First Crop of 4e Tools

I wrote my monthly column for Johnn Four’s Roleplaying Tips newsletter last night. It was a 1500 word article on teaching a RPG to new players, I’ll repost it here as soon as Johnn puts it on his site.

That also means that I have no meaty article for here this morning… time for some linkys!

Fans are taking initiative in the wake of WotC’s on par performance with DNDinsider (i.e. they always sucked at software) and making some incredibly useful tools for D&D 4e.

First and foremost is Asmor’s Random 4e Encounter generator. You plug in the Encounter level, the number of PCs and the difficulty of the encounter. Optionally you can dictate the range of creatures of each type (Artillery, brutes, elites, solos, etc).

The results might not make a whole lot of sense… but some of the encounters presented in the Monster Manual aren’t all that logical either.

Use them to stretch those creativity muscles and don’t forget that an encounter now is usually spread over larger area (i.e multiple dungeon rooms).

Also from Asmor, here’s his 4e Monster Math Cruncher.

I keep saying that 4e monsters are wire frames on which you tack on powers and fluff. Well that application is one awesome Wire Frame generator!

Chose level, monster role and type (Normal, Elite, Solo), Establish Ability scores and crunch. You get all the necessary stats for your monster. Add 1 to 4 powers and fluff it up with a name and you’r in buisness.

Asmor, you are a freaking Genius! Have a look at his fluffier Encounter-a-Day blog too.

Our new friend Propagandroid has posted about quite a few more 4e goodies, namely beautifully rendered power cards and character sheets. Have a look.

If you have any more of 4e playing aids you found or would like to share with us, drop them in the comments and I will add them (with credit) in this post.

Have a great week, I can’t wait to start Keep on the Shadowfell on Friday.

Reader Submitted links:

Comments

  1. Felonius says:

    I’m super disappointed in WotC right now. I can only guess that they’re waiting on the GSL to be finalized so they can protect product identity on the web before they release the “Compendium”, and I’d imagine that a lot of other things (especially the Builder) are based on the Compendium…

    However… There were a lot of Character Building tools out there for 3.x (I was particularly fond of PCGen). The release of 4e has left a gap in that department (PCGen will require *massive* changes to get it to work with 4e). WotC had (at the moment maybe still has, but for how long?) an opportunity to fill that gap and be the only game in town with a tool. At the very least, I think they needed the Compendium, and probably the Builder as well, out within a week of the release of the books.

    Especially with all the extra text involved in an average character with all the powers. Otherwise, you get what I’ll call “caster syndrome”, where you’re hunting through the book for every spell (or power, in 4e) trying to remember what all the little details are. Admittedly, power descriptions are typically very short, but I don’t think I’d say that they’re short enough that people are going to want to write them out for every character.

    Of course, that’s just *my* opinion, and I’m sure there are others out there.

  2. It’s not specifically a 4th ed tool, but Gozzy’s Random Dungeon Generator is one of my favourite tools, whatever edition of D&D (or other rpg with dungeons) you may be playing. For a post of useful tools I think it’s worth a link… now I’m off to check out the other exciting things you’ve linked to.

    http://www.gozzys.com/article.php?cm_id=8

  3. @ Felonius: Having followed Wizard’s very tortuous history with software I can attest that I have NEVER been impressed.

    Magic the Gathering 1.0 and 2.0, including numerous Server crashes and game breaking bugs

    The E-Tool… the one time I can attest that Wizards Stole my money!

    The 3.0 character generator, Ewww.

    Magic 3.0 that’s still in development and has an already dated interface.

    I really don’t think they are “waiting” for the GSL… I believe that the project crashed disastrously and they decided to leave this mess to be resolved and launch the books.

    So my expectations are very low.

    I hope they make me eat my socks… based on thier record, I won’t.

    @Will: Added to the list! Thanks!

  4. The power card is a life saver for 4th edition character and like Felonius said you don’t want to write them down on each character although short they are just long enough to be a major pain.

    With this in mind the link given on Propagandroid site are excellent.

    Yesterday I’ve printed an whole set of the first level power of the class with racial power and class feature power. Then I’ve cut them put them in magic card sleeve and will use a dry erase marker to write my number on the sleeves.

    I just need to write on my character sheet the power name and the variable number for each power for this character and voila… ;-)

  5. Felonius says:

    @Will: That’s probably one of the best generators I’ve seen in a while. Now, they just need an Export Tool to export them to MapTool files. (rptools.net)

    @Chatty: rptools.net has a few great non-system specific tools, which are in active development by people seemingly interested in getting good results from their time (which is, it seems, slightly limited, it being hobby based). You’ve probably linked to them before, but they’re worth linking to again, in my not so humble opinion. MapTool is something that I regularly use. Where I live at the moment I’m able to get a linux box to output to a wide-screen TV, and I run maptool on the linux box, and on my Mac Laptop, and can serve a map over the network, and even give the players a token they move around on the map to indicate where they are. We switch to a regular battle mat for combat, but MapTool works really well for exploration (and is probably a decent precursor WotC’s Dungeon Thing, or whatever they’re going to call it… assuming it’s not already better than the WotC tool will be).

