So, you play Dungeons and Dragons and you want to make your life a little easier. I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons for years now and, as much as I enjoy it, I have forgotten things that were important to bring as a player or as a dungeon master, I’ve gotten tired of taking constant notes on stat block changes and hp and all the other things which I am likely to forget or miss later.
I’ve already posted about top tools before, which is more about SET UP, while these are strictly apps that can be used DURING play. So: here are my top apps for you to use in Dungeons and Dragons (some of which can be used for other RPGs as well).
1. Spotify (DMs)
If you’re running a session and want to include music, it’s hard to beat Spotify. If you make the list long enough, it won’t run out if you’re in a long session. Chances are, you are one of the millions who already uses Spotify Premium, but even if you’re using the free app, the worst things you will have to do is deal with commercials.
Either way, it’s cheap or no new cost for you as a DM.
If you’re building playlists, I recommend thinking about your setting and looking for works which might go best with that. My second playlists were based on the my game which was set in a fantasy Byzantine Greece. I looked at God of War, Gladiator, along with some of what I already had from the Roman campaign. Then I added the Game of Thrones season soundtracks and Lord of the Rings for a dying fantasy Celtic culture. Lately, I’ve added as much Norse as I can with Skyrim and the new God of War for a Nordic campaign.
The playlists you need: Fight (which you might have a second for Boss Fight), Civilization (which I use for cities, towns, and villages– I have a second one for castles/temples and a third one for taverns), Dungeon (the creepy, underground soundtrack), Sad (for when someone important inevitably dies), Travel, Trouble (for that inevitable non-violent bad thing that just happened– whether a player just set off a rolling stone sphere of death or the village is on fire).
2. DnD Beyond Player App (Players and DMs)
The official app from Dungeons and Dragons to create and run characters in games has officially hit the app store and it is pretty spectacular. The biggest drawback is that while it comes with some basics for creating a character without any purchase, you do have to buy the digital books to unlock character options. If you’re like me, you might not like that much because of the fact you already proudly have the physical book (which should all have some digital code– come on Wizards of the Coast!).
But! It works great and can be an easy tool for new players to create a character quickly and without having to invest any money up front. (There’s even a dice roller!)
3. Game Master 5
This last app is my favorite; it’s the reason that I originally wanted to write this post. Game Master 5 has made my life running games SO MUCH EASIER. There’s a free version and a way to upgrade. The free version allows for one campaign and other limitations (particularly spells), but its a single payment for the full version which allows unlimited use, access to spell information, and access to item descriptions.
The front page allows you to keep track of your campaigns (if you run multiple or like to keep records of past ones). I usually use this front page’s photo as the general map of the world and will use the Adventure section as a more local map.
The campaign page has access to the adventures (which I use as overarching stories, linking to acts within the game), a place to generate NPCs (which can have pictures), a place for particular treasures in the campaign, a place for player characters (once they’re created), and an invaluable Notes section (which I use to keep track of everything from local history, episode notes, outlines, etc).
In the adventures section the only difference is the encounter section: where to keep track of the fights you have planned, and other things you will have in your next session.
What is great about the encounter section is how it can help run battles. That is what sold this app for me. You can apply different effects (such as poisoned), keep track of initiative (including the rolls of your players), and keep track of hp. These are the things which plagued me the most. I tried a lot of ways to do this, including other apps, and this is the best.
As an added bonus, it allows you to create new creatures, spells, items, and others to be used by your game from then on. (Which you will have to do if you want to use anything not already in its system.)
I sincerely love this app.
That’s it! Thank you for reading! Let me know if any of these are helpful to you in your game– or what other apps you use! I’d love to hear from you!
If you you’re interested in more of what I write: check out my articles on orcs and alignment; if you want to find some of my creations on the Dungeon Masters’ Guild you can find them here; or if you want support me, you can check me out on Patreon.