How do you use your tech for D&D?

Taking a break from all the Warlord identity crisis and alignment bashing threads, I wanted to ask my fellow gamers out there how they use their technology to enhance and help their games (5e and otherwise). Computers, tablets, laptops, smartphones, talk about it all!

Also please mention any programs and apps you find useful, or websites as well!

Personally I use my laptop hooked up to a flatscreen above my table to show picutres, maps, videos, and play music. I also use a tablet to pass around to view pdfs.
My two copper.
I do exactly the things you mentioned. It should be noted I'm not tech savvy at all, but I find the tablet, and to a lesser extent the laptop, to be indispensable. I have pdfs on the tablet, also character sheets and other reference stuff, so that's my number one tool.
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I used to use my laptop, but since I got a desktop cpu(and got rid of my barely working laptop as a result), I started making my 4e character sheets into pdfs, turning those into img files, and putiting them onto my PSP for ease of reference, with a small notepad to jot down any bonuses I have and my HP.
i play pretty much exclusively online so naturally i use my PC. aside from that, i use ventrilo for voice, roll20/maptool for the tabletob, and google drive for document sharing (character sheets, backstories, portraits).

 
I have the bare essentials of my current PF sorceror on my smartphone - lv, hp, ac, saves, stats, & spells known/spells-per-day.
This isn't the entirety of the character sheet.  It's missing skills, feats, weapons, treasure, etc etc etc & who knows whatelse.  And it's by no means my default.  But it is handy if I pick up the wrong folder when heading to the game..... 
Oh, and it's also usually about 2 lvs out-of-date.
I keep telling myself that I'll get around to putting the full sheet in there.  And keeping it updated.  But that's not happened yet.  And the campaigns nearing its conclusion....

I also have a dice rolling app.  (forget wich one)

Other than this?  Almost any real use of tech occurs days before a game - prepping maps, handouts, adventure notes, etc etc etc

Ah yes, good comments. I know for a long time I was opposed to computer character sheets. But now that I see how much paper (AND INK!) it saves, I find them indispensable! 
My two copper.
I am currently playing D&D online thru Maptools, iplay4e and Skype
I (and I think my fellow DMs in the group) use a computer to plan game sessions -- write notes, make maps, compile hand-outs, etc. I also make a highly-customised Excel character sheet. But that's all pre-game.

At the table, we use paper, pencils, and dice, and the DM sometimes uses a battlemat and pens for combat (but not always).

Someday, though, I want to be able to get this gaming table from Geek Chic, with the touchscreen capability. We'll still use the paper and pencils, but the battlemat and pens will be replaced with graphics.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

In prepping to DM our Next campaign, I do a lot of map and prop design on the computer, but during gameplay it's all miniatures and printed maps and printed props. The only in-game tech I have used is a soundboard. This is the first one I put together for specific dungeon, using sound effects I found online. It was fun to use, though a little distracting to find the right button during fast action. Activating each one by a key press would be better. 

seanbonney.com/smiteclub/SmiteClubSoundb...
MacBook:


  • Pregame I gather my adventure ideas into Scrivener - which houses all my maps, character templates, custom monsters, and the adventure it self.

  • I have started trying to use iBooks Author to create my adventures - so that I can just click on links that will bring up more detailed information 

  • With my group moving over to Pathfinder I have all my books on my MacBook, as well as the SRDs to make rule finding easiest. Previously on 4e when I had a subscription I had characters in the character builder and used the compendium. 

  • Excel documents are used to keep track of weight, food used, time, etc. 



iPad:


  • Has many old Dragon/Dungeon articles in there for me to read

  • Has my PF books on it

  • Have copies of character sheets

  • Can be used to easily show an image of a NPC, town, or other thing. 

  • Pages is used for me to edit documents pregame - so I can create adventures on the go.

  • I also have an initiative tracker on iPad


iPhone:


  • PDF scan app is used to make copies of character sheets at the end of sessions

  • Pictures are taken of tiles if necessary to remember a set up.  (I put the picture into my ibook)

  • Game is voice recorded so I can go back and assess how I did, as well as make sure I can stay consistent from games to games. 




character sheets are in paper/pencil for the players - though I always keep an electronic copy for later.  I type faster than I write and can direct the game at the same time I'm typing notes.  



