The Calamus is an app designed to enhance the tabletop roleplaying game experience.
The Calamus is an app designed to enhance the tabletop roleplaying game experience.
You sit at a long wooden table surrounded by some of your closest friends and long-time companions. The townsfolk know you as heroes, but you realize your fellows are so much more than that. Strewn across the table lay piles of parchment scrawled with notes of your adventures, some tucked away, containing secrets you can only imagine.
To your right is the brave paladin, honor and glory dictating that he step between you and the monsters. On your left, the sorceress, often only looking up from her tomes long enough to cast a timely fireball. Together you've seen many wonderful and horrible things. You each owe one another your lives.
Across from you is the one that called each of you together on this night. Mysterious and eloquent, you only know him by the initials D.M. You feel as if he holds your fate in the balance and yet, right now, he seems oddly distracted. He sets down his phone and speaks forebodingly, "Guys, that was Frank. He forgot we were gaming tonight. He's out of town."
"What!" the paladin exclaims. "We've been talking about this all week!"
"Yeah," the DM replies. "We'll just have to play without him, I guess."
"No," the sorceress speaks, frustration heightening the pitch of her voice. "Frank's our cleric. We can't play without a healer."
"But we cancelled the game last weekend and my wife and I are supposed to go shopping for new curtains next Saturday," the paladin whines.
You love tabletop RPGs. We do too. But we all know the frustrations that can come along with game night. Players can ruin a night by not showing up like in the situation described above. There's also poorly drawn maps, jumbled piles of paper containing stats and notes, out-dated character sheets, tons of stuff to print, misplaced hit point or status effect counters, secret notes that are anything but secretly passed, and woe to everyone if you forget to bring your dice. You spend the night trying to roll 20s on Roger's ex-girlfriend's pink set.
Not only would we like to try to fix all of those problems, we'd like your help to do it.
The Calamus is a smart phone app for iOS, Android and the desktop. Our hope is that it can be a companion for your tabletop gaming experience, with the ability to selectively replace the need for almost all physical materials in the game. It provides a rich and engaging digital experience, whether you're playing with friends around the table or around the world.
The app will allow users to create large maps out of hundreds of different tiles; create PC, NPC and enemy tokens, rife with custom abilities, skills and equipment; set play order and status effects; and generally keep all pertinent information just a tap away. Game masters can host games and allow their friends to connect and interact with the setting in real-time. The app is designed not as a stand-alone game, but as a tool to support your RPG sessions. The manual input of hit points and other stats doesn't lock you into any set rules and allows for flexibility of play.
Play where you want. Since The Calamus is primarily designed for mobile devices and game sessions are updated in real time, you can host or join a game from anywhere.
Play when you want. Push notifications and in-app chat make it easy to carry on a game or battle throughout the more mundane parts of your week. You could also spend that time building maps and tokens, preparing for an upcoming session.
Play what you want. The Calamus is designed to remain flexible and customizable. The app doesn't force you into any rulesets or specific games. Instead, it gives you tools to enhance your current games.
Play how you want. Use every feature the app has to offer, or just use the bits that you want. The Calamus is a tool for you to use as you will.
We have many things in store for the future of The Calamus, but here are some of the features that we want to offer right out of the gate.
Map-making. One of the main features of the app is the ability to create massive maps by utilizing hundreds of detailed tiles, hand-drawn by the studio's artists. These range from dirt paths to piles of skulls to thatched roof cottages. The tiles will snap together when laid next to each other and can also be stacked atop one another to create unique combinations, such as a fallen headstone in the back of a wagon or muddy footprints on a pier.
Maps of Unusually Large Size. No idea how many tiles wide your merfolk stronghold will be? No problem. With The Calamus you won't need to dictate map size before you begin building. Just open a new map and start laying down tiles. The app automatically sizes the parchment for you, the only limit to height and breadth is how sore your fingers get. And don't worry about larger maps making more lag. The Calamus only loads tiles and tokens that are immediately pertinent to the player, meaning a large map will perform just as well as a small map.
