Virtual Tools

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I’ve been using a combination of useful tools to use my iPad as my character sheet and D&D toolbox. I figured I’d share. Unless specifically called out otherwise, everything I reference is free.

First, I print my character sheet out of whatever version of the character builder you happen to use. If you have Acrobat Distiller (the Adobe PDF printer that only comes with a full version of Acrobat), great! Use that. It creates nice, small PDF files. If not, I recently tripped over doPDF, which also works as a PDF printer, except it’s free. Just go in to the printer settings for the doPDF printer it installs, and change the resolution from 300 DPI (which is huge for a color image) to 150 DPI. It’ll generate PDF files comparable in size and (YMMV) superior in quality to the ones out of Adobe.

I’ve tried PrimoPDF, Bullzip, and CutePDF, but I’ve never been able to strike the nice balance between image quality and file size using these. They’re all free PDF printers, though, so no harm in trying.

Second, I save my characters to a Dropbox folder. This allows you to access your character sheet from anywhere – your computer, your laptop, your tablet, or even your phone. You get 2 GB of storage space for free. The link above is slightly self-serving – if you use it and sign up, I get some extra storage space. That’s one of the ways to get additional space; there are several more you’ll see after you sign up.

Then, on my iPad, I use an app called PDF-Notes. This will link to Dropbox, download a local copy of your character sheet, and allow you to use its fairly intuitive spread of annotation tools to mark up the sheet just like a pencil-and-paper sheet, or add stickynotes just like you would on any PDF document. It’s the best of both worlds. The only difference between the free and paid ($9.99) version of this app is a fairly unobtrusive little advertisement in the lower-left corner. Personally, I’m cheap and haven’t bothered to upgrade.

Android users will, I’m sure, be able to suggest a comparable tool for that OS.

Optionally, if you export your character from the character builder, you’ll end up saving it as a .dnd4e file. This can be uploaded to iPlay4E, which works as a browser-based character management system. It’ll track stats, HP, temp HP, powers used… all sorts of stuff. And it links to the Compendium. Some people like it a lot. The developer put a lot of work in to this, and it shows.

The developer did produce an app for the iPad/iPhone called iPlay4E Live ($4.99), but I’ve not used it. I just know that it exists. The browser site is free, and – as I said earlier – I’m cheap.

Finally, for Compendium access, I use two different tools. On my android phone, I use the Compendium Search Helper straight from my browser. It nicely end-arounds the display limitation that prevents the Compendium from loading properly on a mobile browser. On my iPad, Cordax Software released a “Compendium” app that provides an app front-end to the online Compendium. Basic searches are free, and you get a handful of “advanced searches” (if you need to break stuff out by book, for example) before you’d have to pay to upgrade. 


Thanks for the tip on Cordax's "Compendium."  Much better, IMO, than the "Compendium Helper" I had already, mainly because I don't have to sign in each time I use it!

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

"Your ability to summon a horde of celestial superbeings at will is making my ... BMX skills look a bit redundant."

"People treat their lack of imagination as if it's the measure of what's silly. Which is silly." - Noon

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”

I use the Compendium Search Helper straight from my browser. It nicely end-arounds the display limitation that prevents the Compendium from loading properly on a mobile browser.

Didn't know about that.  Thats useful.  Shame DDI doesn't have a "light" skin option.

I heard back from an Android tablet user.  He's using qPDF Notes (demo version) to annotate PDFs.  

If anyone has had success with or recommends another product to use (for anything related to the topic, really, not just the Android PDF viewer), I'd love to check it out.