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5E What platform to play 5E Online?

uriel222

First Post
So I'm moving (again), but my friends and I want to keep playing our 5E game online. Can anyone compare and contrast the online options? So far, the official ones I've found are Fantasy Grounds and Roll20. They've made characters in DNDBeyond, and I'd like to play Tales of the Yawning Portal.

Currently, I'm using Tabletop Simulator, but it's inability to do Fog of War well is a bit of a deal-breaker. Fantasy Grounds seems difficult to use (at least in the demo), and I can't figure out how to make characters in Roll20.

Being able to use a built in combat system (i.e. one that handles attacks and spells and things) would be a plus, but I really just need a dice roller and FoW.

Any suggestions?
 

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cmad1977

Hero
Start with Roll20 to get it going Is my recommendation. It's free so that's one less hassle to deal with during moving times.
Fantasy grounds is pretty cool but it took the group I was playing with about 4 sessions before people started getting the hang of it.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

JPicasso

First Post
Another vote for Roll20, although I've not had any experience with other online solutions, other than Discord with some graphics posted now and again. Roll20 is pretty easy and the community is pretty helpful with questions.
 

Kalshane

First Post
So I'm moving (again), but my friends and I want to keep playing our 5E game online. Can anyone compare and contrast the online options? So far, the official ones I've found are Fantasy Grounds and Roll20. They've made characters in DNDBeyond, and I'd like to play Tales of the Yawning Portal.

Currently, I'm using Tabletop Simulator, but it's inability to do Fog of War well is a bit of a deal-breaker. Fantasy Grounds seems difficult to use (at least in the demo), and I can't figure out how to make characters in Roll20.

Being able to use a built in combat system (i.e. one that handles attacks and spells and things) would be a plus, but I really just need a dice roller and FoW.

Any suggestions?
Easiest way to create characters in Roll20 is to choose a character sheet (from the Game Settings page), launch the game and then from the Journal tab (looks kind of like a book or newspaper) right-click and choose "Add Character" from the list. That will create a new character, which you can then customize. Once you figure out what default settings you want to use for all characters, it's best to create a blank sheet with those settings as a template and then make copies of that sheet for all new characters.
 

Hi Uriel222,
I actually just went through this process assessing Roll20 and FG a little bit ago. I ended up choosing Fantasy Grounds and have been pretty happy with it. Here's the thread that I started back then that has some decent information:
http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?514874-Roll20-vs-Fantasy-Grounds.

Here's a decent overview of the two that's in that thread also (although Roll20 does now have access to some of the WoTC stuff, FG has it all for 5E):
On pricing; many comments on prices are misleading. If you want a perpetual license (which I recommend) it is normally $40 , and rather than each person getting a license, only the GM needs an ultimate license, $150, which lets you have as many free/demo licenses as you want. But, you can't hand off the DM roll if you do this. So, you probably don't ever need to spend $200 on just the s/w, though it is possible to have a use case for such. Prices for modules and add on are the same price as if you bought the hard/print versions. So I don't see that be any type of additional cost. i.e. no matter what format or VTT you use, the cost for a module or an add-on like Volo's Guide to Monsters is the same. Plus, I find the FG version so much more capable as a reference source (links, drag and drop, etc).

Now, Roll 20 also is licensed, and has been for some months, but they only have a small set of the WotC content available for purchase. Though that's always changing, and maybe they are releasing more of it now, but last I checked they only had 3 of the products. Also, Roll 20 really isn't free. Not if you want anything close to comparable functions.

