Fantasy Grounds

Michael Long

First Post
1 out of 5 rating for Fantasy Grounds

I would not recommend this product for everyone. It is VERY VERY expensive for what it does. The setup time and creation of an adventure takes a long time. There are much more inexpensive options, that are more accessible, and easy to use. Choose one of those.

That said, if you are a programmer, or enjoy a puzzle. Then this software may be for you. It takes a large investment of time, money and patience. You may have to watch several of the 2 hour videos to understand all the inner-workings of the software, or have someone more experienced show you how it works. Even then, you may find some new bells & whistles that you hadn't noticed before.
 
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Torgaard

Explorer
5 out of 5 rating for Fantasy Grounds

I'd demo'd all the products that were out there three years ago when I was first shopping for a virtual tabletop, and I'd take every new product for a spin to this day. Pound-for-pound, none can match Fantasy Grounds. The Combat Tracker in Fantasy Grounds is the real star. The level of automation it brings to combat, once you the hang of it, is amazing. It can automate just about everything. Not everything, but just about everything. If you really sit down and think about how fussy and busy an RPG can be during combat: keeping track of HP's, keeping track of conditions, initiative, attack bonuses, damage, on and on and on - you cannot help but be delighted with how much the Combat Track brings to the table (pun totally intended). Throw in all the other features, and Fantasy Grounds is the superior VTT.
 

joe_momma

First Post
5 out of 5 rating for Fantasy Grounds

This is a great too if like me your geographical location makes it hard to get a game going. You can play anysystem in barebones kind of way with the included Core ruleset. Their are lot's of add ons you can buy for added bells and whistles. It's fairly simply to get around in but if you want to do customization you need to brush up on XML and LUA coding.There is a fantastic user community on their forums and lots of cool free add ons made by community members.
 

TheSwartz

Explorer
5 out of 5 rating for Fantasy Grounds

This is very brief because I don't have any experience at all with virtual table tops (which is kinda my point) and also because I don't have any experiencing with DM'ing games (which is again my point).I picked up FG and the D&D 5e modules, and after watching some YouTube videos (check out my playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBBUKUVcjCEatm4CjRhGoTRoTz8BCQxLw) I'm already hosting some very interesting games for my group of old dad's who have otherwise had problems getting together regularly.Yes, there is a learning curve. I think I spent 2 or 3 nights doing nothing but watching videos and poking around. But I probably could have limited that to half the time; you learn much more after jumping in and playing. There is a wiki, there is much info in the forums, and I had immediate and personal feedback when emailing FG directly with a question.If nothing else. I highly recommend getting the basic rules module (a couple dollars) and the Lost Mines of Phandelver (if you haven't played it already) and checking it out. My suspicion is that if you like that, you'll recognize how great it is to have much of the rules/stats/etc. built in and find it worthwhile to invest into the PHB and MM modules.A couple asides. If you are reading this 'now', all the FG stuff is 30% off on their main site or on Steam. Also, the developer tells me that Princes of the Apocalypse and the PotA players companion material is coming very soon.The main "complaint" I read when thoroughly investigating FG vs. Roll20 vs. D20pro is that FG costs money whereas Roll20 is "free". Well... I spent just as much time trying to learn how to use Roll20 and got absolutely NOWHERE. And I guess I'm at a time in my life where I'm happy to spend money to get a classy, fully functional product which gives a nice experience and saves me time. To be fair, though, there are a couple of features which I would hope FG incorprates such as webcam functionality, but... here's my tip: Start a game in Roll20 and have everyone log into their webcams, and then do nothing else. Open up FG and size up your window so that Roll20 shows beneath your window (the webcams take up about 200 pixels at the bottom and that's all) and just play in FG. Now you get the best of both worlds!Sorry for a review without much details, but this is more of a "if I can do it, anyone can" sort of testimonial :)
 

Hussar

Legend
3 out of 5 rating for Fantasy Grounds

I'm going to be the voice of dissent here after all the back patting over how great this program is. I've been playing D&D and other games over VTT's since 2002. I started with OpenRPG, moved to Maptools, and Roll20. Our group has currently moved to Fantasy Grounds, and, quite honestly, the ONLY reason I would consider recommending this program is because of the WOTC 5e licensing. The VTT itself is a massive disappointment.

