Today's blog won't be too long I'm afraid, I'm mid-way in exams!
However, I am still blogging today! Hurrah! I was browsing the web when I stumbled upon a little gem which I thought might help my readers whenever they write up their adventures.

The software is called Masterplan. It enables DMs to actively write a story, prepare encounters and even design the maps themselves. I've played around with it for about 20 minutes today and it's absolutely fantastic. I'll break it down a bit so you can understand it a bit easier:
Writing the plot:
The plot is obviously the biggest part in any D&D game. No plot means no story and therefore no adventure to go on! There are the exceptions of those dungeon crawling types where you just smash monsters in each room and find treasure with no goal in mind (aside from possibly exploring the whole place).
However, this piece of software enables DMs to write a plot but not just as a chunk of text...oh no, but actually as seperate plot points that you can link to each other. This enables the DM to break down the main story into digestable elements for the player, and also allows to maybe pop some side quests in there as well.
The plot writing aspect of the software can help DMs keep track of where they are within the main plot and can type notes of character's actions etc without having to fumble around for pieces of paper or looking up the place to type it in a word document. A very useful tool.

You can create maps using this software. You can download additional tiles from other places, however after looking around I couldn't find any (any help would be great with this! Leave a comment if you find anything!). The tiles can easily be dragged and dropped to a large grid and can easily be connected together to create a dungeon. Tiles include dungeon floor, water and doors just to name a few of them. Once you've created your dungeon you can save it and load it back whenever you wish.

Encounters can also be created. You can create traps, hazards, skill checks or combat encounters. The nifty thing is, it works out the Encounter Level (how hard the encounter will be) so you can assess how hard or easy it will be for your players to over come. This applys to all encounters you can create. I played around mainly with making a monster encounter and realised there is a grey bar at the bottom that fills up the more difficult it becomes and provides an encounter level. Very useful if you want to mix and match some of the monsters. On top of this, if you have made a map you can also drag your monsters to their starting positions in your dungeon!
Regards to combat encounters, you can add the players onto the map and then run the combat how you would. The software automatically rolls for initiatives for the monsters, you just have to fill in the players and place them on the board. Then, it orders the initiative for you and you can move the monsters/players around the board for the combat. I thought this was a brilliant part of the system, but I didn't find an in-built dice roller? However, you don't want to completely take away the player experience, they have to do something to be involved...which leads me to a final point...
Player view
The software assumes you will hook up the computer to a monitor or another laptop/related device that the players can look at. This enables the DM, from his computer/laptop to display to the players what their characters can see. The DM simply clicks on "Player View" and this enables the players to see where their characters are in relation to all the monsters. You can include cool features such as "fog of war" or "line of sight" which shows only what the character can see within the dungeon. An absolutely fantastic addition to the software!

Concluding thoughts
All in all I am very impressed with this software. It can be a bit confusing at first and muddle your mind up a bit but once you have the basics it will be able to save so much time for a DM when he prepares. With already pre-made monsters, the DM doesn't have to fumble around the Monster Manual to look for a goblin when he has the stats right in front of him. If you're a D&D insider you can apparently download tiles and monsters from there. But apparently you can get them for free if you search on the internet...but anyone can contribute here if you like! The fact you can show the maps and encounters on another screen I thought was absolutely fantastic, and best of all, it's free.

Yes, FREE: Get it here!

Anyone used this software? What did they think? What about those extra tiles and monsters...did anyone find anywhere else you can download them?