Oh! The sale is because they added Tal’dorei and Rime and Candlekeep!
Oh! The sale is because they added Tal’dorei and Rime and Candlekeep!
One update, tokens can be hidden. I might actually try to use this tool.....I ran a session using this last week, so I'd thought I'd give some thoughts.
Let's first note what Maps is not. There's a reason they don't call it a VTT. They only ever refer to it as the "Maps tool." Beyond the certain desire to distinguish it from the 3d VTT, I'd say this is also because in terms of function it doesn't facilitate online play, which I believe is one of the primary functions of a VTT. To be sure, it can be used for online play (we actually used it for that), but looking at its current functionality, and what's on the roadmap, it does not appear that online play is a primary focus. For example, there is no way to know when players have hooked up to the Map. There is no chat function, nor is a chat function even on the roadmap. DDB features (character sheets, Encounter Builder, and Combat Tracker) as they currently stand are essentially tools to facilitate in-person play, and Maps is in that vein.
The connecting tissue of all the DDB tools is the Game Log. For those unfamiliar with the DDB tools, this is just a running log of dice rolls. When you start a campaign in DDB, you send a link to your players, who then join the campaign with their chosen characters. (Alternatively, the DM can create characters, link them to the campaign, and then make them free for players to choose.) When a character is linked to a campaign, dice rolls from their DDB character sheet show up in the Game Log. When a DM creates an encounter in the Encounter Builder, they can link it to a specific campaign. Then when they run the encounter in the Combat Tracker, all monster rolls are output to the Game Log.
How does Maps integrate with this? In order for Maps to be launched, a campaign must be selected. Then two things happen: one is that the tokens of the characters assigned to the campaign can be chosen from among the player tokens menu in Maps. The second thing that happens is that the Game Log for the campaign now shows up on the Maps screen. This is actually a truncated version of the Game Log; the standard version (viewable from character sheets, the campaign launch page, and the Combat Tracker) will show who made the roll, the kind of roll (to-hit, damage, save, etc.) the die-roll result, any bonuses/penalties, and the final result. The Game Log read-out on Maps shows only the character, the kind of roll, and the final result.
The current functionality is as follows: you can select a pre-existing map, or upload one of your own (limit 10 GB storage per user); you have access to tokens for all monsters available in your DDB account, including homebrew; place PC tokens on the map; and a fog of war ability. Let's look at each of these in turn:
Select/upload a map: This is by far it's most useful feature. There are a number of decent basic maps of various terrains that you can choose from. Currently, if you have purchased Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants, Dragons of Stormwreck Isle, Giants of the Star Forge, Keys from the Golden Vault, or Phandelver and Below: The Shattered Obelisk, these maps are also available. However, uploading maps is super easy. For our session, I just downloaded the maps from the Storm Lord's Wrath module I have on DDB, and then uploaded those to the Maps tool. When uploading, you scale the map based on the size of a medium-sized token. I experienced no issues doing this, and was a big plus in my book. Once uploaded, maps can be zoomed in and out, but this relies on a mouse wheel. No mouse wheel, no zooming. Maps can also be moved around the screen by grabbing it with the cursor and using the mouse. Very nice, smooth functionality.
Dropping tokens: When Maps loads up, the DM sees three options in the top-left toolbar: Map Browser (for selecting different maps to view, or for uploading new ones), the Token Browser, and the Fog of War function. The Token Browser also shows up for players, as well. The Token Browser has three tabs: Monsters, Players, and Companions. The Monsters tab has a filter on it, so you can just type the monster you want, and the token will show up. When monsters appear in the menu, you see their token, the monster name, and the monster's size and type. Monsters with official artwork will use that for their token, and if there is no official artwork, then generic silhouettes are shown. If a homebrew monster has artwork attached, that artwork is used for the token.
For the Players tab, if a DDB character sheet has been assigned an avatar, this avatar is used for the token. All PCs assigned to the campaign show up here, whether the player is logged in or not. The Companions tab is surprisingly useful. DDB character sheets have an Extras tab, where you can note familiars, mounts, sidekicks, and other animal companions. If this is set-up in the character sheet, tokens for these companions are available in the Companions tab. Since all the PCs in my campaign have mounts, I found this very useful.
All tokens show up with a nameplate. This nameplate cannot be edited or hidden. If you want to keep the identity of monsters hidden, you basically have to create a generic monster in your homebrew monsters, and use the token from that. Currently, there is no locking of interaction with a token, so all players can grab and move all tokens. This is actually very useful at this point in development, since in lieu of a pointer or pinger, a player can grab the token of the monster they are targetting, and "shake" it to indicate that. Allowing player access to the monster tokens also proved surprisingly useful when on of my players cast Guardian of Faith. I was just thinking of looking for a Large sized token to use as a placeholder when the player plopped a Shield Guardian token onto the map. Perfect size and feel for the situation. Because maps are scaled to the size of a medium-sized token, other-sized tokens appear on the map suitably scaled.
There is no grid inherent to the system, so no Snap to Grid option. This was not problem for me, since I generally prefer tokens to be free of the grid. But this does mean your maps will need to be gridded if you want to ascertain distance. Moving tokens was extremely smooth, with no lag. Tokens cannot be hidden, although that is on the roadmap. If you want to have hidden threats, you have to put the tokens behind the fog, or wait until the necessary moment to drop them on the map.
Fog of War: Very simple functionality. The size of the Fog of War "brush" is the same as a medium-sized token, which is nice when you need to do fine, token-sized work (revealing a 5'x5' hallway, for example), but is cumbersome when hiding or revealing larger portions of the map. A polygon tool for Fog of War is on the planned roadmap.
All in all, our session went very smoothly, and I was happy with how it turned out. (The biggest issue we had was that DDB's dice roller was very slow for one of my players, which is not a Maps issue.) It needs a Draw tool ASAP, and this is indeed the first thing listed on the roadmap. I would not be averse to running further sessions with it as it is, but my players and I are eager to give AboveVTT a try. The player-side functionality of AboveVTT looks more tantalizing to my players right now. The Maps tool is very promising for my needs, but for anyone looking for a lot of integration, bells, and whistles, would probably find many of the other available options more to their taste.
It's likely just a low cost alternative, probably free with your master subscription. As far as features, it's in alpha stage so I wouldn't expect much. Of course that's what the suggestions box is for!
The "any map I've purchased" part is nice, but the "any monster I've purchased as a token" is even more useful.I have fiddled with it for a couple of minutes. It is already almost Owlbear Rodeo levels of functionality, with the bonus that it will allow me to use any map from any WotC product I've purchased on D&D Beyond.
The "any map I've purchased" part is nice, but the "any monster I've purchased as a token" is even more useful.
It also adds tokens for any monster that you've home-brewed.The "any map I've purchased" part is nice, but the "any monster I've purchased as a token" is even more useful.