D&D General Best VTT for the most players?

Merudo

Explorer
I tried Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, and Foundry VTT.

I would say that Foundry VTT is both the cheapest of the options available, and the most powerful. It's fast, it has good FoW and lighting system, and the amount of customization via modules is very impressive.

The automation is worst than Fantasy Grounds but better than Roll20, and new features are added constantly.
 

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MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I recently decided to "go steady" with Foundry after sleeping around with all the major VTTs of most of the year. But I would not say it is the best VTT for the most players. At least not for most DMs. A lot of what makes Foundry great makes it more complicated to get started with than other systems. That includes the ability to customize it through modules and to ability to host it yourself.

I would say that Roll20 is the best for most players. Nobody has to download or install anything. The learning curve is pretty low. The DM doesn't have to rely on having one computer with all his or her assets on it.

Astral is actually easier, but I found it too limited, especially if you want to use a map without line of sight, but still want fog of war. I don't want to have to spend hours preprepping all my maps for the huge sandbox campaign I'm running.
 

Torgaard

Explorer
Ya, we've used Fantasy Grounds for going on what - almost 10 years? We've recently started playing around with Foundry VTT while waiting for Fantasy Grounds Unity to stabilize. Just kinda thought Foundry looked cool so, we figured we just play around with it a little. Fantasy Grounds is near and dear to my heart, but I have to admit - Foundry has incredible potential - and much of it has already been manifested in a shockingly short amount of time.

Ok, that's the tl&dr. Here's a more detailed breakdown from my perspective.

Fantasy Grounds - So one thing most people consistently don't "get" about FG is its core feature; the thing that makes it so amazing. It's not a mapping thing (or lack thereof), it's not support for all the systems, it's not all the little options and content here there, none of that. It's the Combat Tracker. It's all about the Combat Tracker. It's the Combat Tracker's ability to automate and track damn near anything and almost everything you'd ever want to track, and do it without needing to practically learn a programming language or make hideously complex macros (to me). That being said, it does have its own little - what - automation syntax and interface(?) that can be daunting, but I'd argue it's way, WAY easier to learn than it is to learn how to make a macro on some tables. Once you learn to use the maybe 50 automation keywords (ie an 'ADVATK' effect placed on my character in the Combat Tracker will now automatically roll Advantage for me, etc), your sessions become a bliss of unneeded busywork. Everything else in Fantasy Grounds is ok, bordering on pretty dated - but the Combat Tracker more than makes up for every possible shortcoming.

Foundry VTT - This product is pretty amazing to me, but these next months to a year in its development cycle are critical. It's core functionality is superb. For virtual tabletops, it's pretty cutting edge with its feature set. It has so many of the quality of life, cool factor tweaks I've wanted. But its true genius lies in its very open and (apparently) extremely flexible API. This allows the community - IF you're basically a programmer/developer by trade - to design an already staggering amount of add-on features and content. From the community created modules out there already, I have already seen it do things I could only have dreamed of with Fantasy Grounds - and it's easy to see these things and say to yourself, "Holy crap - if this guy could make a module to do this, then he/she (or somebody) could certainly do THIS - and that would be stunningly useful and cool-as-hell!"

