“Egad! An app review on Dungeon’s Master?!?” Yes, only because the geek in me sometimes needs to link the love for D&D with the love for gadgets and toys. After purchasing my new Apple iPad back in November, one of first apps I downloaded was the DMTools app as I was to DM a small side story arc for our regular game. In the beginning, DMTools was a bit cumbersome to use, but after a session or two it has become an essential tool for my use as a DM.
PC and NPC database
The first thing I did in DMTools was to create a list of player characters, listing their key defenses (AC, Fort, Ref, Will), hit points and initiative modifier. Personally, I don’t use this information in DMTools, but it is a good reference should you quickly need to check a player’s defense score without them knowing. At the beginning of each gaming session I also add the monsters that I’m going to use to the NPC list, recording the same information as I did for the players. Once you create PCs and NPCs, you have your initial database from which you can draw from to create encounters.
The next step was to create an encounter within DMTools. This is easy to do – just just select “new encounter” and add the PCs and NPCs (monsters) you need (an Orc here, Ogre there, two Wraiths, etc.) and the encounter is set. In any given gaming session I’ll have 2 or 3 encounters so I usually set them all up at once. Unfortunately there is no linkage into the Compendium, so picking monsters and encounter planning still needs to be done independently of the app.
With the encounter participants and details already loaded into the app, you can select the encounter, which will add the PCs and NPCs that you have already pre-selected, and it will automatically roll initiatives and place the NPCs and PCs in proper order. I still like to let the players roll initiatives, so I need to manually rearrange the PCs – some way to manually set initiative numbers would be nice down the road. Being an iPad, it’s easy to drag PCs and NPCs up and down on the screen to arrange them in proper initiative order. If a PC decides to delay their turn or refocus, then moving them is also done with ease.
Hit Point and Condition Tracking
Once you get going with your encounter, it’s easy to track hit points and conditions. Scoring damage or healing is easily done with a few taps of the finger, along with tracking conditions such as marked, dazed, deafened, blind, slowed, etc. Some of the condition icons leave much to be desired – probably because mentally I can’t link the icon to a condition half the time, but that’s just me.
When it comes time to roll attacks with the monsters, it’s easy to do becasue there is a built in dice roller feature. The rolls are customizable and easy to program into the dice roller. It will save your custom rolls until you modify or delete them. For example, your monster has an attack of 1d20+24 and with 3d8+7 damage. You can program both these rolls into the die roller so that with one touch, it will roll and sum the results keeping the game moving quickly.
Personally I haven’t had a need to use this feature of the DMTools app, but I can see where there may be a need at times to make quick notes. This is where you can do it.
Overall, I would give this application an 8 on a d10 based on its current features and the usefulness of this application to my role as a DM. Note that I’ve only used DMTools on the iPad so my experience is skewed in that manner.
- Customizable dice roller.
- Initiative tracking and easy management of initiative order.
- Easy hit point tracking (damage and healing) and condition tracking.
- Less time tracking monsters, more time focused on the game.
- Initial learning curve.
- Condition tracking icons could be more intuitive.
- No way to manually set initiative scores at the start of an encounter.
- Linkage to the DDI Compendium (yes, this is a stretch!).
- Rewards or random treasure feature (for gold or gems, items would be hard to do).
- Manually enter initiative scores at the start of an encounter.
- Price: $2.99
- DMTools is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.
- Created by Score Studios.
Score: 8 on a d10