October 12, 2016

Top 10 DMing Tools

Note from the Thumb: When this was posted, there were only 8 links. I have rectified that error, and added the Cartographer's Guild and PCGen to the list.

One of my favorite parts of playing D&D is being the Dungeon Master. Whether it’s world-building, roleplaying a variety of characters, or springing nasty surprises on the party, it’s always been fun. But you know what isn’t fun? Keeping track of numbers and rules, such as initiative order, monster hit points, spell durations, effects, etc. Too often, I hear things from my players like:
  • What does that spell do again?
  • I want to grapple the orc. What do I have to roll for that?
  • Am I still invisible?
  • Which one of the guards is the most injured?
     Each time, I have to consult my books or notes. This kills the pacing of the game while I flip through the PHB to find a spell, or try to remember which of the 5 identical guard minis represents guard #2. I still haven't found a solution for that last problem aside from labeling the minis, but for everything else, as they say, there's an app (or website) for that.
     I have an entire folder of helpful websites and tools bookmarked for easy access when I DM. These include reference material, worldbuilding and storytelling help, homebrew rules, and other tools that make my job as a DM easier.
     So without further ado, here’s a list of my top ten tools and websites for DMs.

Cartographer's Guild
If you're looking for fantasy maps, look no further! The Cartographer's Guild is a website that offers countless amazingly-drawn maps for fantasy settings. Use it for inspiration or to find maps for your own games! If you look hard enough, you might even find some of the Finger's breathtaking work.

D&D Monster Maker

This tool allows you to make nice-looking stat blocks for your NPCs. I often use it to modify existing NPC stat blocks to my liking. Whether you're making a boss, giving a veteran the ability to cast spells for whatever reason, or just homebrewing a new monster, this tool is perfect for quickly and easily creating stat blocks.

Tabletop Audio
I’ve found that a bit of ambiance does wonders to set the tone of a play session. If you’re a DM that likes to build atmosphere, then this site is for you. It has both music and natural sound for a host of different genres, you can sort by type, and you can either build a playlist or loop one track. Furthermore, the tracks are all beautiful, even the ones that are just ambient sound. What’s not to like?

Pyromancers Dungeon Painter
This is an online dungeon map maker. Great for when you want to make a detailed dungeon on the fly and you don't have graph paper or drawing skills. This tool has the added bonus of being an in-browser webapp, for simplicity and ease of use.

Pymapper
Another map maker that starts with "Py", this one has a bit more depth and flexibility. It is a downloadable app that is coded in Python (which you must have on your computer to use it). The advantages of this app over the Pyromancers one include the ability to run a virtual tabletop complete with fog of war. Cool stuff if you ask me.

Strolen's Citadel
If you're in need of creative inspiration, this website is an awesome resource for homebrew of all kinds. From settings and creatures to traps and dungeons, you can find tons of inspiration for your campaigns here.

5e Status Effects Quick Reference
Simple, but terribly helpful when running a game via computer or tablet. Nice, all-inclusive list of 5e status effects and exactly what each of them do. Click on an icon to see what it does.

Donjon
This is one of the best online collections of tools for DMs. It has things like dice rollers, initiative trackers, character generators, world-building tools, specialized tools for multiple editions of D&D, and much more.

5th Edition Spellbook
This one is probably my most-used app out of this list, and 50% of the reason that I switched to an Android phone. Sorry iPhone users, but this app is only available on the Google Play store. Simply put, this app is a quick reference for all of your spellcasting needs. It contains not only the SRD spells, but the ones that were inexplicably left out of the SRD, the ones that namedrop certain famous wizards, and even the Elemental Evil ones. The app is free, and you can pay to unlock features like building a spellbook and tracking spell slots.

PCGen
Here's one I found more recently: essentially a digital D&D character sheet. But that's not why it's on here. PCGen also includes a pretty nifty extra tool called GMGen, which can track characters, initiative, encounters, and more. My favorite part? It tracks effect durations. If one of your players casts a spell with a duration of 1 minute, you can enter it into the app. After 10 rounds, it will notify you of the spell's expiration.

17 comments:

  1. I would love it as would probably a lot people if you guys worked with the spellbook guys to add your spells to it.

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  2. I actually use that same spellbook app all the time. I was unaware of Tabletop Audio and Pymapper. Those seem like really useful tools. Thanks for posting these.

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  3. I use that spellbook too. My only issue is it doesn't have the SCAG spells.

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    1. You can manually add spells to the app.

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  4. You can add this one too... I think its awesome

    http://homebrewery.naturalcrit.com/new

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    1. It's great, but not very useful for most players. It's more for creators.

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  5. Nice list. I love using Donjon. Not familiar with a lot of the other tools but thought it's good to mention fightclub 5e is AWESOME too.

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    1. Looks like a cool app. I'm an Android user though, so I can't even try it out.

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  6. Thank you so much for this. I've been trying to "step up my game" as DM since I'm the only one in my group that can fill the role, and stuff like this helps a lot.

    One that I've used a lot is a random encounter generator found here: http://tools.goblinist.com/5enc

    It's pretty detailed, taking into account the setting, levels of the party, and more. It makes it so much easier and faster to add some variety to some of the encounters in a game.

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    1. I've used this quite a bit as well. I will concur that it is very useful.

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  7. The PCgen link doesn't work.

    This one does: http://pcgen.org/

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, for some reason Blogger decided to put a https://blogger.com/ in front of the rest of the address. Probably user error though, silly me.

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  8. Ok guys, I've ironed out all the errors in the links. Donjon had a problem with the https:// and the PCGen link was flat out wrong. Should be fixed now.

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  9. Hey, there. Just wanted to post a heartfelt thanks for these. I've been DMing a lot lately, and a number of these tools are super useful. Thanks a lot guys!

    -Matt

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  10. If you have an apple device, Fight Club 5 is an amazing tool for players and they even have a similar tool for DM's

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