Traditional Dungeons & Dragons from the 1970s involved little more than a notebook, pencil, a few dice, and copious amounts of imagination. While some players stick to tradition, many more are eager to bring their campaigns into the modern era. Luckily, these awesome apps make it easy to play Fifth Edition on the fly and add new flavor beyond the theater of the mind.
DnD Beyond (Free)
DnD Beyond’s comprehensive website is one of the best things to happen to DnD, and their mobile app is no slouch either. While some of the more advanced aspects aren’t yet available on mobile, many of the essentials are there. You can store the texts of any purchased books officially released by Wizards of the Coast and quickly check spells, items, and monsters.
The best part of the app is currently the character sheets. Any sheets you create on their website automatically appear in the mobile app, and you can roll everything from ability checks to spell attacks on your phone. No dice or math skills needed! You can also apply short or long rests to your characters, track their hit points and any status effects during the heat of combat.
However, it’s important to note that while the app and its basic features are available for free, you’ll need to pay for official sourcebooks if you want access to monsters/spells/items outside of the Basic Rules. Additionally, free accounts are only entitled to a total of six characters.
Music can enhance just about any situation in a role-playing game. No matter how amazing your Dungeon Master is, there’s something special about hearing the patter of the rain as your character slogs through the swamp or the frosty wind blowing just beyond the edges of your meager fire. DMDJ provides an enormous variety of sound effects and music tracks in the background for nearly any situation. It’s available on Android and iOS.
Apps like Spotify or Youtube can get annoying when dealing with increasingly unskippable advertisements. Frantically searching for new tunes in the middle of a session can seriously break the immersion. DMDJ understands how vital continuity is and ensures that there is music for every area. You can play the basic environmental sounds or start tinkering with the mixer to add weather, animals, and other sound effects to customize your music for the moment.
The only major issue with this app is that you can’t use it with other mobile apps. It’s meant to be used during a session where you don’t need your phone for anything else because the music stops if you close the app or your phone goes to sleep. Just make sure to turn off your sleep mode and plug your phone in beforehand for the best experience.
NPC Generator (Free)
Have you ever needed to come up with a quick character on the fly? Maybe your players randomly decided to explore an uncharted area of the desert or interrogate every shopkeeper in the city? Even the best GMs can’t prepare for every eventuality, and there’s nothing worse than being reduced to naming everyone Bob.
This NPC Generator neatly solves the problem by randomly creating characters at the press of a button. You don’t just get class and race either; the app provides everything from a name, appearance, equipment, and personality traits to a funky accent and pre-calculated stats. It’s the perfect tool for a GM who needs some extra inspiration for townspeople.
One drawback is that you can only generate NPCs up to and including level 4. The app’s creator currently doesn’t plan to expand the app beyond level 4, so it works best for DMs with low-level parties or for making townspeople and side characters. After all, not everyone needs to be a hero to feature in your story!
5E Companion App (Free)
Any Game Master will tell you how frustrating it can be keeping track of numerous players, NPCs, and enemies during a fight. With this app’s combat tracker, you can easily set up the turn order at the beginning of the battle and keep track of everyone’s health. No more worrying about all 20 of your goblins attacking the party.
The 5E Companion App, for Android and iOS, even allows you to add characters mid-battle for some last-minute heroics. You can also switch the turn order during the battle if you forgot to add something or a status effect comes into play. You don’t have to map out every battle either since this app also includes an encounter generator, complete with enemies and treasure. Simply enter your party’s level and the encounter’s difficulty and this app will take over.
Note that you can’t roll dice within this app, so you’ll need to use it alongside a dice rolling app or physical dice.
Magwa’s Magic Item Compendium (Free)
Similar to the NPC dilemma, it can be frustrating for DMs who want to give their characters homebrewed magical items on the fly when the ideas just aren’t flowing. Magwa’s Magic Item Compendium lets you randomly generate a magic item and save it for later so you can easily keep track of your stats. It also includes beautiful pieces of art to accompany your magical items so you can describe them in loving detail to your salivating players.
Although the app and its basic features are free, there are in-app purchase options for more item features and sketches to give your game a customized feel. Plus, you can create your own magical items using the same options and save them, so you don’t have to rely on random choices.
Whether you’re playing in-person with your friends or online, these apps just scratch the surface of the D&D resources available nowadays. Even if you’re the type of person who wants to take notes and roll your dice the old-fashioned way, it’s hard to say no to a few resources that will make your game easier.
Have some other great suggestions? Let us know in the comments!