Running session from an Ipad


I’m slowly weighing shrinking my physical footprint in terms of books and moving to PDFs in general for my gaming needs. Part of this thought process involves considering my options for digital campaign management and running in-person sessions from an iPad or laptop.

I mostly run Savage Worlds, Pathfinder 1 or 2, GURPS and WHFRP 4e, but have a strong interest in Numenera and a couple other games. Reducing my gaming Ohh shiny syndrome is another issue.

In any case I’m looking for suggestions for apps and techniques you use to run sessions from an iPad (or laptop, but I think I’d more interested in the iPad options) at the table. I’m particularly focused on note taking and session prep as well as accessibility at the table. Your experiences, positive or negative, are valued and I hope you’ll share.

I should mention I heavily use onenote already on windows devices but have no experience with it on an iPad. That’s where you come in.

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I’ve been running games that way for several years now, and find the process straightforward with top-level kit. I have been using a 12.9 iPad Pro since they came out, and the combination of screen-space and horse-power makes it work well. The 12.9 supports two ‘full’ iPad apps on-screen at the same time, each getting a decent amount of space.

I use GoodReader as my PDF app, and that allows me to keep literally half a dozen chunky PDF files open at the same time, flicking between them. When you have GoodReader running full-screen you can have two separate PDFs on screen at the same time, or the same PDF open in two different pages. It makes keeping track of modules, rule books, bestiaries and so on very straightforward. And adding custom bookmarks makes cross references easy, too.

I use Pages for long form notes such as GM-prep and iThoughts for mind mapping more discrete notes on NPCs, events and so on. Finally, I use the Apple Notes app with a Pencil to keep scratch notes like current hit points in an encounter.

I can literally run everything just from my 12.9 Pro, just needing to carry that to have my entire library to hand and easily accessible, especially since all my PDFs are stored in iCloud, too.

It does take a little experimentation to create a ‘work flow‘ that works for you, but it can definitely be done.


Appreciate the thoughts. I’ve got a 12.9 pro myself which I already do most of my reading on. Currently using pdf expert as my reader and it at least supports multiple tabs. The horsepower is nice. I haven’t noticed any lag rolling 3-5 chunky PDFs.

Because I’m a heavy one nite user at my desktop site he though is to prep there and just run the session from the iPad.

I’ll take a look at ithoughts.


Whatever works best for you is good to go for 😊.

The only potential benefit is ease of using multi-tasking to move between apps (having different apps for big notes, short notes, scratch notes) but OneNote might be good for those things by itself?


I bet you can create separate Notebook in OneNote just for that days game prep you will have the tabs view on the side and when your done you can just drag your notes into your larger notebook and start fresh each time
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Guide of Modos
It does take a little experimentation to create a ‘work flow‘ that works for you, but it can definitely be done.
This. I can't run a game straight from my tablet because it's old and the only interface is the tiny on-screen keyboard. It would work significantly better for me if the screen were stylus-friendly, but I have the next best thing: scratch paper.

Experiment and practice, and remember that a lighter footprint might mean a lighter RPG!


I keep all my PDFs in iCloud use PDF Viewer to view them, but it sounds like the PDF viewer aspect is covered. When I ran on iPad (which I don’t anymore because I found I prefer paper), I would prepare the documents in other apps and then view them on the iPad.

I used Scrivener for writing and Scapple for mind mapping. Unfortunately, Scrivener is terrible on iPad, and Scapple has never been ported. I lay out the documents in Affinity Publisher. For putting together maps, I sometimes use Campaign Cartographer running under CrossOver, but Dungeondraft is more pragmatic and generally useful.

My biggest problem with trying to use an iPad (or a laptop) to run is I’m spatially oriented. I like having things laid out a certain way. It’s much easier for me to find things when they are in a certain spot in my (physical) workspace than to deal with different windows, tabs, or spaces.

aramis erak

I've found that having the books on tablet (I2" Samsung Note; 10.5" eInk) is great, but the most common tables retyped and printed out is still more convenient most of the time...

For example, for FFG star wars, I've a table of all the advantage/threat spends, the crit tables (ship and character), and the travel and trade rules, and of course, the shoppy store lists.
I also have put all the NPC and Vehicle templates into a single volume... because looking them up in the respective books is a PITA... it's fine on paper or reader, but the consolidation makes using it easier either way. I've referenced the rulebook itself twice during session in the last 3 months. Both times, players did something unexpected.

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