7 min read

The best DM tools of 2024: Finding the tools for your table

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Every table is different. So are their needs.

One of the biggest draws to TTRPG games is the freedom to craft a world, and then use it to tell a collaborative story. To be run well, an RPG session must be handled in a way that can provide something for anyone at your table.

Having so many ways to play a game can leave Dungeon Masters with a lot of choices. The problem is that there’s not much direction on which tools are best for their table.

While some tools can be comprehensive, sometimes a combination of tools can better serve the priorities of you and your party.

LegendKeeper, the worldbuilding solution:

Okay, we're biased but: LegendKeeper remains a one-stop shop for everything worldbuilding. GMs can breathe life into their world maps, highlight notable locations and characters, and create wikis and storyboards. LegendKeeper takes the narrative of your setting and makes it an easily accessible lore repository.


When you’re building out content for your world using any of these tools, LegendKeeper can help you tie it together in a format approachable to the entire table.

Discord; the do-it-all app.

Discord is the VoIP app that dominates the gaming industry. TTRPG gamers often choose Discord as a platform to organize, play, and manage routine TTRPG tasks.

For Dungeon Masters managing in-person tables, Discord can assist by providing numerous benefits:

  • Dice rollers
  • Initiative trackers
  • Managing PC’s / NPC’s stats and health bars
  • Tabletop audio and music
  • D&D Beyond integration to automate character sheets and actions

In addition, virtual sessions can use Discord for:

  • Scheduling
  • VoIP
  • Dungeon Master screen sharing
  • Downtime activities to keep your players engaged

Bots that can complement your TTRPG server:

  • https://avrae.io/
    • Avrae is a dice-roller, initiative tracker, and character manager. It has character sheet integration from several sources, including D&D Beyond. Avrae focuses on DnD, but it can be useful for other TTRPGs like Pathfinder.
  • https://sesh.fyi/
    • When you need everyone to show up to the tabletop, Sesh will get it done. Dungeon Masters can schedule sessions in advance. Scheduled events ping relevant attendees with push notifications. It also manages RSVPs and offers reminders of upcoming sessions!
  • https://soncraftbot.com/
    • Soncraft plays music from any device. It boasts an easy interface and allows you to choose the right song or audio to fit any tabletop’s needs. Best of all, it’s royalty-free, so streamers have no fear.
  • Looking for Discord Bots for other TTRPG systems? There isn’t a lot of feedback about tools for other systems. If you try these out, please post a review!
    • For Pathfinder, check out Wayfinder, which claims to be a Pathfinder support tool that can call on Archives of Nethys. It can also make Pathfinder-specific skill checks, savings throws, and attacks for PCs and NPCs.
    • For Call of Cthulhu, check out The Unofficial Cthulhu Bot, which claims to be able to generate character data, manage rolls, etc. Alternatively, check out Dorian Bot, which is a simpler d100 roller that measures success values.

Virtual Tabletops

(A note from the author on accountability: I work for Roll20, the virtual tabletop. I’ve worked for other VTT services in the past as well as several TTRPG creators. I strive to provide a fair, balanced report on services that support the TTRPG community.)

For virtual sessions, VTTs (Virtual Tabletops) are considered the de facto choice. VTTs aren’t solely reserved for remote play, however. Examples of tabletop games running VTTs on touchscreen displays have wowed in-person TTRPG gamers for years!

Foundry, the fully customizable VTT.

Dan at Foundry describes the VTT like this:

Who is Foundry a good fit for?

“Foundry is a fit for people who want a high level of control over how they run their games.

Game Masters that choose Foundry enjoy:

  • A dynamic lighting system to enhance maps
  • The freedom of a one-time payment and an old-school, in-perpetuity license
  • Ready-to-go Foundry adventures and maps
  • A high level of customizability, supported by a robust modding community
  • Powerful, yet approachable Macros and API support.
A player character explores a dungeon in Foundry, showcasing the Dynamic Lighting and Doors features.

Foundry also supports multiple systems. It boasts a level of support for Pathfinder 2E that is truly remarkable, making it a great place to run Pathfinder 2E campaigns.”

What services do your Game Masters recommend to support Foundry?

“Though A/V services are provided in Foundry, many recommend Discord to be used in conjunction with the VTT. Many also recommend cartographers from Patreon. Additionally, mapmaking services like DungeonDraft, Dungeon Alchemist, and Inkarnate are often paired with Foundry.”

What’s the easiest way to get started?

“Here’s an intro video to Foundry. In addition to video tutorials, don’t forget to Join The Discord to get support from the knowledgeable, friendly community.”

Recent News! At the time of writing this article, Foundry recently announced official support for Dungeons and Dragons.

