WOTC has released a beta of their new monster builder on their website a few days ago. I do have a subscription to D&D Insider and find it a pretty useful service. For the most part however still was running many of my games away from the PC. I cut my teeth on gaming when PCs were not in every household and everything was done with pencil, paper and at best, a calculator.
I’m trying to break away from that though. I’m starting to use an excel sheet to track initiative, HP and such. I’m starting to write up my adventures as word docs and using maps I’ve scanned in. But I am not quite there yet. I still keep many of my NPCs on index cards. I still use markers to indicate status effects. I still roll dice myself (I tend to make my rolls out in the open for players to see). I’m trying to change but 30+ years of gaming has settled me into habits that are hard to break.
There are a lot of useful tools out there too, especially for adventure prep. Dungeon Mastering has a lot of tools for building encounters, monsters, traps and the like. They require a signup to access but it is free. They also have quite a few links to other useful sites.
Asmore.com still has a monster and encounter builder at their site, but with limited support as WOTC have released their own versions. Still I found their monster builder pretty useful and liked their encounter builder if I needed something in a pinch.
Obsidian Portal is something else I am using as a handy campaign reference and planning tool. I’ve found I’m starting to use that for tracking my NPCs and key campaign plots. Likely I’ll post more on that later as it has a lot of uses.
There are a lot of computer resources available now for running games. I’ve been limiting my use of them and concentrating more on the adventure prep tools. I’m still a fan of having monster profiles printed out and handy for me to scrawl over with a pencil. I like adding a few post-it notes to my written adventures as I plod along during a game. I still do not like clicking a mouse when rolling 3d6.
I’m a little hesitant to go completely digital. Somehow I find it rather sad to see a circle of people playing D&D, all huddled around their different laptops. I like the open interaction of players facing each other, rolling dice, and moving their figures around a battlefield with a character sheet sitting at the wayside.
I’m trying to embrace new technology. I really am. I just have old habits and prejudices I can’t seem to shake when playing D&D.