Let's walk through the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The Good

The combat tracker in FG is fantastic. It really is the best combat tracker of any VTT. All your information is right there and it's almost entirely fully automated. You can tell at a glance what effects are on a character, how long that effect will last and pretty much everything else. That's just outright excellent.

The Party Tracker is also great. You can stuff all sorts of things into the party tracker, which will also track marching order and watch order and the like, and then distribute those items to the players as needed. Additionally, moving items from one character to another is a simple click and drag. Again, excellent.

And, as I mentioned at the outset, the 5e rules integration is A+. You click and drag a class to your token, and poof, 99% of the work is done for you. Even things like backgrounds and whatnot are a simple click and drag away. Monsters are parsed very well and it's simple to create your own or tweak existing ones. From a DM's side of things, this is the standard to which all VTT's should aspire. Just excellent.

The Bad

There are a number of functions missing from FG that are standard in other VTT's. The ability to easily post in multiple fonts to the chat window is one. The ability to actually resize the landscape hogging chat window so that 1/4 of your play field isn't taken up by the chat window would be another. Yes, I know you can change the font size for the chat window to make it eye-bleedingly small, but, what's wrong with making it dockable, like it is on most other VTT's, so it can be resized to whatever size I want? How about the ability to post using HTML code so I can make color and format changes within a single line? These are basic features that have existed in VTT's for over ten years that FG lacks. The chat function is primitive.

Along with that is the annoyance at not being able to resize, tab or otherwise modify the very ugly GUI. Why can't I have tabable windows? Why do I have all this landscape being taken up by the crap at both sides of the tool, never minding the dice tower and dice rollers at the bottom of the screen that I can't move. I've seen several people talk about how it's better to have two monitors to use FG. That's ridiculous that the GUI is so bad that I need two monitors in order to use it.

The Ugly

And this is very, very ugly.

The mapping tools in this program are awful. Outright the absolute worst tools I've ever seen. The fact that you have to pay for this borders on criminal. Where should I begin?

You cannot draw more than one object per user at a time. What? What if I have two area effects going at the same time? What if I have an area effect and want to draw an arrow as well? Nope, sorry, can't do that. As soon as you draw a second object, the first disappears. Utterly useless. I have a Wall of Fire up and then cast a Fireball. Oops, sorry, poof, there went your wall. Where was it again? Uhh, maybe on this square? Oh, and let's not forget that the point you use to pick up an object is so small, you're essentially pixel bitching every single time you want to move an effect. Casters spend more time moving their map accidentally than actually moving what they want to move.

Oh, and let's not forget that our map only zooms to a certain point and then stops. Hope you can get close enough or zoom far enough out to see what you want to see. No? Well, too bad, now you can use that little arrow tool in the bottom corner of the map and try to shuffle your map to the right place. Oh, wait, did you accidentally click on an open window behind your map and now you can't see your map at all without closing that other window? Oh, that's not annoying at all. Shame you can have tabbed windows like every other VTT on the market.

And draw a map? Good grief, don't make me laugh. I had better, more robust drawing tools in MS Paint for DOS. The drawing tools are an add on joke. Oh, and no object layer, so, if you want to include things like, oh, furniture on your map, get ready for lots of minis being buried under other tokens and starting the mini shuffle to try to find your character minis again. Is he under the table or the chair? Let's find out shall we?

And lastly, the fog of war function. Wow. Again, I used OpenRPG back around 2002 and it was programmed in Python. It had the same functional fog of war that FG has, but it did so darn near fifteen years ago. Compared to Maptools or the dynamic lighting of Roll20? Not even close. This is an abysmal failure.

---------

If I'm actually having to pay for a program, I do not think that it is unreasonable to expect to get at least the same level of functionality that I would get from a free program. The only reason that I give FG 3 stars is because of the integration with 5e D&D. If I wasn't playing 5e D&D, I wouldn't even consider using this program. As it stands, I can barely tolerate using it because of the integration. Here's hoping that the influx of 5e dollars and users is put to good use bringing this dinosaur of a program into at least par with other industry standard programs.
 
