When I started as an occasional dungeon master in Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition, I used initiative cards to track initiative, defenses and passive perception and insight for players and defenses, initiative and some powers for monsters. Gradually I simplified things (using the plan-do-check-act cycle that I’ve written about previously), and when I purchased a laptop last fall, I thought it was time for a change.
In version 2.0, I used Excel tabs to track initiative and other key elements. This worked pretty well, but led to lots of toggling between tabs and felt a little complicated in larger combats with more than two monster types. Before long I trialed initiative tracking onto a single worksheet. After some reflection and adjusting, I’ve prepared my brand new and improved encounter tracking system in Excel.
I learned in 2.0 that I absolutely like to have image captures of my monsters from the DnD Insider Monster Builder. While I also prefer to have the book open for the knowledge check information, tactics and art, the stat block gives me everything I need for the round-to-round combat. I have the initiative tracker grid also ready to go, along with the hit point calculating formulas. When battle begins, I will simply record the damage, as incurred and Excel will do the math for me. I was an English major: I hate doing math. I have some extra cels associated with each monster where I’ll note conditions and which mini is which.