ou love pen & paper RPGs. So do we. We love the stories, the action, the laughs... the comraderie. What we don't love is getting ripped out of the moment with maps hastily scribbled on lined notebook paper or low-quality images downloaded from the internet. A few lines and circles don't make for an epic battle, does a pixellated alleyway when what you really wanted was a mountain pass. The answer to your problems is but a few taps away.
The Calamus is a mobile app that allows you to create your own custom battle maps.
Be prepared for every combat with huge battle maps, created from hundreds of hand-drawn tiles. Create tokens to place on the maps, representing the foes, whether goblin, mercenary, or beast. Host games for other players to join, whether they're across the table or across the world.

The Calamus

The Calamus
The Calamus will be available for iOS and Android devices. The app is designed not as a stand-along game, but as a tool to support your RPG sessions. Instead of leaning across a table to move your token on a map, just drag it across your device. Other players will see your motion updated in real-time.

Play where you want.
Out of town this weekend? No problem. Since the Calamus is 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.
The game on your mind all week? With the Calamus, push notifications and in-app chat make it easy to carry on a game or battle throughout the more mundane parts of your life. 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 specific ruleset. Instead, it gives you tools to enhance the games of your choice.

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.

Key Features
The Calamus is a powerful RPG companion tool. Each of its features fits into one of three categories:

map-making | robust interface | customibility | future state

The main feature of the app is the ability to create massive maps by utilizing hundreds of detailed tiles, hand-drawn by the studio's artist, Corey Crawford-Hine. 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.

Some tiles for The Calamus
Though there are many, many more tiles to be drawn, here's an example of a giant nest, a cart path, and a cart. Things like rivers, trees, and lava will be colored accordingly, all the while keeping the "parchment map" feel intact.

Map tiles in progress.

Maps of Unusually Large Size. No idea how many tiles wide your goblin 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 tapping-finger gets.

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, changing tiles that have already been laid as needed.

Map-making demo
Maps can be made with just a few simple taps using the intuitive interface. Click the image to see a detailed description on how this map of the Townsburg main gate was made.

Pre-made Maps. Did your party zig when you thought they'd zag? Now they're at a mysterious graveyard for their third fight of the evening rather than the docks like you'd planned. You can quickly grab a pre-made map from the list to serve your needs in a pinch. Alternatively, you're wanting to create a custom castle ruins, but would rather not start from scratch. Pre-made maps can help out there too!

Token Creation. 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 name and description.

Some tokens for The Calamus
Tokens represent PCs, NPCs, and Monsters of the game world. When designing a token, choose from nine metal rings, ranging from pewter to gold to mithril, a dozen bold parchment colors, and hundreds of unique icons. Click to design your own.

robust interface
The interface of The Calamus will include many powerful options, while retaining a distinctly fantasy feel. The main structure is made up of just a few elements, making it easy to traverse, allowing you access to any screen with just a few clicks.

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.

The in-app chat for The Calamus
With the in-app chat, you will have the ability to send messages to one or more people. You will also be able to toggle whether or not your dice rolls display in the chat window.

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.

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.

The lock page in The Calamus
The lock page is our answer to the clunky password. Input a pattern of any number of runes the first time to set your code, then enter it again to unlock the app. Displayed is an example of the runes glowing as they're triggered. Click the image to try it out.

Pass and Play. Someone in your group doesn't have a mobile device? 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?

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.

How The Calamus would appear on a computer resolution.
Our heroes have forced Dreadgarr the Terrible and his pet giant lava spider to the edge of a magma flow, carefully avoiding the demonic blackguard's unholy aura. This is what the battle would look like on a 1024x768 monitor.

How The Calamus would appear on a device resolution.
Here is the same scene on a device. On the right it's zoomed out. You will have the ability to zoom the map out as well as pan it around to get the best vantage point, this one revealing that Dreadgarr's flame wights have emerged from the lava pits.

Use the app how you will. Write eloquent descriptions for your tokens or leave them blank. Pull up a map on a tablet and then place your own miniatures on it. Build a giant map of the entire easter seaboard or have a separate map for every room of a dungeon. The app is meant to enhance the game, not pigeon-hole you into features you don't like.

Unique 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.

The sign-in page of The Calamus
The log-in page with the device keyboard. The app can remember you if you log in on the same device, of course. Click the image to try out your user name.

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. All of your meticulously laid out work will be waiting for you.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Printable Maps. Want to download a printable file of the map you've spent the last two weeks tweaking for an upcoming session where your old college buddies will be in town. Not a problem.

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 'Strength' to 'Asian Cooking', Whirlwind Shout' to 'On Fire'.

Flexible Rules. 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.

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.

A few examples of equipment in The Calamus
Longswords, shields, arrows, polearms, and executioner swords: these are just a few of the dozens of equipment graphics that will be available.

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.

Notes. Keep notes on the game with a handy in-app notepad. Choose to keep your musings private or share the notes with other players.

User Generated Content. 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.

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 will be customizable 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!

App Anatomy

The basic anatomy of The Calamus
The interface of The Calamus is made up of just a few elements, meaning an intuitive and easy-to-learn interface. Click the image to play around with it.

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.

The Plan
The Calamus will be released to the market in small chunks, features that can be downloaded and used to customize the app how you would like.

We are planning for the base app to include map-making, game-hosting, and token-creation. From there we will begin working on the next downloadable chunk and creating additions to the base app until we've covered all of the features above and more.

Frequently Asked Questions
“Will the app be available only on Android and iOS?”
Right out of the gate, the Calamus will be optimized for Android and iOS mobile phones. Windows and Mac computers, as well as tablets will come shortly after. The app will be available on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store initially.

“What games will The Calamus support?”
The Calamus will be flexible enough to be used with any tabletop roleplaying game. We've even joked that you could make your own fantasy-themed Clue or Monopoly boards and we will probably include a chess board and pieces available for free download.

“This all looks great, but I don't play fantasy games, so your dirt paths and hoards of gold don't do much for me. What about some love for us Space RPGers?”
When we get The Calamus off the ground, if there's enough interest in a future-themed version, we'd love to start work on The Calamus2021 (working title) which would have very similar features but would be designed with a space RPGs in mind. All the art for tiles, tokens and interface would be redone, as well as having a more "futuristic" way of interacting with the app.

“You mentioned that you have many things in store for the future of The Calamus. What will these include and how can they be obtained?”
One of the most exciting things about The Calamus is that it can continue to grow after it's initially built. We have plans to put out more tilesets for making maps as well as more token icons, and we have plans for quite a few other features that will help enhance the gaming experience even more, beyond just creative content. However, we're not ready to talk about these quite yet.

“I'm an astute observer and I observed that on your pictures of maps with tokens some of the tokens appear crooked. Why is this?”
You are an astute observer! This is because each time you move a token, it will be at a slight angle, chosen randomly. Not having each and every token perfectly aligned helps bring a sense of realism to the digital space.

“Won't huge maps bog down my device? It is just a phone after all!”
I admire your caution, but it's not really an issue. The Calamus only loads tiles and tokens that are in view of the screen, meaning a large map will perform just as well as a small map.

Please peruse this site for
a detailed description of the Calamus.

The Calamus

Key Features

App Anatomy

The Plan