RPGSmith is designed to speed up your tabletop roleplaying. The front end is an interactive tile-based character sheet, and that looks into a back end of stats for equipment, spells, abilities and the like. And it’s free. The business model depends on a Kickstarter that will enable a paid-for GM section, and then the revenue from that being sufficient to keep the lights on for the free part of the tool.
Avoiding a subscription fee seems like a wise idea. The difficulty with persuading gamers to join subscription fees is a problem David Sumner, the co-creator, has already encountered. The original version of RPGSmith first launched in December 2015 as an aborted Kickstarter campaign. The team saw, very quickly, that they weren’t going to hit the target. It’s years later, and the online aspect of tabletop roleplaying has boomed and established properties like Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds are dominant. Will there be space for RPGSmith?
Right now, RPGSmith isn’t in the virtual tabletop space. It’s all about letting a gaming group (or even individual players) custom design their own rules interface. This toolkit is a system that you would probably use at a physical table on tablets, smartphones or perhaps laptops as often as you would use it for any online gameplay. It’s also clear that this is a passion project and Sumner is willing to invest in it to give it every chance of success.
What’s undoubtedly true is launching a Kickstarter when you already have a functioning product to show people is a very different situation from asking gamers, again, to believe that you can code something useful to them.
The current RPGSmith supports a dashboard and title combination so you can customise how you view stats and you can have this across different pages and different layouts. RPGSmith supports multiple characters and multiple rule sets. It has its dice thrower and dice command and brings automation to the annoyance of encumbrance and carrying.
The plans for future development are even more interesting. Of course, the group screen will become vital to RPGSmith if it is going to help groups game together. I like the idea of GMs being able to set up shops and let players work out their trade deals with the shopkeepers. I can’t think of anything that takes as long and is quite so dull than a trip to the in-game shop in a session.
The video below is a musical introduction to RPGSmith. It makes mention of a marketplace where you can buy stuff created by other GMs and sell your ideas. That sounds brilliant on the surface, but I do worry about the licensing and trademark issues that the RPGSmith team might be walking into that might derail the project. Equally, I worry about the licensing of all the artwork already on display in the tool.
What’s coming next for RPGSmith? In a blog post Sumner announces they’re working on dice animation and rerolls triggered by flicking the virtual dice with your finger. They’re working on a better search feature and two new stat types. The ‘link’ type of character stat lets you associate stats with certain items, spells or abilities and the ‘condition’ type is a rule-based attribute. For example, here’s how encumbrance might work;
[InventoryWeight] >= [STR] x 15 = “Over Weighted”
[InventoryWeight] >= [STR] x 10 = “Heavily Encumbered”
[InventoryWeight] >= [STR] x 5 = “Encumbered”
ELSE = “Not Encumbered”
RPGSmith is also working on better image management and improving the system for emailing invites and access to your homebrew rules and creations to other people in your gaming group.
The Kickstarter for the new RPGSmith is yet to launch. Hopefully, by opening up in beta first Sumner and team can see if there are any common questions or concerns from potential customers and tackle them before asking for money. It feels to me that RPGSmith as potential – my caveats about licensing remain, though – but the market is very crowded. Is RPGSmith solving problem gaming groups still have? They seem sure, but we’ll find out when the Kickstarter goes live.