PACG Online Play in Real Time

Friday, May 8, 2020

Hello, all! It’s your friendly neighborhood Pathfinder Adventure Card Game venture-captain again! Today, I want to tell you about an exciting new development for PACG online play: we can now play in two different “virtual tabletop” formats: Tabletop Simulator (a paid app for playing a variety of card and board games online) and a free-to-use, custom-built interface at acg.orgplayonline.com!

Paizo does not receive any revenue from these options, so we’re asking that at least one person at the virtual table own physical copies of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Core Set and the Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path.

Tabletop Simulator

First, let’s discuss Tabletop Simulator. I’d like to start by noting that Paizo has not made any agreements with Berserk Games, the creators of Tabletop Simulator. What they HAVE done is given the online VO corps permission to direct players to Tabletop Simulator as a viable social distancing-approved alternative to playing the card game in person. In order to play, you’ll need to download Tabletop Simulator from the Steam games library—a license for Tabletop Simulator goes for about $20 USD—then visit the Workshop page.

There have been other implementations of the PACG posted on the Workshop in the past, such as the highly scripted version created by Steam user waterfoul, and I would recommend you check out several to determine which you prefer. However, the one I’m going to point you to today is one that I have built out over the past few months, appropriately titled Pathfinder Adventure Card Society (Sanctioned Implementation).

The table is neat and tidy, for the moment…

This implementation has very little scripted functionality built in. The functions it has are meant to make it easier to deal with things like building decks and cleaning up the game at the end of a scenario. It includes all the cards from the Core Set and Curse of the Crimson Throne, the standalone adventure A Night at Bloodthorne Manor, and the Adventurer’s Packs that were described on a blog a few months ago with which to build out your character’s deck.

Adventurers packs

So many choices! How can I choose just three packs?

I have created a Google doc with lots of instructions on how to get started, so I won’t get into all that here. Instead, I’ll show a few screenshots of what you’ll see in-game, and discuss a few useful features—as well as a few important limitations—of playing in this format.

Useful Features:

  • Location setup is quick. Once you place your locations on the board, just click the Build Locations button, and the game will pull random cards from the vault (the piles on the left of the game board) in the right numbers based on the location size you specify.
  • Rolling dice is intuitive. No need to write up macros or learn some complicated dice-rolling language. There are infinite bags of each type of standard dice along the top of the table. Grab a set for yourself. When you’re ready to roll them, I recommend highlighting all the dice before you toss them (by clicking and dragging a box around them). Pick them all up and toss them (lightly) across the table, and let the game’s physics engine do the work for you! If you highlighted the dice, after the roll, you can just mouse over any of the dice and the game will tell you the total! You can also just highlight dice and hit the ‘r’ button, but I’ll admit it’s not quite as satisfying as tossing the dice a bit.
  • It’s easy to upgrade and save your character. When you finish a scenario and are ready to use one of your hero points for a feat on your character card, all you have to do is open the Decals menu (it’s a button along the left side of the screen that looks like a square stamper with a handle), choose the checkmark stamp, and drop it right onto your character card. If you make a mistake, just click the stamp you placed again with the Decal tool, and it will disappear and you can try again.
  • Cleanup at the end of the scenario is quick. Once players have chosen any deck upgrades they want, just drop any unused cards onto the game board and click Clean Up Board. The game will sort all the cards back into the correct decks in the vault.
Three Buttons

The three colored buttons (Build Hourglass, Build Locations, and Clean Up Board) make life so much easier.

Challenges:

  • Only the newest cards are available. At the moment, we haven’t imported any of the older Adventure Path boxes (such as Rise of the Runelords or Skull and Shackles), so you’re limited to scenarios that use the Core Set and Curse of the Crimson Throne cards. However, there are a lot of scenarios for just those sets, including the storybooks that come with those boxes, Pathfinder Adventure Card Society season 6, the standalone adventure A Night at Bloodthorne Manor, and the short goblin-themed adventure We Be Heroes? So don’t worry about running out of options too quickly!
  • Finding a game can be difficult. There are a few different ways for players to join a game that you’re hosting, but sometimes they’re not incredibly intuitive. When you create a multiplayer table, make sure to give it a descriptive name AND a password. Players can use the Join button to find your game and join it. You can also invite players to your game’s lobby through the Steam Friends interface, but they will still need to know the password for your game.
  • You can’t easily import an existing character. At the moment, there’s no easy way to pull in an existing character deck, so if you’re playing with a new box runner, be sure to have your full deck list ready before the game starts so that you can quickly build your deck from the cards in the supply (along the left side of the table). You’ll also need to check off any feats that your character already possesses.
  • It’s easy to mess things up. Because the scripting that I’ve built is so light, it also means there is very little error checking. For example, if you click Build Locations twice, the game doesn’t know that you already built the locations, so you get double the number of cards you’re supposed to have in each location. Please be cautious when using features like these.

