D&D General Software for a TV table battle map (and more uses)

Azzy

ᚳᚣᚾᛖᚹᚢᛚᚠ
Yeah, I'd suggest using Foundry VTT because it does what you want it to rather well. There is a bit of a learning curve, but if you watch the tutorial videos they get you going fairly quickly.
 

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ezo

Where is that Singe?
I've used Arkenforge, Owlbear Rodeo, Foundry, Maptools, and several others...

Ultimately for what I need, I ended up with just using Powerpoint of all things LOL! 🤷‍♂️
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
When I was running games in person, I had a TV in a case that allowed me place it horizontal on a table with plexiglass protecting the TV screen. I would connect it to me computer. Initially, I used RealmWorks, which is no longer supported by its developers. It was not a VTT, but did have some nice features for displaying a player-facing version of maps with fog of war. It was great for playing in person with minis.

Later I moved to Map Tool. It has a bit of a learning curve, but most of the learning curve is if you want to host the game online or use any of the advanced VTT features. It is create for just throwing up a map with fog of war. I mainly used it for displaying battlemaps with minis, but would also use digital tokens.

Later I needed something that I could use for in person AND online games. I tried many VTTs and met up with some DMs I know from online forums, who lived in my area, who invited me to check out their setups. Fantasy Grounds, at the time, was by far the best tool for people who wanted to run online and in person. But, again at the time--not sure about now--I couldn't host games for FG, either classic or the unity version, when I was overseas in countries with restricted internet.

Roll20 and other online-only hosted VTTs, have several limitations. With most VTTs, you have to run two instances when running games in person. A DM instance and a player facing instance. That's fine with something like Map Tool or Fantasy Grounds where you can run it locally without Internet. But with something like Roll20, you need to have a pretty solid internet connection. If your internet goes down, so does your VTT, and if your internet is up, but you have low bandwidth, you are loading maps in two sessions, requiring more bandwidth than if you were just playing fully online. With in-person play that is usually not a huge issue, because you are unlikely to be using all of the lighting and other effects, but it is still a consideration.

The other issue with hosted VTTs is storage. With Map Tool or Fantasy Grounds running on my computer, the amount of maps and tokens available to me is limited only by my computer's storage. At the time, even Roll20s most expensive plan didn't give me enough storage for all of my Rappan Athuk maps, art, tokens, and other assets. And I found loading new maps or switching among maps was not as fluid with Roll20 as it was with Map Tool or FG. With Map Tool, I could find and pull up a map from among thousands, have it sized, apply fog of war, and find and drop tokens on it in under minute. I've had some DMs show me that they could do the same with Roll20, mainly by having their assets locally and just upload a map they need on the fly, but the workflow never really sat well with me.

I ended up going with Foundry, hosted by The Forge, which has been my sole VTT as a GM for the past 4 years. But it was the online functionality the won me over and kept me with it. I did go with Foundry over Roll20 because I could also run Foundry locally. But I never do. If you are going to run games mostly in person, I would not recommend Foundry. My primary reason for this is that manual fog of war is not well supported. It is not a core functionality of the software. You have to use a community mod for manual fog of war and the mod has been unreliable. There have been significant periods over the past few years where it just didn't work. Now that the League of Extraordinary Developers have taken over its continued development and maintenance, it has been reliable, but manual fog of war just isn't a priority of the developer or the community.

For in person games, I recommend Fantasy Ground, or, if you want to save money, Map Tool. If you don't intend to run games online, I would seriously look at Map Tool since it is free and gives you all the features you need for an in-person digital battlemap.
 

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