17 Essential Online Tabletop RPG Software and Tools | MakeUseOf

Whether you’re a veteran or just starting to explore the world of tabletop RPGs, the best RPG software and apps can improve your experience and enjoyment.

These role-playing tools can help across every stage of your campaign. Whether it’s character creation, systems, or world-building, there’s plenty of ways to improve your immersion.

In this article, we cover the best online tabletop RPG software along with the apps and tools you can use anywhere. These resources range from simple to advanced, so there’s something for every kind of player. If you prefer, you can jump ahead to a specific section:

When trying to immerse yourself in another world, sound matters just as much as visuals. To keep your sessions flowing, you want these ready for each crucial story event and battle. With these audio RPG tools, you'll always set the mood and boost your game's realism.

Syrinscape is a series of cross-platform apps for gamemasters (GMs) who want to add believable, immersive sound to their games. Each Syrinscape player comes with its own unique themed skin with custom backgrounds and buttons tied to each SoundSet. Besides the custom graphics, Syrinscape lets sound be as automatic or complex as you want it to be.

Pressing the large buttons on the left will automatically play an arrangement of music and sound together. While this occurs, you can activate your sounds via any of the available buttons. You can also create custom arrangements if you don't like the presets under your SoundSet.

By default, you can only play a small assortment of SoundSets without making an account. To access more, you'll have to purchase them directly from the store or sign up for a subscription.

You can pay $10.99/month (charged bi-monthly) for a subscription that provides access to all the sci-fi, fantasy, board game packages along with ownership of all future SoundSets for Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons. Subscribers will also get access to Syrinscape Online and SoundSet Creator. There's also a $7.15/month tier if you only want a specific set of fantasy or sci-fi sounds.

Download: Syrinscape Fantasy Player for Windows | macOS | Android | iOS (Free, subscription available)Download: Syrinscape Sci-Fi Player for Windows | macOS | Android | iOS (Free, subscription available)Download: Syrinscape BoardGame Player for Windows | macOS | Android | iOS (Free, subscription available)

Tabletop Audio functions similarly to Syrinscape, but it's completely free and doesn't require registration nor installation.

Syrinscape's biggest strength comes from integrating everything. Meanwhile, Tabletop Audio lets you access their sounds in a variety of ways. For instance, you can create a queue for its web player with an assortment of ambiances and music.

On the other hand, you can just as easily download the titles and make your own. The most impressive part of TableTop Audio, however, comes from its SoundPad. SoundPad lets you choose a themed sound collection then play with an assortment to your heart's content.

Sounds play together at the same time seamlessly. You can also choose to repeat sounds continuously or at a timed delay (depending on the sound). Plus, you can save your custom sound arrangements or broadcast them to other players via a link.

Visit: Tabletop Audio

Whether a seasoned veteran or a complete newbie, creating a character can mean hours of deliberation over strengths, weaknesses, and those all-important stats. You need to keep track of what you've learned, your level, and all of the other pertinent information the game world throws at you.

By using these online RPG tools and apps, you can keep track digitally and avoid the headaches.

HeroLab is a digital assistant for the RPG enthusiast who is serious about characters. The software helps you calculate relevant bonuses, penalties, and modifiers depending on your chosen game. The character creation system walks you through required fields and attributes with an interface that adapts to your class.

You can then attach portraits, add backstory, and provide the GM with all your information digitally using the Tactical Console.

HeroLab is available at different price points depending on whether you go for HeroLab Online or HeroLab Classic. However, the free iPad app offers a superior interface and user-friendly way option for fans of Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition. You can also use any of your characters from the Mac or PC version with the iOS version.

Download: HeroLab Classic for Windows and macOS (Free demo, licenses available)Download: HeroLab for iOS (Free)

PCGen is a cross-platform RPG character generator for Windows, Mac, Linux, and FreeBSD. It uses Java to achieve this, so make sure you install Java 11 or newer if you want to use it. It's currently compatible with popular titles such as Dungeons and Dragons 3.5e, Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, d20 Modern, Starfinder, Pathfinder, and many more.

Worried about filling out your first character sheet? For players, it handles all the complicated calculations involved. Plus, PCGen makes it even easier by creating a running to-do list for your character sheet.

By clicking on any list item, you'll automatically jump to the appropriate input box or see it highlighted. It's a great resource to navigate first-timers while also offering intricate customization. Plus, your list automatically updates after you complete each input.

For GMs, the included GMGen offers a variety of features utilizing your new sheets. You can create encounters, assign experience, generate names, and take notes all while integrating your character data.

