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I am currently using Fantasy Grounds to play D&D online with friends around the country. I am looking for some alternative software that handles character sheets, maps, die rolls, etc., all in one package without having to run multiple programs at once.

OpenRPG sounded promising but seems to be abandoned now, is buggy, and has a steep learning curve. MapTools and friends are nice, but there's too many individual tools. I'd like a complete, one-program package.

What else is available?

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closed as not constructive by wax eagle, Pat Ludwig Feb 29 '12 at 16:04

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10 Answers

I found Google wave useful for my Don't Rest Your Head games.It might be worth checking out the various wave plugin and tools that exist there if you aren't too worried about Google not supporting wave any more.

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I'd be careful there -- since Wave runs on Google's servers, it'll go away when Google stops supporting it, and they're going to stop supporting it later this year. In theory someone else could provide servers, but it'd be a big task. –  Bryant Aug 19 '10 at 19:50
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With the exception of the dice rolling bots and the playback feature almost all of the Wave supported functionality that would be applicable to a role playing Wave is also available in Google Docs. If your dice needs are simple enough to handle in a spreadsheet you could theoretically play in Google Docs instead of Wave. –  shaneknysh Aug 19 '10 at 20:39
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There is a strong learning curve but Maptools is a good online all in one software suite.

Dice rolling maps and figures. It can even support macros for making area attacks (or area saves) based on what game you are playing.

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Awkwardly, I think he was pretty clear that MapTools weren't going to do it for him. –  SquidLord Aug 19 '10 at 20:30
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Like Matt Maranda mentioned, Maptools is a great utility. A group of friends and I did a campaign where I was remote the entire time and this tool came in really handy. The DM did pretty good setting up the campaign with fog of war and everything to make it easy for determining line of sight, surprise attacks, etc. For vocal communication, we used Skype.

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One of the commercial products available is battlegrounds. While I have never used battlegrounds if you visit the site for the tool they have maintained a very good list of all the tools and projects that are available for use.

I have personally used ScreenMonkey and liked it - but I have not used it in quite some time. Most remote games I run are done through IRC chat with external files and visuals provided through Google Docs, pastebin, or dropbox.

I am currently setting up a game that will be run through the tools at Obsidian Portal along with a live IRC chat channel.

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Just a side note, Battlegrounds 1.7 and below does not work on OSX Lion, developers say they intend to "go native" in 2.0, but don't say when. –  edgerunner Sep 5 '11 at 21:38
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Gametable has been used by my group for years. It's free and runs on Java. It's pretty simple to use although it is not well documented. We started using this when combat got too complicated to do as a narrative.

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I'm going to parrot a bit the above answers in regards to MapTools, but add a bit more to it, since I think the question is slightly incorrect in regards to the app.

First off, MapTool is a part of a larger RPTools suite, but none of the other tools are required. I'd suggest TokenTool at a minimum, since making token graphics is dead simple using it. (Drag image onto TokenTool, zoom in/out, position, select a border, then drag the token from the upper-right onto Maptool and drop it onto the map -- done; no need for saving/loading "in between" steps.)

MapTool itself is very flexible in how much you want to use it for. Just want quick hand-drawn maps and tokens to show position? Very easy to do. (Obviously you are looking for more.) On the other hand, the macro gods that post their works on the forums have made several very nice "framework" packages to handle most of the popular games. Some handle things better than others, but the community rocks when it comes to questions and support. It's one of the few forums I check regularly because of the community there alone.

Lastly, making maps in MapTool is very easy, even if you want to get detailed. Very simple tools allow for a quick learning of how to do things, but even better if you are into dungeons and the like, is Torstan's tile-set. Simply put, they are walls-tiles that snap to the grid and allow making a dungeon map very, very fast. Drop on objects and items for look and feel, and you can have a nice looking map in no time.

I've been running games using MapTool for a long while now and I can't imagine -not- using it. Best price and best support for the price. ;) I've looked at other VTTs, but it is always the cost that gets me; I'm willing to pay for decent software, but I am not willing to force my players to do so just so they can play in my game.

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I haven't yet found a single tool that makes me happy with gaming online. I really did like Wave as it possessed a lot of features that were useful, and also gave me the easy extensibility I was after. None of the other programs FantasyGrounds, MapTools, etc provide a very simple way to extend them. So, most of my games are run on IRC where I can use mIRC to program a bot to handle dice rolls, initiative, or other things that I just want to have on a whim.

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Our group uses Gametable (now OSU-gt). Here are its advantages:

  • It's free, so you don't lose potential players by financial barrier to entry.
  • It's Java, so Mac and Linux users can join your game too.
  • It has good drawing tools, including line, box and circle, with snap-to-grid and multiple colours. Essentially it emulates a whiteboard. Both snap-to-grid and the grid can be disabled if desired, and it supports both square and hex grids.
  • It has colour-erase, so you can draw a spell area or annotation in a different colour and erase it without ruining the map.
  • It's easy to use, unlike MapTools which has a steeper learning curve.
  • It supports hiding and displaying areas, so the DM can keep the map hidden and show parts it as the players progress.
  • It's easy to make minis for, as it uses normal PNG images.
  • You can track a creature's status on the mini, such as hit points, status effects (stunned, prone) and bonuses (buff spells).
  • The map automatically saves between sessions. Minis are automatically shared between clients.

It has a few drawbacks, which we deal with as follows:

  • It doesn't look the best compared to what can be made by something like MapTools. It's less work to make a Gametable map, though, and quicker to edit on-the-fly.
  • There are occasional bugs, such as minor desynch or lag. These usually clear up by restarting the server. Newer versions may fix these issues.
  • The chat window font is quite small (9pt Arial), and you can't change it. Our group uses an IRC window for chat, with an IRC dicebot for dice, and Gametable for the miniatures table only.
  • Gametable doesn't handle character sheets or any D&D-specific rules. It doesn't handle D&D 4E diagonal movement and has no really quick way to add/remove status effects. We just track character sheets separately.
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http://www.rolisteam.org/ seems to be an interesting program. I have not used it yet, but from what I saw it looked rather complete. With the possibility to send pictures and only gradually show maps built in as well. Might be buggy, but I thought it did look promising.

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I gave Infrno a try after chatting with the developer at GenCon. There's a gametable with multi-video chat and die rolling, blogs for characters and campaigns, and some other nice features.

I haven't used it too extensively yet, but it might turn out to be our favorite one-stop-gameblogging-solution if nothing else.

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