The problem is threefold so far:
  • First, while there is a "Knowledge Base", a Reddit, Discord, etc to try to figure Foundry VTT (5E) out - it's just so all-over-the-place, and the information is just all too brief or broad in the places you find it. For me, it's a continual exercise in scouring the web trying to find expanded, more detailed answers to soooo many questions. It's fairly frustrating. This thing desperately needs a large, detailed wiki with (alot of) examples, screenshots, video tutorials - the works. The developer of Foundry certainly has enough on his plate, so a (bigger) wiki supported by the community seems ideal.
  • The second thing kinda ties in with the first. While the community is developing so many absolutely amazing add-on modules, they frequently suffer from something that often happens when a developer is the sole entity designing things like this - it's easy to use for them, and makes sense to them, because they're a developer and they developed this module - but the time and/or (frankly) understanding of how to design something so that it's intuitive or even understandable to Joe User is a frequent hurdle that's often insurmountable. I'll download some module, see its wondrous potential, but then try to parse out how-the-heck to use the thing from the developers write-up on github and be like, "Wait - wut?" - over and over and over. It's like dying of thirst, seeing that beautiful mirage in the distance, but it is always so tantalizingly out-of-reach. Message to Foundry VTT community developers: I dig what you are doing so much, you are all officially in my Cool Book, I am so impossibly grateful, but please - PLEASE - always, always design a UI for your module that is specifically designed so that a complete moron (like me) could figure it out. Seriously. If you ever say to yourself, "Well - there's no way I'd need to make this part of the UI that simple - nobody is that dumb" - STOP! Yes, you absolutely do need to make it that dumb. Every time you think that. Also - and I know this is a time consuming pain, and a big ask - but detailed writeups on how to use it, with as many examples as you can stomach, with screenshots, videos, etc - all of it written so a 12 year old could figure it out, would bring a tear to my eye.
  • Finally, it goes back to what makes Fantasy Grounds so superb: the Combat Tracker and automation for the Combat Tracker. Foundry just doesn't have it (yet). Foundry's core CT basically tracks Initiative and cycles through the turn order. You can roll attacks and apply damage with it of course. There's a little bit more, but nothing very useful. I'm confident Foundry would quickly become a dominant force in the market if it made that next step. An easy way to put Conditions (incapacitated, stunned, etc) on actors on the CT, but then take the next step and build in a UI where you can add duration (ie expires in 1 round) and automates the rolls when rolling against those Conditions (ie if I attack someone who's stunned and has that condition/effect on them in the Combat Tracker, I should have Advantage, so Foundry automatically has me roll w/Advantage when I attack them). Then add the ability to create my own automated effects for anything. Example: I need to (easily) create an effect for bless that - when dropped onto a token for a party member - will tell the Combat Tracker to (a) keep it on them for 1 minute, show a little symbol or text on them so I know it's there, and remove it if the casters concentration is broken, and (b) give that actor +1d4 to hit and saves, and make those rolls automatically. Then take it further, and allow that kind of functionality for dang near anything. There's a module called "Dynamic Effects" that's a good start, but it's kind of a "push only" thing right now: I can trigger automation for bless on party members, but I can't put something like "Has Disadvantage" on enemy who is stunned, so that anyone attacking that enemy automatically rolls with Advantage (ie "pull" back some automation).
Nutshell: If Foundry VTT had Fantasy Grounds Combat Tracker, it would be without a doubt; the best virtual tabletop on the market. Period. I feel certain it's going to get there - hopefully soon - and even in its current state it's an impressive product. We're using it, and will continue to use it for the time being - but it's going to need to get me to that Combat Tracker automation level to keep me there.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
@Torgaard Excellent summation of FG and Foundry. With Foundry, I have to underline the poor documentation and minimal support, a problem compounded by all the modules. It is easy to install modules to expand the core functionality, but perhaps too easy. You can quickly run into issues with conflicting modules, modules that are not kept up to date when the core program updates. Luckily it is easy to remove modules, but it does add to the complexity of troubleshooting systems. It's like back in the early days of Firefox, when I go so excited about plugins that eventually Firefox became highly unstable.

I would say that it is best to find module makers who have patreons, so you can have some support and a better chance for continued development.

Also, self-hosting is more of a hassle than many users will want to deal with. I ended up going with The Forge after playing around with hosting it on my own AWS environment. Not only does The Forge take care of hosting, but it provides a layer of support that you don't get by just buying The Foundry. The buy behind The Forge is also an active mod developer so that it is good to have that support as well.

I've never really used automation in any VTT because they all seem to require too much data entry. If I were to run a WotC adventure, I might get Fantasy Ground so that I have all the content pre-entered and can take advantage of the automations and other features, but I tend to run a lot of third party adventures. I've decided that for now that what I most need is a map that players can move tokens around on. When I have time, I like to prep walls and light sources for line-of-sight and fog of war auto reveal.

