VTT/GM Software Summer 2022 Edition

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CRKrueger

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Well, the title says it all, what VTT are you using, what features do you love or hate? In addition to VTT's, let's talk about other GM software. As people put links, I'll add them to the OP (until I can't edit anymore).

Currently, I'm gaming face to face, so no VTT.
Word, Excel, & One Note are my current document formats, synced from computer to DropBox, backups on a NAS box. (I had a horrendous syncing problem with OneDrive and OneNote in 2013, lost some data).

Mapping software is Campaign Cartographer 3 and Hexographer (now Worldographer).
Graphics program is GIMP.
 

Bunch

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VTT is Fantasy Grounds.
Voice/video is Discord.
 

PolarBlues

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For those GMs more used to theatre of the mind, with perhaps the just odd, hastily scribbled diagram during play, you might find Google Jamboard useful. It is a simple, versatile, low-tech option.

Also, I find on occasion the "presenting" or "share screen" mode can be handy especially when some player join by phone and are more restricted in how they interact with the screen.
 

The Convenient Skill

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I prefer paint.net to GIMP, I find it much easier to use and no less powerful for what I want.

I find the availability of the GDocs suite to suit me better (I'm just on my phone more during my down time). Plus I'm not really formatting anything on it, I switch to Word for that for ease of use.
 

Arcane_Avatar

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For GMing VTT is Foundry running on Forge, using LiveKit AV. Alternatively I play some games on Roll20 with Discord for AV. Also some using just Discord all depending upon who is GMing what game.
 

JAMUMU

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I only play face-to-face, though I've run short games over Roll20 and Discord before.

Wonderdraft for maps (if I can use WD and get decent results, anyone can) and OpenOffice for note-taking and formatting write-ups and handouts.

I'll need to look into a paint program, as I've had a need for one recently. It would need to be suuuuuper easy to use though.
 

PolarBlues

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I only play face-to-face, though I've run short games over Roll20 and Discord before.

Wonderdraft for maps (if I can use WD and get decent results, anyone can) and OpenOffice for note-taking and formatting write-ups and handouts.

I'll need to look into a paint program, as I've had a need for one recently. It would need to be suuuuuper easy to use though.

For a good, free paint program I would suggest SketchBook. It used to be a commercial application called Autodesk Sketchbook.

Also, I recently made the jump from OpenOffice to OfficeLibre as the former was crashing frequently. I was reluctant at first, trusting the Apache name of former, but the performance and stability improvement is very noticeable with LibreOffice.
 

sharps54

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I play on Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, and am joining a Foundry game. I have GMed using Roll20 with the bells and whistles (Zoom or discord for video/audio) but prefer to just run games using Zoom, paper or shared digital character sheets, and real dice rolled at home. Zoom let’s me share audio, it has a white board if needed, and it is stable.

I find top down battle maps and tokens and trackers on VTTs put people in board game mode and they end up fiddling with those things instead of listening plus we always waste time with tech issues.

Even when I ran Cyberpunk 2020 last year we used theater of the mind and it worked fine. That said Zoom let’s me throw up a floor plan and we can all mark positions on it if needed.

edit to add I also use GIMP to modify floor plans or whatever that I find on the web when needed. I do not do a good job with game notes, they are either in my physical DM journal (which I prefer to use to run games out of) or on assorted Word docs.
 
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Apparition

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Everyone I know has moved over to using Foundry, including the couple of games that I am in. We use Discord simultaneously for voice, no video.

Paint.NET for image editing, and Standard Notes for note-taking, backed up to the cloud.
 
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chuckdee

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Foundry with Discord for voice, no video.

Other software (if it includes website software) Paint.Net, Affinity Publisher/Photo/Designer, WorldAnvil, PmWiki, CC3+, Hex Kit, Tablemaster
 

EmperorNorton

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I prefer Foundry overall, but sometimes it just depends on what VTT has the best support for the system I want to run. For voice chat we always just use Discord.
 

Tommy Brownell

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I use Roll20 for VTT. We know it, most of the games I want to use are there, and my players can run it on any device they own.

We use Facebook calls for audio and don't use video.

I use TokenTool and whatever art I can swipe for in-game tokens, and LegendKeeper for a running wiki/timeline of my campaign (wish I had done this for East Texas University). Built the campaign map in Inkarnate.
 

ffilz

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Roll20 with Discord for audio (we used to use Google Hangouts and then Google Meet for audio/video but then the free became limited to 40 minutes...).