Welcome to ZomboniLand - My D&D Blog http://zomboniland.blogspot.com/
Currently, our DM is trying (and failing) to use his Ipad instead of the written module.  He can simply find relevant information faster in the paper copy, and since our miniatures are conductive, playing on the tablet itself is nigh impossible.

We use DDI for the character builder, which causes one of our players to spend literally hours (his record is up to 2 entire gaming sessions) deciding what Feats and Powers to take upon levelling up.

Using tech in our game has been an overwhelmingly negative experience overall.
Currently, our DM is trying (and failing) to use his Ipad instead of the written module.  He can simply find relevant information faster in the paper copy, and since our miniatures are conductive, playing on the tablet itself is nigh impossible.

We use DDI for the character builder, which causes one of our players to spend literally hours (his record is up to 2 entire gaming sessions) deciding what Feats and Powers to take upon levelling up.

Using tech in our game has been an overwhelmingly negative experience overall.



Sounds like your DM needs to create bookmars or use a PDF editor app to make searching in the iPad earlier. 

Welcome to ZomboniLand - My D&D Blog http://zomboniland.blogspot.com/
Currently, our DM is trying (and failing) to use his Ipad instead of the written module.  He can simply find relevant information faster in the paper copy, and since our miniatures are conductive, playing on the tablet itself is nigh impossible.

We use DDI for the character builder, which causes one of our players to spend literally hours (his record is up to 2 entire gaming sessions) deciding what Feats and Powers to take upon levelling up.

Using tech in our game has been an overwhelmingly negative experience overall.



Sounds like your DM needs to create bookmars or use a PDF editor app to make searching in the iPad earlier.

That would require doing pre-game "work".  He brags about not doing anything of the sort.  The reason he's using a module is so he can just pick it up and go the moment a gaming session begins.
iPad, and whiteboard with dry erase markers.

Easiest I've had it in 20 years.

My mind is a deal-breaker.

I use my iPad to find images of little-known monsters that my group may have trouble visualizing. I also use it to access adventures from time to time, and my uncle uses his TV to play music while we're playing.
I honestly hope that in the future we can see some D&D adventures done in iBooks, I honestly would like to do it myself - though may have to do Pathfinder simply because of the OGL.  

I know not everyone has an iPad, but for those who do and can use it properly it's amazing.  
Welcome to ZomboniLand - My D&D Blog http://zomboniland.blogspot.com/
I use all of the tech stuff before play starts. All of my D&D material is now on my computer, so I design adventures electronically. Character sheets, handouts, maps, etc. are all printed off and distributed before gameplay begins. Once we're at the table, all of the gear is put away. No laptops, tablets, or so on. Cell phones are allowed because we're all married adults with children and need to be able to be reached by whoever needs to reach us. Before play, though, it's pretty much 100% tech-use.
I tried various tools during a session when I am the DM, but I have found that index cards work best for me.

Preparing or tracking the campaign I have created some companion sheets and maps for visual aid using gimp and Google My Drive. I keep in-session notes and character background in a collection for sharing with players and I have cheat sheet, campaign setting, and events in a collection for my DM notes. 

I like to emailing/MMS letter and other notes the party to players cells during the session. I also will use gimp to create a portrait of the NPCs and share them by pass it around on my kindle fire.  Also, I'll email a in-character or embellished summary of the session during the week. 

Big Model: Creative Agenda
Love 4e? Concerned about its future? join the Old Guard of 4th Edition
Reality Refracted: Social Contracts

My blog of random stuff 

Dreaming the Impossible Dream
Imagine a world where the first-time D&D player rolls stats, picks a race, picks a class, picks an alignment, and buys gear to create a character. Imagine if an experienced player, maybe the person helping our theoretical player learn the ropes, could also make a character by rolling ability scores and picking a race, class, feat, skills, class features, spells or powers, and so on. Those two players used different paths to build characters, but the system design allows them to play at the same table. -Mearl

"It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the publick to be the most anxious for its welfare." - Edmund Burke
What is it about tech that distracts people so much?  