    I have one other complaint about the WotC software (and your mention of MTG reminded me of it). They never release anything that runs on non-Windows systems. I’ve made this same complaint elsewhere (EN World), so I may be a little of a broken record about it. I would think that, given the large community of Geeks in the D&D (and MTG) community, they would realize that not all of their audience is Windows based… I, personally, use Mac at home, and Linux at work. I also noticed that a lot of the WotC staff seems to use Mac Book Pros (various pictures of their of offices from various boards).

    Blah. Ok. I think I’m done ranting about WotC’s software practices… I love 4e so far, and I don’t mind the PDF versions of Dungeon and Dragon (print is nice, but PDF is at least manageable)… But…

  6. Thanks for linking my monster mash-up chart again, Chatty! Having flipped through the new Monster Manual you could probably use the chart to randomly determine monster abilities, too. Here’s another good random monster name/ability generator.

    maxs last blog post..Vancian Spell Generator, or, It Pays to Enrich Your Spell Power

  7. @Felonius: Agreed…. although I’m willing to bet that all those WotC Macbooks were running Win XP in Bootcamp :)

    Added rpgtools.net.

    @max: I point to the awesome whenever I think about it! Thanks for the extra link, added!

  8. Kinda off topic, but you know what I’d like to see?

    I’d like to see someone come out with a deck of blank power cards. Paizo, perhaps. I’d pay $10 for nothing but a bunch of good quality blank cards.

    I hate printing stuff. Heck, for KotS I printed all the character sheets and power cards at staples, and it ended up costing me something like $15 or so, iirc. And then I had to cut out all the cards and insert them, along with a magic card for support, into sleeves.

    A deck of 60 blank cards, with a mix along the lines of 12 at wills, 24 encounters and 24 dailies would rock the casbah. Even better: Packs of at wills and entire decks of dailies or encounters. I don’t see you going through at-will cards nearly as quickly as encounters and dailies, since at-wills pretty much stay the same throughout the life of the character.

    Asmors last blog post..MicroDie

  9. Asmor- Wizards’ character sheet product is supposed to come with power cards. I wouldn’t mind a Paizo version either: the erasable material on the back of the item decks that they do would work great.

    Dave T. Games last blog post..Gaming in Ancient Rome

  10. My NPC generator is system neutral, and includes names for many fantasy races.

    http://www.colugo.org/jmcmurra/generators/index.php?pageId=1&pageType=1

  11. jfallara says:

    For what it’s worth, I’ve made some PDF power cards. They come in two different sizes, and are editable forms.

    http://groups.google.com/group/tools-for-dms

  12. Ooo! Tools. I like tools! Some of my best friends are…….

    No, that’s not right.

    For 3.5e NPC (and quick-n-dirty PC) character generation, I favour Redblade over pcgen, simply because it’s both quicky, /and/ dirtier. Also, it doesn’t need java, and runs perfectly well in Linux too, under wine. Which is nice.

    For random dungeon maps, I’m a great fan of Skeleton Key Games Dungeon Generator ‘cos it uses actual Dungeon Tiles to make the map, for people who care about such things. Otherwise, set the size to 5x8x150, hit F11 to go full screen and CTRL-Printscreen. Paste into Photoshop or any other art package and crop. One awesome map, all ready to print and play. Done.

    If you’re looking at the Power Cards threads, I’m sure you’ve seen links to the Magic Set Editor. I 100% recommend this app – it’s great for tossing together Magic Decks, Top Trumps decks, random encounter cards and much, much more. Brilliant for all your role-your-own GM tools needs. I reckon you could put a random dungeon layout on one deck, a set of random encounters on another and you’ve hit instant adventure session heaven.

    Phew! That’ll do for now :)

    I’m with CDM; Wizards’ poor track record with making software is only matched by… well, Microsoft…. I’d much rather they got the Real Pros (Bioware?!!??) to do it instead. That. Would. Rock!

    But hey, what do we the customers know, eh?

  13. Felonius says:

    @greywulf: “For 3.5e NPC (and quick-n-dirty PC) character generation, I favour Redblade over pcgen, simply because it’s both quicky, /and/ dirtier. Also, it doesn’t need java, and runs perfectly well in Linux too, under wine. Which is nice.”

    “Runs in Linux under wine” means… Well, firstly, that it doesn’t run a pure Linux environment, you still need to install *something* to support it (I remember Wine mostly from the mid-90′s, though I’ve heard that it’s gotten better…). It also means that it *doesn’t* run on a Mac. Which is a must. At least for me.

    I need to play with that Magic Card Set Editor thing… I don’t think it’ll run on a Mac, though. I played with it a little during my lunch break (on Linux), but ran into a couple snags… Just need to play, I’m sure I’ll get it down.

  14. sylvain says:

    This page is so bookmarked. If readers are reading this comment but didn’t check out Asmor’s “wire-framing” Monster Math Cruncher, I highly recommend it.