I use Google Docs for campaign notes and house rules and Google Sheets for character sheets.

I have used MS Paint and Gimp for image editing for map use.

My latest trick on Roll20 has been scaling maps and changing the hex sizes to take village or even city neighborhood maps and turn them into battle maps with 1m hexes... I thought about turning the cave map for Dyskund Caverns into a battle map but it's 3 or 4 times the size of the city neighborhood map I did. I think that might strain Roll20's capabilities.
 

PolarBlues

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Reading all these replies got me wondering.

Has VTT encouraged a shift in playstyle from theatre of the mind to using maps, tokens and other visual features?
 

sharps54

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Reading all these replies got me wondering.

Has VTT encouraged a shift in playstyle from theatre of the mind to using maps, tokens and other visual features?
VTTs definitely add a layer of extra work for the DM that I don’t feel is worth the squeeze. That is why I have gone back to theater of the mind. I don’t run prepublished modules in the popular systems and the hours of fiddling it takes just isn’t worth it.

The tokens and maps make the game more into a board game or computer game from my experience and depending on the game that isn’t what I want. I have played with groups that really enjoy that feel, Pathfinder, and that’s fine but I was in a game of The Troubleshooters last night and can’t imagine any benefit of moving tokens around the map in that game.

I think the key is to use the right tool for the job, if your group likes miniatures and battle maps VTTs can give it but if your group likes theater of the mind there is no need to add the complexity.
 

sharps54

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I do think players that have only experienced graphic and feature heavy VTTs may come to expect that experience. I know one player that won’t roll real dice. We did the play test adventure for Boomstick! online the other day and even though everyone else just printed off the pregen or looked at it on their computer and rolled real dice he opened up Roll20 and built the character in there so he could use the online die rolling functions because that is what he was comfortable with. I am not casting shade on this but just saying that some players are becoming very dependent on VTTs.
 

ffilz

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I’ve been a miniatures and battle map gamer pretty much from the start and never stopped unless using game systems that don’t allow for it such as Dogs in the Vinyard of Burning Wheel, though my play by post games have been mostly theater of the mind. And before I went VTT I was starting to take advantage when modules had battle maps.

I don’t run VTT ready modules but I’ve had good luck overlaying the VTT grid over a scan of the module map. But I’ve also done crude sketches using the VTT drawing tools (which are more crude than what I used to do on my Chessex Megamat).
 

EmperorNorton

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VTTs definitely add a layer of extra work for the DM that I don’t feel is worth the squeeze. That is why I have gone back to theater of the mind. I don’t run prepublished modules in the popular systems and the hours of fiddling it takes just isn’t worth it.

The tokens and maps make the game more into a board game or computer game from my experience and depending on the game that isn’t what I want. I have played with groups that really enjoy that feel, Pathfinder, and that’s fine but I was in a game of The Troubleshooters last night and can’t imagine any benefit of moving tokens around the map in that game.

I think the key is to use the right tool for the job, if your group likes miniatures and battle maps VTTs can give it but if your group likes theater of the mind there is no need to add the complexity.
Using a VTT doesnt mean you have to use the maps? I just throw like, the world map or something on the background if I'm playing a game that is more theater of the mind. The advantage of VTT to me is being able to easily access shared character sheets, automation of online dice rolling (being able to say "roll a perception check" and all the player has to do is click the perception box on their character sheet is nice), and easy tracking of things like initiative or hit points/spell slots/whatever resources a game has.
 

sharps54

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Using a VTT doesnt mean you have to use the maps? I just throw like, the world map or something on the background if I'm playing a game that is more theater of the mind. The advantage of VTT to me is being able to easily access shared character sheets, automation of online dice rolling (being able to say "roll a perception check" and all the player has to do is click the perception box on their character sheet is nice), and easy tracking of things like initiative or hit points/spell slots/whatever resources a game has.
Good point, I didn’t express myself well. You can definitely use VTT without the battle maps and tokens. I was trying to say use as much as you need to. For some that would be just conference software, others add screen sharing and/or a whiteboard, others will add character sheets & die rollers, others tokens and battle maps and still others fog of war and dynamic lighting. Use as much as your group needs to play the game you want but I would urge you not to feel the need to include elements you don’t need that could potentially distract from the game.
 

