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Virtual Game Table Suggestions?


First, some background: I've got 2 friends who live several hundred miles away from me. One in Kansas (named John), the other in Texas (named Mark). I live in Pennsylvania. They each want a D&D game. I've DM'd for Mark in person in the past before he moved to TX. John and I have known each other for years through a message board and I've run message board-based games for him in the past. They each approached me separately about my interest in possibly running an online game.

At first, I was reluctant. I already run a regular monthly game of 4e, a monthly game of d20 Modern, and I occasionally jump in with my weekly group and run 4e Dark Sun for them while the other DMs take a break. On top of that, I've been known to run a table for RPGA events at one of my FLGS every now and again.

When the 4e Virtual Game Table was announced by WotC, I saw this as my solution. It's 4e, which I run/play in constantly, it will integrate with the CB and MB, it incorporates voice chat, and I can easily produce maps for the game. I decided I'd do it - I'd run an online game, but it would strictly be a dungeon crawl-style game. I could randomly generate my dungeons, populate it with monsters using a generator, and I wouldn't have to worry about things like plot. I explained all this to my two long-distance players, and got my wife and brother (a lapsed D&D'er) on board with it. We were just waiting for Wizards to release the VT (which I've been in the beta for months for).

We're still waiting.

Mark and John are getting antsy. I can't blame them. If I were in their positions, I'd want to play, too. My question to all of you is this: What virtual table would you suggest to someone who wants to run 4e, has to do it on the cheap, and will be educating players both in 4e AND in using a virtual game table. Assuming the price structure is reasonable, I would likely still move over to WotC's table when it's released openly, but I'd like to weigh my options for right now. I've been holding John and Mark off for awhile now.

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MapTool should be cheap enough....it's free!

I just started using it back in March and it's awesome. It has ongoing support on their forums and they are constantly adding to it. Out of all the programs I looked into, I liked MapTool the most and being free only makes it better. I'll be using it for an online game. We'll be using Skype to do the webcam thing.


I would definitely take a good look at MapTool. It is free, open source and runs on a myriad of platforms. It is java based, so it will require a reasonable amount of RAM.

Be sure to make use of the Video Tutorials it helps speed up the learning curve greatly.


Here's another vote for MapTool. I've taught one person with zero RPG experience to play solely through MapTool (and he was on a different continent) with no problem. It's fantastic.

And if you want low-prep for a low-level group game, I just posted the MapTool file I created for Reavers of Harkenwold (the adventure from the DM Kit) over on my blog. I have a bunch of maps on various posts there, too, as well as tips for writing macros, example monsters, etc.

You can also use pre-packaged "frameworks" for MapTool if you'd like to make things fancier; I've heard good things about Rumble's framework, for instance.

As you can guess from my EN World handle and my blog, this is something I'm kind of into. :) Feel free to reach out if you have any questions - onlinedungeonmaster on gmail.


Thanks all. I'll give MapTool a more in-depth look-see than I've done in the past. I've downloaded it in the past and given it a cursory "What's this virtual table stuff all about?" kind of look. I'll check it out more seriously.



Thanks all. I'll give MapTool a more in-depth look-see than I've done in the past. I've downloaded it in the past and given it a cursory "What's this virtual table stuff all about?" kind of look. I'll check it out more seriously.

I'll second what Ironwolf said - be sure to look over the tutorials. They will get you going in the right direction. Once you have some basics down, you are set to roll.

The one thing that is not easily layed out is that host (server) needs an opening in the firewall for when players connect. I know how to do it, but I cannot say I can explain it. I believe Fantasy Grounds II is the say way. iTabletop does not have this requirement as it is all cloud.

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