Friday, November 13, 2009

Ad-Hoc D&D

There isn't much that you can't do these days as long as you have the right gadgets. This became especially true last night, as I found myself in a situation where a couple of friends wanted to game but I didn't have any of the regular stuff one would need to run a small encounter (monsters, map, dice, DM books, etc...). That is when I pulled out a pair of devices that are rarely ever out of arm's reach: my iPod, and my phone.

There are 3 big iPod apps that I want to spotlight, though I only needed one of them last night. No DM with an iPod Touch (or iPhone) should be without these three apps. And any player who has either of those devices and is worth his salt will have at least two of them. The first is Dice Bag, which, as the name implies, is a simple dice rolling application. It has your d4 - d20, and also includes the percentile roll, and the standard 3d6 and 4d6 (drop the lowest) that one would typically use when creating PC's for a 3.X game (or perhaps Pathfinder; don't know, and honestly don't really care).

The next application, and I may have mentioned this in the past, is i4e. This app is a basic character sheet, with you always on your iPod. Its great for players to track their PC's in combat, but it does lack a few things that have stunted me in the past. First, it does not include Action Points. Secondly, it doesn't record gear. It records your weapons, but not armor or other items that you may have. The other thing that needs to be looked at by the designers is including power listings. I created a warden, I had to manually enter each and every power that my PC has. It didn't include my racials (which would've been useful had I remembered them myself - different topic, different day) and certainly didn't include any of my powers from PH2 or Primal Power. So designers, if you're reading this, FIX THESE THINGS!!! Otherwise, I love that app. "You want to hear about my character? Okay!" Of course, no one wants to hear about your PC, but again, different topic, different day.

The third app is DMs Tracker which is an initiative/combat tracking application. I haven't actually used this app yet, but from what I understand it works similar to Fantasy Grounds or Masterplan, but is really just a bare-bones approach. Because of my lack of usage of this app, I really don't have much to say about it at this time.

Those things are all on my iPod, and you can find them just as easily at the iTunes store. No jailbreak required!

Actually, the players had dice so I really didn't even need to use my iPod (but could have, that's the point). It was my phone that did most of the heavy lifting for me. Now, if I had an iPhone, or at least had been in a wi-fi zone, I wouldn't have needed the phone (I'm trying to say, would've only required one device -- overlooking the fact that the iPhone/iPod Touch will only allow you to have a single app open at any given time...). I didn't have any of my books or grids, but I did have my minis! So I needed an encounter.

Using my phone's Internet capabilities, and my D&D Insider Subscription, within minutes I had downloaded a module from Dungeon Magazine from WotC's website. Taking only another minute or two to find an encounter and get the basics in my head, we were able to play a quick session of D&D without any prep, or warning. The players grabbed up some PC's that were lying around, and we got to play some ad-hoc D&D. And it was good.

1d4+5 is an RPG blog with a heavy D&D (4E) flavor. It is updated once or twice a week without warning. Be sure to give me credit for any material that you use from my musings, and you can follow DM_Ron on Twitter. Keep rolling those 20's!!!


  1. Hello, I'm the developer of i4e, I enjoyed your writeup and wanted to let you know that I'm currently working on some fixes for the problems you mention and they should be available in the 1.2 release.

    I can't include all of the info in the app because I'm pretty sure that would run into a intellectual property thing. I did add importing but it can only import what is in the save file right now.

    Things that are being addressed in 1.2
    - UI enhancements
    - Inventory
    - Action Points
    - wealth tracking

    Please feel free to email me at with any suggestions you have.


  2. Thank you Mike, for giving us a little insight as to what we can expect to see in this app in the near future!

    I realize that the intellectual property thing could certainly be an issue, though I think I've heard of some other programs (perhaps Fantasy Grounds or Masterplan) that will allow you to import directly from WotC's Character Builder. Might be worth checking out.

    Thanks for reading, and if I think of anything else I'll be sure to e-mail you!