Reviews & Ideas: Obsidian Portal website

Adventure logs, character sheets, wikis, maps, forums, and more, the gaming website Obsidian Portal is a fantastic storage place for all the tasty story-bits of your RPG.

Last autumn, as a player in an Earthdawn game, I was directed to go to the website, Obsidian Portal, to resolve some in-game role playing between sessions. It was quite fun when my fellow players and I were interacting and participating in some banter between sessions. After a time, though, people forgot to continually check the site for updates (I believe email notifications are for Ascendant paid memberships), so it slowed down quite a bit before we switched games. As it currently stands, this doesn’t seem to be the strongest way to use the site, unless you are blessed with extraordinarily proactive internet-fused players or offer bribes… bribes can work.

Intrigued by Obsidian Portal as a tool for storing data about a game, I began recording information there about the fantasy Hackmaster-light game that I run. When I first created the campaign, I was pleasantly greeted by short instructional videos on how to use each page and option. I discovered that each page has a GM-Only section, for behind-the-scenes planning, and that apparently I am inspired by wiki-style organization. In the game I am running, I do not require my players to contribute to the site, but I use the site frequently for my own nefarious world-building, data-storing purposes.  When needed, it is a convenient and easy place to send my players to brush up on the game story and to admire the stick-figure renditions of their adventures.

One benefit of the site is that you can see other people’s games that use the same system as yours, or explore the plethora of different game systems that people are playing. I have enjoyed spending time perusing other campaigns out of curiosity and inspiration, and have even connected with a few of my Hackmaster-GMing brethren from different parts of the globe. There are free memberships or you can pay a small fee for an Ascendant membership, where you get additional goodies. Monthly featured campaigns, regular guest articles, and frequent news updates fill the home page and the forums seem relatively active.  There is a “find a game” option, as well as filters to see what is in Planning, In Play, Hiatus, or Completed.  You can also opt to receive emailed newsletters, which sometimes have little competitions.

I have been using Obsidian Portal now for the better part of the past year and highly recommend it as a organizational and creative GM tool. I am a little curious about what is envisioned for this site long-term and how the idea first came to be. Micah, of Obsidian Portal, has agreed to a small interview as a follow-up to this post. Before I do so, I am willing to collect a few additional questions from the Troll in the Corner readership, so please let me know if you have one by Friday, June 18, 2010.

[tags]rpg,World Building,review,Gming,Game Mastering,gaming,Role Playing Games,websites[/tags]

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