Questions about playing while Visually Impaired

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
Itharus
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Questions about playing while Visually Impaired

Postby Itharus » Tue May 22, 2018 3:15 am

Hi all,
I've recently lost a fair amount of my vision, and have no idea how long I will have what remains.

That said, I've been going around on various RPG and Table Top forums trying to collect tips, tricks, and opinions on playing games like this while visually impaired and even fully blind. Why these games? Well for one, I love them. I've been playing RPGs and table top wargames for a couple of decades now, and I don't want to have to stop! Why else? Because frankly most of these games are predominantly communication and feature a great deal of description and/or utilize miniatures and tokens that can often provide sufficient tactile feedback (sometimes with modifications) to have detailed play with. I won't lie... I have a dreadful fear of boredom, and a GREAT deal of entertainment options seem at a glance (no pun intended) to require vision.

In RPGs such as Pathfinder and newer forms of Dungeons and Dragons you can play with "theatre of the mind" (just like most everyone did back in 2nd ed D&D and earlier!), but they do have grid based maps that feature a lot of finicky rules for positioning and movement that most people use. I think with a little practice and some mods that system is doable. The RPG portion most certainly is doable - there is software that can read rulebooks and the like to you, as well as roll dice, etc with keystrokes and voice commands.

Games like Star Fleet Battles? Very complicated on the table with minis and tokens. And those ship cards? Yikes! But with some legwork on the tokens and minis and maybe some Excel conversions or clever use of pegboards and the like... I hope I can find a way, both with sighted friends and without.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way: I realized I don't have a good Sci-Fi RPG picked out that's suitable for various kinds of sci-fi. I used to play an old version of a Star Wars RPG from the 90s, but that's long dead now and honestly... well... Star Wars. So not only do I need a new Sci-Fi RPG, I also need to find one that might be usable once blind without TOO much assistance.

So... In your storied opinions, how accessible do you think Traveller is for visually impaired and blind people to play?

1) Do any of you know any blind players?
2) Are any of you blind players?
3) Do any of you GM for blind players?
4) How do you manage playing or GMing for the blind or while blind?
5) Can anyone describe how combat plays out to me or point me in the direction of some good examples of all scales of combat?
6) Does the combat in this game require grids, hex maps, or miniatures?

And so on and so forth! I'd be happy to hear from any and all and welcome all (polite, lol!) advice.

Thank you all very much for your time and patience :)
baithammer
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Re: Questions about playing while Visually Impaired

Postby baithammer » Tue May 22, 2018 6:22 am

Not blind and don't have any blind players, but I think I have some ideas that might help.

1.) Make sure maps are oriented toward the GM so all moves are based off the GM's perspective.
2.) Use chess like grid system, with numbers for rows and letters for columns. (Ones row should be on the side of the GM.)
3.) Have all map edges with raised lettering for help with orienting.
Itharus
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Re: Questions about playing while Visually Impaired

Postby Itharus » Tue May 22, 2018 7:01 pm

Heya,

Thanks for replying! The chess-like grid labeling is definitely helpful for a lot of games :)

So Traveller does use maps for stuff then? Are they grid or hex? How complicated is the map usage, do you have any examples or know where I can find some?

I don't actually play this game yet. I'm looking for a good sci-fi system that is or can be made compatible with low-vision needs. From what I've been seeing Traveller is a very established and generally well received one. I'm also looking into Starfinder, although I hear the vehicle and ship combat in that game is very poor.

Thanks again for replying, and I'm sorry for all the questions!
AndrewW
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Re: Questions about playing while Visually Impaired

Postby AndrewW » Tue May 22, 2018 7:37 pm

Itharus wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 7:01 pm
So Traveller does use maps for stuff then? Are they grid or hex? How complicated is the map usage, do you have any examples or know where I can find some?
Both.

Can download some 2D Deck Plans from here:
http://www.mongoosepublishing.com/rpgs/ ... guard.html

For an example of hex ones you can try:
https://travellermap.com/
(You'll need to zoom in to see the grid.)

You can also get an idea of the 1st edition Traveller from Mongoose Publishing rules at:

http://www.travellersrd.com/

Note, the maps are mostly a visual reference to where things are located, not really required for play.
Itharus
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Re: Questions about playing while Visually Impaired

Postby Itharus » Tue May 22, 2018 8:03 pm

Thanks Andrew!

