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Games and Settings with the Best Online Gaming Tools

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
It feels that 2020 was the year when TTRPGs finally started having the electronic tools I've been waiting for. It was not so much the tools themselves. VTTs, Wikis, and other tool have provided ways to organize and run your games, if you put the work in yourself. But precious few publishers took advantage of existing tools and technologies.

For me two have really stood out:

1. The Cortex Prime Ruleset

Sure, 5e has D&D Beyond and various VTTs, but Cortex Prime's online rules platform, also created by Fandom, were build from the start for web display, rather than having to fit the print content into the online tool. It is the only rule set I've ever found a real pleasure to read and browse online both from a PC and mobile. I hope it is a success, because I'm looking forward to how they'll continue to develop it.

2. Frog God Game's Lost Lands setting on World Anvil

Frog God Games have made their Lost Lands setting available for subscription on World Anvil and they are working on putting their adventures and content from regional setting books on them. Being able to pan around their massive and detailed world map and click on cities, geographical features, etc. and have articles on the location open in a pleasant to read format is very helpful. You can turn on a layer to show what adventures are available for different areas. Most are not yet entered into world anvil, but even having the map cross-referenced to FGG's deep catalog is helpful. As they continue to add content they are creating the most well-integrated source of world maps, world lore, and adventures that I've every seen.

This makes me curious about what other settings or rule sets are being (re)designed for the modern era. What else should I check out?
 

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MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I'm interested in the answers but I have none of my own. Looking forward to some of the discussion.
Yeah, it is hard to find good examples. Not sure if it is concerns with protecting IP online, lack of in-house technical expertise, or both, but game designers are still working on a print paradigm. At best, some are better with PDF files.

That's why I'm finding Frog God Game's Lost Lands worldbuilding and license to use their content in your own home brew to be so exciting (well, that, and I really like their content). There are downsides however.

First is the cost. You have to have a subscription to World Anvil and then have a subscription on top of that. At least the subscription gives access to content that is continuing to be added onto, but if the posted WA numbers are correct, fewer than 400 people have subscribed.

Second, WA doesn't have great tools for you to take content from a subscribed-to world and add it to yours. You can either: (1) copy the link from an article into your world but then all your players need to also be subscribed to that world in addition to yours. Or, (2) copy the text and recreate the content in your world.

The only tool that came close to doing it right was Realmworks, where you could buy content and edit and share it. You were just blocked from bulk exporting it. But it took so much time and investment for Lone Wolf Development to get their Content Market up and running that shortly after they went live, they stopped development of RealmWorks.

After using Lost Lands in World Anvil, I'm loathe to going back to relying on books in game. I still have the books and PDFs, because (1) the books are nice books that I like to have on a book shelf to browse and (2) I'll still have access to them if FGG finds that they are not making enough money with their WA world subscriptions to justify the continued investment.

Thinking about pricing, a recent Humble Bundle included a year's subscription to FGG's Lost Lands on World Anvil, so they have a means to give you a code for this purpose. Therefore, I think FGG should seriously consider giving a year's subscription with the purchase of some of their more expensive books, or at least highly-discounted subscriptions. It is difficult to price and include with book purchases in this way, however, because, unlike PDFs, the digital content for their Lost Lands world is not tied to just one book. The vision is to put all their adventures and setting books into the world. Giving access to the content of your entire catalog with the purchase of just one book doesn't seem like a great business model, but they need to lower the barriers to entry, especially given that you have to subscribe to World Anvil before you can subscribe to the world.

Fandom seems to have found a good pricing model and World Anvil should work with content creators to come up with something that can draw more people into setting subscriptions. For example, for every X number months of subscription you get a coupon for the FGG store (Frog Bucks is what they call it). FGG has great deals with discount codes, Flash sales, Frog Bucks earned at conventions and from other purchases and Kickstarters to spend at their store. But for someone like me who is not on-line all the time, but who spends a dragon's horde of coin on FGG books and Kickstarters, I sometimes feel a bit left out. Sure, i get discount coupons from my purchases, but nothing like the deals others get on Humble Bundles and Discord flash sales.

It would be great if those of us who pay "full fare" get some perks and one perk that would be very welcome would be months added to my WA Lost Lands World subscription.

As for Cortex, I bought the book and got the code. The book is nice, but I had already read the book online before the physical book arrived at my home. The physical book is very nice, but it is mostly bookshelf eye candy. The online version is so convenient and easy to read and navigate. One code gives me unlimited access, at least for now. There is no subscription. It will be interesting to see what buisness model Fandom builds for Cortext Prime. I'm guessing they will sell new systems and settings that will be added to their online materials. Hopefully they will also build tools for building your own systems from Cortex Prime as well as tools for running various systems built on Cortext Prime, which is something they could charge a subscription to. Since they also own D&D Beyond, perhaps they could offer some discount if you have both.

Anyway, I'm keep hope for more innovation in online presentation, tools, and pricing for TTRPGs.
 

the_redbeard

Explorer
It feels that 2020 was the year when TTRPGs finally started having the electronic tools I've been waiting for. It was not so much the tools themselves. VTTs, Wikis, and other tool have provided ways to organize and run your games, if you put the work in yourself. But precious few publishers took advantage of existing tools and technologies.

For me two have really stood out:

1. The Cortex Prime Ruleset

Sure, 5e has D&D Beyond and various VTTs, but Cortex Prime's online rules platform, also created by Fandom, were build from the start for web display, rather than having to fit the print content into the online tool. It is the only rule set I've ever found a real pleasure to read and browse online both from a PC and mobile. I hope it is a success, because I'm looking forward to how they'll continue to develop it.