There is a comparison chart that is ok if you understand the nuances. Third party chart here: http://battlegroundsgames.com/vtt-comparison-chart/
FG's comparison chart here: http://www.fantasygrounds.com/forums...VTT-Comparison

So, there were 3 reasons I chose FG over all the others when I started in about 18 months ago:
1) The FG community. It's incredibly (by far) the most active and pleasant community on the web I've ever been a part of. I've heard talk from others that the Roll20 community is either great, or if you express a dissenting opinion or mention a competitor your post will be deleted and eventually you will be banned. Don't know if that's true, but have heard it from at least 3 people who say they were banned for things like asking about competitors or complaining about support. Also, FG support is great, and they basically have a money back guarantee. See;http://www.fantasygrounds.com/forums...back-guarantee
2) Official WotC content. At the time, they were the only ones who had it.
3) Architecture. Roll20 is SaaS. FG is local client. If either company goes out of business, what happens to all your data? With FG, It's all on my computer. And with the exception of a license check when a free player tries to connect to an ultimate license, you don't need internet connectivity. With Roll20, you lose it all. Something like this already happened a month or two ago with Roll20. Their jukebox function was done through an API with Syrinscape (?) and Syrinscape pulled the plug on them. If the R20 admins knew it was coming, the users never did. They have since replaced it somehow, but I'm not sure how it compares and what people with sound libraries had to do and if they could even recover their sounds.

Automation and s/w capabilities. Though FG does not have dynamic line of sight (which is a paid function on Roll20), it has a great deal of things that make it really easy to play and to create campaigns. Though I admit the UI has lots of idiosyncrasies, it is very powerful, and I didn't find it too hard to get used to or to learn.

A few technical things; FG has a very active set of user developers (since it's almost all open, written in XML and LUA). Linked sounds (which is basically the same as R20's jukebox) are a function done by a community extension (he actually works contract for FG on occasion, so you know he's trusted) Fog of war is included, but it's a basic masking and unmasking of the images. Their have been technology demos both from FG and the community on a dynamic line of sight, but its not expected in this version of FG. FG has a Unity version that has been in development for a few years. Though the company makes no promises when, and says buy the s/w for what it is now, the FG Unity version is expected sometime in 2017.

Connectivity can be a hassle in a few cases. This is because of the local host architecture and the use of IPv4 protocols. Worse case it requires the use of a vpn (Hamachi or private vpn server, which costs about $15/yr and one of the community developers has a document with step-by-step instruction on how to set one up).


I hope this helps and that you pick the right decision for you and your group. I've been loving FG and am very happy with the decision (as is my group). Good luck in your decision!
 

Do your homework before you decide. Also, figure out what's important to you.

Two comparison charts;
- One from Battlegrounds
- One from Fantasy Grounds

There are also various comparison done by different people, make sure you find recent ones;
- Digital Dungeon Master
- Return of the Dungeon Master
- Game By Night

Now, when I did my evaluation in May 2015 (you can read my reviews and other posts for more comments on this topic), there were three primary factors for me;
1) Official 5E content. At the time FG was the only licensed VTT. Since then Roll20 and d20 Pro have become licensed, but they only have a small subset of the published content. FG has everything and it is always released on the WPN dates.
2) Content/Adventure creation/GM Prep time. FG's is much less than Roll20's. If you are using pre-built content this doesn't matter, if you homebrew it does.
3) Forums. The FG forums are super friendly and nearly troll free. Roll20 forums will ban you for asking about or discuss their competitors.

The other thing to consider is price. People say FG is really expensive, but this is due to misunderstandings. It's not. You can play for as little as $4/month if you want a subscription, or $40 for a one-time license. People comment about Roll20 being free, but if you want any of the things that I wanted, it's not. (Also of interest is the current pricing of Tomb of Annihilation, on Roll20 its $49.95, on FG is $24.95, enough different to pay for 6 months of subscription or half of a one-time license.)

Finally, consider architecture. FG you host. This means it can never be taken away from you. What you buy and create is always on your system, and always available. Roll20 is hosted, so you have to have an internet connection to use it, and if the company has problems or goes out of business, you lose everything.

For me, based on those 5 consideration, FG was the choice for me.
 



Tormyr

Adventurer
I started using Roll20 when I moved from my group in January. The VTT is really good. When creating your PCs and NPCs, you can drag entries from the SRD into the inventory, spellbook, or NPC and have a big part of the content filled in for you. I am a Pro subscriber on Roll20 and have purchased Tomb of Horrors and Storm King's Thunder on that platform as well as run my own custom campaigns.
 


