Thursday, September 30, 2010

Project X: Part 7

Continuing Part 7 of Project X:

Dungeon Master Screen
Version 1.2
Wydraz Software
Status: Inactive

Dungeon Master Screen (DM Screen for short) has a friendly interface in support of the D&D D20 system. Essentially, this program is a literal Virtual DM Screen, with buttons that make finding a specific chart easy and intuitive. The charts are copies of those taken from the DM/Players books, and they cover a wide gambit of information.

As a bonus, included is a set of random buttons which include the following info: Room/Corridor/Trap/Door/NPC/Name and even a Custom generator. With this a DM is able to choose from a wide range of text files - which are editable to customize to his/her own campaign. Included as well are 2 custom buttons - so you can have Dm Screen set to start up a favorite executable Tool/program on the fly.

The second tab has a combat planner, a solid addition to the package, with sequence and Duration Counters for easy tracking of battles, and more buttons with charts specific to combat and the like.

Overall, even though this program is D20 based, I lean towards it as being how my Project X tool should look - with an expanded Tab section for Campaign info and all of these buttons with quick access to all of my charts. Highly recommended!


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Project X: Part 6

Continuing Project X: Part 6..
Version 5.163
Status: Active

PCGen is a multi-platform tool (Jave-based) that has a nice selection of features. First is the ability to choose a specific rules set - and even design your own if you wish (with limitations). It is 3.5 based and the Multi-tabbed PC creation tool is solid, with small clickable buttons to help flesh out a PC for the discerning DM. A Name/Treasure Generator are bonus items that allow for a bit more control.

The tool also comes with a DMGen tool that allows for tracking of XP, travel and Inn cost (based on size of party/animals) and has a nice campaign notes section with drag/drop functionality.

Overall, while I applaud what PCGen has - customizable components, Generate NPC with one button - it hems its user into a small subsection of the gaming community, while not addressing the needs of the serious gamer looking to run his/her OD&D/1E campaign.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Project X: Part 5

Continuing with Part 5 of Project X:

Dungeon Master's Assistant Volume I/II
SSI/TSR - 1989
Status: Inactive

One of the first and complete generators that aided a Dungeon Master. DMA ran very well on systems of the time, and even today has a lot of good features.

Volume I's focus is on Generating Encounters and Rolling Dice. It has a built in Editor system that allows customization of Monster(s), Encounter(s) and Treasure(s). As well, you could easily create your own or Add/Adjust any of the Treasure Tables.

Volume II's focus is on Generating Characters and Treasure. One excellent feature is the ability to use Unearthed Arcana. A boon to those of us that enjoy the Cleric/Ranger dual class character. One thing I always enjoyed about this software was the simplicity it gave, while also delivering with solid data that made my sessions easier to run.

Any list of Tools must include, or at least pay tribute to the grandfather of software. This list is no different.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Project X: Part 4

Continuing Part 4 of Project X:

Game Master's Mystical Mind
Version 1.1.0
Andrew Rodes
Status: Inactive

One of the older software packages written for Windows 3.1. GMMM is a solid entry in the GM's arsenal, with enough goodness to satisfy any 1st Edition player. The solid spell book designer for each player character is a massive boon, then add in the ability to pull up any spell (with descriptions) and complete monster stats. One of the unique features is the combat system allows you to quickly do damage (with complimentary sound effects), set terrain, and even track time. Throw in a simple Dice Roller, and the ability to add new players, spells and monsters and GMMM is a very well thought out program.

NOTE: You may have some issues finding this program, but if your interested in it, I may be able to track down a copy for you.

Overall, the literal "spell book feature" is worth the price (freeware), and this is a tool I can see using for old school gaming goodness.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Project X: Part 3

Continuing Part 3 of Project X:

AD&D Assistant
version 1.6.0
Mark Kintigh
Status: Active

This appears to be the most impressive NON-Campaign oriented DM tool yet. Simply put, its specifically for 1st Edition, and included UA. NOTE: The random tables and generators are taken directly from the Dungeon Master's Guide. Overall, I've just discovered this tool, and the only thing I can see missing as a reference tool is the combined items chart to outfit a player/store. Really, just look at the screenshots I've include below, with the now traditional extra info added in for clarity.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Project X: Part 2

Continuing with Part 2 of Project X.

