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I'm looking for a means of having a battle map and tokens for a play by post game. Something that doesn't require anyone, except maybe the DM, to download software, and functions perfectly well, even if the whole party isn't online at once. Would you know of such a thing?

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Roll20 does that really well, using only your browser.

You can use character sheets of many systems, and move tokens. You can restrict access for modifying or seeing token/sheet/handout player by player (or all at once), roll dices on the chat (to prevent cheating), use a fog of war, have several map (but only one at a time is show to the players), ...

The campaign is save on a server and anyone with the link (and account) can view it at anytime, with or without other players. So in your case, your players will be able to see the map and fill they character sheet whether you're online or not.

It's a really powerful tool and free, but you have to create an account (take about 5min max) and since it's powerful, it require to fool around a bit to understand how it works. That said, I've only watch the basic tutorial and guessed the rest through testing and I'm doing well.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is it possible to use roll20 without everyone being online at the same time/without the GM being online? \$\endgroup\$ – Pantalaimon Aug 20 '15 at 13:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, anyone who have the link can access the game at anytime, with or without other players. It's very useful for the GM to prepare the next campaign/session/encounter, and to all player in your case. I'll edit my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Luris Aug 20 '15 at 13:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are right; just checked to see if I could access the map we used last night and I could. \$\endgroup\$ – Pantalaimon Aug 20 '15 at 14:09
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You can use any map software (like Maptools or Photoshop) to create the maps on your side, including token positioning, then upload the result image to an external site (like Imgur) and use the [img] tag that is allowed in most php forums.

A player can post something like “I will move 1 square in the NE direction and attack the monster”, and when the DM gives him the result of his action, the DM can move the token in his personal file and post the new image. That requires only the DM to have access to the image file.

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When you say, "play by post", I assume you mean a forum-based game rather than a snail mail game, and that all players will have access to a web browser even though they may not be able to be online at the same time and may not be able to install software where they play. Given these conditions, I recommend...

Google Draw

It provides a good set of drawing tools, suitable for game mapping, and allows varying levels of protection. Need a world map exposed only as players discover new places? Share a map as a read-only drawing. Need them to move tokens for their turns? Share a map as an editable drawing.

I have used this to share maps and diagrams with remote players, albeit synchronously. However, my edits were done async and players referred to maps in between games.

This solution provides advantages over just emailing pictures - or links to static pictures posted in a forum - to people as the current version is always available. If you ever want to "freeze" a map at a given state for historical purposes, you can just make a copy.

No one involved will need anything besides a modern web browser.

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Use an online spreadsheet. Format the cells to be squares, use colours to indicate terrain, and letters or words to tell where the goblins and player characters are. If you trust the players to not mess up or cheat (and you presumably do, since you play with them), you can give them editing privileges so they can make their own moves. Or you can have the players communicate to you and edit the spreadsheet by yourself.

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