This is the third article in Improved Initiative, my series highlighting various combat trackers made for 4e. I first tested out a program called Initracker, and I liked it very much. This program I will write about in this article was brought to my attention via twitter. (As an aside, if you aren’t on twitter you are missing out on great D&D talk. Start by following me at twitter.com/newbiedm) This program is an initiative, damage and condition tracker, meant to be used instead of paper and pencil at your table. It is one of a number of programs that have cropped up lately for 4e D&D. I did not write this program, nor do I know the people who did, I am merely bringing it to your attention. I will admit though, that in the little time I’ve had with it, I’m impressed.
Right off the bat, I really, really like the fact that you can import monsters straight from the DDI Monster Builder. Hit f8 to open the library, click new, then you just use the copy as Rich Text option on your monster, then the combat manager will let you paste it and add the monster to its XML library.
You can also add your party members in pretty much the same way, but instead of pasting, you’d be using the native files from the character builder.
The circle above shows where the options are to import characters and monsters. They should be a little clearly labeled, maybe in later editions the developers will polish things up a bit, but it isn’t hard to figure it out regardless.
Once you’ve pasted, here’s what a library entry looks like:
As you can see, you’ve got your monster neatly laid out for you, using the stats right from the DDI Monster Builder. But what if you wanted to tweak the monster? Although you can obviously do it in the monster builder, this tool lets you do it inside it as well. Hit the change button on the top of your list of monsters, and this will happen:
You can edit and tweak all you want, then save it by hitting “ok”. Keep in mind, these monsters are now in here permanently, as part of an XML library, so if you want to use them again, you don’t need to import them into the program again. Very cool. So, let’s build an encounter for your game. How do we do it? Click on a monster, then on the right hand side click on “Add”. That’s it, it adds that monster to the Battle List for that encounter. Two versions of the same monster? Add it twice.
So check it out, I’ve got an encounter built here. I added 3 PC’s, and 5 monsters. With 2 groups of monsters composed of the same type. Do you notice the bottom part of the Battle List window? It’s telling me the encounter XP, and what level encounter it is for 4, 5, or 6 pc’s. Neat.
There’s no save button for the Battle List, is there? Nope. Just close it out, and you’ll see all the combatants get transferred over to the main screen of the program. Remember, all this time you were working on the library side of it.
Here in the main screen you can save your encounters for later use. The green labeled guys are the PC’s., while the red labeled guys are the monsters. Go to file->Save Encounter and name it something. That encounter is now saved in a directory of your choice, and you can load it later that evening or whenever you want to play.
So this ends the small intro to the program. I will post a part 2 later on, where I will post on how to actually run a battle using it, and my report on an actual play test in a real game. So far, I’ve got to say I’m impressed. In just a matter of minutes, I built all the encounters for the entire adventure I’m running . It was very easy.
I have high hopes for the actual running of the battles, and will detail how it went in a later post.
You can find the program here at its Wiki page.