Thursday, February 7, 2013

Using the iPad with Dungeons & Dragons 4e


When the iPad first arrived in 2010 many wondered if the device was even needed. We now know from its success that it did in fact fill a huge void that often-clumsy laptops never excelled in. Since I have gotten my first iPad I never carry around my laptop any more. I read books & PDFs on my iPad, browse the web, play games, view photos, write, chat, buy off Amazon, sell on eBay, pay bills, and now…play D&D!

It might seem incongruous to use an iPad to play D&D, but in my opinion the two were meant for each other. They work together so well in fact that I’m surprised Wizards of the Coast do not already have their own set of proprietary D&D apps available. So far all that comes up when searching for apps by Wizards of the Coast on the iPad are Magic 2013 and Kaijudo Dojo for iPad. Nothing for D&D. Wizards is currently play testing D&D Next, (the 5th edition of D&D) and I imagine they must have new software, apps, and more coming down the pipe for the release of that new all inclusive game system. I can only hope.

So what decent 3rd party D&D apps actually exist for the ipad so far that are worth spending some money on?

Cordax Software has 2 very nice apps for sale, Compendium and i4e. Both apps are great, but only if you have a current paid D&DInsider account. With an active D&D Insider subscription you can use Compendium to access and search the D&D Insider online compendium. Your iPad then becomes a database of a wealth of D&D 4e facts, stats, monsters, and more. i4e is a virtual character sheet for the iPad. With this app too you need to have the paid D&D Insider account. When online using the character builder you can save and download a bunch of different created characters. Once the character files are downloaded to your computer you can log onto i4e online and upload the created characters. Then using nothing more then your email again you can access these uploaded characters on your ipad. They are fully editable and contain everything you need to play. I’m not sure if these will still function if your D&D Insider account is not active. My guess is that it will still work. I only ever gave my email. No password. You can also create a character using the app too but I have not explored that feature yet. Still, to get actual D&D Insider characters onto this app you will need to have paid for at least a one-month subscription and created a few characters online. If you really want to save I’m guessing you could use a friends D&D account to create and download a few characters and then use em with no account. If I discover different I’ll amend this information.

Another great app for D&D and map based hobby role-playing games is called Battle Map, which allows you to create, from scratch, huge scalable detailed maps. The map can then be turned dark so that as players explore they cannot see where they are going until they get there. A variety of monsters, traps, terrain, items, and more can all be placed throughout a created map or dungeon maze. This is one of the best apps out there for classic RPGs yet and is also makes great use of the iPad while not taking away from what makes D&D great. It adds to it.

There are more apps available. Some are for D&D 2.5 not 4e. A few worth listing are:

Hex Map

All the apps can be useful but too much can begin to complicate things and slow down the fun. I suggest if you are a paying D&D Insider member to give the Cordax Software apps Compendium and i4e a chance. Compendium is good for a DM and i4e is for players. And again, Battle Map is good for DMs too and not just for D&D 4e. Any edition of D&D as well as the Pathfinder crowd will find this fun. It is the most expensive at $29.99, but after a few good maps have been created you can play D&D right on the iPad.

Explore the apps if you feel you want to. Do not let your game suffer as a result. You may find some players want to use these tools while others do not. Or maybe just the DM could use one to make things easier and keep the game flowing.

I suspect we will only see more apps like these coming along.

Enjoy!

–A