size however you want, this includes: Inches, Points, Pixels and Cm. You can easily set up a printout to produce 3"x5" cards (or whatever size you desire) and save them as a PDF for use either as a printed card or a page on a device like a tablet.



You can also use it to set up custom cards for printing through the Game Crafter. Simply download their card template and create a presentation at the same size as the template. Load that template as part of the master slide and make it slightly transparent and you are good to start designing!



Quick Maps

I have even used it to create quick layout maps when I had no paper to scribble on. These would be especially useful for online play. Although they certainly aren't going to win any visual prizes they are perfectly servicable.



Character Sheets

Character sheets are another item that can be created within Google Slides. I did a new one for my home table for Conan 2d20, as well as a simplified version for running 2d20 convention games.





In general, any single page or card layout you need to create is pretty easy to do in Google Slides. If you jump over to Tool Trunk Thursday, or Friday's Forgotten Fiends, all of the cards were done within Google Slides. You could layout a larger document, like an entire adventure, but you would need to be tenacious since it isn't really designed for it and doesn't handle linked text boxes.

Either way, Google Slides is a robust piece of free software that can be leveraged in any number of ways. If you have tried it please leave a comment below about your thoughts, and if you have an interest in learning more about how I used Google Slides let me know that as well!

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