Just Tap to Add. With The Calamus, there's no need to search down a matching corner tile, drag it onto the map and then clumsily resize and rotate it into place. Instead, you'll select the tile set you're looking for, let's say "castle wall," then tap where you want there to be castle walls. The app will automatically calculate whether that needs to be a corner, edge or interior and place the correct tile, even changing tiles that have already been laid.
Toggleable Tiles. The party's rogue found a secret door down a dead-end tunnel. The game master can toggle the map tile, changing it from a nondescript wall to a now-obvious doorway that only the rogue can see. When the player tells everyone else about it, the game master can toggle it for the entire group. Any tile on a map can be set with an alternate toggled graphic. Reveal secret paths, burned down houses, or invisible magic runes.
Link Maps Together. Build maps of multiple levels of a building or different areas and link them together, so when the brazen barbarian charges down the stairs into the Evil Basement of Horror, his token is transported from the current map to the new location.
Tokens. Tokens represent living creatures on the map's surface, including player characters, NPCs and monsters. Each token is customizable via ring color, parchment color, size and icon, as well as having a number of editable characteristics, such as name, stats, skills, equipment and description. All tokens will come with some universal stats, such as hit points. These can all be customized and are tracked during a game session.
Mount Your Token. Finally get your magic horse at level four? Or maybe you hid from a hill giant in a tree and - in a wave of brazen stupidity - decided to leap on his back? Drag your token over the other token for the option to "mount". The mounted token's movement takes you along for the ride and you retain access to all of your abilities.
Stats, Skills, Status Effects. The non-tangibles of the game world, each of these attributes will be able to be customized, allowing each user to set up a library containing anything from 'Whirlwind Shout' to 'On Fire'.
Equipment. Ah, the shinies! Arguably the best part of any roleplaying game, pieces of equipment can be given stats, a description, and a graphic to represent them. They will be able to be set on the map surface or in the inventory of PC, NPC and monster tokens and even be passed around between players.
Army in a Bottle. Let's imagine you're setting up for the players' battle with King Gurgle and his thirty elite goblin minions. Do you need to make thirty separate goblins? Nope. Will they all be completely identical? No way! Foe tokens can be set to have a range of stats, abilities, and equipment when placed on the map.
Digital Dice. There's not much better than hearing the clatter of plastic on wood as the die slides to a halt, a 20 staring you in the face. Perhaps not quite as satisfying, our digital dice can be customized with many different patterns and colors, and each set can be placed on the board automatically when using a skill or ability. A player can toggle between having only the game master see their rolls, and having them visible to the entire party. You could literally have hundreds of different dice sets for each of your characters and abilities. And we'll definitely be including a cool clattering sound!
User Generated Content. Though the app will be fairly devoid of tokens, stats, maps, etc. when it's first opened, you will have the ability to download content from The Calamus website. You can also upload your creations, choosing to let only your friends download the content or make it visible to everyone. The content can be searched accordingly.
Lock Screen. Have to pee, but afraid the practical joker in your group will change your character's token to a pink faerie while you're gone? No worries. You can lock the app whenever you want, bringing up a runic puzzle that would be nigh impossible to break unless you know the passcode.
Pass and Play. Someone in your group doesn't have a smart phone? It's okay. You, being the generous one, can place their PC token and when it's their turn pass your device to them. Isn't sharing fun?
Notes. Keep notes on the game with a handy notepad. Choose to keep your musings private or share the notes with other players.
Spectator Mode. Have a tablet or maybe a computer hooked to your tv in addition to the device you're playing on? Bring up the app in spectator mode so any player can view the map and location of their friends and foes on the big screen.
In-App Chat. Send notes to everyone at the table or choose to be discrete. Imagine the game master conferring with a player without everyone knowing about it... also imagine players secretly making fun of the game master's newly-grown mustache while he describes the upcoming fight with Dreadgarr, the Terrible.
