As per request, quick summaries of the tools I’m using to GM D&D 4e:
First cool tool: the GameMastery Combat Pad Initiative Tracker. It’s a wet/dry erase board with a steel core and a bunch of magnets that you shuffle around to track initiative. It works very well; in the first session, I was pretty much able to run combats with the module and the tracker held in one hand. However, it’s got a lot of wasted space.
This last session I added the printableDM Encounter Manager to my toolbox. It’s nice; I tried the ones without the initiative trackers but I think I’m going to swap over. As noted, the GameMastery tracker is a bit clunky in that half the space is chewed up in ways that simply aren’t useful in combat. Holding two full page sheets in one hand is obviously a lot harder than holding one full page sheet; if I can track initiative easily on the Encounter Managers, that’s a win.
I think the right thing to do here is find a slim steel clipboard of some kind, clip the Encounter Managers to it, and use the GameMastery tracker magnets to track initiative. That gets me back to one sheet. Unfortunately, steel clipboards are hard to find.
The Wizards Dungeon Master’s Screen is very good. I just need a better place to put it, since I’ve been DMing standing up. I’ll figure that out with time.
Alea Tools is good magnets for tracking status effects on miniatures. I didn’t use them enough last session, but I will.
Jim Goings’ Condition Cards (scroll down a bit) are great easy reminders of which PCs are undergoing which conditions. Also it’s nicely intimidating to say “you’re weakened” and slap down the big indicators. There are a bunch of other nice tools on that page, btw — I particularly like Kiznit’s character sheets.
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