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Share your evil DM VTT tricks

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
For those of you using running your TTRPGs on a VTT, what VTT-specific tricks do you use to either visually telegraph traps, hidden doors, etc...or...falsely telegraph.

When I started using VTTs, I found sometimes it was difficult to place the walls perfectly, especially on maps not designed for VTT use. Sometimes I mistakenly revealed too much and because of that, whenever I had a wall that seemed to not follow the artwork perfectly, like when it would show a bit of the filler/rock outside of the drawn wall in the artwork, and then not even show the artwork of the edge, players would think I did that on purpose to help hide something hidden (rather than me just being lazy or the VTT no cooperating will me to follow the wall on the artwork well).

Because of this I would start doing this on purpose, just to keep them on their toes, and to help cover when I was, in fact, trying to keep something hidden, such as a secret passage for which the drawn wall was too thin to draw in the VTT wall without revealing the secret passage beyond, or completely obscuring the wall of the passage way.

I've also been having fun with lighting effects and vision settings. Any time things start to look and behave differently, it puts the players on their toes.

Another favorite tool, is teleport effects where when a token is moved to a certain area, it is automatically moved to another area on the map or onto a different map. I use this mostly to make things easier to run. E.g., when a map has a passage that leads from one map to another. It is easier to just have them move their token to the end of map 1 and have the tokens appear on map 2, instead of having to manually re-drop all their tokens on the new map. But it is also great for teleportal mazes and traps.

I don't use music and sound much in my VTT. But Foundry has a cool feature where you can put a sound affect and it is get weaker the further you are away from it and can be muffled or blocked by doors and walls. That can provide a cool situation where the party tries to find the source of a certain sound. I think less is more here. I don't use this a lot, which gives more impact when I do.

Another thing that can be fun is telegraphing that certain monsters or NPCs may be more powerful by using different token border art. This was unintentional at first. I would use one board for PCs and another border for all NPCs/monsters. But Frog God Games has token art for many of their monsters and they use a different border. Many of these were more powerful or at least different than the standard DnD monster-manual monsters. So, now I have a collection of token borders and will occasionally put a different border on certain monsters just to keep the group guessing.

Another token effect I use is a community mod for Foundry that will change the tint of a token to an increasingly dark red as that token takes damage. It is helpful when there are many actors in a combat to not have to constantly having players ask "how damaged does he look?" A cool side effect of this is for monsters that have regenerate or magical healing, players can see the enemy token get less red.

I'd love to read about any other tricks other DMs have used in their games run by VTT.
 

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HippyCraig

Explorer
Tiles is good one to use in your preferred art program make that secret door disappear by repeating the wall pattern over it and drop that tile over the door in the vtt so when they do find it you can hide the tile and see the secret passage. This way they can meta game based on your map. You can do that in reverse to make the secret door a tile that you make visiable when found what ever looks better on a map by map basis
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Tiles is good one to use in your preferred art program make that secret door disappear by repeating the wall pattern over it and drop that tile over the door in the vtt so when they do find it you can hide the tile and see the secret passage. This way they can meta game based on your map. You can do that in reverse to make the secret door a tile that you make visiable when found what ever looks better on a map by map basis
There is a lot more that I could do with tiles. Mainly use them for dungeon dressing. For example, with illusions you could have, say a boulder in front of the secret door and if they interact with boulder remove the boulder tile. Unfortunately, at least with foundry, you can't tie line of sight walls to a tile, you just draw the walls over it, so you have to delete the tile and walls. I'm sure there is a macro or mod that can do it in one click, but I've not taken the time to figure it out.
 

Zio_the_dark

The dark one :)
My evil trick is to just use maptool lol.
I bought a FG licence and Foundry back in time but eventually never use them (well let's say I love to collect things...)

The main downside of maptool is that there's no content sold so you have to find or built something that will fit your needs/rules. But once you get your base framework, building a campaign from it is very fast.
Ah and it can do much more (the exemple of the boulder you can set vbl on tokens for example if you remove the token it removes the vision blocking on it) and has a great community. For my 4th and 5th games I'm just using a slightly tweaked version of takehara's fantastic framework for 5th edition with added utility from the bag of tricks.

