Which Online Virtual Tabletop Do You Use?

Which online virtual tabletop do you use?


  • Total voters
    42
I'm looking for a virtual tabletop for a 5e game for players across a few different states. We would like to also have voice chat (though that can be done through a different service). People will likely be using a variety of devices, not just PCs.

Feel free to explain in the thread your reasoning and to share your experiences.

Thanks!
 

tommybahama

Explorer
We use Roll20 for map and background music and Discord for voice. The dynamic lighting is overrated. Roll20 will work on a tablet like the iPad and I think the Galaxy tab, but not on an iPhone or Android smartphone. The character sheet is pretty good. If you buy the digital books then their content is drag and drop onto the character sheet.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I'm looking for a virtual tabletop for a 5e game for players across a few different states. We would like to also have voice chat (though that can be done through a different service). People will likely be using a variety of devices, not just PCs.

Feel free to explain in the thread your reasoning and to share your experiences.

Thanks!
Neither of the two VTTs you listed work off of a PC or Mac. I'm not aware of a VTT that also works on tablets and phones.
 

Phenomen

Explorer
Foundry VTT. It has every feature of R20 and much more. Some pros:
  • One time purchase (only for GM). No subscription. Players connect through browser.
  • Unlimited resources for maps, tokens, music etc (since everything is hosted on GM's PC).
  • User-created compendiums.
  • Advanced dynamic lightning and walls (one-sided walls, terrain walls, doors and secret doors etc) and performance is miles ahead of R20.
  • Better ruler tools (AoE cones, squares etc).
  • Awesome automation and usability for D&D5 and WFRP4 systems.
  • Animated backgrounds, ambient sounds (play when token enter area), map notes, wildcard tokens, rollable tables with configurable weights and hundreds other QoL features.
  • Ability to import stuff from R20 and Beyond.
  • Open API, tons of mods and active community.
Cons:
  • Less systems (character sheets) at the moment.
 
Last edited:

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Foundry VTT. It has every feature of R20 and much more. Some pros:
  • One time purchase (only for GM). No subscription. Players connect through browser.
  • Unlimited resources for maps, tokens, music etc (since everything is hosted on GM's PC).
  • User-created compendiums.
  • Advanced dynamic lightning and walls (one-sided walls, terrain walls, doors and secret doors etc) and performance is miles ahead of R20.
  • Better ruler tools (AoE cones, squares etc).
  • Awesome automation and usability for D&D5 and WFRP4 systems.
  • Animated backgrounds, ambient sounds (play when token enter area), map notes, wildcard tokens, rollable tables with configurable weights and hundreds other QoL features.
  • Ability to import stuff from R20 and Beyond.
  • Open API, tons of mods and active community.
Cons:
  • Less systems (character sheets) at the moment.
Cool. Thanks, that's on my radar, now. It's not released yet, though, so not immediately useful.
 

ninjayeti

Explorer
I've used both Fantasy Grounds and Roll20 for 150+ hours each. Both work well - neither one is a bad choice, but I prefer FG for a couple of reasons:

1) I like the UI better in FG. For example, navigating the character sheets are easier. FG sheets are small with lots of tabs along the side so it is easy to click to exactly what you need. Roll20 sheets are large and I am often scrolling around to find what I need; spells are on a separate tab but the tab button is on the page itself, so I find myself scrolling to find the tab button for the spell page, then scrolling on the spell page to find what I need.

2) FG has a lot more automation built in. This gives it a bit more of a learning curve, but it is nice once you have a little experience. For example, you could apply a "rage" effect to your barbarian with one click that automatically adds the bonus to damage rolls, applies resistance to incoming damage of the appropriate types, remembers the advantage to Str checks, and expires after 1 min.

3) Roll20 is "freemium" but you will likely end up paying more in the long run for a subscription and the content with Roll20 than with FG.

Whatever VTT you use I'd recommend discord for voice chat.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I'm looking at VTTs again. I'm mainly looking for something that will allow me to throw up a map and character token and clear fog as characters explore the map. I don't have time to prep maps for dynamic lighting so progressive reveal and dynamic lighting don't matter to me.

Roll20 is at the top of my list as it is dead simple to add a map. But I find the reveal features clunky. After using RealmWorks for sharing maps, it is hard to live without paintbrush reveal, especially since I have a touch screen. I can reveal parts of a map by simply smudging away parts of the mask layer with my finger. This is a good send with circular rooms or natural caverns. Using Roll20s polygon tool is slow and annoying to use in game an the results look terrible for rooms or caverns that are not made up of straight edges.

I have not installed Fantasy Grounds yet. I like that I can use FG for in-person games and also like that it offers a freehand mask reveal. That may be what leads me to go with FG, even though I found it difficult to use, with a steep learning curve, when I first looked at it a few years ago.

Astral is beautiful, but has no mask reveal at all, only dynamic lighting and setting up maps for dynamic lighting is very clunky and frustrating.

