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Thread: DM Tools

  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Chimera

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    Default DM Tools

    I was wondering what nifty tools people used when they're preparing for a campaign. Any good websites, habits, or sources you find that you always use? How do you keep a home brew campaign organized? Do you write the whole thing, half of it, just make it up week by week as you go?
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Feb 2011

    Default Re: DM Tools

    If you have an iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone, then the combo of DM Tools, Adobe Reader, and DnD Sheets apps lets you keep track of players and monsters in combat and encounters, npcs you've statted out and given class levels to (I know DM's who hold their players' builds accountable by keeping a running copy of their players' sheets, too) and the source materials you've allowed. I honestly don't leave home to run a session with anything other than maps, minis, screen, and iPad.
    ~Othar wanted me to know so that I would tell men that Othar the Storm-Rider had died well, and I had told him to keep a tight hold of his sword so that Othar the Storm-Rider would go to the feast hall in Valhalla where all warriors who die bravely go after death. These days, although I am old and feeble, I always wear a sword, so that when death comes I will go to that far hall where men like Othar wait for me. I look forward to meeting them.~

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Aug 2012

    Default Re: DM Tools

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    I need adaptability, so I use Excel for planning my games. I have a spreadsheet I use for tracking hitpoints and initiative in combat, and another for PC notes, experience, treasure, and NPC database. You can take a look at my spreadsheet here. I also draw maps with Excel by resizing the rows and columns into squares, then use the "draw borders" function to make walls. I like it because it can be everything; each cell can contain pages of information on a monster or a trap, and I can put stat-blocks in text-blocks on the same page as the map. They may not be the most attractive maps, but they are, for me, the most functional.
    Last edited by rkarnes; 2012-09-06 at 06:55 PM. Reason: Add the picture.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2011

    Default Re: DM Tools

    Wow.

    Your initiative-tracking spreadsheet is what I've been wanting to do for years, but never had the Excel skills to even attempt. I'll be running some large battles soon, and this...this could be what I've been dreaming of.

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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Kelb_Panthera's Avatar

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    Oct 2009

    Default Re: DM Tools

    huh, I guess I'm really oldschool when it comes to this stuff. The only tools I need are a pencil a pad of paper and my notes.

    As for how I construct a hombrew campaign setting, read on:


    First, get or draw a map, on the regional scale, e.g. mountains in one area, deserts in another, forests, bogs, and savanah in others, etc. I like to just print satelite images of parts of the real world that resemble what I'm looking for.

    Then mark the locations of towns and at least one city in the region, as well as making notes of the approximate locations of secret camps, dungeons, and other special, but not well known areas, without actually marking them on the map.

    Next comes major players. Think up and devise a basic outline for a number, usually just a handful, of characters that are important to the area's political landscape, and pick a few powerful, but apolitic creatures/characters to sprinkle in the noted but unmarked areas, i.e. a dragon roosting in the nearby mountains, or a wizard holed up in a tower in the forest.

    Once you have your movers and shakers, decide, in a very loose outline, how they would interact with one another over a period of several weeks, months, or years (depending on the scope of the campaign); absent the PC's influence.

    Finally, lay out some plot-hooks to get your players moving toward helping, hindering or joining, one or more of these important people/creatures and their plans/organizations.

    Now you have a campaign setting all layed out.

    From week to week you further develop the outline for the plans and interactions of whichever characters the PC's bit the plot-hooks for and include changes in those plans based on the PC's interference.

    Also advance the rest of the movers and shakers' plans and interactions in a much more general fashion along the outline you made for them. This way, if the players decide to just drop whatever plot they started along, you have at least a basic idea of where to lay new plot-hooks to get them involved in something else.

    It's a fair amount of work, but it makes for an interesting and somewhat dynamic world for the players to interact with. At least, that's how I do it.

    This only really runs into serious problems if the players decide, usually just to screw with me, to leave the region altogether. Then I have to cut the session short and use the next week to start over again. Bastards.
    Last edited by Kelb_Panthera; 2012-09-06 at 07:17 PM.
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  6. - Top - End - #6
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Aug 2012

    Default Re: DM Tools

    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    Wow.

    Your initiative-tracking spreadsheet is what I've been wanting to do for years, but never had the Excel skills to even attempt. I'll be running some large battles soon, and this...this could be what I've been dreaming of.
    Expanding the spreadsheet for very, very large battles would be pretty easy, but you would have to edit the cells that are referenced.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Chimera

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    May 2012
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    Default Re: DM Tools

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    huh, I guess I'm really oldschool when it comes to this stuff. The only tools I need are a pencil a pad of paper and my notes.

    As for how I construct a hombrew campaign setting, read on:


    First, get or draw a map, on the regional scale, e.g. mountains in one area, deserts in another, forests, bogs, and savanah in others, etc. I like to just print satelite images of parts of the real world that resemble what I'm looking for.

    Then mark the locations of towns and at least one city in the region, as well as making notes of the approximate locations of secret camps, dungeons, and other special, but not well known areas, without actually marking them on the map.

    Next comes major players. Think up and devise a basic outline for a number, usually just a handful, of characters that are important to the area's political landscape, and pick a few powerful, but apolitic creatures/characters to sprinkle in the noted but unmarked areas, i.e. a dragon roosting in the nearby mountains, or a wizard holed up in a tower in the forest.

    Once you have your movers and shakers, decide, in a very loose outline, how they would interact with one another over a period of several weeks, months, or years (depending on the scope of the campaign); absent the PC's influence.

    Finally, lay out some plot-hooks to get your players moving toward helping, hindering or joining, one or more of these important people/creatures and their plans/organizations.

    Now you have a campaign setting all layed out.

    From week to week you further develop the outline for the plans and interactions of whichever characters the PC's bit the plot-hooks for and include changes in those plans based on the PC's interference.

    Also advance the rest of the movers and shakers' plans and interactions in a much more general fashion along the outline you made for them. This way, if the players decide to just drop whatever plot they started along, you have at least a basic idea of where to lay new plot-hooks to get them involved in something else.

    It's a fair amount of work, but it makes for an interesting and somewhat dynamic world for the players to interact with. At least, that's how I do it.

    This only really runs into serious problems if the players decide, usually just to screw with me, to leave the region altogether. Then I have to cut the session short and use the next week to start over again. Bastards.
    This is good. I'm always curious as to how other people put a campaign together. Not so much how you keep track of combat and so forth because I'm like you in that regard, pretty much all I need is a tablet.
    "The icy cold fingers of reason have choked the life out of this thread and despite all logic it keeps squirming", nope, it's dead.

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  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: DM Tools

    our group uses the PBworks wiki to keep track both of campaign rules, info, session long and such. (It's free) As a DM i use a separate wiki to record my stuff... I don't write everything on it, just things i need to run the campaign. things i know (like a villain's personality) I don't put on. Examples:
    group's site of the current campaign
    DM's site of the same campaign

    My approach to making a campaign is stated with whatever ideas you have an detail them, then make a "to do" list of things that you feel might be important, and feel them in as you can.
    Last edited by Kol Korran; 2012-09-07 at 01:28 AM.

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