Pen & Paper‎ > ‎


Well, software isn't needed for EVERY system.  You might not even need the software if you're face to face.  But on the off-chance you might even need a little extra help, I can provide it.



Cost: Free
System: Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition
Requirement: Active D&D Insider, D&D Character Builder and 1 of the following:
  • Chrome
  • Firefox 3+
  • IE7+
  • Safari Mobile
  • Opera Mini
  • iPhone/iTouch
Personal Note:
This site is one of the best sites for managing characters.  If you're a DM, you can make a campaign and have all characters listed in the campaign there.  If you're a player, you can upload your characters to it and maintain it that way.  I suppose one would ask "what's the limit?" and the simple answer from my end is that I do not know.  I have had 14 characters up and the site has not done anything wrong.  Best of all, its great for backing up your character files as you can download them again!  Are you scared of having the characters downloaded by someone else? No problem.  Turn the privacy mode on for the character and you're good.  Features include:
  • Quick access to the D&D compendium
  • Maintain/Update the HP, Conditions, Power uses, Coin management, and notes.
  • Can view quick info of feats, class features, and more
  • Roll dice with automatic calculations for you
The only downside is that you can't update your character if you need to put in new feats, new powers, new magic items, etc. and you will always need an active subscription to D&D insider since it reads names of powers and such directly from the compendium (which also means that any custom stuff can't ever be read either).  Otherwise its good.


Cost: Free
System: Any listed there
Personal Note:
So this has nothing really automatic about it.  In fact, one could say that the whole point of this is to keep track of a character on a digital character sheet.  Good if you don't want to have many eraser marks or don't want to keep marking new things after having to erase something.  It would just mean you would have to have a computer around to keep updating everything unless you print it, put the marks for the updates you need to do next time you are on a computer, and repeat.


D&D Virtual Table

Cost: D&D Insider subscription (Monthly starts at $9.95)
System: Any D&D specific systems; geared towards 4th edition
  • Any system that can use Java
  • DirectX 9.0
  • 1GB RAM
  • 128MB Video Card
  • 10MB HDD Space
Its still working its way up so I'll update this in the future.  But this one will have Built-in Voice support so one will not need to use some external Voice chat.

Fantasy Grounds 2

Cost: $39.95 for a Full License; $23.95 for a Lite License; $149.95 for an Ultimate License
System: d20 Modern, D&D 4e, D&D 3.5e built in; More can be download or created.
  • Windows XP/Vista/7
  • Direct X 9.0
  • 256MB RAM
  • 32MB Video card with DX9 support
  • 100MB HDD space
It can also be run under Linux or Mac as it can be run under Wine (it even has a Wine compatibility mode).
  • 3D Interactive Dice
  • Text Chat
  • Pre-load images in advance
  • Materials can be loaded
  • Use images in PNG, JPG, GIF, or BMP
  • Tokens are easily makable
  • Can't afford full license? Don't worry, Lite License lets you access games that a DM with Full License or Ultimate License is hosting.
  • If DM has the money, they can get the Ultimate License and all players only need to connect and they will be able to play!
  • You can load new rulesets by obtaining them either from the community or from the store.
  • Pre-custom make your characters and then load them up when your DM hosts!
  • Maps is easy to manipulate
Personal Note:
Alright.  So, straight up, this is an interesting tool, but old.  They are most likely making a Fantasy Ground 3 that will have plenty of improvements.  Maps cannot be fully created there.  What I mean is if you want to make a map, make it outside of Fantasy Grounds 2, then import the map into the program and modify your size you need for the squares/octagons/whatever format you use to represent movement.  Also, this does not have a 3rd dimension element as in you can't tell about the Z position where you are on the map which is fine unless you need to add in air/space battles.  DMs host all the information so they cannot lose the info of the game or they will have to re-create from scratch.  This goes double for players.  Its recommended you get a VOIP program such as Ventrillo, Teamspeak, Skype, or any program that has mic communication to communicate more effectively.  Also, the program is an attention hog.  It wants full usage as in if you alt-tab out of the program, you need to alt-tab back to the program, not just click the program tab on the task bar.  Finally, if the DM screws up on something on his end (like he installed an add-on and didn't install it right) and does not make a backup before hand, all content will be corrupted.  This can also happen if it was saving and was interrupted.  If you wonder about the people that connect, all they get is a packaged file and nothing is able to read all the info and split it off (its not a zip or anything, but its compressed somehow).


