The Ipad DM: Goodreader

Posted on September 1, 2011 by


In my previous post on this series, I wrote about Index Cards, a screenwriting app suitable for organizing details of your campaign.  Now, I’m going to show you Goodreader, the app I use for reading, organizing, marking, and making printouts of pdf’s in my gaming library.  At $4.99, it’s cheap and very useful, and I recommend any DM out there working off pdf’s to check it out.  I’ve been running games from it and don’t miss the paper books at all.  Here’s why:


One of the greatest things about Goodreader is its ability to serve as an archival solution for your gaming pdf’s.  It has the capacity to create folders, rename them, and move things around from folder to folder with just a few swipes of your fingers.

Goodreader's directory view

So as you can see, I have a few folders there, one related for work and one for rpg’s.  A touch of the rpg folder will then take me inside it, to reveal the rest of my stuff:

Inside the folder... more folders

So as you can see, storing your stuff within the app is easy and you can keep things nice and organized.  Everything can be renamed to whatever you want too, and it even handles zip files.


When you open a pdf in the Safari web browser on the ipad, it gives you the option to open it in Goodreader, which then adds it to the apps directory structure.  Once opened in GR, you need to rename the file, as it assigns it a name made up of random letters and numbers.  I haven’t figured that out yet.  Why does it do that?

As strictly a reader, Goodreader does everything you would expect it to do, and perhaps a bit more.  Flipping the page is easy, a simple tap on the right side of the screen does that.  Tapping the screen with three fingers brings up the menu, which allows you to access the bookmarks, search, or create markups.  Markups are perhaps the coolest thing about Goodreader, and a feature that I’ve used quite a bit as a DM.  When you markup a PDF, the program creates a duplicate copy, an “Annotated Copy” it calls it, so you are never really writing on your original file.

Markup your pdf however you want

On a pdf you can add bookmarks, highlite text, write on it yourself directly (with a stylus or finger), or type on it.  You can also create basic shapes on the pdf (for example if you want to circle text or something).  The great thing is that you are never really defacing your original file, only a copy.

What if you annotate your pdf so much that you forgot all the notes that you’ve made?  That’s fine, because Goodreader can tell you where and what they are:

A listing of all the annotations I've made on this pdf

I’ve used the annotations feature to mark where I’ve left off in an adventure, for highliting important text, or to make a note that I need to add an enemy to an encounter or something similar.  It’s a great feature, and I’ve used it quite a bit.  You can always delete anything you’ve added, re-write it, change the sizes, all with the tap of a finger.  And remember, you are writing on a duplicate, not the original.

DM Prep Tool

I found a cool use for the app as I was prepping for my Dragon Age game here at home.  I like having monster stats printed out, and found that Goodreader aided me tremendously.  By pinching and zooming in on a statblock, then taking a snapshot of the screen (home button and the top power button pressed together) I created printable stat blocks.  I simply emailed the pictures to myself and printed them out with Windows’ picture printer as 2 5×7 images.  Easy and effective for what I needed.  I like having paper statblocks for my encounters so I can track HP easier for example.  I’m not 100% fully digital just yet.🙂

The statblocks, printed out

So as you can see, Goodreader can be a powerful tool in your DMing arsenal as you transition from an analog DM to a digital one.  If you know of any other tools similar to this one please share with us in the comments below.

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Thank You!