As Foundry evolves, I might use combat features more, but only if I can buy the content pre-entered. I don't want hours of data entry to be part of my hobby.
 

Torgaard

Explorer
@TorgaardWith Foundry, I have to underline the poor documentation and minimal support, a problem compounded by all the modules. It is easy to install modules to expand the core functionality, but perhaps too easy. You can quickly run into issues with conflicting modules, modules that are not kept up to date when the core program updates. Luckily it is easy to remove modules, but it does add to the complexity of troubleshooting systems.

Heh, there ya go - my experience is a mirror image (pun totally intended!) of yours. Encounter Library's videos were a godsend, and the Foundry Knowledge Base is definitely helpful, but I kept wanting to jump to a wiki (or something) for answers to specific "situational" questions and - maybe more importantly - examples. Frequently I just couldn't quite get the answers I was looking for. So every question required alot of searching in multiple areas (web, Discord, reddit, find the part in that Encounter Library video where he talks about it, etc) and more often than not I just couldn't find it. That being said - I did make it, I am there - I've pretty much figured it all out, and Foundry is pretty dang amazing! I get the impression it's already where roll20 is at, and perhaps beyond - and flags behind Fantasy Grounds only in the Combat Tracker automation.

I initially played around with the core Foundry build, and after 'x' number of hours of experimentation with it, I ended up with a list (in my coconut) of things it didn't do that I really hoped I could find as community developed Modules. Found a bunch of modules that helped, found a bunch of others that were just cool-as-hell and I "had to have!", and back into Foundry I went. Oof! Ya, that was a struggle. Couldn't tell what was a core feature, module added functionality, a conflict between modules, or just a bug. Our first session was a bit of a debacle, as a module config I messed with caused targeting to go off the rails, and frequently players ended up attacking and doing damage to themselves instead of the enemy.

Pro Amateur Tip for new Foundry users: Resist the "Kid in a Candy Store" syndrome when exploring Foundry's wondrous array of community developed add-on modules. Kinda knew I shouldn't have taken on so many at once - so totally my fault, not Foundry's - but I just couldn't stop myself. Download a module, setup an array of tests, learn the module's functionality back-and-forth, and THEN download that next module. Then go back and do ALL the same tests (you're checking for conflicts with a previous module install). Rinse, repeat. If something breaks, simply turn that module off (and submit a bug/fix to the dev on github). Test. Rinse, repeat. Yes the testing adds time, but you're also learning Foundry as you go, training your brain how to "do stuff" with Foundry with repetition.

Also, self-hosting is more of a hassle than many users will want to deal with. I ended up going with The Forge after playing around with hosting it on my own AWS environment. Not only does The Forge take care of hosting, but it provides a layer of support that you don't get by just buying The Foundry.

Ditto. I too went with The Forge for the same reasons: Didn't want to go through the potential hours of frustration helping my less-than-tech-savy players on how to open ports, troubleshoot, etc. The Forge made it all so simple. "Players - go to this link, join game, play virtual tabletop D&D". Done.

I've never really used automation in any VTT because they all seem to require too much data entry.

We diverge a little there. While an oft muttered mantra to my players over the years on Fantasy Grounds has been, "Don't get tunnel vision. We don't have to automate everything" - there is a level of automation I gotta have: Tracked and automated conditions and effects. Pen and paper DM's manage to keep track of all that stuff, but Cod knows how. I just don't have the head for it. I need all my (limited) brain-power to focus on painting word-pictures during combat, making smart tactical decisions for my mobs, adjudicating rules questions, etc. I just about strip a gear, and immersion breaking screw-ups (on my part) abound, when I have to focus on when this or that condition expires, who is supposed to roll what and when, etc. I am eager to learn and do the data work to learn whatever functionality comes with Foundry to enable that level of automation, but learning how to be a programmer is a bridge too far.
 

Rhenny

Adventurer
I tried Roll20, but found it didn’t run that smoothly on my computer. I like Fantasy Grounds II. I had to invest some cash and learn how to use it with help from a friend, but it has been worth it for me.
 

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