Also it's free and with time I've seen many comments that it's not user friendly but really find it so much easier to use than every paid software and eventually providing as many and perhaps more features...except for official content of course 😉

Edit: ah well forget to mention I also use the trick of changing monster borders or picture
 
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MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
My evil trick is to just use maptool lol.
I bought a FG licence and Foundry back in time but eventually never use them (well let's say I love to collect things...)

The main downside of maptool is that there's no content sold so you have to find or built something that will fit your needs/rules. But once you get your base framework, building a campaign from it is very fast.
Ah and it can do much more (the exemple of the boulder you can set vbl on tokens for example if you remove the token it removes the vision blocking on it) and has a great community. For my 4th and 5th games I'm just using a slightly tweaked version of takehara's fantastic framework for 5th edition with added utility from the bag of tricks.

Also it's free and with time I've seen many comments that it's not user friendly but really find it so much easier to use than every paid software and eventually providing as many and perhaps more features...except for official content of course 😉

Edit: ah well forget to mention I also use the trick of changing monster borders or picture
Yeah, I used Map Tool before moving to Foundry. I especially liked it for low-prep games. You can have huge libraries of maps and images and quickly pull up a map, apply a grid and fog of war, drop some tokens and be ready to play in a minute or two using manual fog of war. If you want to prep dynamic lighting, etc., those tools are available. I never used the vbl feature you mention. At the time, I was mostly using it just to throw up a map with a grid and fog of war. I moved to Foundry when I had to run games remotely from an area with poor internet.
 


CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
Roll20 has a feature where you can use tables to build "flippable" tiles. Like, on one side you have a table, and on the other a mimic. You click the tile, click the table macro, and suddenly the table turns into a mimic! Or that rug is actually covering a pit! It's useful for all kinds of dungeon features that might change into something else.

Roll20 also has a Doors feature that you can build on the Dynamic Lighting layer. A player can manipulate the door (if the DM has unlocked it, anyway) to open it and close it, and the dynamic lighting will update accordingly. No more of this "but I didn't say I wanted to actually open the door, sheesh" confusion when the players see something unpleasant and want to retcon it.

There is also a Window feature that blocks movement but not light, so that players can't exploit them to defeat the "update map on drop" feature of Roll20. The Window allows them to see through it, but they can't sneak their tokens through arrow slits, windows, cracks, and other "peekaboo" features of your dungeon.
 

I used MapTool for years, but all my tricks are out of date. I use Roll20 now, and the window and doors feature is amazing. I did institute a rule that you cannot click on a door or window (which will reveal if it is locked) unless your pog is adjacent.

My biggest tool is the GM layer, which I use to hide traps, descriptions, notes, and the like.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I didn't plan it as a nasty trick, but one of the most satisfying experiences with using Roll20 with my remote players involved the use of a window that gave them a partial peek at a monster. It was kind of a nasty looking token and I got a lot of "What the HELL is THAT?!?" over our voice channel. They couldn't see the whole token, just a slice of it with the way the dynamic lighting worked and there was a little freaking out. I don't think that same experience would have worked as well on a tabletop - at least not without a pretty hefty custom mini. Matt Mercer may be able to pull that stuff off with Critical Role resources, but my means are a lot more meager.

I don't think I've had any problems with people exploring a lot through windows and arrow slits by moving their tokens, so I don't think anyone gave me trouble with that. But I have seen it in virtual con games I attended during the lockdown. So I like that Roll20 has now implemented it. I'll be sure to give it a try.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Roll20 has a feature where you can use tables to build "flippable" tiles. Like, on one side you have a table, and on the other a mimic. You click the tile, click the table macro, and suddenly the table turns into a mimic! Or that rug is actually covering a pit! It's useful for all kinds of dungeon features that might change into something else.
That sound very cool. I'm not how to do this, or if this can be done, in Foundry. I'm sure it can be done with macros, but I think you would need a macro for each tile you want to do this with.
 

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