Cost: $24.95 Currntly for Lifetime membership; Varying prices for open floating license
System: Any
  • Windows XP/Vista/7
  • Microsoft Silverlight AND Adobe Flash Plugin
  • 800 MHz CPU
  • 1GB Memory
  • 50MB HDD space (more for swap files and other possible downloads)
  • Internet
  • IE8
  • Webcam (Optional)
  • Mic (Optional)
Personal Note:
So I don't know what I could provide with this since I have not played with it since you basically need a person with an open floating license (expensive... starting at $80) or shell out the money to get a full version that also gives you unlimited license.  However, the features are nice.

Open Source Universal Gametable

Cost: Free
System: Any that needs a board or card deck
  • Windows XP/Vista/7; Macintosh
  • Java
  • 1GB memory
  • 20MB+ (Swap Files, extra download, etc)
Personal Note:
This was formerly known as Gametable until they needed to change the name for legal reasons.  In 1 of my campaigns, we used this for a long while.  Its Free, but it did have its few inconvenience moments.  Yes, it can be used for ANY system.  I also observed it being used in World of Darkness campaign.  Also, due to it being open source, you can essentially edit the code to add a few things, but they are now working on a version 3 where you will have access to making add-ons for gametable as you see fit!  Yes, that means even easier access to the systems you want.  I have not played around with the Deck that much, but you can basically make a card deck I guess for games that require the use of cards like one game I saw the Pokemon RPG.  Otherwise, I think its meant mostly for like Magic: The Gathering, Yu-gi-oh!, etc.  I think its coming along nicely.


Cost: Free
System: Any
  • As far as I can see, Just any computer that can run Java.
  • At least minimal requirements for running Java.
  • Many different tools.
  • MapTools
    • Can be used to connect players
    • Make maps for online, offline, or print use
    • Many customization thanks to the community
    • Can have dice setup
  • TokenTool
    • Easily create tokens for any use: Print to create a pog token, a program that uses tokens, etc
    • As simple as just opening an image and saving what you need.
  • InitiativeTool
    • Keep track of everyone's Initiative in any game whether its Online or at the table.
    • Keep track of rounds and whose turn it is.
  • CharacterTool
    • Create characters through the use of this program.
  • DiceTool
    • Just a simple dice program.
Personal Note:
I used this once for a simple Do it yourself 4e adventure.  It was a bit difficult setting up in game.  Then someone made a customized version using a bunch of add-ons for people to do the same thing instead of having to make the setup.  Its as good as you can customize it.  And things called Frameworks tend to make it work better towards whatever game system you need.

Virtual Daivve

Cost: Free
System: Made for Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition
  • Windows XP/Vista/7; Linux; Mac
  • Java
  • 1GB Memory minimal
  • 5MB (More for swap files and downloading tokens/map files from people)
  • Network (Internet or LAN)
  • Chat with an optional second window to just see the dice rolls
  • Log all things shown in chat
  • A DM mode
  • Anyone can host it, but the DM is the one that can manipulate (DM's would rejoice to this as this means if someone has a better connection, the DM can use them as opposed to using their own if their connection is lousy).
  • Hide Tokens to prepare against players who fail their checks
  • Hide the map and make it visible as the players approach more sections of the map
  • Keep stat info in-game as well as HP that you can track how much damage you have
  • Macros that can be setup for at-will, encounter, daily, utility powers as well as Magic Items, skill checks, initiative, generic powers, etc.  Encounter/Daily powers will also be marked off as appropriate!
  • Initiative tab to keep an idea of who goes next!
  • The macros aren't just for the players! The DM can make macros for their monsters to use such as Recharge powers and more!
  • Private message mode for DM's allows the DM to read whispers between players
  • Macros can be setup to display publicly, to self only, or let others know that you are rolling dice to make them keep guessing what you are doing.
  • Mark on each pog who is Marked, Dazed, Blind, Slowed, Immobilized, Cursed, and more!
  • Set Aura effects on pogs so your players may know that something is there (they may not know what it does, but they will find out when they get in it).
Personal Note:
As a beta tester to this, I find it interesting that I also helped shape a potentially damn good software that is free for a D&D 4th ed type program.  Consider this:
Wizards promised a set of 4th edition software to make gaming easier.
They included initially that you could make a character (Character Builder), make a custom mini for your character (picture for your character in Character Builder and use it in a D&D game board program), have all that work together in a game board program that would let users connect online.
Well due to that not being the case as we only got Character builder, Virtual Daivve is setting boundaries.  This is based off of the same code that made Open Source Universal Gametable when it was called Gametable at the time and converted to fully make use of the 4th Ed design.   I mean, look at all the features listed! And its only going to get better.  There are still a few setbacks here and there, but as said that since its being worked on more, better features will take away the setbacks really quickly.  Of course, my DM feels that we shouldn't know about people's Hit points unless we get something like "Status" ritual enabled on us in which case, then we can show our full HP.  To fix that, we went with the 3HP system.  3/3, you are full health.  2/3 you are injured.  1/3 you are bloodied.  0/3 you are down.  For me, I still use the iplay4e website in conjunction just to make sure that all my info is saved and keep track of the status effects on me.
I am not able to share what things will be made for later on.

