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I've heard a bit lately about "Obsidian Portal", a free-to-use site for campaign management, that apparently features wiki's, calendars etc. What is it good for, and how do I get started using it?

What are its direct competitors, and is it worth investigating one of them instead?

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Not quite a duplicate, more of a subset... But since all the top answers are about online tools, yes. –  Simon Withers Jul 27 '11 at 2:17
    
Maybe reword the question to be Obsidian Portal specific/only? I think the "are there any other similar tools" part is secondary, hence it's not a duplicate of the What tools... question. –  OpaCitiZen Jul 27 '11 at 8:01
    
    
Thanks for the rewrite, though to be perfectly honest I was more interested in hearing about other alternatives than simple advice on integration. I think you misunderstood my question. Nevertheless, i'll check out the possible duplicates. –  Frater Jul 28 '11 at 23:28
    
@Frater Feel free to re-edit your post to get it closer to what you're looking for (or re-ask, if you think things are too set for that). I did leave a clause in the question asking about alternatives (and it looked like someone did respond to that), although the impression I'd received from your original phrasing was that this was a secondary concern to the "what is it good for" part of things. –  AceCalhoon Jul 29 '11 at 21:57
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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Before you try and integrate any online tools, make sure your players will go for it. Some are reluctant to use technology. I tried to work Google Wave into my game back when we were starting. I figured that loot distribution was something that could take place outside of game time. All the players agreed with me. But none of them used it. Well, they all read up on the loot, but never discussed it. Instead they preferred to use the first hour of game time to divy up loot.

I think the problem was one of initiative. Most players won't have an opinion on loot that isn't relevant to them. They decline this loot passively. At a game table, this is really obvious to read. Online it isn't. If a couple players were interested in the magic sword, it was never apparent that the other three players had already passed it up. If the internet is going to be useful for your campaign, you need players who will be active participants in the online community you set up. Some people just aren't interested in that much internet activity, and you'll only frustrate yourself by trying.

For Obsidian Portal, my best advice is to put material online in advance. Especially campaign setting material. You should publish the resources you expect your players to read. Post public info about NPCs they meet. Share maps as well. Use the calendar feature, so that if players want to know when the next game is scheduled, they have to check the site. Offer XP rewards for players who post adventure logs. Etc.

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Whilst not necessarily an answer to the question I wanted answered, it's a good answer to my question as rewritten by someone else ;) Thanks! –  Frater Jul 28 '11 at 23:28
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Answering the second part of the question...

The other alternatives to Obsidian Portal that I know of are Epic Words and My DnD Game.

Epic Words seems to have more features than Obsidian Portal (eg. it actually has versioning on the wiki pages, character blogs, a loot tracker, XP tracker, free campaign forum, session scheduler, etc). By default, you don't get any file storage, but if you upgrade your account for $12/year, then you can get 1GB of storage).

The downside is that the interface is...not as pretty as Obsidian Portal's, which may or may not matter to you.

I haven't had a close look at mydndgame so can't really give much more info on that, unfortunately, though all three websites are free to sign up to if you want to have a play around.

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