Spreadsheets for DnD Combat over VC
While pondering if I ever want to be a DM, I realized you can use Google Spreadsheets to quickly and easily make a Dungeons and Dragons map for combat. It's too cool not to post about.
Picture the scene. You're a dungeon master playing Dungeons and Dragons with some friends over video or text chat. While storytelling can do just fine that way, it gets tricky when you think about the mechanics of combat and positioning. 5th edition gives you some options to "play with only your imagination" but there was something visceral and tactical about fighting monsters on a grid that I think helped round out the game.
So how do you do something like that over video chat? Well it turns out a new feature in Google Sheets makes it possible to make maps VERY easily. If you’re an expert with spreadsheets, you can even do some pretty crafty things.
The key feature you want to use is
Insert > Image > Insert in Cell, which will allow you to upload an image and have it live in one of the cells. Combined with pre-set column widths and row heights, you can program squares to build entire maps.
Step 1: Adjust the cell sizes
Easy stuff; just select all your columns, right click the column letter, and set the width to some value that works for you. I used
25. Then do the same for your rows and set that to
Step 2: Insert textures
Also pretty easy; just search the web for textures or patterns that you like that will represent what you want for that five-by-five foot square. You can use your repeat tools like
paste, or dragging the lower-right handle to quickly duplicate cells.
Use insert image to cell in order to start adding color...
Let's make a few walls.
Make indoors hard to see so they can't plan ahead! Copy-paste from another window.
Add some lamp-posts outside the castle.
Add fighter, a couple baddies, and some plants.
Step 3: Fight!
Present your screen via Google Hangouts and let everyone see the spreadsheet! Now you can control the flow of combat.
Your players can select whatever image avatar they want, and you can just copy-paste to move them around the battlefield for whatever they want to do.
Heck, Google Spreadsheets is great at collaboration; people can move their own character if they’re OK with it!