i4e review

I’ve been meaning to post this review for awhile. At the end of last year I blogged about playing without my character sheet. In the comments, DM Ron suggested I check out a iPhone/iPod Touch program called i4e. It can be replacement for a paper character sheet, but I find it I an accompaniment.

i4e home screen

The i4e icon and home screen

The first step is to manually enter or upload a Character Builder character sheet.  I recommend the upload method as you can spend 5 minutes per power to enter all the stats, keywords, etc.  Uploading is very easy, you just put your email into i4e’s web site and upload the .dnd4e file. Then put the same email address you used into the i4e Configuration, and hit import from the Characters screen. Now you you can choose from all your uploaded characters to import. If you have a straightforward character, it’s pretty much ready to go from that point. If you’re using some thing new or obscure, it may require tweaking.  At the top of every screen in the program is an edit button that allows you to modify the elements shown on that screen (stats, skills, powers, equipment, etc). The editing powers is pretty complex since there are so many variables on a power.

There are a few things that make using it during play very nice. First is that you can use it to keep track of hit points pretty easy. It is a quick subtract 5,10,15 points and then a screen to do a lot more. You can then apply healing healing surges easily, and it keeps track of their use for you. i4e also quickly tracks saving throws, death saves, milestones, and action points. The “short rest” and “extend rest” recharge the appropriate stats, including used powers. This is the second thing I really like: it does a great job of tracking power usage. In particular it’s easy to set up an encounter power that you can use multiple times per encounter. This is an important feature that makes many other trackers impractical to use. You can also easily equip and unequip items and see their applied bonuses. However if it is able to track using up the global magic item daily, I have not figured it out.

The powers table and individual encounter power

Almost everything is customizable, which is great when you start bringing in things from other sources. See below for the list of screens for customizing a power. The only thing to keep in mind is that any customization has to fit in with the rules set. For example alternate power pools or magic items that work on non-mechanical conditions are hard to represent in the program; you’ll have to track  those yourself. I don’t blame i4e though, in fact, the customization options is greater than in Character Builder.

Customizing a power in i4e

The i4e power customization screen, with options for "Information"

Some gripes I have is that it does not remember your last location, so if you switch out of the application to go to a die rolling app, twitter, check email, etc., you’ll start all over again at the “choose your character” screen. App switching on the iPhone is a big pain as it is, so it sucks to loose a second or so. My other gripe is that it handles making adjustments very well, unless you want to add new rules or keywords to the game.  For instance, I have been using this with my Psion character, but as it does not know about power points, and so I have to keep track of them outside the application.

There are a bunch of enhancements I’d like to see. It’s nice that powers table lists by action type, but I’d like to also see maybe the range or area of effect, as I usually choose a power based upon how the monsters are grouped. Also since the list can grow quite long, it’d be nice if used powers shrunk or dropped to the bottom (also the add a new power button takes up a whole row and is only useful occasionally). The other thing I’d like to see are copy and export features of a character, so I can mess around with one and not worry about having it ready to go for a session.

Hopefully soon there will be a new version with these enhancements. Also I think an iPad version will be boss. With some more screen room and the popup menus it’ll should be really fast and convenient to navigate an interactive character sheet. I highly recommend this a good table tool for a player. It’s more than worth its price ($3.99).