Role Playing Assistant
Version 7.13d
Status: Inactive/Unknown

This software gets high marks for versatility (AD&D 2nd, 3rd and 3.5 edition to name but a few). A solid interface and a slew of components. Highlights include a random dungeon generator (no room descriptions), Name generator (with list for family), large randomizer that you can choose what you need - i.e., treasure, city name, player trait, background etc.

Overall, truth be told, I rarely use it due to other small programs that already handle dungeon and name generation. I'm hopeful that 1E support is forthcoming, however, if activity on the forums is any indication (last thread was dated Jan 23, 2010) this package COULD be inactive.

DM Genie
Mad Scientist Studio
Status: Inactive

One of the newer packages to come along, this program is a full screen behemoth, with a ton of data - broken down with the "group" on the left, and player/monster on the right. Independent icons open up the campaign/monster-player creator/dice roller and also show monster stats. 3.5 is the main core that DM Genie supports, but the top seller for me is the Campaign Section which has HTML creatable links within the text proper.

Overall, while I like the layout, the bulkiness of the package leaves me desiring a smaller GUI.

D&D Campaign Manager
Version Alpha
AAA Software Enterprises
Status: Active

D&D Campaign Manager, like many of the previous mentioned programs, has a large variety of solid features. What sets D&DCM apart from most is the ability to custom pick exactly what "books" and "rules" system you wish to use. To further expand on this cusomization, you can also choose specific items for your campaign - like Die rolling method for PC creation, and even mundane items like how initiative is rolled. As a bonus, I like the fact that the interface allows you to have multiple "windows" open for quick access to a multitude of info.

This is handled with a tabbed interface, so having multiple tabs open at the same time makes switching easy and simple. 3.5 is the main foundation of D&DCM, but it remains one of my favorite packages because of the custom setups available, and that you can quickly find what you need.

Only thing I don't see at this point is the flexibility to switch to 1E monsters given all I found were of the newer versions available. If this oversite could be addressed D&DCM could easily fill my gaming needs.

DA: The Role Player's Assistant
Version 0.7.8
MJHK Studios
Status: Inactive

Talk about a solid software package, Digital Assistant (DA for short) fits the bill. To make it clear, DA isn't specifically designed to support JUST AD&D, but rather is for RPG's in general. Tabs run along the left side of the screen, and it is here where you will fill in your details for Campaign, PC and Setting. Individual images can be loaded in on each of these sections, and then loaded into the view window at the bottom of the main interface.

Click on Encounter Manager, and a seperate area becomes available for special interest. NPC/PC/Creature and Game System stats/info can be entered here. The Game System is of special note because you can customize this to your own world. While it doesn't cover the amount of books and rules that D&DCM has to choose, this does allow flexibility to the DM.

The Adventure tab has special places to enter in images, Notes to be read to the player and even DM info - the point of this entire program is that you can set it up to fit your world, i.e., CUSTOMIZE is the key word of this software and it shows that a great deal of thought went into the creation of it.

As a bonus, and on my own personal list, is the Quick Launch Toolbar - which means you can choose that favorite Tavern or Random Generator .exe and set a shortcut to it and voila - it will indeed open from within DA.

Add in a solid die roller (with custom die creation), and the package is complete. So after all of this, there is a Caveat. This software is Beta, and was never finished/finished version released. It runs extremely well on my Vista system, and I've had no crashes. Note to prospective users. There is no save feature. BUT DA DOES save your info as you fill it in.


Project X: Part 1

Not every person who DM's 1st edition wants or needs a piece of software that puts a majority of data at their fingertips. Like many, I am just as apt to sit down and write out an entire module, encounter, or campaign by hand. Let's be clear though: I don't "want" the computer/laptop to replace the books/maps/endless sheets that I so love to peruse and re-read countless times. I still want the game to be central, and the reference screen/software program to supplement my game.

