Planning sessions with Masterplan

I’m a luddite. I’ve tried using a lot of online resources while playing my game. I’ve tried having initiative trackers, pulling things up on the compendium and other applications all to no avail. I just can’t seem to shake old habits, but I’ve tried to change. Running my games, I just like having things at my fingertips and being able to scribble little notes on my session plans when I need to. Planning my games is different however and I really embrace using a lot of online tools.

I’ve been tinkering a little with Masterplan and been enjoying it quite a lot. They’ve incorporated some new features and I really think I’m going to have to invest a little more time in this program. It’s amazing.

Masterplan is a program that helps with session planning. It allows you to sketch out plots as a flow chart, annotated with notes and text. It includes options to create encounters and skill challenges. It even allows annotating maps (or building maps with tile sets). I’ve yet to really dig into the nuts and bolts of the program but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen so far.

One particular feature I really like is the encounter builder. Just fiddle with the drop down fields for your experience budget, and you can draw up a list of potential baddies to create your encounter. The most recent version allows users to import creatures and items from the DDI compendium. In previous versions, you have to export selected items from the compendium yourself. This was a little tedious before (but useful once your library was created). Now importing things directly to your Masterplan library is a snap.

Want to create a map on the fly? Plenty of tools for drag and dropping tiles to make a custom map. There is even a yahoo group where you can export sets of tiles to fill out your library. I’ve dabbled with this a little and the initial prognosis is awesome.

Hopefully over the upcoming holidays I’ll have more time to play with this. I really want to push, pull, and prod this program to see what it can do. Offhand, this looks like a neat tool to make things up on the fly. I’m hoping I can get comfortable enough with this program, so that if my players go off the map, I can completely improvise a few encounters. Just ask them to take a 10 minute break while I whip up 3-4 encounters, complete with a map, traps and treasure. I completely see this as a possibility with this application.

If folks have delved deep into this program, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

EDIT: Oh, and if you want a brief walk through of Masterplan, there’s a YouTube video of some of the features in action.

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