Is it the things that typically come along with it (i.e. people paying minecraft or surfing reddit rather than playing the game) or is it still that disjoint of not being able to use it efficiently so powerless is the way to go.

Mind you, I always have pen/paper back ups of everything - hard to Roleplay during a power outage otherwise 
Welcome to ZomboniLand - My D&D Blog http://zomboniland.blogspot.com/

I (and I think my fellow DMs in the group) use a computer to plan game sessions -- write notes, make maps, compile hand-outs, etc. I also make a highly-customised Excel character sheet. But that's all pre-game.

At the table, we use paper, pencils, and dice, and the DM sometimes uses a battlemat and pens for combat (but not always).

Someday, though, I want to be able to get this gaming table from Geek Chic, with the touchscreen capability. We'll still use the paper and pencils, but the battlemat and pens will be replaced with graphics.



The gaming tables over at GeekChic are really cool,, but very expensive. If you aren't afraid to use a little elbow grease, or know a good carptener, you can make one yourself for a lot less. I used the design over at theultimategamingtable.com . It may not be as flashy as the sultan, but it's still sweet and has a bigger table top to boot!

Here's my table and setup.

My two copper.
Nice setup, Jenks!

Unfortunately for me, we have 10 people at the table, so losing one end to a wall and screen would really crowd everyone. Not to mention that I don't have any empty wall space to put a screen on. My dining table expands to 9 feet, so that works pretty well. But we all drool over the Sultan from time to time. heh heh

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

It's only against a wall because it's a small apartment bedroom Normally the design comfortably sits 9 people. And yes, even I still drool over the sultan >.>
My two copper.
What is it about tech that distracts people so much?  

Is it the things that typically come along with it (i.e. people paying minecraft or surfing reddit rather than playing the game) or is it still that disjoint of not being able to use it efficiently so powerless is the way to go.

Mind you, I always have pen/paper back ups of everything - hard to Roleplay during a power outage otherwise 


I can't speak for anyone else, but for me its partially a vision issue. I do DM a lot with a laptop. It is cumbersome though because it takes up so much space on the table and I have to use large fonts so I don't have enough screen territory as I would like on my desktop. I can't really comfortably DM flipping back and forth between screens on the kindle, but spreading a few index cards in large writing works better for me.

When I'm a player though, I pretty much play off my cell phone or the kindle. But, I pretty often settle into playing my characters from memory with scratch paper to track hp and conditions.

Big Model: Creative Agenda
Love 4e? Concerned about its future? join the Old Guard of 4th Edition
Reality Refracted: Social Contracts

My blog of random stuff 

Dreaming the Impossible Dream
Imagine a world where the first-time D&D player rolls stats, picks a race, picks a class, picks an alignment, and buys gear to create a character. Imagine if an experienced player, maybe the person helping our theoretical player learn the ropes, could also make a character by rolling ability scores and picking a race, class, feat, skills, class features, spells or powers, and so on. Those two players used different paths to build characters, but the system design allows them to play at the same table. -Mearl

"It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the publick to be the most anxious for its welfare." - Edmund Burke
I use a laptop and pdfs.  No tablet, so I use the next best thing.  A few of the players use Ipads for character sheets and dice rollers, but that's it.
There was a kickstarter project a while back, I can't remember the name of it, that was going to run a mapboard off of a laptop, and allow the players to control their characters through tablets or smartphones, complete with attacking monsters on the mapboard, moving their character, rolling dice, spells, etc. Seemed pretty basic, but pretty cool.
My two copper.
What is it about tech that distracts people so much?

For one thing, it's easy to pull up something not related to the game and then lose track of the action around the table.

I think for us, we mostly don't use the tech because we're old-fashioned. Computers (well, personal computers) didn't exist when we started playing, and we're very comfortable with the paper and pencils. One of our DMs mandates no electronics because he thinks it distracts people from what's going on. But mostly it's that we have the habit of pulling out the paper character sheet when we sit down, and we like it.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

What is it about tech that distracts people so much?

For one thing, it's easy to pull up something not related to the game and then lose track of the action around the table.

I think for us, we mostly don't use the tech because we're old-fashioned. Computers (well, personal computers) didn't exist when we started playing, and we're very comfortable with the paper and pencils. One of our DMs mandates no electronics because he thinks it distracts people from what's going on. But mostly it's that we have the habit of pulling out the paper character sheet when we sit down, and we like it.




