How many VTT users here?

Jd Smith1

Explorer
I've been using MapTools for five or six years now. Everyone at my table uses a laptop, so it works wonderfully. It has really added a tremendous layer of interest to our combats.

Lately I've been looking at Roll20, but it seems very prep-intensive if you are using maps you hadn't bought from Roll20. Since MapTools is free and pretty well supported, I'm only going to change if I can find a really good system.
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
There's some prep involved, like uploading assets you're going to use, but that's largely a one time thing and since you can upload batches of assets at a time it's really not that bad (start the upload and go make yourself a sandwich or whatever). You do have to pregenerate the maps, but I assume you're doing that with MapTools already (unless you're drawing them on the fly?). Roll20 allows you to cover parts of the map that are unexplored and reveal them as you go.

The learning curve for Roll20 is fairly shallow. It's a good VTT, though it's been almost a year since I've used it so I can't speak to any recent features, if any. That said, if MapTools is doing a good job for your needs I can't say I really recommend switching, unless there's something you want from Roll20 that MapTools can't provide.
 

uzirath

Adventurer
I have experimented with Fantasy Grounds and MapTools. I played one test game this past summer using MapTools with remote players. It was good in some ways, but I would need more practice as a GM. I felt like we were all spending so much time figuring out the interface that we weren't as immersed in the actual game.

It also felt like it required more prep work than I usually do for a game. Typically, I spend most of my time thinking about the scenario—NPCs, scenes, possible conflicts, etc. I don't typically need high quality maps. I might just have a rough sketch or nothing at all. Anything that is needed at the table gets created on the spot, drawn onto the battlemat. With VTT, it seems like a lot of map prep is required ahead of time. And, if the PCs take an unexpected turn, you don't have an easy way to sketch something freehand.

My remote group and I have been considering other options. Tabletop Simulator is intriguing. We're even considering just using video chat. That would work great for the roleplaying scenes, but I'm not sure how to manage tactical combat. Though we could just go theater of the mind and call it a day.

I have not considered VTT for my face-to-face groups.
 

Jd Smith1

Explorer
I have experimented with Fantasy Grounds and MapTools. I played one test game this past summer using MapTools with remote players. It was good in some ways, but I would need more practice as a GM. I felt like we were all spending so much time figuring out the interface that we weren't as immersed in the actual game.

It also felt like it required more prep work than I usually do for a game. Typically, I spend most of my time thinking about the scenario—NPCs, scenes, possible conflicts, etc. I don't typically need high quality maps. I might just have a rough sketch or nothing at all. Anything that is needed at the table gets created on the spot, drawn onto the battlemat. With VTT, it seems like a lot of map prep is required ahead of time. And, if the PCs take an unexpected turn, you don't have an easy way to sketch something freehand.

My remote group and I have been considering other options. Tabletop Simulator is intriguing. We're even considering just using video chat. That would work great for the roleplaying scenes, but I'm not sure how to manage tactical combat. Though we could just go theater of the mind and call it a day.

I have not considered VTT for my face-to-face groups.
It is amazing at the table. MapTools requires little prep time. I download maps off the Net, there are thousands on DeviantArt alone, all free from their creators. Loading a map is a couple mouse clicks, adjust the scale, and then populate it with pogs; I recently set up three maps from the Storm King's Thunder in about an hour. You don't have to worry where the party is going, because everywhere they can go is already present and populated. You don't have to stop the game to draw, or waste time explaining what something looks like; they can actually see what their PCs see, so all you have to do is make the NPCs/monsters appear with the click of a mouse, and add key descriptive filler.

Fireball cast? Drop a fireball image, to scale, on the map. I have pogs for noises, pogs for movement...you can really draw the plapers in.

Last campaign was an occult-ish Old West; my players got caught in a zombie outbreak in a small town. Thanks to Oones, I had not just every room in the town detailed, but the countryside for a considerable distance.

My players love it.

I've done the minis and battle mats and all that sort of thing, but nothing tops VTT. You get far more gaming from your time at the table.
 

