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I have a friend I want to run a campaign for online. I'd like to use a virtual table-top (VTT) to facilitate play, but I can't get anything to run on my PC that runs on their Android phone and vice versa. Is there a way they can slave their phone as a client to a maptool thing I set up, or a Roll20 session in progress, or anything else? How can I achieve the same aim as a VTT (i.e. rapid transmission of spatial details, immersive graphical environment) given our technological limitations?

I'm looking to communicate the sort of information I would usually use a battle map for, at the same rate and level of detail as I accomplish via battle map. I'm not interested in using theatre of the mind in this particular case, on account of the lack of tactical detail that results from that method (the player in question is newer and I want to focus on the mechanics of combat as a game in some rules-heavy grid-based system like D&D 5e or 3.5 or Pathfinder or maybe something else similar for this campaign). I don't necessarily need to be using a map; what I'm trying to do is communicate positional information accurately, precisely, and rapidly, and I'm going to need to update that information each round, as people move and things like napalm and spike growth or whatever are added to the map.

My player is fairly visually-oriented and graphics are, in my estimation, far and away the best way to engage them and to communicate important information like tone and setting and culture. I'm already going to be sharing world map images and drawings of import locations and other things I can use drawings for, but I don't need any specialized software for that because simple images can be sent via our IM chat system without problems. It's the interactivity and rapid mutability of battle maps that demands a specialized solution; I'm not going to redraw the battle map from scratch every turn and then post it to chat, for example.

If you need the details of my computer hardware, you can ask in comments and explain why; I don't normally like to post that sort of thing on the internet. I am using Windows 10 and my friend is using whatever the latest version of the Android OS for smartphone is, updating as updates become available.

The game is a solo campaign for one player with me GMing.

What makes a good/helpful answer?

When providing a solution, please explain how the solution solves the problem, and preferably why that solution is or might be the best solution for my situation; don't just tell me that a product or technique will work.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The comments regarding topicality have been moved to chat (to clean up the comments but archive the discussion). \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 7 '18 at 20:46
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I'm developing an open-source map editor called Mipui that might be useful for this scenario:

  • It's web-based and the edits are live - just open the same URL in your PC and your friend's mobile browser, and any change you make will propagate to your friend in seconds.
  • It has mobile browser support. It's still experimental and incomplete, but if all your friend does is view the map (and not edit it) it should be fine.

Granted, it's a far cry from a full-featured VTT - you'll have to use other solutions for the video/voice/chat functionality, dice rolling, character sheet sharing etc. Also the graphics are certainly on the simple side :-) but if you're fine with symbolic maps, it's probably a good fit.

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I have used Google Hangouts to run online campaigns with five other people in me is the DM. I would use a basic token system where you can manage monsters and stuff on a grid player position in the like and everyone just rolled their own dice and said what they rolled. There is a shared screen option for Google Hangouts that you can show them the map on your screen. The only downside to this is you'll have to do all the moving of the tokens.

The virtual tabletop I used https://sourceforge.net/projects/gametableproj/files/Gametable%202.0/OSU-gt%202.0%20RC9/ It was pretty easy to use, nothing amazing but it got the job done

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you explain what you mean by token system? Does hangouts have a VTT thing in it or are you pointing your camera at a table or what? Hangouts works re:tech problems but I don't see how it lets me communicate map info / show and quickly update a battle map like I want. Pointing a camera at a table could work, I guess, if that's what you mean. I'd want more examples re: your experience, though. Also welcome to the site and thanks for the advice; consider checking out the help center and tour when you've time. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Mar 4 '18 at 0:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ A token system is something like roll20 uses I'm trying to find the abandoned Ware that I used to use when I did it on Google Hangouts. But there is a share screen option so you just share your screen to show everybody the map. It's very basic think of the paint application on Windows. We used colored dots as player characters and black dots as enemies. I'll try to find it and get back to you \$\endgroup\$ – El Bandito Mar 6 '18 at 20:47
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Roll20 works on mobile devices, either by:

  • becoming a paid support as a GM
  • having whoever is using their mobile to "request desktop browser"

However this second method doesn't have official support and as such has a number of limitations:

  • The mobile user can't really interact with the game board due to touch events not working properly
  • For a similar reason the mobile user can't use the in game chat option

If all you're using it for is a board that the GM updates and players can look at and the board aren't too big then it should work okay, when I had a quick check of it it was possible to zoom in and out and to hide the chat options to give more viewing space. This isn't a perfect solution by any means but it's a perfectly workable one for free.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have any reference to your answer? Adding those would make it better. \$\endgroup\$ – JP Chapleau Mar 7 '18 at 19:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you done this? How did it go? What makes this a good solution to the problem? \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Mar 7 '18 at 21:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JPChapleau No references but it's easily checked by going to roll20's site and trying to join a room on your mobile, then trying again after checking the "request desktop mode" box. The question has been updated a bit since I answered, I'll update my answer accordingly \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Mar 8 '18 at 7:55

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