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Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

The Pocket Gods & Monsters app

Jerry Stratton, August 29, 2010

I’ve just added Pocket Gods & Monsters, a very simple web app, to the reference sheets section of Gods & Monsters. It currently only has two screens: one for ability modifiers, and one for difficulty levels/obstacle size penalties. I expect to add one or two more reference screens, and, assuming I can figure in-browser SQL storage out, the Spirit Manifestations database.

I’ve tested it on a first-generation iPod Touch, and on desktop Safari and Firefox. It should work in any “HTML 5” browser. If you use Javascript it will remember which screen you were last on, so that if you have to quit and go back in it comes right back to the table you were previously referencing.

You can add Pocket Gods to your iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad application screen by choosing the bookmark icon (probably a “plus” symbol) and choosing “Add to Home Screen”. Since iOS supports HTML 5 manifests, it will download all of the required files, allowing you to use Pocket Gods while offline.

This is a web app designed by a Luddite. I’m still a big fan of paper maps, real dice, and hand-drawn character sheets. Pocket Gods is meant to be a quick reference; it will never replace the rulebook or real dice, nor will it ever create a character for you. The only thing it might replace are the three-fold reference sheets; however, paper remains more versatile than mobile devices, so I’ll continue to update the three-folds for the foreseeable future.

For the same reason, I expect to continue using physical adventure books for quite a while. Until the immediate visual cues of paper bookmarking across multiple pages and multiple books are matched by ebooks, it’ll still be easier to run an adventure from a physical book.

Bookmark Pocket Gods

I can almost see replacing paper adventures with ebook adventures on a large screen; a 27-inch iMac has enough space to keep several pages open at a time, all visible. But I don’t think I’m going to be carrying a 27-inch computer to gaming sessions. When will we have our promised holographic projectors? That’s the point where I’ll start seriously thinking about replacing all of my paper manuals with ebooks.

Of course, it’ll have to be a holographic projector that can’t be seen by the players…

On a technical level, the app does not currently support swiping; ignoring the cross-platform issues, I couldn’t find any reliable swiping plugins for JQuery; they were either slow or completely non-responsive. Similarly, while I was able to get simple transitions working on my desktop browser, the Touch flashed a white screen between transitions; I could have gotten around that by making the system more complicated, but I’m trying to keep it simple so that it is more reliable. I’ll be keeping an eye out for cross-platform, reliable, responsive swiping; and for seamless cross-page transitions.

I specifically did not try to make it look like an iPhone application; it’s meant for use on any mobile device that might at times be offline: it should work as well on your laptop as on your tablet computer or your Android/iPhone. It is purely HTML/CSS/Javascript, and it doesn’t even require Javascript1.

Another technical quirk is that, at least for the iPod Touch, when you open the app while on a network and the online version of the app has been updated2 the iPod Touch will download the new version automatically; it will not, however, warn you that it has just downloaded a new version. Until you restart the app you’ll still be using the old one. Sometimes this seems to make the links not work. I don’t know what’s going on there.

  1. The hypothetical spirit manifestations reference will require Javascript. The requirement that the app work offline means that it needs on offline scripting language.

  2. Specifically, if the manifest listing the necessary files has been updated.

  1. <- Cave of Chaos
  2. Fight On! 9 PDF ->