October 11, 2010

Three iPad Apps Critical For Tabletop RPGs

A guest post by Egon

Like many gamers I drooled over the idea of using the iPad for tabletop RPGs. The idea I could have all my gaming books, character sheets and notes in one place that weighed less then a pound and a half, and synced backup copies to my PC or the cloud, was revolutionary. Well, as you could guess I bought one. I would love to tell you that straight out of the box all of my dreams came true, but that is not the way it happened.

I went through a lot of trial and error to make the iPad the sweet little all-in-one gaming wonder I hoped it could be. So now I am going to share with you what I learned in hopes your experience will be filled with less annoyance, and reassure you the iPad can indeed be a tool that will change the way you game.

Here are the apps I use for tabletop RPGs on the iPad.

Dicenomicon

Dicenomicon

Dicenomicon for iPad screenshot

This is the first app you are going to find. It is the dice roller for role playing games. Here are some of the features that make it great:

  • 3d physics simulation dice rolling. Even your most technophobic GM with distrust of all computer generated random numbers will ok the use of this dice rolling app once he sees the dice bounce off each other and the table as you roll.
  • Roll macros and the ability to add your own. Do you play in a game where you roll d6s and if you roll a 6 you pick up the dice and add 2 more d6s, and those d6s can split too? With Dicenomicon you can make a macro to cover it.
  • Custom dice. Do you need fudge dice with + and -? Need blank sides for the Dresden game? They are in there. Do you want to make dice that have the word fail where the 1s side is? You can make them. You can make just about any dice you want.
  • Saved rolls. Does your PC have a dozen rolls you make all the time? You can save those roles to a list saved under your game name and then just let the dice fly with a press.

Good Reader

This is one of the slicker PDF readers I have used on or off the iPad. Even if the only thing it did was read PDFs it would be a winner. It can chew through even a complicated, full color unflatted Shadowrun 4th edition PDF with hardly a pause in page turning, and renders the pages beautifully.

But, the part that distinguishes Good Reader from the rest of the iPad PDF readers is the tools it has for getting PDFs onto your iPad and managing them. Here is a list of some of its file functions:

  • Manage your PDFs with folders.
  • Add tags, stars, and other meta data to make them easier find.
  • Thumbnail previews of your PDFs.
  • Download files from the web – just paste the URL.
  • Download files from servers like:
    • Google Docs
    • FTP
    • Dropbox
    • iDisk
    • FilesAnywhere.com
    • Email servers
    • and more every update seems to add more to the list.
[Comment from Johnn: the latest Good Reader release offers a ton of new features, like commenting, drawing tools and more.]

smartNote

smartNote for iPad app screenshot

smartNote for iPad app screenshot

Finding a good note taking app to keep character sheets and session notes in was the hardest challenge by far with my iPad gaming setup. I tried out well over a dozen apps: note taking apps, sketching apps, word processing apps, and even photo collaging apps.

I had almost given up on the idea of being able to take notes and edit character sheets on the iPad, but then I found smartNote and it did everything I had been looking so hard for. Here is some of the things it can do.

  • Drawing input. Filling dots and boxes on your character sheet, or making maps.
  • Text Labels. Filling in all those blank lines on your sheet with nice clean easy to read text.
  • Text boxes. Adding descriptions to your sheet. It wraps your text to the correct size and allows you do go back and change it. You can even resize or move the box later.
  • Full page text. For longer bits of texts like game session notes or back story.
  • Image insert. Copy the powers and gear from the rule books that your PC has for easy reference.
  • PDF import. Just import the character sheet and a start filling it out.
  • PDF export. Make cross program back ups or email your PC to your GM.

With these three apps you can turn your iPad in to a little 24oz gaming machine. Think about that. You will be hauling more weight in soda than gaming materials to a game, but have access to your entire gaming library, notes and sheets with you.

Fitz

Awesome links. I’m hoping to pick up an iPad in a couple of months, so these should come in quite handy. Thanks!

Exiled Monkey

You sound very convincing, I’ll try the 3 apps and see how it goes.
At the moment the most difficult task is to find players, but I’ll manage to find at least one for a short action-packed adventure :P

Let us know if you find more apps or new ways to use the ipad for tabletop rpg
Cheers :D

Brandon Ford

smartNote is nice in the fact that it imports PDFs, but man is that one ugly interface. I’ve been using noteshelf and making templates with the default character sheets (you can make custom papers from PNGs which I extract from the PDFs) Works out quite nicely. Dicenomicon and GoodReader are definates though. Maybe even check out BattleMap (little pricey).

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