MapTool vision and light; darkvision and stealth.


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


I'd like to share some observations from my last few games playing Rise of the Runelords (actually a customized Seven Swords of Sin) played in MapTool.

MapTool has excellent support for Pathfinder's vision and light rules built in. This is every bit as good as it sounds. There doesn't really exist a GM who can really keep track of all the various factors in their head. I can't tell you how happy it makes me when one player realizes he has to stay close to the torch bearer or be functionally blind, or when the players catch a glimpse of light a hundred feet down a hallway, or when the player with darkvision can see that rogue hiding behind a pillar in the shadows and everyone else sees... only shadows.

What I find most interesting is the effect that these tools have on gameplay. We're not talking about house rules here at all, we are talking about the rules as written, arbitrated by some kind of idealized super-GM who can perform advanced calculus in his head and process the intersection of 10 different light sources (and some players with lowlight).

Some options get distinctly better when you play these rules to the letter. Darkvision goes from a good ability to a phenomenal ability. Other players will actually come to rely on the fact that you can see things they can't (if you're each using your own MapTool client, that is). It makes me chuckle every time, because often the darkvision player forgets that others can't see... and I certainly would have forgotten this also, at a real tabletop.

Since Maptool displays the dim light at the edge of the torch radius as well, those lighting rules become much easier to arbitrate. My rogue player has had great fun hiding in the shadows to get sneak attacks — it has actually become a more frequent source than flanking! In addition, we actually use the 20% miss chance rules as well, which works to the rogue's advantage considerably when he is spotted (almost never).

Anyway, the vision and light rules-as-written are much too complex in practice for a mere mortal GM. But it is interesting to note the considerable power boost enjoyed by some character types when you have a chance to play the rules exactly as they were written, even if it isn't realistic to expect that without computer assistance.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks for the kudos, E.L. :)

In my own campaign I've noticed the exact same thing! And the recent addition of the "visible to owner only" flag means invisible characters can't be seen by anyone else! Just last night we had a mage cast invisibility on 4 party members and then they bumbled around trying not to get in each other's way! Of course, the mage had arcane sight running and was able to detect the other PCs that way, but the others had an interesting time of it. :)

We are working to change the way vision works so that instead of originating from the center of the token, it originates at each corner, as required by the PF rules. Unfortunately, this change is going to require some significant changes to the underlying vision system and won't make it into version 1.3.

One other feature that has been used to great success in games I've been in is "light auras". These work like light sources (as you mentioned) but they don't shed light that you can see by -- in other words, they're great for things like magic circle against evil or a paladin's aura of courage. And they can be made "GM only" so that the players can't see the aura but the GM can (which is actually more realistic). Add in that light sources (and auras) can be cone-shaped and you've got some interesting possibilities!

There's a lot more, of course, but thanks again for the plug. :)


Evil Lincoln wrote:
Some options get distinctly better when you play these rules to the letter. Darkvision goes from a good ability to a phenomenal ability. Other players will actually come to rely on the fact that you can see things they can't (if you're each using your own MapTool client, that is). It makes me chuckle every time, because often the darkvision player forgets that others can't see... and I certainly would have forgotten this also, at a real tabletop.

Chalk me up as a "darkvision is overrated" negative Nelly. As long as you have an arcane caster in the party, you can use Dancing Lights as a super-spotlight up to 130'+ away (or 150'+ away if you have party members with low-light vision) instead of relying on the one or two folks with darkvision to tell everyone else what's going on up to 60' away.

In my experience, handling Dancing Lights in Maptools is a mixed bag; you have to create a bunch of extra tokens and micro-manage them to some degree.


@Az: I don't care so much about vision originating at corners. It seems to me that the intention of that rule was to make measurement easier on the GM, much like the cone and blast templates, etc. Honestly, I'm not holding my breath waiting for it, what's there now works great!

@Hogarth: It's not my place to change your mind, but dancing lights will alert enemies to your presence at a great distance whereas darkvision will not. One of the things I am looking at more and more often as a MapTool GM is when the PC light sources creep into the line of sight of enemy NPCs. The other nice thing about darkvision in maptool is that it is always on, so unlike a spell solution it can save you when you least expect it. Just my opinion, I suppose.

As for managing dancing lights tokens, As I've played I've been building my library of spell effects, so it is pretty easy for me to drag the effect tokens on the map, give ownership to the caster, (and set the effect timer on my toolbar).


Evil Lincoln wrote:
@Hogarth: It's not my place to change your mind, but dancing lights will alert enemies to your presence at a great distance whereas darkvision will not.

I guess I'm not used to playing in pitch dark areas with "great distances". I'm more used to playing outside with at least some light (sunlight or moonlight) or indoors in a dungeon-type environment. YMMV, of course.

Evil Lincoln wrote:
The other nice thing about darkvision in maptool is that it is always on, so unlike a spell solution it can save you when you least expect it.

Well, 0-level spells can be cast at will, so generally my groups just assume that you recast it every 30 seconds or so. Again, YMMV.


hogarth wrote:


Well, 0-level spells can be cast at will, so generally my groups just assume that you recast it every 30 seconds or so. Again, YMMV.