GameOgre

Adventurer
I just started DMing on Roll20 about 2 months ago because I had to in order to play with my group.

The first two weeks was rough I'm not going to lie to you. It took many many hours of watching videos and trying stuff out until I could get a handle on it. During that Time I ran mostly theater of the mind games because my skills were low.

After about two weeks things slowly started working better as I figured out more and more stuff.

Fast forward two months and I prefer roll20 over even our face to face games. We play with video on so you get to hang and socialize like always but with the added features of roll20 to call on and roll20's store bought modules make everything so easy and nice. At least buy the monster manual for all the monsters & tokens.

After about a month(once you have decided to stick with it or not) get a monthly sub account and go pro. The bells and whistles are nice.

I think probably Fantasy Ground is nice as well and right this minute they seem to actually be cheaper. I suspect that soon Roll20 will lower their prices to match and so end up cheaper again but who knows.
 

Kalshane

First Post
Yeah, I'm really hoping that Roll20 gets on the reduced price bandwagon with Fantasy Grounds and D&D Beyond soon. I just can't bring myself to spend $50 on digitial copies of books I already own (even if in reality the time saved versus manually putting everything from them in is probably worth it.)
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
So I'm moving (again), but my friends and I want to keep playing our 5E game online. Can anyone compare and contrast the online options? So far, the official ones I've found are Fantasy Grounds and Roll20. They've made characters in DNDBeyond, and I'd like to play Tales of the Yawning Portal.

Currently, I'm using Tabletop Simulator, but it's inability to do Fog of War well is a bit of a deal-breaker. Fantasy Grounds seems difficult to use (at least in the demo), and I can't figure out how to make characters in Roll20.

Being able to use a built in combat system (i.e. one that handles attacks and spells and things) would be a plus, but I really just need a dice roller and FoW.

Any suggestions?
I'm finding Fantasy Grounds extremely good. The combat tracker works well. You can apply fog of war over a map and then reveal it as players explore.
 

Xaelvaen

Stuck in the 90s
I use Maptools, found at http://www.rptools.net/.

Free, open source, and an amazing community of content creators. You can create your own campaign frameworks, or get them from other users who've already done all the scripting by hand. Obviously, it doesn't have all the content of the pay vtts; you'll have to do a lot of your own work. However, it's also ridiculously powerful with customizable macros, so you can play the game how you want, not how other programmers want you to. Like all things on the internet, you're trading money and time; if you have more time than money, Maptools is the way to go.

Edit: On the note of Fog of War, Maptools has it built in, including the ability to have tokens automatically reveal fog of war based on line of sight.
 

Hello.

I don't believe that Fantasy Grounds is overly difficult to use, at least I didn't find it that way. The DM functions are more complex than the player functions but overall to run a game I do not think it takes much extra effort. Lots of people use Photoshop/GIMP to create their maps and I would say that Photoshop/GIMP are more complex than Fantasy Grounds.

Also if you're playing 5e then Fantasy Grounds has all the modules, in fact they are the only VTT that has everything Wizards has put out for 5e, and then some! They have the Player's Handbook, all the adventures, and I think they have some of the playtest adventures too.

As well, all the official 5e content is nearly half the price that Roll20 sells them for. So the one-time cost of a license for Fantasy Grounds is quickly gone when you factor in all the savings from buying modules. If you know you want all the modules you can save even more and buy them in one big bundle. Doing it this way will also give you a larger discount on new products when they come out.

Happy gaming!
 

I agree with this sentiment. You can use as much or as little automation as you'd like with FG. I was up and running pretty quick but I did watch a couple of YouTube videos to help me along. The complexity comes with how much automation you want to use. I love the fact that a lot of the trivial stuff can be automatized and I found it worth it to me to use those functions. However, if you just run it like you would your table when you are face to face that works perfectly fine too. Like I said before, everyone has different criteria, likes and dislikes. I found that FG hit the mark for me and my group best when I did my comparisons. Any tool that gets more people playing is good either way!
 

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