There are many Dungeon and Dragons purists who—even in the digital age—still rely on using old-fashioned tools from earlier decades. However, there are now a ton of digital resources that can enhance D&D greatly, both for players and dungeon masters alike.
Don’t get me wrong: I think the fact that you don’t need a whole lot to play Dungeons and Dragons is what made the tabletop RPG so great to begin with. All you really need is a cheap set of polyhedral dice, a pencil, and a character sheet that you can print out (Hell, even another player could easily provide you with all this). However, with the advent of the internet and computers in general, there are a ton of enhancements that players and DMs can take advantage of. Here are a handful of our favorites.
Perhaps the best place to start is the official digital tools offered by Wizards of the Coast, the publisher of Dungeons & Dragons. Called D&D Beyond, the website offers digital copies of its books (for a price), including the three core books for 5th Edition (Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and the Monster Manual), as well as Wizard’s own adventures.
D&D Beyond also has a character creation tool, which makes the process a lot easier, and even provides you with a digital character sheet for that character once it’s created. Alternatively, you can download form-fillable character sheets and fill them out in your favorite PDF viewer.
The website’s huge index of all the official spells, weapons, items, and monsters is probably D&D Beyond’s best feature, though. It even allows you to browse all sorts of homebrewed creations that you can use in your own campaign.
Speaking of homebrewed content, if you’re writing your own campaign and want to give it a more professional look (especially if you plan on publishing it), The Homebrewery is arguably the best tool for this.
By utilizing the Markdown language, The Homebrewery can turn your homebrew campaign into an official-looking PDF that uses the same styling as the 5th Edition books. And don’t worry, you don’t need to know a whole lot about Markdown, as the tool provides a quick tutorial right off the bat, and any changes will instantly show up off to the right.
Donjon RPG Tools
If you need to quickly generate an NPC, encounter, location, or pretty much anything else in your campaign, Donjon RPG Tools is one of the best websites to do that.
It includes all sorts of different generators, including basic ones that let you come up with a name for a character or info about an NPC, all the way to in-depth generators that can randomly come up with encounters and even entire worlds in order to give your campaigns some inspiration.
Overall, Donjon RPG Tools is one of the best resources to go to if you’re having writer’s block or just need to quickly come up with something while you’re in the middle of an adventure as a DM.
Do you love playing D&D but don’t have any local friends that do? Or maybe your D&D buddies live halfway across the country. Roll20 is an online service that lets you play D&D over the internet with anyone.
Roll20 includes a handful of digital tools that work together in order to make playing D&D over the internet a lot easier than you might think. It has a digital dice roller, digital character sheets, and even video chat (it can also integrate with Google Hangouts).
It’s maybe not as good as getting together in real life, but if you can’t make that happen, Roll20 is definitely the next best option.
Nothing makes a D&D session more immersive than background music and ambient noise that matches the setting you’re describing as the DM. So if your party happens to be traveling down a path within a forest, you can play forest sounds to make the experience a bit more realistic.
There are plenty of websites that offer background ambient noise and music, but my favorite is Tabletop Audio. It lets you quickly search and filter for particular sounds, and once you find one, you can quickly hit play without any friction.
3D Printing Plans for Miniatures
While playing D&D certainly doesn’t require a physical map with miniatures spread around, it can definitely make the game more fun to play for those who enjoy visuals.
Of course, you can buy miniatures that are already made, but if you have a 3D printer (or pay a service to 3D print for you), you can also download plans and print out custom miniatures yourself.
You can get plans pretty much anywhere, but a popular source is Miguel Zavala’s shop on Shapeways. He has created plans for every creature in the 5th Edition Monster Manual, and you can either download the .STL files or buy some of his miniatures that come pre-printed.
Online Communities & Reference Guides
Do you have a question about a particular rule in the Player’s Handbook? Do you want some feedback on your latest homebrew adventure? There’s really no better place to ask questions or get feedback and ideas than from the numerous online communities and reference guides sprawled across the internet.
If you’re just starting out, Wizards of the Coast offers the basic rules for 5th Edition D&D for free on its website (the full rules are in the Player’s Handbook, which must be purchased). The SRD (System Reference Document) is also a great place to look for specific rules that you have questions about if you don’t own the Player’s Handbook.
Furthermore, D&D Beyond has its own forums, and there are also plenty of D&D-related subreddits on Reddit that you can join, including the main D&D subreddit. These are great places to ask unique questions or get feedback on any number of things you’ve created for your campaigns.
Obviously, these are only a handful of the many digital resources and tools that are available for Dungeons and Dragons. So if you know of one that we didn’t mention, feel free to post it in the comments!