Sure does. In fact, that's rather the point of this thread! Even within the rules as written there is such variation in enforcement of the rules that different options can become better than others might think.


I agree that having the light effects and line of sight (especially line of sight) in Maptools is very helpful in visualizing what can or can't be seen from a particular position.


So every 30 seconds monsters get something like a base DC 0 (maybe 5) perception check every time the caster uses his verbal component.

I'll need to play around with the current MapTools and see if I can make "sound" zones with the perception penalties for distance added. Most adventuring parties are noisy mobs, clunking about in armor. That would also be a nice task to hand off to a computer engine.


Dorje Sylas wrote:

So every 30 seconds monsters get something like a base DC 0 (maybe 5) every time the caster uses his verbal component.

I'll need to play around with the current MapTools and see if I can make "sound" zones with the perception penalties for distance added. Most adventuring parties are noisy mobs, clunking about in armor. That would also be a nice task to hand off to a computer engine.

Like you said, most adventuring parties are pretty noisy, anyways. :-)

An all-stealthy party might get some good mileage out of darkvision, I bet (assuming the DM is into pitch black dungeons).


Dorje Sylas wrote:
I'll need to play around with the current MapTools and see if I can make "sound" zones with the perception penalties for distance added. Most adventuring parties are noisy mobs, clunking about in armor. That would also be a nice task to hand off to a computer engine.

I'm using b76 right now, b77 is having some stability issues with my Mac user players.

To accomplish the perception DC thing, I would just use a combination of getDistance() and isVisible()... but maybe you have something more sophisticated in mind?


Evil Lincoln wrote:
It's not my place to change your mind, but dancing lights will alert enemies to your presence at a great distance whereas darkvision will not.

I recall playing a Battle Interactive in Living Greyhawk where it was going to be a dungeon/cave crawl. Basically you had about a dozen tables that were trying to group together into parties.

While other groups were asking about clerics, etc. I was asking/demanding for darkvision. The idea of giving away our position well outside of even hearing range appalled me.

Being able to constantly not be surprised and ambushed is a very important thing for a party.

If you can arrange it, I highly recommend it.

-James

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
hogarth wrote:
Evil Lincoln wrote:
The other nice thing about darkvision in maptool is that it is always on, so unlike a spell solution it can save you when you least expect it.
Well, 0-level spells can be cast at will, so generally my groups just assume that you recast it every 30 seconds or so. Again, YMMV.

Except that it only lasts 1 minute. And when you're out of combat, time occurs in 1 minute intervals, not 1 round. So technically the spellcaster needs to cast it on every move if they want it always available.

Then there's the issue that the spellcaster can only cast it within line-of-sight which they won't have if the area is dark. So they must cast it near themselves and move it away. That's if the GM let's them cast it at all -- since they don't have line of sight!

As E.L. says, when you start to play by the actual rules it becomes a different game! Especially with b77 now, since we have individual fog for each token (so someone else seeing a room doesn't mean you've seen it).

@E.L.: I'm sorry to hear you've had problems with b77 for your Mac users. I'm currently running the latest OSX with all updates on my MacBook Pro and we've been using b77 for the last 4 sessions without a problem. Since I know you're on the RPTools forums (I don't remember your handle over there, though) perhaps you could get your Mac-using players to post a problem description? Or a screenshot, if that's appropriate?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait.

How can you use Maptool to display individual light radii?

I just had a devil of a time in the beginning of Savage Tide Ch. 6 with my PCs, and they are headed down farther. Being able to assign them their individual light radius and such would be fantastic.

Also, if it matters, I play with 1.2 b32. If I need a newer version, I'll seriously consider it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Kain Darkwind wrote:


Also, if it matters, I play with 1.2 b32. If I need a newer version, I'll seriously consider it.

wow, that's 3.5 years old version... We are using 1.3.b77, you should too as soon as possible.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Cormac wrote:
Kain Darkwind wrote:


Also, if it matters, I play with 1.2 b32. If I need a newer version, I'll seriously consider it.
wow, that's 3.5 years old version... We are using 1.3.b77, you should too as soon as possible.

Yes, I know. My b32 campaigns I've built don't work at all with b77 though, so I'm torn between rebuilding them all and going without the new options. Do you know of anyway to convert them over quickly?

Assuming I did have b77 though, (and I've played around with it a bit tonight), how do you make the most of these vision options? For some reason I can't see tokens when I'm in 'Player View' on this version.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Kain Darkwind wrote:


Do you know of anyway to convert them over quickly?

I don't know, sorry.

Kain Darkwind wrote:


Assuming I did have b77 though, (and I've played around with it a bit tonight), how do you make the most of these vision options? For some reason I can't see tokens when I'm in 'Player View' on this version.

Not at the maptool right now but at least you have to choose individual views when starting server, define vision and ownership(for player) in token properties. Also make sure that token is PC (not NPC), add light source to token or any object (right mouse or properties I think) close to token. Could be something else too but cant remember...

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