Review: Epic Words
Reviewed by: Jenette Downing a.k.a Silveressa
Epic Words, Truly Epic?
Epic Words is a relatively new site dedicated to the hosting of campaigns and GM information online in a loose, Wikipedia style interface. Among it's features include the ability to create separate areas for your characters, campaigns, and upload detailed files for both.
To start with one should realize there are two types of accounts: free and paid (which cost $12 a year).
Free accounts come with all the standard features of Epic Words, including blogs, wikis, loot lists, experience tracking, forums, and private messaging. The downside is free users can only create up to 3 characters, and 1 campaign.
The bonuses for a paid account are 10 campaigns, 15 characters, and 1GB of storage space for files (which is almost essential for any GM or player who wishes to upload pics or other files for their games, and GMs can share this storage space with their players if they choose). One should also bear in mind any uploaded content is restricted by a TOS/LUA, so no copyrighted files by be uploaded to their servers for your game. (Meaning copied pics from RPG PDFs, real world copyrighted photographs, etc.)
One other thing of significance is the site itself tends to load on the slow end, often taking 5-10 seconds to load a page/sub area, even on a high speed connection (I tested on 5000k cable internet) but this is only a mild annoyance and is likely due to the sheer number of characters/campaigns hosted on the server.
The interface to Epic Words is straightforward and easy to use for anyone passingly familiar with blogs or the internet in general. When creating a campaign, the user is promoted to "fill in the blanks" on a series of options, from campaign setting and name to a description, as well as the ability to secure your campaign with a "passkey" (a password players would need to enter to join your campaign).
Once created, the campaign area can be modified with custom colors, fonts, backgrounds, and the like to add a particular theme or style. From the campaign area you can then easily create wikis to tell more about specific areas and points of interest, a blog area to post game summaries or other info, as well as separate loot and experience point sections to keep track of important details.
Also included is a separate forum for the GM and players to post relevant info for their game (or even doing a play by post game, if desired).
The downside to this layout is it seems geared towards fantasy and d20 gaming styles. For example, when you choose to create a new item for the group in the loot section a number of check boxes are listed to help define your item, such as masterwork, magical, and identified, as well as the type listing being a selection of various fantasy themed choices, such as scroll, wand, potion, along with more generic ones along the lines of "weapon ranged," "transportation," etc.
While this is may come as a time saving benefit for GMs running a fantasy campaign using d20 rules, those using Epic Words with another rule system or for a modern day/sci-fi themed game will find the choices limited and be forced to place many of their technology based items in the "other" category.
The character interface uses a similar, straightforward approach as the campaign area, with fill-in-the-blank boxes helping to guide your basic character creation (race, gender, name, class, level, etc.).
However, this is where the character creation system falls flat. Beyond three areas to enter description, background, and details, there are no separate areas to list statistics, skills, equipment, or special abilities, requiring you to fit all of this into the "details" area of character creation.
For those playing a skill-heavy rule system (Palladium fantasy 2nd edition, Rifts, Shadowrun 4th, etc.) trying to place all the pertinent info into the details area can make for a very crowded, messy-looking character sheet in short order.
For those using the character area to simply jot down the details/background of an NPC or PC for your game it will certainly prove sufficient. For those looking to actually have a copy of their complete character on Epic Words (for ease of reference or playing in an online campaign) they will be left disappointed.
In conclusion, Epic Words is an excellent resource for game masters to post details of their campaign in a easily accessible area for themselves and the players to access in between games (or during sessions if you use a computer at your game table). It can also give those disorganized game masters a place to put all their stray thoughts and campaign concepts in a place they can add to and work on from anywhere there's a net connection (not to mention the added bonus of having a backup of your game notes online in case your real life notes get lost or ruined).
If you do use Epic words though, I would definitely recommend trying it first to see if it's something you find useful and then paying out the money for the paid account, as the 1 gig of storage is priceless for uploading maps, NPC pics, or even game music/audio logs of your sessions.
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