I just joined the Foundry VTT Patreon and installed the software. It is wonky and doesn't work great with high-resolution displays. I had to change my display setting just to make it usable (important buttons would be off screen and not reachable). Also, I just could not figure out how to add a map and documentation is almost non-existent. I posted for help on the Patreon site but I'll probably cancel my Patreon. If just getting a map into it requires contacting the developer, I'm not very excited about bothering to learn any of its other features.

Map tools has freehand mask reveal. Not as nice as paintbrush reveal but better than polygon reveal. But I find it to be fussy. I'll play around with it some more as it is open source and why pay for Fantasy Grounds if Map Tools will do? Yes, map tools makes adjusting the grid to match that of the map image difficult if you use pre-gridded maps. Well, not difficult, really. Just not as quick and convenient as Roll20, FG, or Astral.
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Sorry to necro this thread (well, it's only been 10 days; maybe I'm throwing a healing potion down its throat).

Wondering - what is the best option for Voice? I saw Discord mentioned a couple of times upthread; but wondering about Google Hangouts; or any other tools? What about webcams, do people usually see each other's webcams?

I guess I should try some of these guys out. Looks like R20 or FG is the default. For someone who's never used any sort of VTT, what's the consensus best tool with good documentation or strong community?
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Sorry to necro this thread (well, it's only been 10 days; maybe I'm throwing a healing potion down its throat).

Wondering - what is the best option for Voice? I saw Discord mentioned a couple of times upthread; but wondering about Google Hangouts; or any other tools? What about webcams, do people usually see each other's webcams?

I guess I should try some of these guys out. Looks like R20 or FG is the default. For someone who's never used any sort of VTT, what's the consensus best tool with good documentation or strong community?
Roll20 or FG. Or one of the others. There's no consensus. Roll20 and FG are the clear leaders, and both have large user bases. Depends on who you ask if those communities are helpful -- I've found Roll20's to be pretty good but I know posters here who say they've had bad experiences. You can poke both communities via their official forums and see if you have a preference. Roll20 has a free version, and it's pretty good, but if you're going to be running games and want automation and dynamic lighting and more storage space for all the pretty pictures you'll need to get a sub. I haven't looked at FG lately, but I think they also have a sub version for a low cost, low risk look at what FG offers. FG has more automation than Roll20, but has a higher learning curve because of it. Both have good 'learn the program' videos out by fans.

Or you could go with one of the smaller VTTs. I haven't looked lately, so I can't say much about them. I'm pretty tied into the Roll20 economy now with map assets, and while I can export my purchases, it's a manual process that another VTT is gonna need to wow me to get me to switch -- or Roll20 needs to poop it's pants.
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
How exactly does Roll20 make money? They are really pushing their free trial; but I don't like to sign up for even a trial until I understand how much the real product will cost.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
How exactly does Roll20 make money? They are really pushing their free trial; but I don't like to sign up for even a trial until I understand how much the real product will cost.
Subscription model for advanced features and larger storage cap. Two paid tiers. I pay $10/mo for a Pro sub and no one else in my group pays.

Alternatively, the have a market for game assets and published works which they take a percentage on. You don't ever have to buy a thing, you can import, but their trick is that marketplace purchases don't count against your storage cap and they make it simple to buy and then immediately use.

Can't say how anyone else does it -- as I said, I'm pretty deep into the Roll20 economy, so I'd need a good reason other than "maybe a little better" to switch.
 

cmad1977

Adventurer
Subscription model for advanced features and larger storage cap. Two paid tiers. I pay $10/mo for a Pro sub and no one else in my group pays.

Alternatively, the have a market for game assets and published works which they take a percentage on. You don't ever have to buy a thing, you can import, but their trick is that marketplace purchases don't count against your storage cap and they make it simple to buy and then immediately use.

Can't say how anyone else does it -- as I said, I'm pretty deep into the Roll20 economy, so I'd need a good reason other than "maybe a little better" to switch.
I’m in the same boat.
I pay 10/month and my players(6+) don’t pay a dime and it all seems to work out great.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
@Eyes of Nine - since my last past I've put even more time into testing different VTTs, adding Fantasy Grounds and The Forge to those I've been testing. I've downloaded d20Pro but haven't tested it yet.

To keep it short, I don't know what your particular needs and preferences are but my conclusion is that there are good reasons Fantasy Grounds and Roll20 lead the pack. Unless you are technically oriented and like messing around with betas, I would avoid Astral and The Forge until they are more fully baked.

Based on my experiences as both a player and DM, when recommending VTTs, I generally recommend one of the three, based on your needs, with some follow-up thoughts about VoIP/Video Conferencing:

1. Roll20

Probably the easiest to get started with. If you play major systems, especially 5e, you can can buy adventures and rulesets all configured and ready to play, which is a HUGE time saver and helps with the learning curve. It also has an excellent system for DMs to advertise games and players to find them. It has voice built in, but many groups use a third-party tool like Discord or Hangouts for voice.

If you are mostly looking to run games online, Roll20 is by far the easiest VTT to get up and running with.

2. Fantasy Grounds

If you have more patience with learn curves and don't mind a bit more effort, Fantasy Grounds offers a powerful set of tools with an amazing community. You can buy all the 5e stuff and material from other publishers and other systems all prepped and ready to play.