Roll20, the comprehensive VTT:

One of the earliest and longest-lasting names in the VTT sphere, Roll20 has recently been making changes to modernize the platform. Community members both old and new are enjoying recent upgrades to the VTT experience, even on free subscription plans:

  • better page and scene management
  • streamlined character creation and management
  • many new and improved character sheets
  • new and enhanced UI elements and toolbars
  • greatly improved stability

Character builders and sheets have been greatly improved for Pathfinder 1 & 2, Vampire the Masquerade, and Cyberpunk RED, and the new Candela Obscura and Marvel RPG sheets are setting a new bar for sheet styling and functionality on Roll20 as we roll into 2024.

The Roll20 Characterbuilder demonstrates the improved Pathfinder 2E PC character-building process using compendium drag-n-drop.

Historically for remote play, now improved for in-person play.

Recent upgrades to character management are geared towards better serving the in-person community. With improved character building, Roll20 supports in-person sessions with improved character management both for GMs and Players. And with the impending release of Jumpgate coming soon, the Roll20 platform will leap ahead even further.

While Roll20 has integrated Voice and Video, GMs who use Roll20 frequently pair the service with Discord, as well as mapmaking tools or Patreon creators for map solutions.

The Lightweight Option: Owlbear Rodeo & Discord

If your tabletop RPG session needs a solution that’s straightforward, simple, and direct, a combination of Owlbear Rodeo and Discord should be right up your alley. Owlbear Rodeo can act as your virtual map, while Discord and the bots that best fit your game system provide support. It’s lightweight, easy to set up, and focuses on the map canvas, without a lot of other features to get lost in.

Owlbear Rodeo brings simplicity whereas Discord offers flexibility. Adding supporting Discord Bots and VoIP support makes the combination of the two ideal for free, low-barrier-to-entry virtual sessions.

Maps, Maps, Maps

Custom animated battle maps with Arkenforge:

Bringing a fantasy map to life might be a tough job for scribbles on grid paper. Arkenforge excels at bringing those maps to life.

Nathan at Arkenforge describes the service like this:

Who is Arkenforge a good fit for?

“For any Dungeon Master. From those focusing on highly detailed animated battle maps, to those who drop in a quick fantasy map and leverage the Fog of War system. Most are in-person GMs who want increased immersion in their games.”

What services do your Game Masters recommend to support Arkenforge?

“Discord is certainly a popular service that many use. Character management platforms like D&D Beyond and Demiplane are also popular for players.”

What’s the easiest way to get started?

“Head to arkenforge.com! We've got tutorials on YouTube.com/@Arkenforge, or chat with us at discord.gg/arkenforge.”

DunGen.app, the procedural dungeon map generator:

DunGen.app is a procedural dungeon generator. It can create unique, randomly generated dungeons at the click of a button. It’s suitable for any DM wanting to build out locations for dungeon crawlers or supplement an existing adventure.

The Dun.Gen.app generating several unique maps with complex infrastructure by clicking a button.

In addition to dungeon generation, DunGen.app can create cave maps. Supporters get an added functionality of Dynamic Lighting for Roll20, Walls for Foundry VTT, and LoS Definitions for Fantasy Grounds Unity.

Nick at DunGen.App has implemented a black-and-white printer-friendly option for those who prefer in-person play.

Dungeon Scrawl, the easy map generator:

Dungeon Scrawl can make anyone feel like a professional mapmaker. Easily paint maps with your cursor, and export them to your chosen VTT or print them for use in your in-person sessions.

The Dungeon Scrawl interface. The cursor is dragging outlines of shapes, which are being turned into rooms instantly.

Dungeon Scrawl will win over anyone who needs a lightweight, easy dungeon-creating tool to support their sessions.

The TTRPG Creator Community

The TTRPG Creator community is a thriving marketplace for amazing, ready-to-play maps. Patreon supporters unlock frequently updated libraries of battle maps and supplemental material.

Here’s a comprehensive list of creators on Patreon.

Some folks that weren’t on that list:

DonJon.bin.sh - The everything tool collection:

If you need a generator of any kind, the DonJon collection likely has what you need.

Just a few of the tools in this collection include:

  • Name generators for everything from characters, adversaries, locations, taverns, and even ships for your campaign
  • Adventure generators, loot generators, world generators
  • Tools for everything from D&D, Pathfinder, and even sci-fi genres

In summary, only consider the tools that will enhance your table’s priorities.

It’s easy to get lost in the ocean of services that can help your sessions. My best advice to any GM is to consider what you and your players find the most important. Do they prefer exploring dungeons? Is the story and setting the driving force of your table?

Once you know your table’s priorities, you can focus on the tools that provide the most impact on your collaborative story.

When not weaving new realities with a quill, Automaton James summons tech golems to perform tests for TTRPG solutions such as Roll20 (and Astral Tabletop may it rest in peace). If it's not one adventure, it's another, and he wouldn't have it any other way.

Written by Automaton James

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