  15. Added all the 4e/system neutral stuff you suggested since I left work.

    @Sylvain: Thanks! I love what people submitted so far.

    I’m adding this to the links in my sidebar

  16. I missed out on the “Pimp your blog” thread last week, so I’ll do so now. My current post is a system neutral spell name generator inspired by Jack Vance, suitable for brainstorming new spells or giving more eccentric, dramatic, or pompous names to the existing ones. Linked below…

    maxs last blog post..Vancian Spell Generator, or, It Pays to Enrich Your Spell Power

  17. Sweet links!

    Power cards are so invaluable.

    Questing GMs last blog post..Worldwide Dungeons & Dragons Game Day

  18. Good stuff! Even though 4th edition is greatly simplified, every piece of automation a gamer can find is useful. I hate doing math.

    Trask, The Last Tyromancer

    Trasks last blog post..4th Edition Software Tools

  19. Hey Chatty – I created a central resource page for the best 4e resources. It includes a roll-up of much of what you’ve referenced along with other suggestions.

    http://www.dragonavenue.com/dnd/resources/

    Jim Goingss last blog post..Fourth Edition Game System License

  20. @Jim: I’m adding it to the page. BTW thanks for the nice front page link to my blog!

  21. Felonius says:

    No mention yet of the Compendium being up, eh? :-P Yax has a post about it, with only about 6 or 7 comments so far, but I think that WotC has so far lived up to our expectations of WotC software.

  22. I haven’t played with the Compendium much yet.

    The fact that they list powers and give out rules in it is cool.

    The interface… not so much… As you say Felonius, standard WotC fare.

    They say in my old field of supply management that you should outsource whatever you are not an expert at… Wizards make games and Toys… not software.

  23. Thanks for posting these! Love the look of those power cards.

  24. You are most welcome Satin, both for your comment and for joining us here.

  25. All right if I mention the Flash-based 1st-level character generator on my site?

    tinwatchman D&D 4e starting character generator

  26. I’d like to share the Virtual Combat Cards I created. It’s a scala/java application that works on several platforms. Check it out here http://www.exnebula.org/vcc

  27. Just to add to the set of tools people have already described I’d advise checking this out:
    http://www.habitualindolence.net/masterplan/

    Possibly the best adventure planner I’ve ever seen. The only drawback is that its designed explicitly for D&D 4th Ed.

  28. not any apps using adobe AIR runtime? it works with javascript an flash on the desktop, so with no connection you can still have the app. Is is also automatically compatible with MAC Windows an Linux

  29. @Agustin:

    If I ever get a chance, I’m going to learn AIR (I’ve been planning on it for some time, the current distraction is that I just bought a house…), and I’m going to make… something. Actual current plan is to start with a reader/viewer for the files that the WotC builder puts out. Eventually…

  30. Cool, this Sunday I tested my first AIR RPG app which is in alpha stage, and didn’t work as expected, but I have already figured out what was wrong about it, I’t a DM music player, you can categorize music an then play it accordingly to the mood the game is in… and it loops inside the “mood”, so if you are in a bar it doesn’t star playing a battle theme until you say so… also it can migrate your playlist and the files in it to a folder with one click, for portability. You can also write comments about a song an then make a search in the playlist which also lists the comments…. I’ll post it as soon as it gets to a beta stage. which will be in about 2 months I hope (I’m having my second kid in a month).
    AIR is no different than Flash, it just has a few more very well documented cappabilities.

  31. http://www.habitualindolence.net/masterplan/

    Masterplan is the one tool to rule them all. Download the app, visit its facebook page (search hard enough and you’ll find exactly what your looking for). If you’re good at programming, for heaven’s sake, make an add-in. And advertise this app… its amazing.
    AutoMapping as well as map construction, auto battle building based on team level, plot mapping, combat tracker with encounter maps that can be displayed on a separate monitor…. It even has a section where you can look up how balanced your campaign is (for example, it let me know that one dungeon was giving the players more treasure parcels than they should have received for the amount of xp they were gaining). Those with DDI can even connect to the compendium and download creature information. Those without the compendium can easiily make the creatures in a matter of seconds. 0.o freaking amazing. Also, the programmers are actively improving it!!
    It would take a long time to list everything that this app is doing right.
    Try it!

  32. DMSecretary 5.0 is out and upgraded to 4e. It a rather nifty Campaign Manager and is Free.

    http://barncatsoftware.org/dmsec.htm

  33. Interestingly, WotC’s online applications appear to be getting much better now, with the character builder stable and (IMO) wonderful, the encounter builder, monster builder etc.

    It would be VERY interesting to know how much they are following in fan-creations’ footsteps, but in any event I think the years of nay-saying their online initiatives may just be drawing to a close.
    .-= Colmarr´s last blog ..Hard-won treasures =-.

  34. Masterplan (http://www.habitualindolence.net/masterplan/) is amazing – I use it constantly now. It should be more widely known! I challenge anyone here to use it and not be blown away by it.

  35. thanks for the help, those will really make my dm’ing a lot simpler.

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