Please try out the Tabletop Simulator implementation if it interests you. You can email suggestions, bug reports, or other feedback to me at cartmanbeck@orgplayonline.com.

acg.orgplayonline.com

Next up is a free interface that was originally built to play using play-by-post on the forums; it has recently been upgraded to be more useful for real-time gaming. If you’re not yet familiar with acg.orgplayonline.com, go check it out, make yourself an account, and create a character profile.

This interface is less of a virtual tabletop in that it doesn’t use any visual representations of cards. Instead, sections of the webpage provide all the needed information for a scenario, and then information on each location that’s been added to the table. In order for a player to explore the next card in a location for their character, they would click on the little “binoculars” button on that location to bring up a modal box showing the text of the top card. There are options to acquire, banish, or move cards. The best thing about this interface is that it costs players and box runners nothing to use (though we still expect at least one person at the table to own the Core Set and Curse of the Crimson Throne)!

Main info screen

This is where the magic happens.

Useful Features:

  • Automatic location building. Like the Tabletop Simulator implementation, once you’ve set up the game and added the needed locations, it’s a single click to build them all out: just go to Game Setup → Build Locations, and the site will find the correct cards from our database and add them to the locations.
  • Access to any card. Unlike Tabletop Simulator, the database that this site was built around includes essentially every card ever created for PACG. This means you can run games from any Adventure Path box and any PACS season!
  • Realtime and asynchronous play options. In Tabletop Simulator, the box runner is hosting the game’s table in real time, so if the host isn’t present, the game isn’t either. Here, everything happening is held in a dedicated database, so players can jump in and take a turn whenever it’s convenient for them. If your group has trouble finding a single multi-hour stretch to all be online, you can run your game over multiple days, using a text-based messaging system like Discord or Slack to let players know when it’s their turn.

This is from a play-by-post game I’ve been running for about a month. Great players!

Challenges:

  • Clunky interface. As the person who wrote most of the code for this site, I am the first to admit that I am not a professional software engineer. (We do now have one working on the site, and he has made incredible improvements to it in just a few months!) The site isn’t well-suited to a phone-size screen, and hitting the wrong button can cause major problems. For these reasons, I recommend that you leave any functions other than examining and exploring cards on your own turn to the box runner. Bug reports can be submitted to acgbugs@orgplayonline.com.
  • No character deck tracking. Though we hope to add it eventually, at the moment players must keep track of their character decks through some other method. (Using your own physical cards are an option, of course; you can also try a community-built Google Sheets character tracker built by several community members—here’s one of the most recent versions; many players have made their own modifications/versions of it. There are detailed instructions on how to use sheets like this on the Flaxseed On Deck Play-by-Post Lodge page.)

That’s a lot of information for one blog. PaizoCon Online is going to test these systems in ways that they’ve never been tested before, so there will be some growing pains. I hope you can see, however, the hard work and love that the VO corps have put into making this game as enjoyable an experience online as it is in real life, and I look forward to seeing all of you signed up for games at PaizoCon Online, May 26–31!

Tyler “Cartmanbeck” Beck
Online ACG Venture-Captain

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Huzzah!

Liberty's Edge

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Thank you Tyler for all the work you've been putting in getting these tools ready for play!

Lone Shark Games

8 people marked this as a favorite.

Just so it's said: there is a whole lot of super awesome people helping to make these happen, including Tyler, Ray, Mark, Andrew, and likely quite a few people I'm missing (like Yewstance's work on that character sheet), and Lone Shark Games is so damn happy they do. Thank you!