Download: PCGen for Windows

If you're looking for something a little more mobile, Fight Club 5th Edition is a free mobile app that will help you go paperless with your character sheets and handbooks. The app caters specifically to Dungeons and Dragons 5E.

Via the rather snazzy interface, you can keep track of your numbers, and keep abreast of your characters' defenses, abilities, skills, and more. The app also tracks equipped items like armor and weapons, and functions as a handy dice roller for common checks, incoming damage, and attacks.

The free app allows you to create and maintain only one character. Fight Club requires an in-app purchase of $2.99 to upgrade to the full version that unlocks more character slots and removes advertising.

Download: Fight Club for iOS | Android (Free, premium version available)

Like Fight Club, Fifth Edition Character Sheet is a mobile app to take your Dungeons and Dragons 5E habit into the paperless age.

The app offers a customizable five-page character sheet that allows you to create, save, and revise multiple characters for multiple campaigns. Calculate ability modifiers, skill bonuses; track attacks, incoming damage and health buffs; and perform calculations for multiple weapons and skill proficiencies in battle.

Fifth Edition is also customizable and allows you to hide things you don't need and reorder things in a way that makes the most sense to you. To remove ads, there's a small one-time fee.

Download: Fifth Edition for Android | iOS (Free, Premium Available)

Beyond Tabletop offers a completely online character sheet generator. Currently, Beyond Tabletop focuses on generating Dungeons and Dragons 5E and Pathfinder sheets. However, it also offers an in-development RPG sheet meant to work across all systems.

Since it's entirely web-based, managing multiple sheets isn't a problem at all. With any of the sheets, you can copy, edit, share, or delete characters as needed. Plus, your character sheets can also link up with the site's campaigns and battlemaps.

Visit: Beyond Tabletop

With character mechanics out of the way, you're free to bring your character to life. Best of all, no art supplies required.

HeroMachine 2.5 (above) is the simplest to use while containing a huge number of customizations including clothing, headgear, wings, tails, and even different backgrounds. Everything has an assignable color and the art style isn't dissimilar to what you'd find on a trading card or in a fantasy novel.

HeroMachine 3 (above) takes things to the next level, offering an almost-fiddly level of detail to play with. The art style is of a higher quality, and you can apply multiple attributes (two necklaces, rather than one-per-category as with HM2).

Each of the visual items that make up your design can also undergo transformations. The ability to create layers opens the door to a multitude of additional customizations. In addition, you can also move, rotate, and scale all visual elements.

HeroMachine 3 also offers three views. HeroMachine 3 starts with the same normal view as HeroMachine 2.5. However, its alternative views help you hammer out smaller details.

Use the headshot view for close-up facial detailing. The widescreen view lets you declutter your screen to focus on what details you've laid out. The ability to toggle a grid also makes it easier to discern edits as you add-on items.

Regardless of which version you prefer, HeroMachine offers a premium version of both. Not only does it remove ads for under a dollar a month, but it also grants access to a larger layout for better detail work.

There's also a desktop version of HeroMachine 2 available ad-free for $9.95.

Visit: HeroMachine (Free, Premium Available)

Fuse is something a little bit different. It's a 3D character creator available through Steam for Mac and Windows users that comes with over 70 body parts, 150 clothing meshes, and 42 dynamic textures. Plus, there's auto-rigging and animations that valid Adobe customers can activate in-app.

It's been around for a while, but it's difficult to pass up free modeling.

Download: Fuse for Steam (Free)

Doll makers work as avatar creators made in Adobe Flash. Simply create your character, fine-tune the look, and then grab a screenshot for use in your campaign. There are doll makers for virtually any setting with many styles of art to pick from.

Visit: Azalea's Dolls | Doll Divine | RinmaruGames | Charat

Once everything is in place, you want your games to go fluidly. Rather than track and calculate everything by hand, take advantage of these tabletop tools to help run and manage your campaign.

From the creators of HeroLab comes Realm Works, a campaign management tool designed specifically for GMs looking to leverage software to improve their roleplaying experience. It serves as a digital aid to help GMs keep track of their campaigns, plots, locations, and the tiniest of details. However, it's also a tool for players who are in turn drip-fed information by the GM as the story unfolds in-game.

Realm Works includes access to the Realm Work Content Market, which provides pre-created content from publishers and enthusiasts alike. Pluck locations, NPCs, dungeons, and more straight out of the cloud and integrate them into your game with a few clicks. You can then use the software to individually reveal various aspects of your world---from partially obscured maps, to portraits, relationships, and so on.

