Cartographr Puts A Little Pokemon Go In Your Dungeons & Dragons
Remember the thrill of early Pokemon Go? Not just the rush of finding rare creatures and dashing to catch them, but the novelty of turning on AR and seeing them in real life. Social media was full of pictures where people pet Pikachu, slept next to Snorlax, and cooked poor Exeggcute. An in-development app called Cartographr is trying to bring back that AR magic, but this time cast the spell for tabletop RPG games.
The fast pitch of Cartographr is that it’s an app that creates an AR space where Game Masters can drag and drop terrain and monsters on a physical surface, then share it with players. The space can also be updated in real time so that it can reflect the changing tides of D&D battles (or other fantasy/sci-fi systems). If cover is destroyed by a spell blast, the GM can take it away, if a wall of fire is cast, they should be able to add that too.
Aside from the novelty of it, Cartographr’s creators hopes AR will enhance storytelling. They cite the many times a GM describes epic scenes, only for the moment to be dragged down by players “asking a hundred questions about where things are.” It’s not the players’ fault – it’s just that people can’t always visualize what’s in each other’s head. Cartographr is meant to take the scene out of the GM’s head and put it on display in a way that everyone can see and agree on. “Because it’s quick through drag and drop,” the creators say, “it doesn’t hinder spur-of-the-moment story developments.”
However, it’s not all about novelty. Cartographr is currently in beta after a successful Kickstarter campaign. This is giving the team time to not only address issues, but also functional desires fans have. For instance, the creators say that “the app can also track distance, generate battle grids, roll dice, etc. like other digital projects.” If these features are easy to use and robust, it could make Cartographr a challenger to established Virtual Tabletops like Roll20 or Foundry. It will be usable on the web so that users don’t have to drain their phone battery over long sessions.
So what will it all cost? The current plan is to launch with two tiers: a free version and a $5-a-month Pro version. Free users will have limitations on how many maps they can save and how many assets they can use. The Pro subscription will be unlimited, offer more assets per map, and include extras like weather simulation.
Cartographr is planned for a full release sometime later this year on iOS, Android, and PC.
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