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Rhenny

Adventurer
5 out of 5 rating for Fantasy Grounds

I've been using FG for about 1 1/2 years now, and I love it. Yes, it does cost a bit, but it is well worth it if you run or play in games online with any bit of frequency.

The support for 5e is terrific. I love the character sheets that are fully functional, and with a little help from anyone who knows the interface, it is pretty easy to add elements to a character sheet even by hand.

The best features are drag and drop from the content purchased (PHB for example). I even worked with a friend to create our own Monster Manual of NPCs/Monsters that we can use instead of buying the licensed one. It took a long time to type in the data, but slowly and surely, we have over 200 monsters ready to use.

What's really nice is that a group can run it fully automated using targeting and automatic hit miss determination and damage allocation, or a group can do it more manually by dragging to hit rolls and damage rolls onto monster tokens or monsters in the combat tracker to check and apply results without directly targeting. Also, DM and players can drag conditions on to monsters and PCs so that the interface remembers important rules like advantage/disadvantage, etc.The maps, tokens, artwork, and other features that come with purchased material is fantastic and worth the cost as well. It sure beats making everything yourself.

Additionally, I really appreciate how the math is done for players and DM when they roll their bones. This actually speeds up gameplay and keeps the turns moving. I love watching online games like Critical Role (a great series on Geek & Sundry.com) but interestingly what I'm noticing is that when PCs get to higher levels and they have spells that use handfuls of dice, or when they need to roll more dice for critical hits, it can take an individual player 15 seconds or so just to total the damage dice. That's dead time. And in a round with 5 or more players, a number of monsters...it could add up to 2-3 minutes to a round. In a long combat encounter that takes 10 rounds...that's 20-30 minutes of dead time...yikes. FG (and other online table top products) eliminates this lag.

If you play a lot online, and you have a few hundred dollars to spend, this is the best program. If you wait til Christmas time, I bet they'll even have a sale like they did last year where you can save a bundle. I figure spending $200 is worth 10 plus years of gaming online.
 
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dd.stevenson

Super KY
2 out of 5 rating for Fantasy Grounds

I haven't used FG as a DM--maybe it's just wonderful from that perspective. I wouldn't know. HOWEVER, as a player, I found the user interface frustrating and counter-intuitive, and the lack of very basic features such as hover-over tooltips, map pinging and non-standard die rolls are simply embarrassing. Adding and subtracting XP (and other character sheet values) had to be done manually. As a player I couldn't log in and edit my character without the DM firing up the server first, which was a huge pain. On the positive side, the program was pretty stable--I can only recall one crash throughout our weekly six-month campaign. And the core UI concept of dragging dice to attack is damn cool. So two stars for that.
 
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daveculp

First Post
5 out of 5 rating for Fantasy Grounds

I have tried most of the other virtual table-tops on the market and FG beats them all. FG is a native application, meaning it is more flexible, natural and powerful than a web-based app. IN addition, the numerous rule sets and plugins make it very easy to use. The fact that it knows the rules and is extremely customizable makes it a breeze to use and play and helps insulate you from the fact that you and the other players are not in the same room. The main drawback is that the learning curve can be steep.
 

