I started planning the D&D game I ran over the last weekend some years ago in a Moleskine notebook while on a cruise boat to Sweden. Since then I’ve iterated on the plan and written it up in Google Docs and latest in Notepad as I was without internet access during my summer roadtrip. Making my final plans for the game a week ago, I was frustrated with my tools. Running a nonlinear RPG campaign is just not compatible with the format of a text document, which is linear.
To get around this problem I have in the past tried using mindmapping software. I like Freemind the best. But they have not been designed with running roleplaying games in mind. I have generally resorted to printing out my material and using the hardcopies plus pens, but it’s not ideal.
Coming across Power2ool with my half-prepared Notepad documents in hand, I could immediately tell it was going to be good. But until actually running the game with no printouts, just using Power2ool, I had no idea just how good.
Power2ool gives you a set of workspaces. Within a workspace, you have a blank canvas which you can populate with note cards. They can be any size and you can arrange them however you wish. You can write text on these cards. It is just that simple. This functionality alone would make it superior to text processing software as I’m able to easily use my whole screenspace, minimize the need for scrolling and adapt to changing priorities during a game.
Then there’s the ability to create cards, much like the ones you have in your D&D books. I found this very useful as I could easily create custom magic items, print them out and hand them out to my players with a look that matches their other stuff.
The monster card creation is awesome. Copying monster information from a book to have it available without page-flipping couldn’t be quicker – you still do it manually, but the pre-formatted cards and auto-completion help a lot.
Only it actually can be even quicker, because Power2ool is able to log into a DDI subscription and pull monster information and more straight from the Compendium, inserting the data you know you’re going to need straight into your workspace. Even though I could manage without a DDI subscription, Power2ool makes it much more tentative.
The user interface is smooth enough and very importantly, it’s pleasing to look at and use. It comes with a nice dice roller, too, if you’re son inclined.
It could be more refined still – you really want to be able to move cards between workspaces – but even as-is, I wouldn’t want to go back to paper. As long as Power2ool is available, I can see myself plotting my D&D adventures on it.
It was only weeks ago when I thought I wouldn’t need a laptop at my game table – now it’s hard to see going back to being without one. In my around 20 years of gamemastering, this was the first time ever I haven’t had any printed out or hand-written notes at the table, and I didn’t miss them one bit. Even the combat notes (initiative, HP, special conditions) were done in water-soluble ink on the battlemat. I’m saving on time and space and money and trees! Plus I’d need the computer anyway to manage my playlist during the game.
Power2ool is currently free to use. I hope Wizards never shuts it down, although they easily could – as it is, it’s helping me play D&D and makes me want to spend more money.