Adventure Tools Through a Different Lens

by Suddry on August 10, 2009

Unless you’ve been living inside a portable hole you’ve already heard of Wizard of the Coast’s recent release of Adventure Tools. I am the current DM for Wimwick and Ameron and I have to say that the Monster Builder – even in beta form – is a godsend. Sure the beta has its bugs and missing features but it has already saved me hours of prep time. But that isn’t the point of this article. If you want to hear more about the Monster Builder then search the RPGBlogger community for the many informative Monster Builder reviews out there. What I’d like to do here is take a guess (make a wish?) as to what the other lenses of the Adventure Tool main screen will lead us to.

Encounter Builder

To me this is a no-brainer. The current DDI Bonus Tool known as the Encounter Builder is very limited in its practical uses. What we need is a way to build an appropriate level encounter by simply selecting the monsters and produce a sheet or electronic page containing all the data required to run the encounter. Currently I do this myself by copying JPEGs of each creature’s stat block into Microsoft Word and then print the sheet out for the game night. It works but it is time consuming.

If they really wanted to impress us they’d add functionality for tracking the monsters HP and power usage as the encounter unfolds. Save the trees and the ink man!

Item/Treasure Parcel Builder

Take the Monster Builder and tweak it so we can edit or create new items and then add them to a nicely formatted list of treasure parcels for the current level of your game. Add a way to filter random treasure based on the current party makeup and you’d have a real winner.

Skill Challenge Builder

Not much of a database to choose from on this one. However I’d put this on my wish list simply to have a way to develop and nicely format a skill challenge for the appropriate level. I envision a way of choosing the difficulty of the skill challenge, the primary and secondary skills you wish to use and then simply type in the appropriate descriptions for each. I know Ameron and Wimwick seem to whip up Skill Challenges on the fly but for me personally they remain the bane of my DMing life. Anything that would help in their development gets two thumbs up in my book.

Map Builder

When DDI was first announced the one thing that had me hooked was the Game Table. Gaming in 3D? Bring it on! Of course I’ve all but given up on that hope so that brings me back to this little wish: give us a way to electronic create maps based on any of the Dungeon Tiles available. Allow us to add token locations and notes about the map. Then when it is done let us produce a list of tiles required or export the electronic image. (I highly doubt that last part will happen but it’s a wish list so what the heck.)

Other lenses I’d like to add

NPC Builder

Yes, you read that correctly. I’d like an NPC Builder. And I don’t just mean rehashing the info in the DMG. I want a way of keeping track of their motivations and interactions within the gaming world.

Initiative and Condition Tracker

I’d love to see a tie in to the encounter builder that allowed the DM to quickly track initiative and conditions. Load up the particulars from your party’s character builder files and add that encounter you built with the encounter builder and you’ve just taken a crap load of tracking overhead out of the game. I know there are lots of user created methods out there for this (including our own Condition Tracker) but I like all my tools in one toolbox so to speak.

Campaign Tracker

A solid application that would let a DM put all the other tools together to keep track of the campaign. From overall campaign arcs to the minutia of NPC interaction and treasure locations. A sort of Wiki allowing links to maps, encounters and – gasp! – PC character builder files.

Final Thoughts

Aside from the seemingly crazy development time it has taken to get us the Character Builder and the Monster Builder beta I have to say that I am pretty happy with the direction they are going and the quality they are producing. I’m looking forward to what they come up with next. What sort of apps would you like to see?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mike August 10, 2009 at 11:30 am

Based on what the new D&D Game Day site is telling us to expect for DMG release day, i think there is a few other tools were going to see in the builder. Shortly after the screenshot for Adventure Tools game out, i remember having a chat with newbieDM & Kal_Agrim about what the other 4 tools could be coming out.

I don’t think we’ll see initiative tool, i think the idea here is behind planning and not running

Encounter Builder
Treasure Builder
Trap Builder
Skill Challenge Builder

The reason i say this is again encounter builder seems natural, perhaps it prints off a nice encounter tracking sheet.

The Treasure builder again makes sense, and would be needed to build encounters

The trap builder I’ve listed there because rumors are better trap design rules will be out in DMG2 and who isn’t looking forward to that

This is the same with the skill challenge builder.

However i can see more DDI tools based on what we’ve seen already.

Character Builder – Everything in relation to building characters
Adventure Tools – Everything that surrounds building of encounters
Campaign Tools – Backgrounds, NPC’s, Maps, Campaign Logs
Table Top Tools – Play d&d over the net (as previously advertised)
.-= Mike´s last blog ..The Problem with Solo Monsters And the Solution =-.

2 skallawag August 10, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Looking forward to trying this out (even though when I tried to run it last night I got the BSOD conflict with running the Logitech QuickCall). I’m anticipating running the party through a 3 or 4 session adventure and the Encounter Builder is my most anticipated feature of this toolkit.

With all of these tools, I’m hoping for more of a non-traditional approach of Wizards offering online (and searchable) sourcebooks at discounted prices. Even though I’m thirtysomething, looking up a table of contents or index pains me compared to entering a search word in some database or webpage.

3 Karazax August 12, 2009 at 9:12 am

Most of those features may not be in Adventure Tools any time soon if ever, but you can do almost all of them if you play with Fantasy Grounds II
http://www.fantasygrounds.com

An over view video of one of the earlier versions of the 4e ruleset can be found here: http://rpgvirtualtabletop.com/media/xorne-4ejpg-1a.wmv

One of the 4e ruleset developers is working on a parser that will extract information from DDI and put it into the 4e ruleset for use:
http://dnd-4e.blogspot.com/

4 Bob August 26, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Initiative and Condition Tracker would be part of what I KNOW we need – A DM Campaign Gamecenter. This would allow the DM to look at a PARTY of adventurers at a glance. It would track initiative, combat and conditions. It would do the bookkeeping that can get lost with the best of the highest IQ DMs out there. It would also have a journal with a customizable date system. How about a weather generation module? Oh yes, an item/Treasure Parcel Builder (where have I heard that…). What else would it have?….
We NEED a DM Campaign Gamecenter. If were going to use computer power, let USE IT! I can make Skill Challenges. HELP ME keep my campaign in order. This could put my $900 laptop to the test!;)
Happy gaming.

5 karazax August 26, 2009 at 11:13 pm

Well Fantasy Grounds 4e ruleset does the initiative, conditions, hitpoints, hits/misses/saving throws for you among other things. It really is an impressive virtual tabletop ruleset.

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