D&D General Best Online Platform for 4e Game?

Well, it’s been awhile old friend. Looks like we’ll be getting back together again.

At some point in the coming months (when ever my Torchbearer game resolves), it looks like one of my groups wants to play 4e. Awesome!

Except…while I can run pretty much every game under the sun mostly without digital tools (Googlesheets and Discord tracking exempted) or online platform, 4e ain’t that!

So what are peoples’ experiences with running 4e via Foundry or Roll20? The real needs are:

* High ease-of-use. : functionality relationship. I’m a borderline Luddite so my brain and tech no work so gud.

* Battleboard with tokens and good battlefield/hazard/terrain tiles that can be quickly assembled (it would be best if all participants could be involved in the assembly).

* A good round/condition/status tracker.

* If there is a PC builder that can help them out (they’ll have to do some typing because of OGL, but so be it) that would be good too.

* I’ve run so much 4e that I can just use Monster on a Business Card/GM Cheat Sheet and just build my own powers/Traits off the cuff, but if they have something that would help with that, it wouldn’t hurt.

* Table-facing Skill Challenge stuff can just be handled via text.


Any help or thoughts from folks with good experience is much appreciated! Thanks in advance!
 

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Roll20 is unfortunately good for this, and the "unfortunately" is not a typo.

It has a really quite effective character sheet....that you have to learn how to "code" powers for if you really want it to sing for you. I learned it several years ago, coded up all my powers so they would work flawlessly at every level and correctly apply or ask for whatever information they needed. It was a PITA but once I had it done it was smooth as butter to use.

So....if you can get past the "learn to use it" barrier, Roll20 is actually really good, at least on the player-facing side. I've no idea how well or poorly it works on the DM-facing side.
 

Roll20 is unfortunately good for this, and the "unfortunately" is not a typo.
I concur with this. Roll20 has the ability to run 4e well if you can build your own coded powers. However the directions on HOW to do this are not the best. I have not tried to program many powers but the few I have are hit or miss. I also keep trying (and so far failing) to put a 13th age escalation die into my 5th edition game.
 


CatullusCato

Villager
If you’re a Luddite, maybe Owlbear Rodeo? Won’t give a lot of functionality, but does the basic job of tokens on a map very well. And is free. Neither Foundry or Fantasy Grounds are easy to learn, and while playing in Roll20 has a low barrier to entry, DMing does not.
 


Roll20, but use this to build your power macros: power-builder
Definitely useful for getting started. There are still outliers this can't handle easily (e.g. the Paladin AW Valiant Strike, which gets an attack bonus equal to the number of adjacent enemies, meaning it should almost always be 1 but might be higher) and it would require edits to handle stuff like raising to a new tier and getting damage bonuses etc. But this handles the basic coding very well and gives you a visual output so you can see if you're doing it correctly, which is a HUGE help.
 


skelekon

Explorer
I would say Fantasy Grounds. Especially if you have all the modules with all the powers and monster (which I do).
I tried Roll20 but found the work with entering all the powers and monsters too much.
Agreed.

I went on this same journey about 6 months ago, and ended up going with Fantasy Grounds.

I tried Roll20, but found the manual construction of powers for players & NPCs very time consuming, even with macro builders.
I also found the storage and automation options quite limited in the free version, and there is no lifetime purchase option for a paid option.

Then I watched Matt Colville running 4E 'Dusk' on YouTube and it looked pretty good, so I downloaded the demo version and built and demoed a test campaign.
That worked very well, so I bought a lifetime license at the 'Ultimate' tier, which allows all players to join my games for free.

Dissatisfied with the existing community-built app to import 4E Portable Compendium content, I ended up building my own (which is linked on the FG 4E message boards).
This allowed me to create FG modules containing all NPCs, Powers, Feats, Rituals and mundane and magic Items.
I am currently adding a Race importer so that race (non-power) features can be dropped on PC sheets (race powers are already included with other PC Powers).
FG works differently to Roll20 in that it parses the text of powers to automatically create clickable attack, damage and effect expressions, which works for probably 95% of cases or more.

That said, the UI for FG can most kindly be described as 'quirky'.
It is relatively consistent, in that most operations that are not actual buttons are either drag-and-drop or right-click radial menus, but it's still pretty clunky .e.g.
  • click and drag the middle mouse button (scroll wheel) to move the map around
  • on the PC sheet you double-click a dice symbol to roll, but single-click an attack, damage or effect expression
  • to draw a square zone on the map you hold Shift while clicking both the left & right mouse buttons and dragging (in FG's defence you can also draw by right-clicking the map for a radial menu)


I briefly tried MapTool, whose main selling point is that it is free, but I couldn't see anything it did that FG didn't, and it seemed to just do combat and lacked campaign management tools.

Foundry also looks good, and comparable to FG in the level of automation provided. I'm not sure whether any 4E game content is available, or needs to be manually entered.
It is currently on sale for a couple more days for 20% off.
 

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