Depending on the system, each game has its own rigors. D&D involves minis, tactical combat, and a keen eye for strategy, in addition to knowledge of both characters and monsters. Call of Cthulhu and other horror games take deep gravitas and a powerful establishment of mood that, if done right, won't ever let up. Heroes Unlimited requires...well, let's be honest: Hereoes Unlimited requires a straightjacket and men in white coats.
Hell's bells, I've even worked up a sweat when GMing WEGS, if for no other reason than the fast paced frenzy of Spoint-slinging across the table.
Needless to say, when I come across something to make my GMing job easier, I pick it up. This started with finding ways to organize my minis--while I first used small plastic Sterilite bins, I've upgraded to a multi-tiered tackle box, with a bottom section big enough to fit a random assortment of Dungeon Tiles and other game necessities.
Oh, yes. The Dungeon Tiles. I've gotta say, Wizards of the Coast has me under their thumb with these. It's so easy to throw down a few tiles on top of the battlemat to add some 'scenic hazards' for the PCs.
However, all of this pales in comparison to my latest discovery. By Mighty Cthulhu, this latest bit blows them out of the water like a scrapped German U-Boat.
Ladies and gentlemen, for your gaming pleasure: MasterPlan
I can't even take credit for finding this gem--if not for the folks over at RPG.net, I'd have never heard of it.
MasterPlan is a massive utility, building in an encounter generator, a campaign workbook, mapping software, and just about everything else that a potential GM could want. I've barely scratched the surface on this tool after downloading it last night, and I already have a bajillion ideas on how to use it.
When Wizards of the Coast announced their D&D Insider initiative, they experienced quite a bit of scepticism, due to poor implementation.
Quite simply, MasterPlan is today everything that D&D Adventure Tools hopes to someday be.
Just to get some practice with the system, I generated a few "Random Delves"--the stereotypical, 3-encounter dungeons made famous by WotC. Quite literally, everything is editable, in an easy-to-use, simple format. Generating a 15th level delve for 8 PCs with 2 encounters and multiple traps? Done in about 45 seconds. It's that simple.
And the best part? If you have an Insider account, MasterPlan will access the compendium, adding in everything that's already there. All 12,000 odd classes, monsters, traps, skill challenges, and magic items--they're already loaded! By the Nine Hells, that's convenient!
I definitely need some more time to explore MasterPlan to run it through its course, but it's easily the most comprehensive, most usable, most useful GMing software I've ever seen.
It makes one wonder, though, what happens next with it! With d20Pro getting nominated for an Origins Award this year (despite "incompatibility" with 4th Edition D&D), where will this leave the MasterPlan? And, once WotC hears of this...one can only wonder...
Get it while you can, children! It's astounding!