Metacreator is the best game in town when it comes to Ars Magica character creation software. I tried to roll my own when fifth edition first came out but soon gave up as there's no point trying to reinvent the wheel. MC has its foibles but it really is invaluable, to me at least.
When I write, I use pen and paper, but it would likely be easier to use MC. I worry this means that I'm making stuff you need third-party software to use, though...do you think that players, generally, are going to be using apps more and more for this sort of thing? Or do you think simpler would be better? Like, currently we sepearately track experience in all skills and for me that's been a bugbear in the past, but if people are going to just use devices regardless (say, a phone app or something) then I think I should stop worrying about it.
I have a folder (a physical one) that I keep all my story notes in. When I know I'm going to run my next story I print the notes and put them in the folder. That way I know I'm ready and I get to keep a record of those stories where I need to.
But I've recently been putting the notes onto my ipod touch, especially where we're not sure who is running what when and we might need some filler material. I'd thought about taking my laptop along but it's just too cumbersome and distracting, but the ipod really works.
So the point is that technology is becoming a larger part of my play experience. It used to be just putting a cd on the player for a bit of mood music, but now all my notes are done on the computer, I email out off-camera cut scenes to the troupe, I generate and maintain characters through keystrokes rather than with pen and paper, and I'm carrying stories around in my pocket.
As a tool, Metacreator is great. It does so much work for you. My time is taken up with a hundred and one other things, so every now and then I just want to update my characters with the minimum of effort and print off some nice clean character sheets ready for the next session.
I have switched from pen/paper to "neatly" organised folders and files on my computer, although i still have far too much material on paper only.
2 of our SGs always brings their laptops around, one of which has set up so that he borrows an extra LCD monitor, which is hooked up "facing forward", allowing him to display on it what he wants players to see while keeping his notes on the laptops own screen.
I have a spreadsheet that I use. It still needs work though as it doesn't take certain things into account automatically like Affiities. I still have to do some small manual adjustments to formulas for them but it is in form of cut and paste.
It doesn't have neat print form yet but it is good for helping to crunch the numbers by stage of life (early years, apprenticeship, post apprenticeship.)
The only problem with this is when some B*****D steals your lap top and your memory stick and it turns out all your current characters are stored on it and there is not back up less than 2 years out of date. Sometimes paper has advantages
Everyone in our group plays with laptops, and we regularly back up all the characters to google docs (as well as maintaining a wiki to record session notes). If I ever had my laptop stolen (which has never happened to me), at least my characters would be safe
Until the dog eats the papers. Or a trillion other more or less possible ways papers gets ruined or missing.
However, all players have their own characters, all SGs have all characters. Ie normally, there is 0-2 paper copies of the character and 2-5 computer copies.
I can say without the faintest doubt that such character papers as once was used, got lost a darn lot more often.
Infinitely more actually, since AFAIK no character have been lost since we started using computer as the main "keeper" medium.
Problem with papers is that to get copies, you either sit down and copy it by hand or you have to take the paper physically to someplace with a copying machine.
No, as far as safety of records goes? Paper sucks.