PDF/Office stuff

This is mostly what I consider the editors that you can used to build character data as an alternative to the normal stuff.

4e Spreadsheet

System: Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition
Requirement: Microsoft Office Excel 2003+
Personal Note:
It is pretty damn good for a 4e only spreadsheet.  The only thing is it can't provide proper info on powers as it relies on the fact that you can get that info on you're own (basically effects it won't tell you about, but damages it usually will calculate).  But, it works every Feat, class feature, race, and class stuff.

The Only Sheet+

System: Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Edition & Pathfinder
Requirement: Microsoft Office Excel 2003+
Personal Note:
One of the best sheets I've seen that is all macro'd based.  It isn't that friendly with custom content when you first begin, but you can make just about anything with it and has almost everything that I've seen basic-wise under D&D 3.5.  You will need to add custom content to get the other stuff in (example: Hexblades).  Pathfinder on the other hand includes everything available from Paizo that is open source.  It calculates everything very well and I'd rather have this with me than using my little experience and having books all over the place.


I consider this as mostly websites to host game information.

Obsidian Portal

Cost: Free; Monthly Payment for additional features
  • Wiki
  • Can make 2 campaigns OR be a player in as many as you want
  • 2MB of upload space available
  • Custom Banner
  • Players can contribute as well.
  • Place for Maps, characters, NPCs, items, and logs
  • DMs can write down certain info on each page that players can't see!
  • Subscription benefits:
    • Hide your campaign
    • Can have 10 campaign maps
    • Co-DM status
    • 1GB of upload space
    • Campaign Forums
    • Can make 10 campaigns
One of the best sites for anything involved with pen and paper campaigns.  I used this for a campaign and I have to say, subscription ability mode is incredible!  I mean they do even accept suggestions to people! And the subscription is cheap.  $5/month is the base or go a little cheaper by getting half a year or a year's subscription!  If you can afford $40 for 1 year, you are saving $20 from your subscription which is almost the same as saying "I paid $3.33 for great benefits!"  I highly recommend it and even more if you have $5 per month as either a DM or just gathering the money from players (I'm sure if a DM and 5 players came together, 6 people can come together to get $40 for the DM to have the membership and if not, I'm sure $5 can be found somehow even if it is a bit from everyone).
If nothing else, I'd at least recommend their blog where one can get Free RPG books about every week.


Cost: Free
  • Wiki
  • Forum for wiki
  • Picture Gallery for all images you can post for your wiki
  • Polls
  • Simple WYSIWYG editor
Personal Note:
The site is pretty restrictive.  However, you do not need tons of knowledge to setup the page of each wiki the way you want it.  Be warned though, nothing is kept private beyond if you make your wiki a private wiki which means requiring an invite and sign-in.  For 2 games I play, it does the job.  I can somewhat create the pages the way I need to.  It does not have HTML editing so you can't edit anything beyond what is there with the WYSIWYG editor.  Pretty good considering its free.


Cost: Free; $20/month if you want the better features and more depending on the player count for it
Personal Note:
Honestly, this was good before the changes happened.  The current setup pretty much makes it that if you decide to put the $20/month for the wiki, you can say customize player folders so that only the player and the DM has access to certain things while the other players do not.  The problem is that the $20/month includes for you and 2 other members.  Anymore requires an additional $10 per person for all participants beyond the initial.  What does that mean?  Simple breakdown:
5 players use the site
$20 for the features
5+you = 6.
You need to pay an additional $50 which makes it $70 for the month every month.
2 players use the site
$20 for the features
2 + you = 3
You need to pay only $20, no addition.

However, I can say its pretty damn good for a wiki site.  I just can't constitute the amount of money you pay.

Google Sites

Cost: Free; Payment plans for additional Features
You are viewing this site under Google Sites.  It is pretty good considering for a free-based website.  The thing is you have to setup everything and have some knowledge to HTML.

D&D Tools - Character Sheet Creator

System: Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition
Mostly for making a Character Sheet to post on the web with the full stat info and powers.

D&D Tools - Monster Card Creator

System: Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition
Mostly for making Monster Cards using the Official form of the Wizards of the Coast Monster Card Stats (pre-Monster Manual 3) to post on the Web.

D&D Tools - Power Card Creator

System: Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition
Mostly for making simple Power Cards to put on the Web whether its an At-Will, Encounter, or Daily.