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Electronic Tools for Gaming

This post is a set of notes from the seminars Mike ran at Gen Con titled "E-tools: What do you want?" Mike ran the seminar twice and had some great discussion in both. These notes are an attempt to summarize that discussion. In both seminars, we broke down the discussion into GM tools, player tools and other tools. Other tools typically encompassed tools used for virtual gaming groups.


GM tools can be broken down into three general pieces - campaign management, session planning, and session management.

  • Campaign management

    • World building - mapping, geography, weather, alternative calendars

    • Journaling of ideas and concepts including storing of links and inspirations

    • Character sheets - creation and management of both PCs and NPCs

  • Session planning

    • Planning encounters

    • Session-specific maps and handouts

    • Gap analysis - for example if a monster requires fire to kill but no PCs have fire attacks

  • Session management

    • Combat tables - for comparing stats and rolls quickly

    • Combat management - hit points, initiative, effects, etc.

    • Extremely easy in-game journaling of events

    • Effect and event management outside combat - spells in effect, durations, behind-the-scenes events


Players seem to have it a little easier because they seem to put a lot on the GM. As I worked on these notes, I began to wonder how players could contribute to making the GM's job easier by using tools together.

  • Reminders for special rules, oft forgotten rules

  • Status and duration indicators of various effects

  • Character builders including archiving

Virtual & other tools

People that play games with virtual members of the group said that there need to be better tools for describing scenes. Virtual gaming also needs to become easier so that if a player misses a game or moves, they are still able to participate. People are generally interested in how they can play virtually.

Specific Tools

These are some specific tools and references that were mentioned for GMs and players alike. These tools vary in that some were created for specific purposes while others can be used for gaming purposes.

Books and other materials

In addition to electronic tools, there were some good suggestions for research materials.

  • Chivalry & Sorcery 3rd Edition GM's guide (OOP) - modeling economies and populations

  • GURPS Traveler Far Trader (OOP) - also good world building source material

  • How to write stand-up comedy like a Nazi


session management

no session management tools? dm"s familiar (mine), d20srd, pfrd, roleplaying master?

mikeb's picture


Some of the biggest things not on these lists are mobile devices like Android phones, iPads and laptops. I'd like to expand these lists with some specific examples of how those are used, so please leave a comment with what you do and I'll add the information to the page.