2. Frog God Game's Lost Lands setting on World Anvil

Frog God Games have made their Lost Lands setting available for subscription on World Anvil and they are working on putting their adventures and content from regional setting books on them. Being able to pan around their massive and detailed world map and click on cities, geographical features, etc. and have articles on the location open in a pleasant to read format is very helpful. You can turn on a layer to show what adventures are available for different areas. Most are not yet entered into world anvil, but even having the map cross-referenced to FGG's deep catalog is helpful. As they continue to add content they are creating the most well-integrated source of world maps, world lore, and adventures that I've every seen.

This makes me curious about what other settings or rule sets are being (re)designed for the modern era. What else should I check out?

Interesting. Like you, I was a Realmworks fan. Recognize you from their forums.

I wish I liked the Powered by the Apocalypse style of resolution more. Fiction forward yes, plot points, nah. So not Cortex Prime as much as I like your description of their rules platform.

Aand I wish I still liked FGG as much. A few.... personal misgivings on some of their personal aspects. And after grokking the TenFootPole/Bryce style of analyzing the usefulness of pre-written material, I no longer have the patience to read walls of text. That and the huge amount of detail I find hinders improvisation. But damn, that set up in World Anvil sounds sweet.

Have you ever seen how Anne Meyer has Greyhawk in RealmWorks? There's something I would have paid body parts to have from the content market.

Edit to add: Maps in Realm Works - Anna B Meyer
 
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MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Yes, Anne Meyers Greyhawk stuff online and in Realmworks is great. I also really liked Kobold Press's content in both RealmWorks and HeroLab Classic. I'll also say that Kobold Press does a great job making PDFs with maps that are print and VTT ready. The PDF version of the Lairs book that accompanies their Tome of Beasts was such a nice surprise. For Rappan Athuk I bought the hard copy, PDF, and all the JPEG maps. I still feel that I have to fiddle to much to get the maps to line up well with the grids in VTTs.

Also, subtracting from the great quality of the FGG printed books is the poor proof reading and map QC. Well, not "poor", but there are enough oversights and errors that have led me to having to spend time really scratching my head and going to forums to figure out, that it is annoying given the cost of the books. Kobold Press, on the other hand, has impeccable editing. I would say as good as WotC's, at least for the materials I've bought.

But Kobold Press still is designing things for print. FGG is really innovating with with putting its setting online, offering a liberal license for using their content in your own materials, and they have recently launched their own organized play community that support 5e, Pathfinder, and Swords & Wizardry.

I hear your about the "Walls of Text." FGG adventures are information dense. You can't really pick up and play without reading things over. On the other hand, coming from a running a fully self-created world, I wanted to run a campaign where I didn't have to spend so much time preparing for sessions (creating EVERYTHING is time consuming), but also where I had a lot of the details and monster tactics set forth so I didn't have to improvise everything. I would rather have a lot of information and choose not to use it or to alter it.

I like how FGG cities have a standard statblock that gives you the demographics, main high-profile NPCs, government type, development level, how much GP worth of treasure it can support buying from NPCs, etc. I like how every level in Rappan Athuk has a level intro with wandering monster tables, environment description, ceiling hight, default trap and door DCs, etc. I like how many of the encounters given suggested tactics for the monsters.

But most of all, I like how all the setting books and adventures for The Lost Lands are set in a very rich setting, that's evolved over decades, with shelves worth of material, but which is not tied to any popular novel series. As a DM I do not feel constrained by canon and player expectations. I can freely ignore lore as written, but have a wealth of material available if I want it.
 

I wish I liked the Powered by the Apocalypse style of resolution more. Fiction forward yes, plot points, nah. So not Cortex Prime as much as I like your description of their rules platform.
1) Cortex Prime isn't PBTA style resolution. It's best two dice of a pool by ability vs best two dice of an opposition or difficulty pool.
1a) It suggests fiction forward, but it's not actually built into the rules. It works best in fiction forward mode
1b) it is essentially a prettified and revised Cortex Plus Hacker's Guide.
2) It does use plot points, and PBTA usually doesn't. (none of the half-dozen or more flavors I've read do so.) It can be run without them. (It's better with.)
3) the PDF of Cortex Prime is very much laid out for book... but wasn't downloadable when I purchased. Still, I was able to get it downloaded. (Print to PDF functionality built into win10.)
3a) the online portal is useless if, where you game, you don't have access to the net.
3b) The DRM was hacked by others within a week or so of release, and it hit pirate sites; on that score, all of Cam's efforts to see it got DRM'd were literally a waste of time and a disincentive to buy.
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
You know it's funny but I do have a unique set of skills and talents. I am a computer programmer by trade and probably better at it than I am at being a DM and I'm pretty proud of my DMing ability. I think the DMing was earned the hard way and programming just came naturally.

Maybe I will design an online world and charge a subscription one day. I could combine my love of programming and world building. I could have forums for people to discuss the world. Maybe every five years or so I drop a new campaign world but keep the old one. Just keep creating new worlds over time.

What would I provide?
1. Well a detailed world map (perhaps it's a big continent)
2. God's and Goddesses including well detailed Religions.
3. An in game explanation for magic
4. National politics including major NPCs.
5. Details maps and key to the cities of the world. Think Ptolus but world wide.
6. Wandering monster table roll by simply clicking on a hex.
7. If you are looking to find something you could have this automated.
8. A unique but interesting cosmology.
9. Select your system. (D&D Xe, OSR, etc...)
10. A world that could change over time by advancing the calendar. So you could pick the year and the map would change to that year.
11. Maybe over time I'd keep dropping sandbox locations with greater detailed areas. I wouldn't do the adventures I don't think but I might include adventure ideas that DMs could expand upon.
12. Maybe a dungeon placer that takes modules from existing games and places them somewhere in the world with notes on how to modify them to fit the world.

I mean it would be a monumental undertaking to really provide the kind of world I'd want to provide but it would be useful.
 

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