That last sentence is very good to hear! When I try games blind, positional stuff becomes more about called distances and orientations (I like to use the clockface relative to the POV being described to), tokens generally place just for an aid more than anything to scale. I've not found and grid or hex maps that have raised lines yet, so that can be a problem unless I grow an arts and crafts side and figure out how to make one :). Counting off 60 degree arcs is easy on a hex base, just a notch or bump on each vertex and a bigger one for the front facing works well for that. Connecting string or ruler from base to base isn't too bad.

I'll go check the old SRD then -- 2nd Ed Mongoose Traveller is still very close to the original Traveller, right? I had someone tell me this game is famous for "not getting updated". I just want to be sure that the basics are similar enough that I can get a feel for it :)
Itharus
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Re: Questions about playing while Visually Impaired

Postby Itharus » Tue May 22, 2018 8:08 pm

Wow. That map is amazing.

Yeah... that map... might be very hard to convert to a blind friendly mode. That's just for systems and what they contain I take it? More a navigation aid than anything else? If so, I might have an easier time making a homebrew setting, lol.

Props to whoever set that up though, it's beautiful. Reminds me a lot of the official Star Fleet Battles quadrant maps. But that does not surprise me, I think the two were made in the same era :)
AndrewW
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Re: Questions about playing while Visually Impaired

Postby AndrewW » Tue May 22, 2018 9:43 pm

Itharus wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 8:03 pm
I'll go check the old SRD then -- 2nd Ed Mongoose Traveller is still very close to the original Traveller, right? I had someone tell me this game is famous for "not getting updated". I just want to be sure that the basics are similar enough that I can get a feel for it :)

Yup, pretty close will give you a good feel for Classic Traveller, Mongoose 1st edition and 2nd edition.
Itharus wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 8:08 pm
Yeah... that map... might be very hard to convert to a blind friendly mode. That's just for systems and what they contain I take it? More a navigation aid than anything else? If so, I might have an easier time making a homebrew setting, lol.
Yup, just showing where things are and such in the default Third Imperium setting. Not really used much during actual play.
ShawnDriscoll
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Re: Questions about playing while Visually Impaired

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Wed May 23, 2018 12:35 am

Itharus wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 3:15 am

So... In your storied opinions, how accessible do you think Traveller is for visually impaired and blind people to play?
My style of role-play for Traveller is each person says where their character is, and what their character is doing. Before a player does anything else, that is what they say. So all the players are aware of where all the characters are. We don't use minis or maps. Combat is done in real-time rather than turn-based. Listening to a game session is like listening to a radio show.
Itharus
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Re: Questions about playing while Visually Impaired

Postby Itharus » Wed May 23, 2018 1:24 am

That definitely sounds workable, then!

I ran into some very helpful people on the Discord mentioned in this forum, too. A lot of this game seems to be data driven, and from what I understand -- that's good. Anything you can sort and search that doesn't use images is a good thing.

Is there by chance a repository for player created game aids such as Excel sheets for record keeping or the like?
AndrewW
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Re: Questions about playing while Visually Impaired

Postby AndrewW » Wed May 23, 2018 1:30 am

Itharus wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 1:24 am
Is there by chance a repository for player created game aids such as Excel sheets for record keeping or the like?
These might give you a starting point:

http://www.freelancetraveller.com/infoc ... thers.html

http://www.freelancetraveller.com/infoc ... avnet.html
Itharus
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Re: Questions about playing while Visually Impaired

Postby Itharus » Thu May 24, 2018 12:02 am

AndrewW wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 1:30 am
Itharus wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 1:24 am
Is there by chance a repository for player created game aids such as Excel sheets for record keeping or the like?
These might give you a starting point:

http://www.freelancetraveller.com/infoc ... thers.html

http://www.freelancetraveller.com/infoc ... avnet.html
Thank you, AndrewW :)
NOLATrav
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Re: Questions about playing while Visually Impaired

Postby NOLATrav » Thu May 24, 2018 5:57 am

There's someone on the CotI forums known as BlindGuy, a blind person into rpgs, including Traveller. You should head over to travellerrpg.com and look him up, he has been experiencing much of what you're asking about for a while now and could give you a much better perspective on things than many of us here could. And hopefully tips, advice, links, etc etc.

cheers

s
Itharus
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Re: Questions about playing while Visually Impaired

Postby Itharus » Thu May 24, 2018 7:29 am

Thanks, Nola! What's COTL stand for out of curiosity?
AndrewW
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Re: Questions about playing while Visually Impaired

Postby AndrewW » Thu May 24, 2018 7:54 am

Itharus wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 7:29 am
Thanks, Nola! What's COTL stand for out of curiosity?
Citizens of the Imperium.
InexorableTash
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Re: Questions about playing while Visually Impaired

Postby InexorableTash » Thu May 24, 2018 4:03 pm

Itharus wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 8:08 pm
Wow. That map is amazing.