Also, it is a great solution if you want to use a VTT for in-person play. E.g., if you have a digital battlemap (i.e. horizontal TV or other display). Almost all DMs I see using a VTT for in-person games are using Fantasy Grounds.

But if you primarily plan to use it for online games, the big downside is that all your players must download and install the software. Also, it is more work to configure it and your PC firewall rules to serve games.

3. Map Tools

This is the best free options. It has many features of the commercial tools, but you have to do all the work yourself in configuring rules, etc. Also, like Fantasy Grounds you're players will need to install it and you'll need to be comfortable configuring it as a DM to serve games.

A NOTE ABOUT VOIP/WEB-METTINGS

I've not had issues with Roll20s voice features, but I don't have a lot of experience with it because nearly every DM running games in Roll20 whose games I've joined uses Discord.

Personally, I'm not a fan of Discord. I find the interface ugly and confusing and I've had a lot of issues with voice quality using discord.

For games I run, I use Google Meet. I've found it to be the most solid web-meeting platform no matter what region of the world I'm in (having used it in the United States, East Asia, India, and the Middle East). Few companies have the data-center footprint and resources of Google. Same thing with Hangouts, which is basically the free version of Meet. One advantage of Hangouts is that it has dice-rolling built into its chat.

Microsoft Teams and Skype are also excellent but I only have that through work, so I don't use for gaming.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
@Eyes of Nine - since my last past I've put even more time into testing different VTTs, adding Fantasy Grounds and The Forge to those I've been testing. I've downloaded d20Pro but haven't tested it yet.

To keep it short, I don't know what your particular needs and preferences are but my conclusion is that there are good reasons Fantasy Grounds and Roll20 lead the pack. Unless you are technically oriented and like messing around with betas, I would avoid Astral and The Forge until they are more fully baked.

Based on my experiences as both a player and DM, when recommending VTTs, I generally recommend one of the three, based on your needs, with some follow-up thoughts about VoIP/Video Conferencing:

1. Roll20

Probably the easiest to get started with. If you play major systems, especially 5e, you can can buy adventures and rulesets all configured and ready to play, which is a HUGE time saver and helps with the learning curve. It also has an excellent system for DMs to advertise games and players to find them. It has voice built in, but many groups use a third-party tool like Discord or Hangouts for voice.

If you are mostly looking to run games online, Roll20 is by far the easiest VTT to get up and running with.

2. Fantasy Grounds

If you have more patience with learn curves and don't mind a bit more effort, Fantasy Grounds offers a powerful set of tools with an amazing community. You can buy all the 5e stuff and material from other publishers and other systems all prepped and ready to play.

Also, it is a great solution if you want to use a VTT for in-person play. E.g., if you have a digital battlemap (i.e. horizontal TV or other display). Almost all DMs I see using a VTT for in-person games are using Fantasy Grounds.

But if you primarily plan to use it for online games, the big downside is that all your players must download and install the software. Also, it is more work to configure it and your PC firewall rules to serve games.

3. Map Tools

This is the best free options. It has many features of the commercial tools, but you have to do all the work yourself in configuring rules, etc. Also, like Fantasy Grounds you're players will need to install it and you'll need to be comfortable configuring it as a DM to serve games.

A NOTE ABOUT VOIP/WEB-METTINGS

I've not had issues with Roll20s voice features, but I don't have a lot of experience with it because nearly every DM running games in Roll20 whose games I've joined uses Discord.

Personally, I'm not a fan of Discord. I find the interface ugly and confusing and I've had a lot of issues with voice quality using discord.

For games I run, I use Google Meet. I've found it to be the most solid web-meeting platform no matter what region of the world I'm in (having used it in the United States, East Asia, India, and the Middle East). Few companies have the data-center footprint and resources of Google. Same thing with Hangouts, which is basically the free version of Meet. One advantage of Hangouts is that it has dice-rolling built into its chat.

Microsoft Teams and Skype are also excellent but I only have that through work, so I don't use for gaming.
We use Teamspeak, but that because some friends are huge into the CoD and Battlefield games and don't mind a weekly use of their guild TS server.
 
Both Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds have advantages and disadvantages.

Fantasy Grounds appears to be the overall better system, with really cool features... but you can't play for free. Everyone has to have a certain level of access, or the DM has to have a the mega level, which allows players to join for free in their game. I got a chance to check out a trial version, and another issue is that the tabletop normally took longer to load between maps because of how many features it has (my laptop is quite old).

Roll20's biggest feature is that you can play for free, but the downside is that if you want the better access (giving a few cooler features), you have to pay a monthly fee, rather than having the option of a one time payment that FG has. When playing for free, you have to wait about 20-30 seconds to open the initial game (as it runs an add for the paid version), but moving between pages doesn't have a delay. None of the cooler features from the paid version are necessary to play the game, and the free version works great. I've been using it for about 7 years now with no regret.

As for voice, we use Skype normally. We tried Discord, but for some reason several of us had issues with connection quality. We never tried the in-game voice option for Roll20, because one of our group said that it tended to lag the game.
 

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