Update: d20 Character sheet
Update 2: Added D20 Helper
NOTE: The Android market is expanding, and I’ve seen other d20 and D&D apps added since I wrote this post. I probably can’t keep up with these new apps, but I will look at another roundup in February.
You like tabletop RPGs? Oh, good. You have an Android phone? ah.
My friends and I have been chatting about good uses of smart phone or tablets with our D&D sessions. Not to feed a gadget fetish, it seems that there are some good ways to use technology. In this post, I’d like to take a look at some of the better D&D apps for Android devices. One thing to keep in mind is that the Android market is growing daily. Several of these D&D apps were added only in the last 3 or 4 months.
Overall, it’s not great, but there’s progress. It’s not surprising to see that the iPhone has many, many more D&D apps. However, almost none of the iPhone apps are free, and several are $2 or more, up to $29.99. The iPhone apps have more graphics than the android apps. Perhaps the most interesting tool I see for the iPhone is the various map applications, which a DM could use to display on a larger screen. But I also like the idea of an app that can generate a map or room quickly.
In a future post, I’ll review some ideas for useful D&D or tabletop apps.
d20 Character Sheet [€3.00]
This app allows you to maintain your D&D 3.5 characters. Although I’m not a fan of the UI design, it covers the basic functionality and information that I’d want in a character sheet, as the online manual explains. It tracks alignment, stats, money, feats, skills, abilities, saves, attack bonus, racial traits, items. But it omits languages, deity, class specialization [such as flurry of blows or nature sense], weapon proficiencies, and spells.
Even though the app is flexible enough to allow you to edit classes, skills, feats, weapons, armor, and goods, you cannot add languages and deity. As for spells, fortunately another application handles that hole very well.
I like how easy it is to add skills and feats to favorites so that you can track them more easily. It handles multi-classing well, and it’s compact and easily accessible. I’m not fond of the background image which I think makes reading the basic stats more difficult. Unfortunately, the thing that would make it more valuable than a paper character sheet is missing–descriptions of skills. It does show the basic stats for feats, however. Instead, it lists the page in the handbook for the appropriate description. It also does not calculate weight, something that an app should offer easily. Finally, another missing stat is mana points.
If the app were free, it’d be a no-brainer to recommend it. For €3.00, I’m not so high on it. It still has uses, like being able to modify your money, inventory, hit points. But the lack of reference information and missing attributes are major drawbacks. Hopefully, it’s something the author can add in a future update. This app does a lot right, but it’s missing too many vital and useful features. I have it so I will probably use it, but I won’t be leaving my paper character sheet at home.
Update: I contacted the author of d20 character sheet with most of my complaints. He quickly responded and noted that he’s working on adding the class-based feats. He has deities, languages and weapon proficiencies on his backlog of features, but he’s focused on the most requested items, particularly spells.
Spellbook D&D 3.5 [free]
Our group probably spends more time looking up and parsing spells more than anything else about our characters. Skills would be a distant second. A very recent addition to the Android Market helps greatly. Currently, I use a web browser to visit our group’s site and look up spells and other things, but it’s not well formatted, and I have to zoom, which can be slow. Spellbook D&D 3.5 is a great spell reference. You browse all the spells or search for a specific spell. You can then select spells as favorites. Each spell description appears to have all the information found in the handbook, and where appropriate, there are links to other spells. You can even add notes for each spell.
It’s a simple but very excellent application. It loads quickly and is easy to read. This might be the best D&D app for android at the moment.
d20 Reference [US$0.99]
This would appear to be the motherload reference for D&D 3.5e. It covers information for spells, armor, weapons, combat actions, feats, races, classes, and magic items. Unfortunately, it suffers a couple of faults.
- The text formatting is bad. In some cases, several items might be listed, but the text has no formatting to make scanning easier. This is particularly true of the spell lists.
- It has no search tool.
- You cannot mark items as favorites.
For $0.99, it’s not bad, though a little frustrating given that the data itself is publicly available. I would like to see a little more programming effort to warrant charging me. It is faster than using my web browser, but in some cases, it’s faster than looking up in the handbook.
Pocket RPG Help [free]
This is another character tracker for multiple games as well as a dice roller [which we don't use in our games]. Although this is a free app, it is not terribly useful as it tracks only a few things–hit points, mana points, ammunition and initiative.
RPG Sidekick [free]
This is the third and last character tracker that I’ve found and tried. At first, it seems barely an app. It has no character name information or reference. Instead, this is purely a stat tracking app. Unlike Pocket RPG, however, it allow you to create stats. You give the stat a nice and then specify the maximum value. The stat then appears with a slider, allowing you to easily adjust it. I find the slider using more screen space but easier than + and – buttons or an editable field. You can edit the stats, but you cannot reorder them.
This is a nice approach, but a set of defaults would be nice. The prospect of creating all the stats for a character [and you can track stats for multiple characters] is daunting. It also has not reference information about skills, feats or spells, and you cannot track inventory items. Again, another free app that I couldn’t recommend.
DM Assist [free]
This is a single-purpose app for DMs–to track the intiative order and hit points for monsters during combat. Actually, you can use it track monsters, NPCs, players, and spells. It works well for what it does, but it’s such a specific application that I wonder how useful it is, given everything else that a DM tracks. And frankly, this is one of those things where paper is much faster and easier.
This app is a monster reference for D&D 4.0, but, because it requires a subscription to the D&D Insider, I was not able to test it. But you can save monsters offline for later use, and it can auto level your monsters. The extent to which I could use it, kmonster seems like a good, quick application. And I think there’s value to this sort of app, even by itself, because managing monsters is not trivial.
D20 Helper [free and $0.99]
This app has a nice focus–tracking your hit points and rolling dice. It’s similar to RPG Helper. One thing I like about it over RPG Helper is the buttons for adding or deducting hit points, as opposed to writing in the new hit point value. Yes, the math is simple, but I like just clicking a button. Also, for the random dice roller, you can enter the multiplier. You can’t save your character info with the free version. Like RPG Helper, it seems to support one character. Visit the web site for more info.