Have you ever been tracking initiative with a pen and paper, or scribbling out monster HP, or even trying to play some fantasy music and thought, surely there is an app for this! Good news for you tech-savvy DMs out there, there is! As a matter of fact, there are several really useful apps you probably don’t know about. Here are my top 10:
This app is a game-changer, and I don’t say that lightly. I have spent HOURS compiling music, only to lose it, have nothing prepared that fits the moment perfectly and no way to change it, get annoyed that I have to restart it over and over, have to switch over to an FX maker and lose the ambiance at times, etc. This app changes all of that.DMDJ has literally endless possibilities for you to create the perfect atmosphere for your adventure, every time! Choose from the main categories of Nature, Town, Battle, Dungeon, or Special to get started. Each category has tons of options, such as “store,” “town,” “around the fireplace,” and “cafe” (along with many many more!) for town; or caves, coast, dark woods, haunted forest, and swamps (again, many many more) for nature!
To add to the awesomeness, you can layer music of various styles, sound effects, and weather! To top it all off, DMDJ includes a quick Dice Roller at the bottom of the menu to let you roll dice to quickly determine random encounters and NPC ideas, damage for certain attacks (like sneak attack) or create your own custom dice to use when you need them.
Drawback: There is only one major drawback to this app: the sound stops when you close the app or when your phone goes to sleep. This is a major drawback if you want to have the background music going all night.
You will need to have your phone plugged in, sleep mode turned off, and you cannot use your phone for any other apps. If you don’t typically use your phone while you DM, this will be perfect for you! If you have, ya know, 9 other apps you like to use, this is a major bummer.
Simple, beautiful, and OH so useful! NPC for Hire might be one of the most useful apps I own. After a while, it is hard to come up with interesting NPCs, even if you do use my foolproof method (check out my method in my article, “Creating Unforgettable NPCs”) so having an app that creates them for you, complete with flaws, items, and backstory, can be a lifesaver! Whether you are looking for NPCs for your main storyline, or you need a random one quickly, NPC for Hire is perfect.
Once you find an NPC you like, you can save it to access later, as well as edit the details either with your own custom ideas or items, or more randomly generated ones. NPC for Hire also includes a beautiful hand-drawn sketch of the NPC, so you know exactly how to describe them to your party. With NPC for Hire, you won’t be caught scrambling for an NPC ever again, nor will you forget that random NPC in that one town from 2 years ago. Nope. It all right there in the app!
Also created by Knight of Vasteel, this amazing FREE app is exactly like NPC for Hire, ONLY FOR MAGICAL ITEMS. Do I need to say more? Check it out!!
RPG Sounds Fantasy (Free)
If you just can’t bring yourself to pay for an app, then there is a free version for fantasy sounds music. RPG Sounds is a good app, it has lots of options and you can find nearly everything you might need for a game. However, the loops on the sounds do not flow together well, leaving a small, but noticeable silence before the sound begins again at the beginning. Also, switching between sounds is abrupt and there is no fade or layering. These are all problems that DMDJ has solved, so if you are a bit picky (like me) you will want to just pay the people $4.99 for the better app.
Spells for D&D 5e (Free)
Not only is this a great app for your players who use magic, it can be a real time-saver for you too. (Plus, the art for each of the spells really puts this app over the top for me.) It is nearly impossible to remember all the parts of a spell, between damage, range, saves and attack rolls, they are tricky to remember. That is why this free and gorgeous app is so great.
You can find all the spells your players will throw at you so you can quickly double-check. You can also sort by magic-user (wizard, warlock, druid, etc.) and create spellbooks. This is great for players to create their own spellbooks, but good for you too if you have spells your players like to use over and over again.
Of course, if you want to feel like you are combining Magic the Gathering with your RPG adventure, (and who wouldn’t?) as well as have your spells handy, then make sure to check out these convenient and fun spell cards! Plus, your purchase from our partners at Noble Knight Games supports a local game shop, supports Halfling Hobbies, AND gives you a discount! Triple win!
