So, we’re kind of Apple fanboys (and girls) around here. My husband is a recent convert, but he’s still enough of a fan that when we knew Steve Jobs would be announcing Something Big earlier this year, we went ahead and saved for it before we even knew what it was. As he put it, “Whatever it is, we’re probably going to want it. And if we don’t, we’ll just have some money saved.” We stood on launch day in line at our local Apple Store with only one iPad reserved (for me.) Unsurprisingly to anyone who knows us, we left the store that morning with two.

Both of us adore our iPads and use them for both work and pleasure, but I won’t wax poetic about my love affair with Apple that extends back to when my parents took out a mortgage on their house to buy our first Apple IIe. I do find, though, that it’s extremely useful for gaming. There are several apps that come in handy, but I think I’ll talk about the most obvious–Keynote–first.

For those of you who don’t live and breathe Appledom, Keynote is Apple’s version of PowerPoint. I use Keynote to show my players images that evoke mood and clarify setting. (Of course, I also use cardboard houses, minis, and music, too, because I’m completist/insane like that.) Now you could, of course, use paper handouts for images; most of us have been doing so for ages. But the nice thing about using a digital medium is that you can show many more pictures than you would probably be willing to print out. Further, if I print something out, I feel like I have to show it to my players because I killed a tree to make it, but sometimes you find that you have to alter a place on the fly or discover that showing an image would break the wonderful flow of the storytelling. If it’s just in a Keynote presentation, I feel fine about ignoring an image that I pulled that isn’t going to work.

Keynote Thunderwater

An image of the Thunderwater Inn, which I just realized I mislabeled as the Brewery.

Now, I’m lucky–or at least I think I am–because there are three iPads at my four-person gaming table. When my players want to get a better look, it’s easy enough for me to pop a particular image into an email so that they can see something closely or annotate a particular picture. That doesn’t happen too often with our group because we tend not to get very distracted by bits and baubles, but it’s been a nice thing to do from time to time with maps.

The fact that the iPad is small means that I can keep it by my side easily without its taking up much room at our admittedly already cluttered table; the iPad’s versatility allows me to show a picture, check a rule in the searchable PDF rulebook, and play some background music for my players all in one (compact) place. Even my netbook is a bit clunkier on the table than the iPad, and it doesn’t have the speed of the iPad. I have also tinkered with keeping track of NPCs on it, but that’s a matter for another post.

One last huge advantage of the iPad is, as I mentioned above, easy access to the PDF rulebooks. It’s much easier to search for something in GoodReader than it is to fumble through the paper books. Although the FFG PDFs have gotten multiple complaints about their slow load times, I’ve found that they load and flip faster on my iPad than on either my Mac or my PC. Most delightfully, of course, is the fact that you can prepare for your next game during a meeting at work. You look like you’re diligently taking notes when, in fact, you’re learning the stats for the NPCs that will be strangling the life out of your party the next night! What could be better than that?

PDF Rulebook

My favorite page of the WFRP3e Rulebook: "don't worry about the rules too much."

Oh, and yes. The pictures for this post were taken with my iPhone4, just in case you were worried that I missed a launch. 🙂