See, I want and need that tactile feel, but what I would love to have is a program that compiles/collaborates all of the items that "I" need in one tight, neat little package. For clarity, let's call this program Project X.

Project X: Criteria for RULES:

1) Must be 1E compliant (This is not an option)
2) Would be nice to add Unearthed Arcana
3) Would be nice to add The Forgotten Realms data
4) OPTIONAL but highly sought: 2nd Edition Monster Compendiums (Yes, I love them)

Items that I consider MAJOR in Project X:

5) Monsters (MM, MMII, Fiend Folio)
6) Spells (All known official 1E spells and those from UA)
7) World Designer (Seasonal Calendar and Notes)
8) Campaign Note Designer (City, town, Notes, NPC's, establishments, etc.)
9) Map and Notes (The ability to pull up a png/bmp of a map for reference and have DM notes is a plus)
10) Characters (The ability to add player and personal characters)
11) NPCs (The ability to add player and personal characters)

Items that I consider MINOR in Project X:

12) Random Generator(s) (More is always good, and if I can create a generator on the fly - even better!)
13) Custom Generator Executable
The way this works is that within the main window, I have a couple Custom programmable buttons. Since I use the RPG City Map Generator and Tavern Maker, I want to be able to plug in the executeable of these two (2) programs inside Project X - and then with one click, voila, they start.

Items I consider EXCLUDED in Project X:
14) Weather Generator (I own Mileu's WeatherMaster and nothing else is needed)
15) World Map Designer (I use Campaign Cartographer 2/3)
16) Dungeon Designer (I use Maptool)
17) Combat (Much prefer to handle it live with the players)
18) Dice Roller (Same as Combat above)

So, we now come to my own findings of various software packages currently - or in many cases - no longer available from the original company, yet which I have in my possesion and have tested/used.

NOTE: These are my own personal findings of each program. I do not claim that these are anything more than my own opinions and findings, and I've received ZERO compensation from all of the packages reviewed below. Included with each program's review are some screen shots (with my own personal notes added for clarity).

Tome of Vast Knowledge for Windows
Version 0.75
Douglas P. Webb
Status: Inactive
This program sits at the top of the screen, and the middle section is open - i.e., you can access your icons on your desktop (just like your task bar at the bottom). Excellent feature and something that I wish more programs considered.

Sections includes: Spells, Monster, Magic, Topics 
NOTE: All of these include data from the Net Books - useful but not so much for me)

Utilities includes: Character Generator (1st Edition), Sword Generator, Hoard Generator, Mapper (Hex)
NOTE: The 3 generators are bonafide excellent, truly the stars of this software.

Tools includes: E-Dice (Custom die available), Text editor (for campaign/miscellaneous notes), Image viewer NOTE: The E-Dice roller is very good.

Overall, The Tome of vast Knowledge has some nice features, has a solid layout and the Generators are really good. I've used the various Generators but overall the package falls short of being something that stays on my desktop for extended gaming sessions.

Campaign Suite Extended
Version 5.12.13a
Twin Rose
Status: Inactive
This is an excellent package. Simple to use GUI with a ton of options. Once nice feature is when you choose to work on a specific element - say a monster, is how Campaign Suite opens up a seperate GUI inside. This allows a user to have seperate windows open and keeps their other data available for quick reference. Suffice it that it's an OGL/D20 Based System, is versatile and I really wish the company was still in business so that 1E material could be added.

Overall this is a package I refer to frequently.

Role Playing Master
Release v4.5.12
Status: Inactive/Unknown

Small GUI (Graphic User Interface) on start up, with drop downs and contextual menus. This software rates high for what it has. The ability to create an adventure and have separate section(s) for encounters/maps etc. is a very solid concept. Creating lists of names/cities etc. is a breeze with this package, but it's focus is 3.0, and last activity was 2006 on the main website for updates, and the Yahoo Group has little activity.