What It Does
The main part of the application is little more than a list of dice “macros” that will roll if you double click on them.
There is a “Temp Bonus” box in the lower left allowing you to apply temporary bonuses (or penalties) to the attack roll to account for combat advantage, enfeeblement, charging, and so on. There is also a “Cheat” box which allows a DM to specify what the roll will be (before bonuses.)
The second major part of the application is the “Player Window.” This is a window that is meant to be placed on a second monitor (most likely plugged in to your laptop you use while DMing) that is facing the players. It’s a screen that all of the players can see that displays useful information.
Specifically, Avandra uses it to show the dice rolls of the monsters, in an animated fashion. As long as the player window is open and the “Public” checkbox is checked, any time you roll for a monster, the Player Window will go to work and display what the monster rolled. Check out the following video to see what it looks like:
The goal of this feature is twofold:
One: I think public DM dice is more fun. It adds more suspense for the players because they feel like they really are at the mercy of the gods of fate. When rolling behind a screen, some of the suspense is missing, because the players are never really sure if the results you’re saying are actually true. Lying is well within you right as a DM, but it does take something away from the players.
Two: Having a computer roll the dice for you takes a little something away from the fun of D&D. I knew this when I set out to create the program. I felt it was an acceptable sacrifice for the purpose of speeding up combat. The players still get to roll all of their own dice, of course. I feel that this feature helps maintain some of the fun of physical dice rolling. The animated number helps, at least a little, keep the feeling of excitement you get when rolling a real d20.
I have personally been using this program for months, and it has been a huge hit with both me and my players. The one time I suggested going back to physical dice for the monster rolls, they unanimously objected.
After installation is finished, if you run the program you’ll see that it asks you for a “Dice Macro File.” This is the file which will contain all of the attacks you want to be able to roll in Avandra. The format of this file is as simple as could be. It’s simply a plain text file, with an expression on each line, saved as a .dice file. Here is an example of the contents of a .dice file:
Shortsword: +7 vs Reflex, 1d10+5 damage Fiery Club: +9 vs Fortitude, 2d12+7 damage and 5 ongoing fire damage (save ends) Dragon's Breath: +13 vs Reflex, 3d8+7 fire damage Concussive Bash: +10 vs AC, stunned
You can download this example file here. When you go to add your own attacks, it is important that you follow the format exactly. Specifically each line must contain a colon after the name of the attack, a “+XX vs Defense” followed by a comma and then an explanation of what happens on hit. If you want the macro to roll damage then you must have the damage expression immediately after the comma.
This is an alpha release. There is little error checking, as is evidenced by the strict requirements for the attack macros. If you follow the directions exactly it should work just fine!