Harebrained Schemes is looking to further mix the worlds of tabletop and video gaming.

The developer of the Shadowrun Returns role-playing (video) game and the upcoming Golem Arcana physical-miniatures-meets-digital strategy game is prototyping some interesting new software. Traditionally, electronic devices aren’t needed for classic paper-and-pen RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder (or the Shadowrun that Returns is based on, for that matter). But Harebrained may have ideas to change that, providing tools to help gamemasters and players run their campaigns and make their RPGs more video-game-y, too.

“Imagine an RPG where all that bookkeeping and paperwork and that sort of stuff is being handled for you,” Harebrained Schemes executive producer Ray Winninger told GamesBeat. “But it also allows you to do things that haven’t been possible before. Imagine an RPG where, for instance, when I walk away from the table, I can keep playing my character. Perhaps I can keep managing his house or his castle — that sort of stuff.

“Or here’s an extreme example: Imagine a spellcasting system with a twitch element to it. So if I’m a wizard, and I’m trying to cast a spell, and a rune starts to trace something on the iPad, I have to follow that rune with my finger — and how accurately I follow the rune is how much damage that I did with that spell. These are all examples from our drawing board, so they may end up making sense or not making sense, but we’ll find that product.”


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This spellcasting example may sound a little strange, especially to paper-and-pen traditionalists, but the team at Harebrained certainly have the passion for the subject matter. “We have very deep roots in this tabletop stuff,” said Winninger. “We also have deep roots in the computer-game side. The space that we’re interested in exploring is the overlap between those. The tabletop games that we love — how do we leverage technology to transform that experience into something new and different?”

Since everything is still in the “ideas” phase, it may be quite some time before we see an actual playable product. But if it happens, Winninger said to expect Harebrained to finance this via crowdfunding site Kickstarter, where the studio has had a lot of success in the past.

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