One of the things that grows progressively more difficult for players to keep track over as their roleplaying campaigns grow longer and more extravagant are spells (if any), features, and inventory. Playing any roleplaying game in the modern era, there are multitudes of advances in technological aids. From laptops for DMs to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets for everyone to utilize. I personally utilize mobile apps for managing information and notes, especially if I want to reduce the amount of papers and books I need to bring to the game session. There ways for players to store and sort the different spells that a character may possess (it’s one of the most hefty bookkeeping task), but the next challenge that often follows happens to be inventory management.

Pack Mule for D&D icon
Pack Mule for D&D

For Android users, there’s a new developing app that might help with keeping track of your inventory. I present to you, the Pack Mule for D&D app. You can acquire the app in the Google Play Store by clicking here or the icon above.

Inventories getting boggled down?

So one of the problems with any character sheet management comes down to features, feats (if any), inventory, and spells (if any). Inventory is a universal dilemma that over time becomes a convoluted mess once the campaign and the character have reached long term levels. In the case of campaigns that last anywhere from several months to upwards of years, a lot of items get added and subtracted over time. It becomes difficult to keep track of those items, there are always the infamous lines: “oh I forgot I had that in my inventory”.  There are no easy solutions, often times it just means more elaborate lists and inventory boxes within the character sheet. But after a while, it still becomes difficult to keep track, especially if there are system of organization within the inventory. Keeping track of consumables and magic items, equipped and unequipped items can be a true challenge.

The Pack Mule is aesthetically pleasing, with it simply design and presentation of the inventory items.

 Pack Mule for D&D- screenshot  Pack Mule for D&D- screenshot  Pack Mule for D&D- screenshot

The list for the inventory is easy to read, having the name of the item in a larger font than the rest of the text. There is a clear quantity indicator, and even the description just below the item which very helpful for magic items. Adding and removing is relatively straightforward and easy. There is a need to still personally optimize the organization of the items inputted through the app, but if you are using this app for certain items (like consumables) this is useful app to keep around.

App with Potential

There are some great potential in possible future options and features. Anyone who downloads the app will find a future features section within it that highlight many options and features suggested by the Reddit thread wherein the developer, Tom, had posted and shared it. The app is free and has a single in-app purchase for removing ads. After discussing with the developer, Tom, about the future of the app, he stated that his hopes is to develop and flesh out more features to make this make a “must have” D&D resource.

If you want to read the feedback that the reddit D&D community gave for the app, you can find the thread here. There is also a reddit thread for suggested features and options which can be found here.

Upcoming features that are set with the highest priority include drag-and-drop item re-ordering which would truly streamline the current app experience. Followed by multiple inventories and bags, and finally a user interface for the tablet. In our conversations, Tom has mentioned that several developers have reached out to him to offer assistance on this project. Tom hopes to eventually reach out to iOS and even possibly desktop applications.

A story behind every app-venture

I talked with Tom Mackinnon via email about how he developed the app and his plans regarding the app.

Me: If could you talk about yourself a little bit and describe how you came about the initial idea or premise for this app? 

Tom: The initial goal was thought up by my co-worker (the person who actually introduced me to D&D). His idea was an app that would sum up the character’s total encumbrance, and be an item list of the side. I really liked the idea, and intended to privately develop it for just him and my group.

Me: What was your overall goal with your design direction and implementation? 

Tom: I developed the UI based exactly how my group’s players noted their items on their character sheets: name, quantity and description. This seems to be the most important thing about the app because it’s an easy transition for the player, and they now have no more scruffy/unclear pencil marks on their sheets.

Me: Do you have any further plans for additional features?

Tom: Unfortunately, because I’m at university (as an engineering student) and only a novice/self thought programmer it’s taken me months to get to the point of just an item list.

My final goal for the app is to have it a must have D&D resource. So this means properly fledging out the list features by implementing additional character slots, encumbrance totals etc.
I also had a few developers offer to collaberate on the app, so I’m hoping for a desktop or iOS to come out if the right developer offers to do the job.
Me: Do you have any additional plans for different apps?

Tom: I haven’t got any other app plans yet, I would like to focus on this. I also feel alot of the basic app themes have a saturated market, so it’s difficult to spot a gap. The great thing about developing for the D&D market has been the overwhelming positivity and enthusiasm from the community; while also being a fairly niche market.

Final Impressions

The Pack Mule offers a useful tool for inventory management with its streamlined appearance and aesthetics, along with the app’s easy to use interface that allows for quick additions and subtractions. While the app is still in its infancy, there are plenty of things to be joyful for in the future features and additions. There is something genuine about having something developed by a member of the D&D community not only for themselves but realizing the advantages and utility for others elsewhere. There are great promise for the app, even with some assistance from others, the development could expand further and reach the heights that its creator hoped for. I had many of my players who use android devices download this app, keeping an eye on the progression and development of this app while we continue our adventures. Give this app a try, leave some feedback on the app reviews and reddit threads. Help a fellow D&D player develop a useful tool for other players across the digital space.

You can acquire the app in the Google Play Store by clicking here.
For the reddit feedback thread you can find the thread here.
There is also a reddit thread for suggested features and options which can be found here.

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