Haha, one DM won;t let me hold a pencil while I play because of my tendancy to spend all of my time drawing my charachter... never complained about the iPad tho. iPad is a little different, I guess same as holding the book really.

My mind is a deal-breaker.

What is it about tech that distracts people so much?

For one thing, it's easy to pull up something not related to the game and then lose track of the action around the table.

This.

I don't ban tech because I don't want to seem like a tyrant, but I'm often sorely tempted.

I would like to say that I think tech is okay for DMs but not players because of all the useful DM tools out there.  And in most cases, this is absolutely true.  But what if your DM is the worst Internet-ADD sufferer at the table?  Then it can be a huge problem.

Of course, another part of the problem is, if you're in a group of friends who only see each other once a week, they're going to have a lot to talk about other than D&D.  So it can be hard to fit in all the conversation and play a reasonably meaty session of the game.  Perhaps impossible.  I've found that side conversations spring up even without technological distractions.  So I just roll with it.  Sometimes it's frustrating, but on the whole we have a good time.

One thing I vociferously object to, however, is BAD technology.  Such as when someone tries to use an antiquated laptop that can't even handle its own operating system, or when someone tries to reinstall some tool while we're supposed to be playing.  I've seen all this and worse in various groups (meaning not the same person each time).  That's why I take a dim view of tabletop tech in general -- there's always someone holding up the show because it will "only take a second to get this thing working again."  In my experience, "only a second" usually means about 15 minutes.
If your position is that the official rules don't matter, or that house rules can fix everything, please don't bother posting in forums about the official rules. To do so is a waste of everyone's time.
never liked using the laptop IN-GAME that much, it was just too bulky and cumbersome. But i've taken to using my ipad full time and haven't looked back. I can't speak for others, I'm the only one in my group that can afford that sort of thing, but i never get distracted by it. It takes too much effort to run a game properly to distract myself that way.

one player does have a dice rolling app that i recommended him when he got an iphone last summer ("Dicenomicon" if anyone cares) and he uses that exclusively now for rolls, and it hasn't tempted him to start doing other things either.
I like this thread. Lately, I've been interested in making maps on something other than graph paper. Hoping people will post some free/easy ways to make some ugly, but effective and quick maps.
A few guidelines for using the internet: 1. Mentally add "In my opinion" to the end of basically anything someone else says. Of course it's their opinion, they don't need to let you know. You're pretty smart. 2. Assume everyone means everything in the best manner they could mean it. Save yourself some stress and give people the benefit of the doubt. We'll all be happier if we type less emoticons. 3. Don't try to read people's minds. Sometimes people mean exactly what they say. You probably don't know them any better than they know themselves. 4. Let grammar slide. If you understood what they meant, you're good. It's better for your health. 5. Breath. It's just a dumb game.
I like this thread. Lately, I've been interested in making maps on something other than graph paper. Hoping people will post some free/easy ways to make some ugly, but effective and quick maps.


What tools are available to you? PC? Mac? tablet?
My two copper.
I like this thread. Lately, I've been interested in making maps on something other than graph paper. Hoping people will post some free/easy ways to make some ugly, but effective and quick maps.


What tools are available to you? PC? Mac? tablet?


I have all 3, but I prefer to work on my mac, as I have those at the studio too. I have an android tablet.
I'm really just looking for digital graph paper I can annotate and maybe drag and drop some smbols onto. Having dotted lines would be cool too.
A few guidelines for using the internet: 1. Mentally add "In my opinion" to the end of basically anything someone else says. Of course it's their opinion, they don't need to let you know. You're pretty smart. 2. Assume everyone means everything in the best manner they could mean it. Save yourself some stress and give people the benefit of the doubt. We'll all be happier if we type less emoticons. 3. Don't try to read people's minds. Sometimes people mean exactly what they say. You probably don't know them any better than they know themselves. 4. Let grammar slide. If you understood what they meant, you're good. It's better for your health. 5. Breath. It's just a dumb game.
Hmmm, thats a tough one. I know Curio for mac has a couple of style that are graph paper in different sizes. It allows adding of graphs, maps, and notes. It's an "Idea space" style program if you have ever heard of those. Other than that I'll look into it, but I haven't used anything like that personally. 