Also, it's really neat being able to hit a single key on the keyboard and shuffle a deck. Or mouseover several decks hitting that key and shuffle several decks in a second.

Looking forward to seeing a lot of you in 3 weeks for PaizoCon.


Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

This is great stuff! I've been seeing/hearing about Tabletop Simulator for a while now...now have a VERY good reason to pick it up.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

3 people marked this as a favorite.
AJCarrington wrote:
This is great stuff! I've been seeing/hearing about Tabletop Simulator for a while now...now have a VERY good reason to pick it up.

It's pretty awesome!

But please be a bro and buy physical copies of the games you play! Really helps out tabletop game companies during these tough times.


Yay


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

This is amazing. While the Wife and I have been playing through the physical version of Curse it will be awesome to expand to the rest of my prelockdown regular group.


Thank you, cartmanbeck. I'll check that out - playing CoCT solo is not as entertaining as playing with friends. Especially when I have to shuffle all the decks in the physical game and it takes time. Tabletop Simulator is really great with "R" to shuffle decks - and if you included location building and board cleaning like waterfoul's version, then I am doubly happy.
Thank you very much!


This is awesome. Is there any chance the cards could be updated with the errata? I would be happy to help out with this using photoshop. I sent you an email


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Really appreciate all the effort everyone is putting into keeping our gameplay options alive! Will definitely check out the TTS

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

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Paul Grogan wrote:
This is awesome. Is there any chance the cards could be updated with the errata? I would be happy to help out with this using photoshop. I sent you an email

I'm definitely interested in doing this, but I'm first going to focus on getting updated versions of all the characters into the game, including all the FAQs and errata that have been applied to them.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
cartmanbeck wrote:
I'm definitely interested in doing this, but I'm first going to focus on getting updated versions of all the characters into the game, including all the FAQs and errata that have been applied to them.

This looks really slick! Any hope of getting class deck characters that never got character sheets implemented? I'm rather fond of my Magus and just converted her to using Adventurers Packs. (Not sure what other class decks got missed in the character sheet department...)


This is just amazing. I've been postponing doing a mod for TTS with my own box for two months now but I've been really wanting to play. Thanks a lot for building this and sharing it with everyone!


I've owned Gloomhaven since the kickstarter and never had a chance to play it and I've been using TTS for a while to finally play that.

TTS is fantastic, good to see you guys are also supporting it!


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Just perfect!


First World Bard wrote:
cartmanbeck wrote:
I'm definitely interested in doing this, but I'm first going to focus on getting updated versions of all the characters into the game, including all the FAQs and errata that have been applied to them.

Well, let me know. I'm happy to help and have the relevant photoshop skills to be able to do new card images to put into the mod


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Heads up the "Drop Here to Recharge" reloads your cards not recharges them.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

So excited about this! I've been learning both Fantasy Grounds and Roll20, and while I've had TTS for a few years, never gotten a chance to actually play it, so I really looking forward to playing and box running it at the Con!

And yes, a very deep Thank You to Cartmanbeck and the others that have been working on this. So very cool, and much appreciated!

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Malk_Content wrote:
Heads up the "Drop Here to Recharge" reloads your cards not recharges them.

Thanks, I've been trying to fix this and I think I finally have it working correctly. Will get the fix uploaded to the module as soon as I can, probably tomorrow.


This is exciting! I've been trying to figure out the free version first, because our group wants to play Seasons 5 and 6. Is there a guide to using this system anywhere online? I've figured out most things, but am stuck on a few things (like how to move characters).


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Whipstitch wrote:
This is exciting! I've been trying to figure out the free version first, because our group wants to play Seasons 5 and 6. Is there a guide to using this system anywhere online? I've figured out most things, but am stuck on a few things (like how to move characters).

Not sure if this helps, but it helped me (maybe because I am a complete noob with TTS): Shut Up & Sit Down's Matt Lees demonstrates Tabletop Simulator fundamentals:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5K2MWbr55M

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Whipstitch wrote:
This is exciting! I've been trying to figure out the free version first, because our group wants to play Seasons 5 and 6. Is there a guide to using this system anywhere online? I've figured out most things, but am stuck on a few things (like how to move characters).

