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I am running a forum-based RPG and we are using a jpg map, with the hurdle of having to draw on it using Paintbrush and then uploading it to the forum whenever the players want to move characters or troops. I started looking for collaborative drawing web apps or services and found Twiddla, wich is pretty nice, but I would need something to restrict players from viewing other players movements and having the Game Master be able to see everything. I may be asking too much, but may be you can help me with this :P

Also important: I saw what Roll20 is capable of doing, but it is mmuch to sophisticated and complicated. I am looking for something extremely easy to learn and use.

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It's a bit of a hack, but this has proven useful in the past when playing remote sessions:

We used Google shared docs

--> More specifically we used the MS-Word-like text editor. It allows to:

  • Add/overlay images
  • Add simple shapes, and move those around
  • The shapes can be used for very simple 'drawings' (comparable to the simple drawing tool in MS Word)

Benefit:

For 'moves' we had players actually move the image of their character around in the text document. Thus there is very little work involved in moving things around (drag and drop/arrow keys) as compared to a drawing tool. This worked also nicely for moving parts of the environment, e.g. draw bridges or doors opening/closing.

Drawback:

Regretfully there are no selective layers which you can make visible to some players and not to others. But you could have several documents, one for each player and give only that player permissions to view it. Then you could periodically sync the moves from the player-specific documents to some common map/picture viewable by all players.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you tried the "Drawing" type instead of the "Document" type? Anyway, GDocs has a very nice doc-sharing implementation. \$\endgroup\$ – Roflo Jul 6 '15 at 17:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Back in the day the 'drawing' type was still in a raw state and not working properly on all of our browsers, so we ended up mostly using the 'document type. I'm sure that this is fixed by now, and it might well suit the OPs need even better. \$\endgroup\$ – fgysin reinstate Monica Jul 7 '15 at 8:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fgysin nope, it's still utter garbage. Stick with the version embedded in docs; at least that crashes less often and lags a little less. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jul 21 '15 at 22:58
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Quite frankly, Roll20 is as easy or hard as you like. Just drag and drop images and draw right on the tabletop if you want. Give each player a token, use a blank background and hex overlay and you are set. You can draw away. You don't need to use the sounds, dice roller, etc. It will keep your map from game to game and you can open separate maps for each area - and keep the old ones to go back to.

After use 3 other whiteboard programs - including paid and free - I wouldn't leave Roll20 now at all. My players and I all pitched in to get greater access and to help them keep it running. But the basics that you are looking for are free.

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