For those struggling with preparation, Realm Works helps there too. It can take hours to assemble the various relevant materials, character sheets, and manage your story. Realm Works makes this far easier by automatically generating summaries for you.

Realm Works is currently only available for Windows. The full GM edition costs $59.99 and comes with six months of access to Realm Works servers (with the option to continue for roughly six- or 12-month periods). Cloud services enable you to keep your campaigns in sync and push information to each of your players, among other things. Standard players can purchase the Player Edition (also Windows-only) for $4.99/user.

Download: Realm Works for Windows ($59.99)

From the same developer that brought you Fight Club (above) comes Game Master 5th Edition, which does exactly what it says on the tin. The app provides a set of tools that makes it easier to manage a Dungeons and Dragons 5E game from start to finish.

Game Master serves as an excellent pocket resource for GMs that enjoy combat. Set some parameters for your enemy, roll, and there's a monster ready to fight. Besides managing encounters, you can check rules, calculate dice rolls, and take a long rest to heal up your characters.

It's a free download, but you'll need to pay $2.99 for encounters that involve more than six combatants.

Download: Game Master 5th Edition for iOS | Android (Free, premium version available)

For Android users, Fifth Edition DM Tools helps to simplify the task of running a Dungeons and Dragons 5E campaign. Create encounters and monsters, build dungeons, track players and their associated statistics, and manage the loot they'll encounter along the way. There's a sophisticated set of calculators for experience, challenge ratings, as well as a dice rolls for monster attacks, damage, saves, and skill checks.

If you pay for the premium upgrade, you'll get access to unlimited storage and the ability to manage multiple campaigns.

Download: Fifth Edition DM Tools for Android (Free, premium version available)

A physics sandbox and VR experience rolled into one, Tabletop Simulator lets you create your own games and play them however you want. Besides tabletop wargaming, you can play classics like chess, chequers, and jigsaw puzzles solo, locally, or online with friends.

The base game costs $19.99 and runs on Windows, Mac, and SteamOS with support for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift in VR. Once you've got the base game, you can purchase individual tabletop experiences anywhere from $4.99 to $14.99.

The real magic lies in Tabletop Simulator's ability to let you create your own games, use custom assets, write your own scripts, manipulate the physics, and enjoy the experience your own way. You can even flip the table over and send everything flying if things aren't going your way!

Steam Workshop is also full of pre-built custom assets like the complete Warhammer 40K collection.

Download: Tabletop Simulator for Steam ($19.99)

Another Lone Wolf product, Army Builder supports tabletop miniature games like Warhammer 40K, Lord of the Rings, Warmachine, and many more. The software is available for both Windows and macOS, with a free roster viewer app also available on iOS devices.

The software's design adds "point and click simplicity" to the at-times complex task of creating army lists. The software checks the roster you have chosen against the rules for your particular game, eliminating mistakes, and removing the need for you to constantly check the rulebook yourself.

There are no calculations for you to manually perform as the software does the sums for you, leaving plenty of time to experiment with different rosters and tactics.

When you're ready you can print out a quick reference sheet for you to consult during gameplay, or use the free iOS app instead. You can buy Army Builder for $39.99, which provides access to all supported games (no need to buy separate licenses for separate game systems).

If you want to build even more for your campaign, explore the best 3D printables for tabletop fantasy RPGs.

Download: Army Builder ($39.99)Download: Army Builder Roster Viewer for iOS (Free)Visit: AB40k (Up-to-date Warhammer 40K files)

A free, fast, and powerful army list creator for many tabletop games. The app validates your army selections against point limits. So you'll know if your roster is legal or not, without having to do the sums yourself.

While free, the app requires a subscription of $2.99/year to remove the advertising. However, you'll also unlock additional features such as saving units as favorites. You'll need to pay this fee for every platform on which you want to use BattleScribe, so choose wisely.

Download: BattleScribe for Windows| macOS | Linux | Android | iOS (Free, subscription available)

While purists will argue there's nothing like the feel of a perfectly-weighted dice, others prefer the simplicity of an app. The d20 Calculator allows players to roll any type of dice and work out complex calculations in a few taps.

If the app doesn't feel like enough, roll in style with this DIY electronic D20 die.

Download: d20 Calculator for iOS | Android (Free)

When it comes to tabletop gaming, there are so many moving parts to consider. Whether you're looking for general RPG software or the best Dungeons and Dragons tools, this list will make that quest easier. Just focus on one part at a time, and your games will never be easier.

When you're ready for more, look into these ways to play board games online with friends.