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D&D and Dungeon Mapp Update

So I’ve played a few rounds of D&D…

As far as the 4e rules are concerned, I like them. The play is smooth overall and even as a newbie I know where to look when I have a question. I know a number of folks still play 3.5e, but having played a bit of both I like the simpler rules of 4e. Clearly YMMV and I can see why 3.5e holds appeal.

I also want to talk a bit about Dungeon Mapp (DM) and about the Pluses and Minuses of these iPad apps that take the place of minis in general.

I started the group off with the Forgotten Realm campaign in Loudwater as a starting point. I had a group of 6 first level players fighting 13 goblins. DM was a big timesaver in setting up the maps the players are going to use in advance and tracking initiative and everyone’s hit points. Just for that, it’s worth it. DM had some bugs tracking the goblins initiative, which has been fixed now, and flagging a goblin as dead, flags all the goblins running under the same object as dead (not fixed). So when they died, I just deleted them.

I still have some issues with DM which are not show stoppers: The hide room function has an issue of not hiding the monsters when you reload a map (revealing a hidden room, even one you already revealed, rehides the monsters) and the last update made DM crash anytime I reloaded an old map. Clearly, the old maps didn’t work with the new code, but a warning would be nice about that before I updated the code that I was going to lose the maps. Overall, as some who has written code for more languages then I would care to count, I just don’t get the feel that this code gets tested well enough before it goes out the door.

All that said, it was a huge timesaver and I wouldn’t trade it in for any of the other options out there right now.

Also, I want to give a warning to anyone using any of these apps and the more people you have in the group, the bigger this downside… Really only one or two people can look at the map at once time (unlike using minis), so that keeps players a little more out of the loop. My solution for this is that I got the iPad’s AV connector, so now I can show the map on the 50 inch TV. That’s an extra $40 cost and I’m not sure this will work on an iPad (I have an iPad2 and it works great), but I’ll use the AV for other things as well. Still it’s something to keep in mind.

Overall, the pluses outweighs the minuses, but there is room for improvement and there is no way I’ll start investing in minis. This is looks to be the best option going forward. It’s only going to get better from here.

Some options I’d like to see going forward:

1) More graphic art. Some more has been added and it’s animated art, which is nice. However art is key from giving each new location a different look and feel. It could use more. If memory is an issue then make ‘art packs’ that can be loaded and unloaded as needed.

2) Flag spell effects. If I’m going to put up an anti-magic spell or a wall of flame, I should be able to mark that on the map somehow.

3) Maybe some more movement options. If, for example, there is a building in front of you. Flag those squares so they don’t count towards movement.

I’m sure I’ll come up with a few more as I use it a bit more. Overall, it’s a good start!

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