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DMing for the first time in years, need some advice on digital resources.

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24 Feb 2020 01:25 #307396 by SilasCole
Hey everyone. New to the reddit, and it's for the reason above - I'll be DMing in March for the first time in about ten years, and I'm trying to step up my game. We'll be running D&D 5th edition, which I'm not very familiar with. Because of that, I've asked players to restrict their character creation to base PHB things. Anyways, the main reason I made this post to ask if there's any must-have programs that might've come down the pike in the last decade?

I'm thinking things like easy map makers in a grid format so I can plan out my dungeons, things with a directory of monsters, that kind of stuff. I'll be DMing in person so I can definitely use books and stuff, but I'll also have laptop access so if there's anything I can drop a few bucks on to get my heels under me I'm more than happy to try it.

Thanks, folks!

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24 Feb 2020 08:54 #307401 by the_jake_1973
I have used the Campaign Cartographer tools from ProFantasy and that has worked well. A bit of a learning curve, but worth it. The maps can then be ported into Fantasy Grounds as well.

Both are worth looking into.

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24 Feb 2020 09:46 #307402 by dysjunct
Must have? No. I ran 5e for about a year with minimal digital tools. The ones I found helpful:

- An initiative tracker app for my tablet. It lets you put in all the initiative modifiers for the PCs and NPCs, then it rolls for you and displays everything on a chart. You can move people around if they want to hold. It also lets you track HP and status conditions (stunned, blinded, etc.).

- A set of digital token art. They came with PDFs that automatically resize the art. So if you need a medium-sized spider then you drop the spider.jpg onto a 1”x1” square in the PDF; if you need a large one, then drop into a 2”x2” square, etc. I would print them out, punch them with a circular punch, and glue them onto a wooden craft disk. Way cheaper and faster than buying and painting minis, and you can use whatever art you can find online.

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24 Feb 2020 11:21 #307406 by Michael Barnes
If you haven't done it in ten years, just go back to doing it however you were. The digital tools are fine, I use absolutely none of them. My DM tools are:

- 2 WOTC Adventure Grid boards
- 1 set dry erase marker w/eraser
- 1 set of "Hero" tokens and 1 set of "Minion" tokens I got from an Etsy maker
- stack of notecards
- Mechanical pencils

I don't use a DM screen. It encourages roll-fudging and reduces the sense of risk to the players.

I've found that the digital tools just cause more fussing around, but I'm also not as adept with them as folks that have been using them for a while.

That's a VERY smart move to limit to PHB. Once you start getting into all the options, it's...well, it depends on what you want. I think it's fucking awful. And it results in these silly parties of superheroic dragonborn warforged warlocks with all these different paths and options. I don't like that, but I prefer the more OSR style of play where the PCs start out as complete losers and work up to capable hero if they don't get killed.

I would advise you, since you are playing 5e, to especially pay attention to the way whatever you are running is written. If you stay on the path, their stuff is super easy to run as long as you've read the entire book and memorized everything (yes, that is both a compliment and a condemnation). Off the tracks, it gets dodgier.

If you are running something with factions and lore and complex story...I'd advise maybe looking it over closely and deciding what the players will most likely enjoy and what they won't care about. I ran a game of Dragon Heist and the party didn't give a shit about the Waterdeep factions, the lore, and the overall storyline that was "supposed" to be there. So all the prep work was worthless for big parts of it. Fortunately, that campaign was scrapped in favor of something more engaging for the party.

For example, my main group right now REALLY likes a more open world/sandbox style. They want to tell the story, not have me sit there and hand it to them from text boxes. So I prep very, very little and roll with whatever they throw at me. It's more challenging to DM _at the table_, but I'm also having more fun with the improv and I'm not spending a bunch of time writing up a bunch of shit that will never get used.

So use that first session to get a feel for what the group wants. If they want the heavy, guided storyline you might need to cater to that. And that means a lot more work on your part.

Above all remember that the DM is like a DJ. Keep 'em spinning, keep 'em dancing, and know what beats are going to work together.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Shellhead, Gary Sax, dysjunct

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24 Feb 2020 11:21 #307407 by Shellhead
The D&D SRD was a valuable aid to my D&D 3.5 campaign. It had highly organized information about nearly everything, including spells, monster stats, a die-roller function, and an app to calculate XP awards based on complex combinations of opponents and even traps. There is a 5E version now, but I've heard that 5E is a much easier game to run.

Does anyone here have experience playing online via Discord? An old friend is trying to recruit me for his online D&D 5E game on Discord.

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25 Feb 2020 18:31 #307475 by boothwah
I ran my 5e game with the books, a notebook, and a tablet. The tablet was only there for some quick reference (had all the pdfs searchable) and to cast illustrations and eventually maps on the the smart tv. It was grand. We started with a grid map and minis, but tbh 5e shines in theater of the mind.

My buddy ran a game on Roll20 for 5 of us. He paid premium so we had fog of war and maps. Great if you all have pcs as the mobile platform was lacking.

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