Have you ever been curious about the mystical world hidden within the realm of Dungeons And Dragons? Have you ever wanted to join your sighted peers on a campaign to, for instance, stop some rogue thieves from getting your treasure in real time? Well come out from behind your keyboard, fellow gamer, because the world of tabletop gaming is now fully accessible to those of us who can’t fill in pen and paper character sheets. The same technology that brought us online multiplayer role playing games, iCloud, Dropbox, and spreadsheets, can now be used to interact in live action tabletop games. This brief guide will show you how to create an accessible character sheet and roll dice other than D6. A potential accessible battle grid is proposed. Additional resources are also provided to help you get acquainted with the world of Dungeons And Dragons.
What Is This Game Anyway?
Dungeons And Dragons, or D and D, is a live-action, multiplayer tabletop strategy role playing game set in a fantasy world with mythical characters. The Dungeon Master, or DM, controls the story, the predicaments the characters face, the monsters that appear, and possible paths they might take. The characters are faced with choices throughout the game and are able to influence themselves and one another through actions taken. In order to provide an element of randomness, dice are used to influence the impact of weapons, spells, and defensive strategies. This game utilizes several types of dice depending on which action is being taken. D6, D8, D10, D20, and D100 are all used. Depending on the setup of game play, the objective of the game may vary; however, in most campaign-style games, the objective is to defeat one or more difficult monsters and complete a given task, earning enough experience points to bring your character to the next level. Your character can be transferred to other games if the DM of those games allow it.
Since its creation in 1974, 5 editions of D and D have been produced, not including special editions and variations. Resources provided in this guide will be specific to D and D 3.5, as this edition is easy to understand and work with yet it still retains much of the excitement and varied monster classes found in other editions. To learn more about the game, other editions, and where to find materials, please visit the official D and D website.
For a complete handbook for D and D 3.5, please visit:
How To Build An Adapted Character Sheet
Now that you’ve gotten acquainted with the gameplay, rules, and world of D and D, it’s time to build a character. There are several PDF template character sheets available for those who are able to fill in a print sheet; however, few have been created in an accessible format. The sheet contains a series of boxes with headings for things like class, race, profession, alignment weapon stats, spells (if any), etc. Experienced players will often tell you that they can create their character within a few minutes of looking at stats in the handbook and selecting their specific race, class and profession; but this takes time and practice. For those who are just starting out and would like some direction, here are some valuable resources:
This character builder will guide you through the process of creating an HTML character sheet using your favorite web browser. However, the only options for saving it are in PDF or HTML. If attempt to import it into Word, it comes out strange. The site is helpful for learning how character development takes place.
It can be accessed here.
This site provides a handy zip file containing Excel workbooks with the rules and a character builder. I recommend trying this after you have gone through the HTML character creation process a few times. It is a little confusing to navigate with a screen reader, since there are so many formulas, but once you have read through the handbook and are able to understand how character stats work, these will make more sense.
These sites contain the basics of character creation, and not all possible classes, races, and professions are represented. You may want to try out your own combinations once you’ve learned how the process works and become familiar with the formulas.
Throughout the game, you and the DM will need to have access to your character sheet. Often times, you will be the one making changes to it, but the DM needs to be able to have access to everyone’s character throughout the course of the game. One way this can be made possible is by syncing your character over a cloud-based service such as Dropbox. While it may not update instantly, it will at least keep your character current within a few turns, and both you and the DM can make changes to it. This requires that both of you share a folder, and that you are modifying the same file within that folder. To do this, follow these steps:
- If you do not yet have a Dropbox account you can create one here.
- Once you’ve created your account, signed in, and set up your device with Dropbox, create a folder specifically for you and your DM. You’ll want to name it in such a way that both of you can identify it easily.
- On Windows, press Shift+F10, then down arrow to Share Folder. On Mac, this option will appear in the Menu.
- You will be directed to Dropbox. Type in the name and email address of your DM. Once invited, it will be up to them to accept.
- Once both of you have accepted the shared invite, you’re ready to go. You can now open your character sheet on your respective devices and make changes to it during the game. Bear in mind that the DM may wish to close the file when not in use to allow it to properly update.
I’m Afraid I’ll Get Cheated, How Can I Roll My Own Dice?
There are several ways of handling dice rolls in D and D. Sometimes, the DM will roll for all players to avoid cheating by anyone, sometimes each player will bring his or her own dice, and some DMs prefer that one set of dice be handled by all players. In the case that everyone can roll their own dice, there are several ways of going about it accessibly. D6 can be purchased in Braille from a number of retailers, or with tactile engraved interfaces from any convenience store.
Unfortunately, the less commonly used dice, Such as D10 and D20, are difficult to find in tactile form. I was fortunate enough to stumble across a rather large D20 at a comic book shop in my area, but the practicality of rolling such an object seems ridiculous to me. I could barely fit it in one hand, though the numbers were large enough to be felt and distinguished, which made it easy to read. In light of these difficulties, here are some easy technological solutions.
One possibility for those who have an iOS device is to ask Siri to roll dice for you. She’s more than happy to oblige as long as you are specific with your request. For example, “roll a D20” or “roll a D100”. This option is quite convenient, especially if you carry your phone with you everywhere. Just be sure to have your charger handy or extra battery power.
If you don’t have an iOS device, you might try Excel’s random number generator, =rand. You’ll need to input the range of numbers it needs to generate from, for example, if you need a random number for a D20, you’ll need to specify that the range is from 1 to 20; I.E. Rand=(1-20). This method isn’t perfect, and you might get fractal numbers. If this happens, round up or down to the nearest whole.
For those using Android devices, I’m not entirely certain which dice rolling application is most accessible. However, I found one which may work for low vision users, though I cannot guarantee talkback accessibility. This particular application has all dice except D100, but that can be generated using two D10s.
A Proposal For Accessible Mapping
Since Excel is grid based, it’s no surprise that you could use a spreadsheet for mapping. You can plot characters on various points of the map, and you can assign each square a movement corresponding to the conventional 5 feet per square. As a player, you might suggest that the DM create a grid showing just your movement in relation to characters you can see, but this may be extra work. A map isn’t necessary, but it can help in battle situations.
If you’d like to know how the game is played, an excellent podcast to check out is this one.
As of right now, they haven’t produced any new content, but the 10 episodes they currently have should give you an idea of what D and D is about and how they go about playing the game. They use customized paper character sheets and do not implement maps or grids.
This guide provides a brief introduction to Dungeons And Dragons, as well as some useful tips for making the game accessible for players who are blind or visually impaired. The tools and resources suggested here should enable even the most novice players to interact with their sighted counterparts seamlessly and with adaptations that should be easy to implement. Please feel free to leave feedback, comments, questions or suggestions below. If you like this article and would like to see more related material, please feel free to let us know here as well. Happy adventuring.