Robust Usernames. You want your account name to be 'Ela'dren the Wise'? Hey, that's cool by us. Immersion means we allow spaces, commas, apostrophes and a whole host of characters in the user names. Now if we could just figure out how to get dwarven runes on the device keyboards.
Push Notifications. The Calamus will allow you to play with your friends remotely and at your convenience. You could have week-long battle sessions, sword thrusts executed while you're at work or on vacation. The app will let you know when it's your turn or when someone sends you an in-app chat.
Immersive, Yet General Artwork. The interface and graphics of the Calamus were designed to feel distinctly 'fantasy', avoiding the modernistic style of many other digital gaming experiences. However, we can't possibly know what your characters and worlds look like. We want to provide the tools to help you better tell your stories, not tell them for you. The artwork is general, meant to spark the imagination while allowing focus to remain on the elements that truly matter, not needless clutter.
Flexible Rules. One of the biggest frustrations we have always had with digital versions of tabletop games is that rules are often set in stone to represent a game where house rules are one of the best parts. The goal of The Calamus is to make the rule sets customizable and flexible, allowing for even the most obscure RPGs to be played. Implementation of house rules will also be possible, all without the game master having to spend more than a few taps to get everything set up right. The GM decides things like how turns work and if players can see monsters' hit points or AC. The GM can also let the app automatically adjust the baddies hps on successful hits, handle the scorekeeping manually or even give that power to the players.
Configuration. When you fire up the app for the first time, there will be a short questionnaire, asking you what game you'll be playing and how you'll be playing it (such as physical dice versus our digital ones). This will help you customize the app to best suit your needs, but any of these options can be changed later. If you input a game we've never heard of, and give us permission, we'll record how you set up your Calamus so we can help make suggestions for that game in the future.
Maybe you have a session of DnD 4e with some new friends from work, but play GURPS with your old college buddies? That's totally cool. You can tie different games and rulesets to each map and token.
We're actually very excited to see what kinds of homebrew games with totally unique rules utilize the app.
Fog of War. The game master can control settings on what the players can see in a radius around them. Hide map tiles and/or tokens unless they're within a certain number of spaces to the PC's token.
Content on the Cloud. All your stuff lives on our servers, accessed by your inspiring account name. You've no worries when it comes to getting a new device or wanting to pull the app up on your desktop. All of your meticulously laid out work will be waiting for you.
Play How You Want. Use the app how you will. Roll our dice or stick with your lucky d20. Write eloquent descriptions for your tokens or leave them blank. Pull up a map on a tablet and then place your painstakingly-painted pewter miniatures on it. The app is meant to enhance the game, not pigeon-hole you into features you don't like.
Passionate Creators. We're making the product we've wanted to use for our games after years of wishing someone else would make it. We also know how many great ideas come from the community. We want your input and ideas on how to improve The Calamus. We hope it just grows and grows.
Ever-Expanding Features and Content. We have many more things planned for The Calamus, including more setting-specific map tilesets and many robust features. We're very excited about all of the possibilities.
Main Screen. The main screen is the meat of the app; a blank map is currently shown. This will be where all of the pages of the app will be displayed.
Tile Identifier. These are the rulers across the top and left of the map. They scroll along with the map itself, helping you keep track of where you are, especially on particularly large maps. The gears rotate as you scroll, which we all think is pretty cool.
The Bottom Bar. This is the bar across the bottom of the app, which contains contextual information, such as tiles when you're constructing a map or status effects currently active when you tap a token. When there's no other pertinent information to be displayed, we'll display pertinent tips. This bar can be slid down to maximize space and will come up automatically when it needs attention. The parchment of this bar scrolls left and right to show content that's off the screen.
The Right Bar. This bar is on the right side of the app and houses all of the app's static navigation icons, allowing you to get to any feature or setting from anywhere. Nothing is more than a few taps away. This bar also slides out of the way to maximize space. The parchment of this bar scrolls up and down to show content that's off the screen. Currently, you can see icons for the PC token menu, NPC token menu, FOE token menu, abilities menu, dice sets menu, defenses menu, status effects menu, and skills menu.