If you're asking for information on how to use the acg.orgplayonline.com system (not Tabletop Simulator), I can point you to a getting started guide that one of our VAs, Redeux, put together.

I plan to make a video very soon (like... today or tomorrow) with similar information for that system as well. And of course, if you need any help, drop into the PACG threads in the orgplayonline Discord and we can help you directly!


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

To everyone involved in making this a reality: Thank you very much.

An immense amount of time and effort goes into something like this and we all appreciate everything you contributed (and will continue to contribute) in this effort. Your dedication and commitment to the hobby and to the community are admirable.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Brother Tyler wrote:

To everyone involved in making this a reality: Thank you very much.

An immense amount of time and effort goes into something like this and we all appreciate everything you contributed (and will continue to contribute) in this effort. Your dedication and commitment to the hobby and to the community are admirable.

Hizzarr!! Double cheers from me as well


This looks amazing. Will the PACG games at Paizocon Online be run through one of these two options, and if so, which?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Card Game, Lost Omens, Maps, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Abraham Z. wrote:
This looks amazing. Will the PACG games at Paizocon Online be run through one of these two options, and if so, which?

The Box Runner (BR) will choose which platform they use for their games. Each session on Warhorn should detail which platform the BR is using for that session. It will generally be one of the two options listed in the blog post.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Oh how far we've come. This was my first online PACG game and I'm pretty sure Keith had the actual game setup somewhere in his house and literally physically flipping cards and posting them for us.

We did that "someone hand types the game that is setup on their dining room table for a month" a few times. In a few short months, there was a database of cards though I was still copying each location's info and the top 3 cards in the location one at a time (i.e. 4 copy and pastes for each location).

From there to an online database with an interface for the person running the box and now to TTS. I've played a few games of TTS and its the next best thing to playing in person.

So excited to see all this.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Signups are live!

This link will take you to all the PACG games on the schedule!

Make sure to sign up for a spot in the multi-table special on Saturday the 30th!

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Just wanted to point out that there are still a bunch of seats available in the Multi-Table special scenario on Saturday May 30th at noon Pacific time!

As a bit of a tease, when we added the custom cards for this to our database, we had to create a whole new card trait. :-D

Here are a few session listings with open seats:

Low-Tier:

https://warhorn.net/events/tbdcon-2020/schedule/sessions/86bf4431-bb0e-4dc1 -9274-efcf82a1889a

https://warhorn.net/events/tbdcon-2020/schedule/sessions/e26f0d40-18ae-4ab0 -b86a-d8b65072d509

https://warhorn.net/events/tbdcon-2020/schedule/sessions/12ae2745-95b4-4d70 -b7ab-6600a904d29f

High-Tier:

https://warhorn.net/events/tbdcon-2020/schedule/sessions/1181c185-fddd-4a58 -a243-34c049b8ac5c

https://warhorn.net/events/tbdcon-2020/schedule/sessions/0cb978ba-23e8-4054 -a59a-1d5b14635a9c

https://warhorn.net/events/tbdcon-2020/schedule/sessions/d713ed83-b5ff-4f25 -9040-fff5b2746412


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

While there are still a bunch of seats, there are also a bunch of players already signed up. We are on track to have 13 simultaneous tables playing! This is a unique adventure that can only be run at conventions, so if you possibly can, come and join us.

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
cartmanbeck wrote:

High-Tier:

https://warhorn.net/events/tbdcon-2020/schedule/sessions/0cb978ba-23e8-4054 -a59a-1d5b14635a9c

Come join us! The more the merrier when it comes to shenanigans!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I wish they would just make the app multiplayer so we could use it. :(

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

If there are two people in the same location who want to play in a TTS game, do they each have to be at a separate computer, or it it possible to have two sessions running on the same system (or one session handling two players)?


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

TTS has a mode called "hot seat"that is for multiple people using one computer.

But, to my knowledge, you can't mix hot seat and multiplayer (i.e. you can't have 2 people on one computer and a third of a different computer).

Lone Shark Games

It's not ideal, but you can also just swap the computer back and forth (or really hot seat it) and change colors each turn, so you can have separate hands and playmats. I believe you could do that in a multiplayer game without too much trouble.

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