FANTASY GROUNDS Virtual Tabletop's D&D License!

Officially licensed D&D electronic tools! For real! Fantasy Grounds, one of the leading virtual tabletops, has just released a set of D&D 5th edition licensed data packages. These include the D&D Basic Rules, packs for each of the core classes, and a pile of monster packs. Each states specifically that "This product is licensed from Wizards of the Coast." This appears to be the first officially licensed and branded electronic product. (thanks to Matchstick for the scoop)

Check out their D&D wares here. They mention that "The DMG is still in the works, along with the Hoard of the Dragon Queen, The Rise of Tiamat and Princes of the Apocalypse." and that "The basic 5E ruleset will continue to be provided directly within Fantasy Grounds to all licenses. These purchasable options add a new graphics theme that is officially branded, along with the library module support, and whatever other enhancements we could squeeze in, like tokens or portraits or decals."

Here's the announcement:
We are proud to announce that we are officially licensed to sell D&D source material and content inside of Fantasy Grounds! This is the beginning of a great new partnership between SmiteWorks and Wizards of the Coast that will benefit gamers worldwide.

You can purchase the D&D Complete Core Class Pack with all the class, feats, spells and equipment or you can purchase individual classes only. You can also buy the monsters in packs or as the D&D Complete Core Monster Pack. These products have been converted to work really tightly with Fantasy Grounds to give you the best possible gaming experience - we know you're going to love them. They contain all the great artwork and content from the official products and all the smarts and integration to work with Fantasy Grounds. Not only will you get the same content that can be found in print, but you also get an exciting new Fifth Edition theme, adventures and content customized specifically for ease of play inside of Fantasy Grounds.

For Dungeon Masters and players on a budget, you might pick up a Player Customization Pack and one or two Class Packs of your choice. Dungeon Masters can often get by with just the Adventure of their choice and one or two Monster Packs.

Don't forget that players can gift purchases through Steam for Dungeon Masters who have linked their license on Steam.


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First Post
I get it; it's a premium service. I've spent hundreds on Dwarven Forge because I feel like I'm getting a premium product for a premium price. My question is, what are the features of FG that make it worth the premium? And do all of those features really add up to an experience that's better than pencil+paper+skype? Then I can decide whether it's good enough to pay that much money for something that I can do for free.

Where FG really stand out in my opinion is the combat tracker. What does that mean? Think of monster HP tracking, effects/conditions... How many times do you have to ask your players: "What's your AC again?" or how many times do you have to cross reference with your own combat cards or flipping through your manual to know if your monsters are hit, and then you have to jot down notes, deduce the HP, track the conditions, etc.

Now what if I told you there is a VTT that keep tracks of all that...
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This is FG.

Now you can enter all the data manually to make that possible or use a parser. Either way you're looking at easily a hundred hours of work.

Or you can spend the $50 per book and the work has been done for you.

I ran 4e back in the day and combat would go a lot faster on FG than it did at my table for face-to-face games.

So as someone else said, it really depends how much you value your time. And I'll add this, it also depends how much prep you want to do and how smooth you want the combats to go. I know a lot of people use FG for face-to-face games just for the combat tracker and how eliminates almost all of the book keeping.
Then you have other things like auto XP drop and split, auto treasure parcels drop and split that save even more time. In a 4hrs time period do you want to spend more time roleplaying and having fun or do you want to spend 2-3 hours running a battle when you could spend half that? Do you want the battle to have a good flow or you don't care to lose your player's attention to Facebook or Youtube while you're resolving a die roll and digging through your books? Because with FG, one click here and there is all it takes.

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This is exciting news. I don't use VTTs and won't buy this but it at least tells me they are working on digital stuff and any day something useful for me may be released. :)


So does this give us any indication as to what we might expect from a possible 5E OGL/GSL? What are the odds that the only official virtual table top support from WotC will be for Fantasy Grounds?

I'm feeling rather disappointed with this announcement. I'm sure FG fans are happy to see this as it will benefit the developers of this software but I just don't see this as a step forward for the majority of VTT 5E players and D&D in general. To me it's like announcing that D&D ebooks are now only available on BlackBerry World. Don't get we wrong, I realize I'm probably missing a bigger picture here so go easy on me if you don't agree. This is just me expressing how I feel about this based on my own perspective and opinion.

