I love the paperless office concept. Both in business and personal life I have made a concerted effort to reduce the amount of physical paper I use, instead opting for electronic notes. To make this work it is necessary to have some excellent computing tools. One of my favorite is Evernote. This app, available on just about every platform but Linux (and for that there are a couple pretty good third party apps which synch with the official Evernote tool), has been an invaluable asset in the paperless front. This is not, however, an add for Evernote. Rather it’s an observation of a paperless limitation I have found, at least in my own life.
Last month I attempted to run my Basic Fantasy RPG campaign paperless. I downloaded all my maps, charts, tables, adventure path, etc. to my iPad. Between Evernote and Google Drive I had every scrap of paper I normally employ converted to electrons. The result was less than stellar. Sure my table top behind my GM screen looked neater, but it took much longer for me to flip back and forth between my maps, tables, and adventure path on the iPad than it did with paper. There were delays in the game while I fumbled with the interface to bring up the correct document.
Now I’ll admit that perhaps the difficulties were because I was doing things in a new way. It could be that I just wasn’t used to running a game from a paperless platform. As appealing as the paperless concept is, it does have its limitations. Perhaps it could have worked better if I’d had my actual multi-screen computer setup rather than a small iPad. Be that as it may, I think I’ll have to settle for a “reduced” paper system when it comes to my RPG games. Somethings are just quicker and easier in hard copy than via electrons … at least for now.