RPG Adventure Manager (Free)
This simple app can be useful if you want to store all of your characters, locations, and plot information in one app. This app helps you keep track of what NPCs and ideas you have already used and which are still available (a huge help during long campaigns!) This app can have some issues, such as not marking items or NPCs as used.
If you are looking for a free app to track multiple parts of your game, I would recommend trying this one out.
If you are someone who likes to draw out your dungeon on paper, but you HATE trying to cover up the parts that players haven’t gotten to yet, then you will LOVE this app.
It is an elegantly simply app that solves this problem without any fluff. Just take a picture of the map you drew, add it to the app and there you have it, a blacked-out map that you can reveal as the players progress.
If you come to combat in one of the rooms, then you can draw out that room on the battle map, go through the encounter, then keep mapping the rooms in the app. If you have an iPad or Tablet, you can even leave it in the middle of the table for players to see and reveal as they move or cast it to an Apple TV. This is a neat, free app that solves a problem in my own life, maybe it can help you too!
App of Many Things (Free)
This is a combat tracker app. It isn’t the most complex one out there, and if you pay for D&D Beyond or Fantasy Grounds, I would recommend sticking with them. However, if you don’t mind the prep-work in order to keep your bottom line at 0, this app can be very useful.
App of Many Things lets you add Player Characters and Non-Player Characters, but you have to manually input the information. This isn’t really practical for a random encounter but can be useful or planned encounters. However, be warned that the options are very limited. You can input health, hit points, perception, and armor class, that’s it. No weapons, no spells, no items.
While this app is limited, I do find it useful on occasion. Mostly I use it as an initiative tracker. It has little check-boxes you can click to show a player or monster has taken its turn, then when they are all filled, you can clear them all and start a new round. I am pretty forgetful, so I find this extremely useful! Especially when I have a big party and a lot of combatants to keep track of! With this app, I never skip players or monsters.
mRPG Chat App (Free)
Are your players too busy to get together and play? Do you desperately want to play but you are always stuck DMing? Well, mRPG is the answer to these problems.
mRPG is a chat app that allows people to play remotely. It includes character sheets, dice, and a platform. You can search and join campaigns, create your own campaign if you can’t find anyone in your area to play, or create a campaign for your players where you can play remotely when you can’t get together. After you create your campaign, you can invite players to it via a link, or open it up for others to join. This system can be a bit difficult to learn, so I would suggest giving it a good look over and playing a game or two with another group to get a feel for it. It can be a great remote option, and it really scratches the itch when you just have to play!
Complete Reference for Dungeons and Dragons 5e (Free)
Just what it sounds like, this no-nonsense app lets you search all D&D 5e equipment and items and bookmark them for later. I love to use this app to get ideas for shops, treasure troves, or find something random for when the rogue inevitable says, “I pick-pocket the shopkeeper!” You can filter items, search for specific items, or just peruse the endless list of awesome.
ProDnD- Map Builder (basic version is free, full access is $1.99)
Looking for an app to help you build and store maps? Need an app to quickly generate random caverns, dungeons and mazes? Want to make those random maps gorgeous and even add creatures, items and events? When it comes to creating dungeons, this app does it all!
You can choose to create your own dungeon if you have a specific idea in mind, or you can start with a randomly generated dungeon and edit it. With a click of a button, you can add monsters and encounters to random parts of the dungeon so you know exactly when to have your party roll perception or initiative.
You can add backgrounds, themes and even share your favorite dungeons with other DMs. There is really so much to this app it is hard to describe. If you are looking to take your pen and paper game and go digital, this is a great, free app to get you started.
Obviously this app does not compete with the overwhelmingly detailed maps you can make at Inkarante.com, but, in this case, that is a good thing. This app fills the need of generating caverns or dungeons on the fly. You can literally create a dungeon or maze in SECONDS. It is a great app to have in your back pocket, especially for you DMs who have unpredictable parties.
Being the DM is difficult, but, luckily, there are plenty of apps and tools to help make it a little easier. If you are looking for more useful tools, check out my post on the 10 Best Tools for DMs and be sure to check out the Trinket Shop to get yourself something nice. After all this work to prep, you deserve it 😉
Until next time,
May your game have advantage, my friends!
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