Full featured e-Tools shouldn't be "cheap". You get what you pay for. FG is expensive, but you get a lot of functionality for that price. Hopefully, the D&D license FG has acquired isn't exclusive, or at least allows different kinds of digital tools to be developed by others.

FG isn't a good product if all you are looking for is a character generator. I'm hoping that WotC allows other software packages like Hero Lab to fill that void, and it would likely be a lot cheaper.

Time will tell.
HeroLabs is a good example. It's expensive but not quite the same price as the physical books. IIRC it's $30 for the program abd one system and $20 for each additional system, with new books being $10.


I get it; it's a premium service. I've spent hundreds on Dwarven Forge because I feel like I'm getting a premium product for a premium price. My question is, what are the features of FG that make it worth the premium? And do all of those features really add up to an experience that's better than pencil+paper+skype? Then I can decide whether it's good enough to pay that much money for something that I can do for free.

I've been running FG for years now. Depending on how you run D&D, it can be incredibly useful. But a lot of that usefulness is just the sum of many many little conveniences.

At the table, I have to call out which player is next. Which I sometimes forget to do because I'm taking notes or prepping the next bad guy's actions and people sit around and get frustrated. In FG when one player/monster is done, the next player hears a bell ring. Ding! It's your turn! So nice.

In a normal D&D game if my six players are fighting three orcs and five goblins (entirely plausible) and all 14 of those minis are moving around the board, keeping track of "which one did I attack last round?" can be a pain. Not, like, solving Bessel functions kind of pain, but it's friction, it adds up. In FG, the program keeps track of everyone's targets. It'll even draw little lines from attacker to target if you want, so you can see. It's very nice.

In normal D&D if one player gives another a +2 to hit that lasts for three rounds, the second player has to remember the bonus (and he has to remember it three times) and then remember that it expires. Not so in FG! It will keep track of all that for you! As GM I can even turn on "automatic saving throws" in which case when the monsters are done, they'll all automatically roll saves and the system will remove those effects they successfully saved against.

(I mostly ran 4E, FG2 is AMAZING for 4E.)

In normal D&D the player has to tell me what AC he hit, and how much damage he did and often I'm still writing down the effects of what the previous player did so I have to say "Hold on" finish writing and then ask again. In FG, the player can roll to hit, find out if he hit, and roll damage and find out if the monster is dead or not, all without me having to do anything! So nice.

It's just a lot of the bookkeeping which I don't consider to be core to the D&D experience, Fantasy Grounds cleans up. Some people like that friction, it "feels like D&D," but my players have had every experience inside FG they've had outside. Cheering when a player rolls that clutch critical, laughing when they fumble. Being amazed when a player tries something crazy and it works.

I love Fantasy Grounds because of the way it simulates a tabletop, as opposed to just a battle-mat. I push handouts out to players and now they each have a copy and they can each make notes. Each player has a copy of the World Map, the Local Area Map, the Town, they all make notes about what happened and who they talked to and I can see them all.


I've already bought all the books, and use "theatre of the mind" combat .... so Roll20 is best for me I think.

I am very glad this product exists as an option for those who want it however!
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So does this give us any indication as to what we might expect from a possible 5E OGL/GSL? What are the odds that the only official virtual table top support from WotC will be for Fantasy Grounds?

I was really, really happy when WotC canceled Morningstar because I'd been beta testing it and I found it typical of tabletop companies efforts into the iOS App ecology. Like Privateer Press' War Room, Morningstar didn't obey any of the normal iOS standards. They created their own UI with their own logic and I'm sure they thought it was a fine User Experience, but iOS already *has* those standards and regardless of whether your company managed to come up with something better, the point is we all *know* the rules of iOS and when you break them you make your product harder to use.

It seemed to me that maybe WotC was more interested in putting out a good product, rather than getting something, *anything* into the players' hands. That's good. You can run D&D without any of this stuff, so WotC can take their time and make sure the final product is aces.

I think that's why they felt comfortable giving a license to Smiteworks. Because for all it's eccentricities, it provides a polished experience. And by licensing the data to Smiteworks, they're removing like 90% of the weirdness of Fantasy Grounds.