Jd Smith1

Explorer
There's some prep involved, like uploading assets you're going to use, but that's largely a one time thing and since you can upload batches of assets at a time it's really not that bad (start the upload and go make yourself a sandwich or whatever). You do have to pregenerate the maps, but I assume you're doing that with MapTools already (unless you're drawing them on the fly?). Roll20 allows you to cover parts of the map that are unexplored and reveal them as you go.

The learning curve for Roll20 is fairly shallow. It's a good VTT, though it's been almost a year since I've used it so I can't speak to any recent features, if any. That said, if MapTools is doing a good job for your needs I can't say I really recommend switching, unless there's something you want from Roll20 that MapTools can't provide.
I use maps I get off the Net or buy. The problem is for the life of me I can't figure out how to load them onto the screen.
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
IIRC there is a slight trick to it that my friend had to show me. I think it's essentially uploading the map, dragging it onto the grid, and dropping it on the background layer. It needs to have a certain image ratio to snap to the grid. You obviously also have to be the GM for the campaign to do so.

I don't remember too clearly, as it's been almost a year since I've used it. You could probably find a YouTube tutorial that demonstrates the how to.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
I use Roll20, and it's fairly prep intensive, because I'm particular about how I like things. Another DM in our group just bought an AP, and found it to be super easy.
 

Doc_Klueless

Doors and Corners
The learning curve for Roll20 is fairly shallow...
It can be, but it's fairly easy to swamp yourself with API script stuff.

Roll20 is kinda like GURPS. Start with the baseline basic base stuff and then add things on slowly until you reach your level of saturation.

(My level of Roll20 experience: I ran several games on Roll20 for about 4 years.)

I thought Roll20 was excellent. But FOR ME, I found the level of automation and the work flow of Fantasy Grounds to be more to my liking. And we could never get the integrated Voice to work anywhere near consistently.
 

Doc_Klueless

Doors and Corners
Lately I've been looking at Roll20, but it seems very prep-intensive if you are using maps you hadn't bought from Roll20.
It can be. But if you're just going the basic route, it's super easy to drag and drop a map, plop on a grid, and cover it all with fog of war that you can gradually expose as the players move along.

When you get to the fancy stuff like dynamic lighting, it can become fairly high prep AND also leaves the free arena (~$5 a month). If you go even fancier with custom character sheets and API scripts to start with heavier automation, you're looking at closer to $10/month.
 

Doc_Klueless

Doors and Corners
I had to watch a few ‘how to’ vids.
Yeah, it's not hard, but it can be tricky. Before I quit Roll20, I had all kinds of things going like a halo that moved from token to token on their turn, character sheets that automated just about everything each class could do, light sources that turned on and off, etc.

And I sometimes have to pause when using my iphone. Youtube is a fantastic aid for all those sorts of things.
 

Jd Smith1

Explorer
It can be. But if you're just going the basic route, it's super easy to drag and drop a map, plop on a grid, and cover it all with fog of war that you can gradually expose as the players move along.

When you get to the fancy stuff like dynamic lighting, it can become fairly high prep AND also leaves the free arena (~$5 a month). If you go even fancier with custom character sheets and API scripts to start with heavier automation, you're looking at closer to $10/month.
I don't do dynamic lighting (too much work) or fog of war. I just set all NPC/Monster pogs to GM view only, and manually make them appear. I use 'night' mode' (where enemy pogs only are visible to players if they are within range of a light source), but in 5e with light cantrips it really is pointless.

You guys have nspired me; I'll hit YouTube and give it another try after the game tonight.
 

cmad1977

Adventurer
I use Roll20, and it's fairly prep intensive, because I'm particular about how I like things. Another DM in our group just bought an AP, and found it to be super easy.
I bought Curse of Strahd on Roll20 and it’s been great having a lot of the map stuff done already. I still wind up having to make my own maps for certain things. But that’s just D&D. The heroes are nt always on the ‘correct’ map when things pop off.
 

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