Anyone else?

Edit: I know you have an android tablet, but Paper for the iPad does this as well, and pretty well I might add. Just for those out there that have an iPad.
My two copper.
 I haven't banned tech from my tables, but the phones are worse than the tablets and laptops. Laptops don't really make it to table too much any more now that tablets are so common. Laptops were poor because of real estate issues mostly, but the tablets have seemed fine.

Honestly, I'm one of those players who is alwys fiddling with their tech during the game. Mostly, games don't move at a fast enough pace, not to do something else. The tech keeps me from distracting others.

You obviously can't ban phones, but phones have been a major problem at games I've DM'd. It has been resolved in my usual game through discussion (figuring out what the players problem was), but you may have to take more drastic measures than I did.
Currently running a playtest, weekly, online D&D Next Session using a virtual table system called roll20.
@Staccat0

I don't know about the droid store as I haven't had one in several years but i tested a demo of an app that does exactly what you want on iPad (probably can work on your mac) and I know there are several variations out there. There is everything from free demo versions with basically 8 bit graphics to the big 30 dollar mother-of-all-dungeon-map-apps named "Battle Map". I suggest you go to the apple app store on your mac and search "dungeon map", there are several results under that search and you can find more with some more work.
I use a desktop and PDF or Word docs

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

My use of tech has changed significantly over the past year.  Since I moved to Hong Kong, I can't actually play with my regular group without technology.  We tried Skype, then Google Hangouts have proven to be far better, and now we almost exclusively use Roll20, even when we forgo making maps and play TotM-style using the text chat functions.

Prior to my moving away, technology was fairly limited.  Plenty of people used tech outside of the game (to build characters, write journals IC or OoC, and craft adventures).  But at the table, the only one using technology was the DM (frequently me).  I personally brought a laptop to the game, placing it on a side table, so as not to completely block myself from the other players (the DM screen was enough).  I never used dice rollers, preferring instead to roll actual dice whenever possible.  While I kept adventure notes (either printed or hand-written) behind the screen, the full adventure I designed was often kept on the laptop.

Every player brought their own rules reference guide, either the PHB or (eventually in 4e) the Rules Cyclopedia, though one player brought it (and the rest of his library) on a tablet.  He didn't use the tablet for anything more than that.

For actual game play, the laptop was used sparingly.  I basically used it for images, and for background music.  I was actually pretty aggressive about incorporating music into my sessions.  I never just threw on the Conan soundtrack and hit repeat.  Instead, I had crafted playlists that I would turn on at appropriate times.  I had playlists for battles, for boss fights (often customized for the boss), different towns, different regions (exploring the desert sounded different than exploring the forest, etc).  Characters had theme songs, so when I wanted a certain NPC's presence to be felt, even when they weren't physically there, I would play their theme song.  For example, when the players were being stymied by bureaucracy, I'd play the song associated with the corrupt Prime Minister (or whoever) so they could associate the red tape with the NPC who was causing the red tape in the first place.

Nothing better than having the players in a social setting (in this example, a formal party being thrown by the local nobility) complete with chamber groups and string quartets on the playlist, and then having the BBEG's theme song slowly and innocuously fade in while I continue to narrate the scene as if nothing as changed, and watch the players gradually make the connection and start getting physically nervous.
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
I use freshly harvested quills from my falcon and make the players use parchment stomped by their own feet and rolled out on their thighs and ink made from their tears of frustration and sweat of exertion.

Also we use laptops, ipads, whatevers at hand.   
I use freshly harvested quills from my falcon and make the players use parchment stomped by their own feet and rolled out on their thighs and ink made from their tears of frustration and sweat of exertion.

Also we use laptops, ipads, whatevers at hand.   


Lol, +1. You made my day.
My two copper.
Hey guys, 5 pages and no flame icon! Let's keep it going!
My two copper.
Hey guys, 5 pages and no flame icon! Let's keep it going!



I think that flame icon indicates how popular a thread is ie frequent posting, rather then if there is literal flaming going on in the thread.

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