One of the things that made my return to Dungeons & Dragons, and specifically 5th edition, so easy was the use of two apps I downloaded. I’ve already done a quick review of them here, but I hadn’t actually deployed them for play until Thursday night.

We tuned up the characters using Fight Club 5 to check our maths, and the characters changed a bit, but — I suspect for the cleric, especially — for the better. There was an update a few days ago and the app still works very well. I plugged in a lot of the class features that weren’t in the app and backed it up to iCloud to not lose them. It took a few hours of typing, but it was worth it. I suspect that it wasn’t they didn’t finish the product, but that they are working from the SRD for licensing reasons. Anyway, it works well.

Finally, it was time to give the system a run. We started with the characters having their caravan hit by Vandals (goblins) on the way to Augusta Treverorum. I had put the basic notes for the encounter, added the six goblins they would face and the stats for the NPC guards that were with them, and the possible loot they might get into the first Encounter, then added a second — a show down in a small hamlet where the people had been disappeared, apparently by the same tribe of Vandals. Again, adding the creatures, adjusting their weaponry and stats, was easy. i could have added maps, as well, but hadn’t gotten to that.

GM5 has a compendium built in with monster stats and XP ratings, weapons and spell data, equipment lists, etc., as well as a GM screen like pop-up that allows you to handle a lot of the basic rules without cracking a book. It also has a built in die roller that I didn’t use, instead opting for physical dice. In the two hours of play, I had one of the players, who had the Players’ Handbook open look up some equipment damage and some bits on spells to speed play, but otherwise, I didn’t crack a book for the two and a half hours until it was time to hand out XP.

With GM5 and FC5, you don’t have to even tote a book to your game session, you just need your iPad to run a game. You can even load up character sheets into it, if you need to, just in case someone forgets their stuff.

They are definitely worth the $2.99/app in the App Store. I don’t know if there is a comparable app for the Android (I’m assuming so, but there’s a few threads on the interwebz that suggest otherwise…), but if it’s by the Lion’s Den guys, that would be it.

Substance: 4 out of 5 — it’s very useful and mostly complete. You will have to add a few bits here and there. Style: 5 out of 5 — it’s a good looking app. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

So, I’m slowly crawling toward running a Dungeons & Dragons campaign (see the last bunch of posts), and had been playing around with a couple of D&D character generator apps for the iPad. The one that stood out was a paid app (if you wanted to build more than one character at a time) by an outfit called Lion’s Den named Fight Club 5th Edition. There look to be verions for the various d20 editions on the App Store. (It looks like they’re also up for Android…)

I downloaded the thing and played with it, and found the interface and a character “sheet” presentation on the screen to be magnificent. It calculated up armor class, ave throws, etc. etc. for me, let me pick spells, and equipment. Full service stuff. I decided what the hell and popped for the $2.99.

There were a few places where it fell down, the big one being it doesn’t have all the background packages, nor all the subraces of elves and the like — I suspect it has to do with what is available on the 5th edition SRD. That said, I was able, over the course of two hours, input the rest of the background packages and subraces and save it up to iCloud with no effort at all, especially as you could duplicate one of the existing ones (high elf, for instance) and adjust the modifiers and features for, say, a Drow. I banged out Aasimar to match the Tiefling.

It’s incredibly easy to use, intuitive, pretty to look at, and works very well. So is it worth it? Yes, even if you have to plug some stuff in yourself.

I liked it so much, I downloaded their Game Master 5th Edition app. This allows you to build out a campaign and encounters quickly and easily, but dropping in the monsters you need, the treasures per encounter, the NPCs present and even PC’s stats can be added. (I would like to see the ability to pull PCs for Fight Club…) There’s a tab for rule references, one for the bestiary, treasures, spells that describe them for you. There’s a dice roller that allows you to add mods, etc. The only thing really missing is a decent map screen. (There’s a campaign map/picture window, but it’s not useful for anything but looking pretty.

Game Master 5th Edition is definitely worth the $2.99 to unlock all the features, and reduces game prep dramatically. Is it worth it? Absolutely, even without the map functionality.