We have been at this project for a while, thinking we could do it alone and surprise everyone. Lately, it's felt more like a dream than a possible reality. Some of the art is done, some of the code is done. While we've laid a lot of ground work, there's still A LOT left to do. We've made mockups for the kickstarter, but there's a ton of artwork and code left to write. Right out of the gate we want to provide hundreds of map tiles, and hundreds of token icons. We want to do the proper research into games and make sure the app is flexible enough to support the most popular systems. And we want it all to work flawlessly and with a huge level of polish. This is very important to us.
We won't lie. This is our first project as the combined force of TrapStreet Studios. In fact, up until now, it's largely been a side project. We don't want it to be confined only to our free time any longer. We want to focus full time on The Calamus and we want to do it right. Donating to The Calamus and blogging and sharing the project on facebook or twitter will not only help get the project off the ground, but get our studio off the ground as well. We've got a big task ahead of us and we want to see it through, but we need your help to do it.
If successful, the money we raise with this campaign will be used to pay for software and supplies, tablets and devices for testing, a server and a place to house it, and allow our lead programmer to start working on the project full time. All of these are pretty major dollars, and they're not something we can do alone.
Tell us what you're thinking. What can we do to make this happen? Is there anything missing, or something you'd like to see added? We want The Calamus to be YOUR project.
Thanks so much for your support!
WHAT WE'RE GIVING BACK
Wax - Thanks! A donation of $1 or more wins you our heartfelt thanks. Seriously, thank you so much for donating. You've no idea how much we appreciate it.
Recognition! Everyone that donates will receive their name (or screen name, your choice) listed in the credits of the app under their contribution level.
Pewter - The App! A $10 donation gets you a free download of the app when it's available.
Iron - Vote for DLC! At the $25 level, you get a free download of the app, as well as a vote to help decide what the first set of downloadable content is (which means you get a sneak peek of what we have in store). Help shape the future of The Calamus!
Copper - Beta Test! For $50, you get a free download of the app, as well as a vote to help decide what the first set of downloadable content is and entrance into the Beta test. Be one of the first to start using the app! Anything you create in Beta will still be available when the product launches for everyone else. Help us build the app you want by being able to provide feedback before anyone else.
Compass Epic Rings! Everyone at the Copper Ring or higher will receive these epic rings that can be placed around their 1x1 tokens. They are modeled after The Calamus's compass rose. These rings are a Kickstarter exclusive and will not be available anywhere else. Brag to your friends and foes alike about how you were in the Beta test for The Calamus.
Silver - Dicebag! At the $75 level, you will get The Calamus branded dice bag. Made from microfiber, it also doubles as a screen cleaner. You will also receive a free download of the app, a vote to help decide what the first set of downloadable content is, entrance into the Beta test, and the compass rose epic rings. (Please add $10 for shipping outside of the U.S.)
Gold - All DLC Free! For $100, you will receive all future downloadable content for The Calamus totally FREE! This includes all future map tilesets and token icons as well as many upcoming features we aren't ready to talk about yet. You will also receive a free download of the app, a vote to help decide what the first set of downloadable content is, entrance into the Beta test, the compass rose epic rings, and a microfiber dicebag.
Runic Epic Rings! Everyone at the Gold Ring or higher will receive these epic rings that can be placed around their 1x1 tokens. The design is based on The Calamus runes from the lock page. These rings are a Kickstarter exclusive and will not be available anywhere else.
Cobalt 1 - Default PC Token! (5 Available) For $250, a PC token of your design will be included in the app upon download. You may include custom equipment and abilities.* You will also receive a free download of the app, a vote to help decide what the first set of downloadable content is, entrance into the Beta test, the compass rose epic rings, the runic epic rings, a microfiber dicebag, and all future DLC for free.