Yeah... that map... might be very hard to convert to a blind friendly mode. That's just for systems and what they contain I take it? More a navigation aid than anything else? If so, I might have an easier time making a homebrew setting, lol.
Thanks!

I actually did an experiment with making the map usable with the text-to-speech services available on the iPad ("VoiceOver") for another visually impaired user. Not particularly elegant, though. It presented a single subsector and you could poke at hexes and get the world details read out, and use buttons around the screen perimeter to move to adjacent subsector.

It appears to be broken at the moment, though.

But echoing others: a map is not necessary for play. The sessions I've enjoyed were more interactive storytelling with occasional dice rolls, and few if any visual aids.
Itharus
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Re: Questions about playing while Visually Impaired

Postby Itharus » Thu May 24, 2018 10:32 pm

InexorableTash wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 4:03 pm
Itharus wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 8:08 pm
Wow. That map is amazing.

Yeah... that map... might be very hard to convert to a blind friendly mode. That's just for systems and what they contain I take it? More a navigation aid than anything else? If so, I might have an easier time making a homebrew setting, lol.
Thanks!

I actually did an experiment with making the map usable with the text-to-speech services available on the iPad ("VoiceOver") for another visually impaired user. Not particularly elegant, though. It presented a single subsector and you could poke at hexes and get the world details read out, and use buttons around the screen perimeter to move to adjacent subsector.

It appears to be broken at the moment, though.

But echoing others: a map is not necessary for play. The sessions I've enjoyed were more interactive storytelling with occasional dice rolls, and few if any visual aids.
Hi, is your friend by any chance active on these forums? I'd love to hear from them what they do to compensate for low vision while playing this and any other major RPG or TT game. I'm trying to collect as much information as I can and get ahold of as many blind gamers as I can. It's my hope to document techniques and spread them around as much as possible so as to expose more visually impaired folks to the viability of such games for entertainment :)
Condottiere
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Re: Questions about playing while Visually Impaired

Postby Condottiere » Fri May 25, 2018 1:16 am

Maps with a tactile feel, supposedly the next development for smart phones and/or tablets.

While you still have vision, mental visualization and/or carrying out of tasks while you still can compare both.
InexorableTash
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Re: Questions about playing while Visually Impaired

Postby InexorableTash » Fri May 25, 2018 4:55 am

Itharus wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 10:32 pm
Hi, is your friend by any chance active on these forums?
It was the same person mentioned upthread ("BlindGuy")

Also, I fixed the demo I put together: https://travellermap.com/tmp/vo.html - if you turn on "Voice Over" on an iPad it's somewhat usable, but not polished.
Itharus
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Re: Questions about playing while Visually Impaired

Postby Itharus » Sat May 26, 2018 6:41 pm

NOLATrav wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 5:57 am
There's someone on the CotI forums known as BlindGuy, a blind person into rpgs, including Traveller. You should head over to travellerrpg.com and look him up, he has been experiencing much of what you're asking about for a while now and could give you a much better perspective on things than many of us here could. And hopefully tips, advice, links, etc etc.

cheers

s
Odd question but do you know another forum this "BlindGuy" is on? That forum won't accept registrations from gmail accounts (and the other most popular free email sites). The only other email account I have is specifically for business. I'd ask you to try and reach him for me, but getting people to other forums seems to be against the TOS for that forum, lol. So I'm at a bit of a loss, here... unless, ironically, I make a 'spam email account' in order to access that forum, which seems rather against the spirit of it.

Sorry and thanks, lol!
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Re: Questions about playing while Visually Impaired

Postby Jame Rowe » Sat May 26, 2018 10:15 pm

I don't have any suggestions.
I would like to offer my moral support - good luck, and may you find a good solution!
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