Vittor Moriann

First Post
5 out of 5 rating for Fantasy Grounds

I've abandoned playing live RPG using real dice real paper and pen. As I grow older I find that it gets harder and harder to find time to play tabletop RPG on a schedule that coincides with my friends' schedule. So I wanted to try and play online, I'm a computer guy so I've started looking for a way to play RPG with ease. I've tried lots of other VTT, most of them try to achieve the objective of bringing to computer the same experience of playing live which is good, hell if you want you can get your friends over a Skype call everyone with their own paper sheet and real dice and play online and have fun with that. But Fantasy Grounds goes beyond that, FG not only let's me play almost the same way I would on real table but it enhances my game to the point that I do prefer playing on FG than playing on real table and I'll explain how.First of all, I'm playing online because I wanted things to go as smoothly as possible and have as little work as possible, I want to focus on game and not on making the game work. As a DM it's a bit troublesome when you have to track down initiatives, monster hitpoints, which player has which equipment. FG makes it easy for you, you can easily search for the monsters you added to it or got into a module you bought. If you have a ready adventure module, for example, with a single click FG puts the monsters on Combat Tracker, roll initiatives for them, put them on their places on the map. When players roll their initiatives it gets automatically updated on the Combat Tracker for you. The system simply works and it's beautiful to see, but it doesn't stop there, it's just the beggining. If you've ever DMed in your entire life this scene has happened to you: Player says: "Ok, so my Fighter attacks this goblin." DM: "Ok, which goblin is it?" Player: "It's goblin number 2." DM: "Ok, roll the dice." *player rolls dice* Player: "I rolled 11" DM (checking the goblin stat and sees it's CA is 14): "Ok, the roll is 11 but what's your weapon proficiency bonus?"Player: "Huh... it's +3, so a 14, right?"DM: "Ok, you hit him!"Another Player: "But doesn't he have -2 because it's dark?"Player: "Yea, I would but I've got night vision cast on me."Another Player: "Oh, ok."How you do that on FG? The player drag his attack into the creature miniature. FG considers all effects (like bonuses, penalties or whatever), and adds to roll + any modifier the player added to the roll and compares to the monster CA. If the roll was successfull then the player does the same with damage. With two very simple action you can do things that in real tabletop might have taken much more time.But let's complicate a bit more, say the attack caused some kind of effect that dealt damage over time and every turn the DM should remember to remove a fixed amount from a player's hit points. Can FG take care of that? Yup. What if I cast bless on my friends, can FG remember that for me and add +1 to their attacks without me or my friends having to remember it? Yup. What if I do all that at once and cast an area spell and some of the targets are vulnerable to it and the others aren't while whoever succeeds on a Reflex saving throw only takes half damage while the others take full damage. Can FG handle that? Yup, it will correctly roll reflexes for everyone, will deal half damage for those who passed the test and full damage on those who didn't and when it applies damage it will calculate correctly any vulnerability or resistance a target might have.Is Fantasy Grounds perfect? By all means no. It's best used with math heavy systems and have something that a software can improve and if the system has an official rulest like D&D or Savage Worlds, for example. It doesn't make much difference if you mean to play systems that are light on rules like FATE or even Numenera. It's initial cost is troublesome to get into it but it's cheaper than paying monthly fees, you pay for it once and that's it.It's an old software that really deserves an overhaul but it's coming on Unity from what I hear, still it's the best VTT you can use to play online today.
 

Thegn

Explorer
4 out of 5 rating for Fantasy Grounds

I have Fantasy Grounds, Roll20 and D20pro at this point and while all good in their own way, I find myself favoring Fantasy Grounds. Roll20 is great for setting up the mechanics of a game, but I find it a little to utilitarian in its design. Roll20 is great for Fog of War utilizing individual tokens as light sources - if this is the MOST important thing for you, then Roll20 might be the way to go. Fantasy Grounds has Fog of War as well, but it uses the standard unmasking method seen in other virtual tables - gets the job done for sure though. My experience with using D20pro was limited at this time, mostly due to its focus on D20 systems and seemingly difficulty in modifying it for 5e DnD and Star Wars (the two systems I was running at the time). Fantasy Grounds has the ability to be modified into virtually any system you want, if you have the time and some basic abilities, although tons of systems already have been modified. The reasons FG attracts me are many, but the top three are: 1. It looks great! Easy to engender moods, and story. Helps facilitate roleplaying. And the interface is updated regularly.2. 5e DnD flows easily during a session, with tons of powers spells and action automated or able to automated.3. Any game system - The combat tracker rocks!This is of course my opinion, and your taste or needs will no doubt differ. I will also say that all three virtual tables are in development for new iterations, so check them all out again in a year or two.The only negative I can proffer about FG is its price for 5eDnD products, a bit steep if you want to buy everything instead of use their PAR5e tool to import modules and books. But this is hard to hold against SmiteWorks as the price is set by Wizards of the Coast.Anyhoo, hope this helps.
 

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