Cobalt 2 - Default NPC Token! (5 Available) For $250, a NPC token of your design will be included in the app upon download. You may include custom equipment and abilities.* You will also receive a free download of the app, a vote to help decide what the first set of downloadable content is, entrance into the Beta test, the compass rose epic rings, the runic epic rings, a microfiber dicebag, and all future DLC for free.
Cobalt 3 - Default FOE Token! (5 Available) For $250, a FOE (bad guy) token of your design will be included in the app upon download. You may include custom equipment and abilities.* You will also receive a free download of the app, a vote to help decide what the first set of downloadable content is, entrance into the Beta test, the compass rose epic rings, the runic epic rings, a microfiber dicebag, and all future DLC for free.
Cobalt 4 - Default Map! (10 Available) For $250, a map of your design will be included in the app upon download.* You will also receive a free download of the app, a vote to help decide what the first set of downloadable content is, entrance into the Beta test, the compass rose epic rings, the runic epic rings, a microfiber dicebag, and all future DLC for free.
*Content created to fulfill these rewards will need to be approved by TrapStreet Studios before it is loaded into the app as default content.
Mithril - Play with TSS! (1 Available) Come game with us! For $1000, make your way to Kansas City, MO for a weekend and play DnD 3e or 4e with some of the fellows at TrapStreet Studios. Bring along a few friends. Corey will DM a two-day session with the subject matter of your choice. He's a pretty good storyteller. We can also talk art, design, apps, code, technology, or whatever you'd like. Come see where the art for The Calamus was made and maybe get a sneak peek at some of the things we'll be working on for the future. Food will be provided and consist of some of the best local restaurants in KC. You will have to book your own accommodations. You also receive a free download of the app, a vote to help decide what the first set of downloadable content is, entrance into the Beta test, the compass rose epic rings, the runic epic rings, a microfiber dicebag, and all future DLC for free.
Umbrium - Obscure Game Inclusion! (2 Available) For $1500 we will guarantee support for the obscure fantasy roleplaying game of your choice. We believe the app will be flexible enough to work with most games, but if a game you love has some very unique aspects, then we will give it some special attention. Feel free to contact with questions regarding your game and its possible inclusion. You also get a free download of the app, a vote to help decide what the first set of downloadable content is, entrance into the Beta test, the compass rose epic rings, the runic epic rings, a microfiber dicebag, and all future DLC for free.
TrapStreet Studios was started by Jeremy Rexwinkle and Corey Hine.
From the day Corey could hold a crayon, he has been obsessed with art and design. He has been working as a professional graphic designer and illustrator for ten years, the last seven of those at a major greeting card company. In the past few years, much of his time has been devoted to working on in-house mobile and desktop apps. He also teaches an advanced college course on digital illustration. Check out his work!
Jeremy was that kid that always got in trouble for taking apart his remote-controlled cars to figure out how they worked. Thankfully he found more constructive outlets through writing code. He's spent the last fourteen years working as a programmer and developer in varying capacities. His experience includes everything from microprocessor programming to custom enterprise-grade software.
The staff at TrapStreet Studios has been playing (and subsequently studying!) video and tabletop games for most of their lives and are all very excited to launch their own project.
Shoot us a note. We love answering questions. There's also FAQ's below.
Contact us at TrapStreet Studios dot com. That is to say, email email@example.com.
We'll be doing our communication with contributors via email and these pages. On G+, add us and we'll add you back. For Facebook, like us. Follow us on Twitter. Feel free to share with your friends!
Risks and challenges
One of the problems we've forseen – but is a great one to have – is that the app might just be too darned popular. We're a bit worried about server stress post-launch, but are planning to buy a new machine to handle the load and shine it up real nice! Oh, and we'll be running lots and lots of stress tests beforehand.
Also, we might run behind schedule. These things happen in software development and we know we're not immune to it. The best we can do is to stay on task and keep our supporters in the loop. We plan on offering regular updates, as well as a very robust Beta experience before the app goes live.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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