Bunch

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Battlemaps become less necessary if the system doesn't use tactical features much. AD&D had limited tactical rules. In Fantasy Grounds I could have a single token represent the party and just use the VTT to keep track of things like spell lengths, attack modifiers and table lookups.
 

sharps54

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Exactly, just use what you need.

My problem with Fantasy Ground is that I’m working off a MacBook Air so the inability to “pop” windows out as separate tabs like I can in Roll20 means I have a super cluttered screen. Add the fact I’m using the touchpad which makes just scrolling on the map a pain in the fourth point of contact and you can imagine why I prefer Zoom, paper character sheets and rolling at home. Of course that isn’t a FG problem it’s a problem of me using the wrong equipment to interact with the program but I’m not buying new computer equipment for a single game.
 

Bunch

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Exactly, just use what you need.

My problem with Fantasy Ground is that I’m working off a MacBook Air so the inability to “pop” windows out as separate tabs like I can in Roll20 means I have a super cluttered screen. Add the fact I’m using the touchpad which makes just scrolling on the map a pain in the fourth point of contact and you can imagine why I prefer Zoom, paper character sheets and rolling at home. Of course that isn’t a FG problem it’s a problem of me using the wrong equipment to interact with the program but I’m not buying new computer equipment for a single game.
At that point I would say it is a bit of a fantasy grounds problem. It should try to work with the OS.
 

sharps54

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It works with the OS, it is more that it isn’t friendly to small screens and touchpads, I expect someone using Windows would have the same issues.
 

Bunch

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It works with the OS, it is more that it isn’t friendly to small screens and touchpads, I expect someone using Windows would have the same issues.
Well that's true. FG is really better setup to work on large monitors. I have 2x34" and one 27" that I use when I run a FG game as GM
 

Tommy Brownell

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Reading all these replies got me wondering.

Has VTT encouraged a shift in playstyle from theatre of the mind to using maps, tokens and other visual features?
In my case, no, it just made it a lot easier. I have one player who just has a really hard time wrapping his head around TotM, so I have to use at least rudimentary maps/tokens/approximate placement or he has too hard of a time following it.
 

Malakor

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I have too many dogs in my house, and too many interruptions from the wife coming in the room for VTT or Voice.
I used Photoshop or Illustrator for making maps and do my game notes in Google Docs, dropping it into an InDesign Document if I need something pretty to print out for my players.
 

Tommy Brownell

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I have too many dogs in my house, and too many interruptions from the wife coming in the room for VTT or Voice.
I used Photoshop or Illustrator for making maps and do my game notes in Google Docs, dropping it into an InDesign Document if I need something pretty to print out for my players.
The sheer amount of distractions from kids is why my group is just my real life group, and we keep that circle small.
 

Bunch

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The sheer amount of distractions from kids is why my group is just my real life group, and we keep that circle small.
Conversely that is why I do virtual mostly these days. Kids need just enough attention going out is a pain but just little enough that I can game for 3 hours and only have to run around the house helping a few times.
 

Lundgren

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I'm using Foundry VTT and Discord (video and voice) for both of the games I'm currently running (Star Wars FFG and Traveller).

I'm using Foundry for the character sheets, virtual dice, and presenting a floor-plan for the characters' ship, a galaxy map in the SW game, and a few sectors in Traveller. I'm a Theater of the Mind type of GM, so most of the bells and whistles don't interest me.

In my Traveller game I'm not using psionics, but using a charisma-stat instead of Psi, and SW FFG uses special dice. Both, as I understand it, would require the $10/month tier on Roll20. And there's quite a few other things I like more when it comes to Foundry.

Most of my gaming notes are just in Notepad documents.
 

Tommy Brownell

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Conversely that is why I do virtual mostly these days. Kids need just enough attention going out is a pain but just little enough that I can game for 3 hours and only have to run around the house helping a few times.
By not gaming outside our circle, we don’t have to worry about frustrating anyone when one of us has to step away to deal with a kid issue, or when kids are just being loud.

Gaming in person actually works very well for us because of the kids playing together, but removing drive times from our games has made gaming on Sundays an option as no one has a long drive home before work/school the next day.
 

Apparition

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I want to start a new campaign using a VTT, but I'm not sure which. I just got a year subscription to Roll20 for free with the shutdown of Astral, but I wasn't too happy with Roll20 the last time I used it, (about two years ago). Foundry is a bit too fiddly. May give Let's Role a try.
 
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