A lot of Fantasy Grounds' wierdness comes from trying to build your own data modules. When you run FG, you're running a server from your computer that serves data to clients who connect. This is not something normal people do. Normal people don't worry about port forwarding. And you need to scrub or "parse" all the 5E data, which doesn't happen automatically, you need to download other programs fans made and those programs only work with the free stuff WotC puts online.

Whereas this license covers everything! Yay! All the monsters at my fingertips! Yay! Already I'm thinking about using this on my Surface Pro just to manage combat because at the table I have to flip back and forth between stat blocks in the MM. Pain in the butt.

I also like to customize monsters, which FG makes easy. I grab a monster from the MM, drag him into the NPC pane, and now I have a unique version of that monster. I can give him another monster's abilities just by dragging and dropping. So nice.

Anyway, it's not perfect and it's not for everyone, but it's a powerful program and deserves some attention.


Ok, so here are a couple of absolutely outstanding YouTube videos that will answer pretty dang near all of your questions about playing 5E D&D on Fantasy Grounds. They're very high quality, well thought out, and extremely informative. They're done by one of the many extremely helpful members of the FG community named "Xorn". If you watch any video on how Fantasy Grounds works, watch this:

HERE is Xorn's 5E Player Quickstart video. It does a superb job of laying out the basics of character creation, the Combat Tracker (the true gem of FG's functionality), and even a few rounds of mock combat where he explains the basics of using a battlemap, etc.

IMPORTANT NOTE: At the beginning of the video, Xorn builds his character by scratch, manually filling out the character sheet. What you get when you buy the 5E addons - is automation. Oh so sweet automation. Example: Say you were making a 1st level Fighter. You'd roll your stats, but then you'd reach into the little 5E compendium, drag and drop the Fighter class onto your character sheet, and *BING!* - automation. Fantasy Grounds will automatically populate all the relevant fields having to do with the Fighter throughout your sheet. It'll ask you what you want your Skills you want to be proficient it (just click your choices) and then automatically select them, and setup their bonuses in the Skills tab. It'll automatically add your Armor and Weapon proficiencies to the appropriate sections in the Abilities tab, it'll automatically add all your Features to the Abilities tab, etc. Then, say you want to be an elf - same deal. Drag n' drop the 5E elf onto your sheet, and it'll ask you if you want to be a High Elf, Wood Elf, or Drow Elf - make your selection, and *BING!* everything on your sheet gets filled out automatically. Traits, Languages, your Speed. It'll do the same thing with Equipment. Go HERE to see screenshots of what I'm talkin' about. But what's REALLY cool is that when you level, you repeat the process, and the table does all the automation. Your 2nd level Fighter will get what a 2nd level Fighter gets, and it'll be automated on the sheet. While FG is not a digital toolset, eeeeee - it gets dangerously close.

I also wouldn't confuse the "macro's" he setup at the bottom of the screen with the crazy macro heavy world of other VTT's. Everything can be done from the character sheet. In fact, my players pretty much use their sheets for (almost) everything. They'll occasionally drag n' drop ye olde "Perception Check" down there, something like that, but otherwise they kinda like using the sheet.

Nutshell: I can create a 1st level character in about 5 minutes. 10 minutes if I take a little time. And be ready to play. Frankly, the longest time sink would be rolling my ability scores (and deciding where to put them) and choosing equipment and spells.

HERE is Xorn's video called 5E FG Behind the DM Screen. Again, just a fantastic video. Very detailed, pretty easy to understand, but if it's totally new to you there might be some information overload, so definitely get some hands-on experience (download the demo).

Pro Tip: In the end, it's allllll about the Combat Tracker. Combat Tracker, Combat Tracker, Combat Tracker. Frankly, I can't even remember how the heck we did this on paper back in the day. And honestly, I'd rather eat my own head than go back to it. I'd (at the very least) project FG onto the wall for me and the players to see and use the Combat Tracker if nothing else.

I will say this: when I first discovered Fantasy Grounds a few years ago, I learned 90% of how to use it from Xorn's (4E) videos. I'd basically be flipping back and forth constantly from the table to YouTube constantly. Get to the part in the video about, I dunno - creating Effects or something - watch it - pause it - then go try it on the table. I'd then pretty much screw it up on the table (I'm kinda dumb), so I'd have to flip back to the video and watch that part again, rinse, repeat, etc. You get the picture.

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