Dungeon Master Toolkit is an RPG iPad app aimed at game masters of any game system. It is my favourite dedicated RPG app, and my review will explain why. I am using version 1.21 of DM Toolkit. Level 99 Games has promised a 1.3 update soon that offers some interesting new features.
Level 99 also produced the RPG Cartographer iPad app, which was reviewed in the fall here at Campaign Mastery.
DM Toolkit is the only iPad RPG app I have found that gives you the ability to set software up according to how you run games and organize your information. While there are many RPG information applications for Mac and Windows, and a couple for iPad, none that I am aware of let you customize the software itself so it works the way you think.
For example, I blogged about my Plot Stat Block awhile ago. In DM Toolkit, I created a Template based on this and can now enter as many plot stat blocks in the software as I like based on the Template.
Another example: I organize my NPC flavour information differently than others. Various RPG software forces you to enter such information according to the software’s design. If a field is missing, you put it in a dump field, like Notes. If you do not like the field order, too bad, that is the way you enter it (though, many software titles let you customize reports, so at least you can customize how you reference your data once it’s in the system).
With DM Toolkit, I created a new Template for my NPC flavour information, and now I enter and reference NPC personalities and campaign information how I like it.
This feature is what initially caught my attention when browsing the app store. “A customisable database?! I’m in.” That’s what makes this app usable by GMs of any game system. Just create the Templates you need and you are ready to roll.
A downside to this function is changes you make to the Template after data entry do not take effect on existing entries. For example, I forgot to add a field called Relationships to my NPC flavour template. I added it to the Template, but that change did not appear in existing NPC entries – I needed to make that change manually to each one. Every new NPC entry I made had this new update, so it just affected existing records.
This means, for optimum efficiency, you need to figure out what Templates you want and how you want them set up before you start managing a new campaign. A small price to pay (with a lot of added benefits if you have time to do this, regardless of choice of software and tools).
To summarize, because in my opinion this functionality makes DM Toolkit the most powerful dedicated DMing app out right now, you can customize how you enter and view your campaign information. You create Templates for everything, including plots, NPCs, monsters, session logs, equipment, treasure, locations and so on.
The app also comes with a whack of pre-made Templates for a variety of games if you want to dive in right away.
Other cool features
DM Toolkit comes with a combat and initiative manager. I use a Google Spreadsheet to do this for various reasons, so have not played with this feature at all.
I prefer to have physical dice in-hand, but if you do not mind digital dice, DM Toolkit has you covered.
Put your temporary notes here. It toggles on and off with a touch of the finger, taking advantage of the iPad’s killer usability.
Awesome feature. Think of it as your very own customizable digital GM screen. You can have 8, and they allow HTML and CSS, plus offline editing so you can use your favourite markup software to create them.
Use Crib Sheets to create most-frequent game rules and charts, campaign specific cheat sheets, game world specific cheat sheets and per-session cheet sheets. I would love to hear how others have used Crib Sheets – these are worth exploring to make GMing easier and faster.
Over time you will have a ton of information in this app – all your NPCs, setting trivia, plots and so on. Bookmarks help you find stuff fast, like a browser or other software bookmark would.
This offers you quick links to entries you viewed recently, newest first. Another great way to find stuff quick.
The app allows you to create data sets for more than one campaign. This makes it easy to manage and isolate data for specific campaigns and game systems.
You can download and trade data in the app if you have an online connection. You can also upload your creations to help the community of DM Toolkit users via the Level99 Games website.
Get this app if you are a digital data DM. Its customisability makes this a fairly robust solution for your needs.
iPad = portability, so it is perfect as an in-game tool whether you wander around during sessions or stay put.
I purchased this app because it looked perfect. My dirty little secret here is I have not used it extensively at the game table yet. I was already using MyInfo for campaign preparation, notes and in-game management for my Pathfinder game when I purchased DM Toolkit. I started to port stuff over, but it became too much to do that and create new stuff before each session.
I might still use DM Toolkit for Riddleport, but I suspect I will have it ready for next campaign. I might also use it as a portable GM screen for Riddleport, but need to sort out my Templates and what else I’d use DM Toolkit for first.
DM Toolkit Giveaway
Level 99 Games has generously offered five copies of DM Toolkit. To win a copy, leave a comment on what your favourite iPad RPG or Productivity apps are to date. Unfortunately, due to iTunes limitations, only US residents can receive a free copy. The free codes will not work for Canadians like me and gamers elsewhere.
Update December 15
Level 99 Games emailed me after I sent them a link to this review. They had two comments to add:
- There’s a free version of just the initiative tracker in the app store
- DM Toolkit works on both iPhone and iPad, but you state that it is an iPad app in the first line of the review. This might be a little misleading.
- Promotional codes are now good worldwide, so anybody can use one. I haven’t tried it yet personally, but that’s the news from Apple, at least.