Sunday, June 21, 2015

First session with Hero Lab at the table.

Okay, so I bought Hero Lab some time ago.  Mostly I wanted to see how a modern character sheet worked.  Our group is big on Pathfinder, and was big on D&D 3.5 before that.  Those two rules sets are famous (notorious?) for their massive crunch factor.  Even for non-spellcasting classes you will need at least two pages to hold all the info.  Also, as a GM I was finding it very time consuming to build higher level NPCs.  As a player that crunch gives you a lot of room to develop your character but as a GM it creates a steep curve as your game moves into the mid and upper levels.

Until recently my use of Hero Lab was mostly to play with "off line" because I didn't have a tablet or laptop.  But this month I got a nice little convertible laptop for my birthday (thanks wifey!)--and Saturday our buddy Steve graciously ran his Pathfinder game for us.  Steve has been using Hero Lab at the table to support his DMing for a while now and he has Hero Lab character (.por) files for all our characters. 

This time I not only brought my character sheets electronically with Hero Lab but also dispensed with all hardcopy game books.  At Steve's I connected to his home wifi and used the website for rules references.  I own a ton of Pathfinder stuff both in pdf and dead tree versions but that's a lot to bring along.  This time it was just the laptop/tablet and my dice bag--and once I find a good dice app I can skip the dicebag too.  No more massive bookbag for me anymore.

So how did it go?  Well on the little screen the print was tiny and fiddly to zoom in and out on.  As my eyes get older that becomes more important for me.  But I loved the hover-over pop-up information boxes for everything on the character sheet.  And I mean everything.  Once you have Hero Lab up you hardly ever have to look up anything else because it's all there in the program.  Skills, feats, spells, abilities, modifiers, etc. are all right there.  For me that was a huge time saver because with a spellcaster character (witch) there are a lot of spells, hexes, etc. which I keep checking details on.  The program was slightly slow when it came to switching tabs, which seemed odd since I only had Hero Lab and Firefox up, but not so much as to interfere with play.

The bottom line: from now on it's Hero Lab for me when I'm playing.  I may bring a print out in case technical problems crop up but don't expect to need it often.

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