Virtual tabletops -- what do you know and what do you think?


Paizo General Discussion


Virtual tabletops -- which ones do you know about, what do you know about them, and which is your favorite?

Paizo has done a great job supporting virtual tabletops but what can they do better?

Do you know of any tools that work great in conjunction with your favorite virtual tabletops?

What have you found in virtual tabletops that you think doesn't work very well?


A long time ago I used to play Dungeons & Dragons. I was a DM. We had a small group of local players from high school. We each took turns DMing our campaigns.

Fast forward to 2012, I began playing Pathfinder as a player for many years. In 2017 I decided I wanted to be a GM again. I'd like to Pathfinder a lot because of all the materials were available online. I'd like to own my material so I prefer buying the PDF files.

At first I started with local players but we had trouble building a group that could play consistently, so we played with a small group of players, who each played multiple characters.

I tried advertising with actually some really nice looking, I thought, readable ads posted and very public places like our local college at bookstores and so on.

At the same time I was trying to solve a lot of problems with running a campaign. A lot of this had to do with the mechanics of running a campaign. Some of the problems were how to have exactly the pawns on the map that were confronting the players rather than putting in proxies. Another problem was how to draw the map for the players and yet not reveal the entire map all at once. However the other issue was I simply couldn't draw the maps fast enough.

I started to print the maps and the pawns. This was actually a lot of fun, and online I found cheap printing ink. I did this for quite a while.

But it was taking a lot of time away from my campaign, and we still weren't getting enough players.

Some of our local players actually just lived a little bit too far away really to play with us regularly.

So this whole problem led me to attempt to use a webcam. We were going to help our remote players play by moving their pawns around on the map. But, not surprisingly, nobody went for the idea.

So I decided to investigate virtual tabletops. Using online resources, such as Discord, to find players to play my campaign was well underway. Finally the issue of finding players was resolved.


By far, my favorite virtual tabletop is MapTool 1.4.0.5.

MapTool, in my opinion, is the gold standard for virtual tabletops (VTTs). It is very stable, easy to use, customizable to any game system, and has only about one or two minor issues my two groups have found so far. We have been playing with it every week since the beginning of 12/2018. I have tought new players how to use it in less than 15 minutes.

As a software developer, I find MapTool's design features I use as a GM and in-play features to be amazingly intuitive.

With MapTool's macro language (based on JavaScript and HTML) is versatile enough that I have been able to add lots of features (as buttons and dialogs) to help my players cast spells, attack, use skills, do combat maneuvers, etc. What sometimes really makes it hard for me to sleep at night, is that because MapTool is so fully customizable, I can do almost anything I want with it.

MapTool is also incredibly fast and efficient with transferring data to my players when they connect, so I manage the size of the files I add to my campaign without becoming overly worried about its size -- currently it's almost 30MB and even my player on a DSL line is unaffected.

MapTool is free and it runs from your PC. For the GM, it makes designing campaigns much faster because all your files are local on your computer.

The developers, who created MapTool, have done the gaming world (especially RPG) an invaluable service. I've already said it through other channels, but it bares repeating ... Thank you, thank you, thank you ...

I'd encourage anyone using MapTool to make a donation through RPTools' preferred method which is on DriveThru RPG.


For those of you interested in running a Pathfinder 1e campaign with MapTool 1.4.0.5, under the name adventuremagic123 (yes, I know, superheroes aren't supposed to reveal their identities :)) in RPTool's forum under "User Creations", I have posted and will continue to post my latest macros and campaign settings. You will need these to get started until you find a better alternative -- they may very well be all you need!

Pathfinder 1e macros for MapTool 1.4.0.5


D20Pro was my second choice.

As a software developer, I think, like MapTool, it has the right architecture and overall design. What that means in non-technical terms is that all the files for the campaign live in the right place (for the age of high-speed communication we live in).

My overall impression of the product, though, was sort of like the one you get from a really nice car that's been sitting in the garage too long. Needs some work to get it going, again.

Connecting and transferring data to players was slower than my group would have liked. Also, if you try to use D20Pro, you may have better results if you have each of your players connect to your server one-at-a-time. When we had too many people do that at once in fall 2018, we had problems and the players had to start over trying to connect.

About 50% of our game sessions went on without anything but a couple of minor issues.

D20Pro attempts to add some advanced features not available in MapTool -- but feedback from my group was that it felt like a work in-progress. One of those was tracking conditions and spell effects automatically.

D20Pro did more or less successfully provide automation in terms of determining where attacks were successful and supported energy resistance. This is, again, somewhere that (perhaps wisely), MapTool does not go.

With MapTool, though, it is possible to add these kinds of features, yourself, with varying levels of difficulty.

My two groups played with D20Pro regularly for a period of about 3 months.

If a small list of concerns for D20Pro were addressed, I have no doubt it could do well in the market place. With some major work, I truly believe it could be a game changer (no pun intended :)).


Roll20, as with D20Pro and MapTool, was designed not to stop you from playing with whatever rules you use. This is important because that "feature" enables you to play with all the materials you already have without having to buy redundant data sets.

Roll20 has a lot of players who love you use it and nothing else.

The problem I had with it as a GM was that I felt building campaigns with it was too slow compared to the much better experiences I had with MapTool and D20Pro.

I also didn't like having to keep my files on their server. I like keeping all that stuff locally on my machine and backing it up however I want. I also felt organizing my material locally was much faster and easier.

If Roll20 ever offers a product with an architecture like MapTool or D20Pro, I will be more than happy to take another look.

Any GMs out there with a different impression of Roll20?


Fantasy Grounds, I thought, had the nicest looking interface but I also thought the hardest to use. It pretty much seems to share the same architecture as MapTool and D20Pro (and that might be a hint to the Roll20 team).

Maybe, I needed to give Fantasy Grounds more time. I installed it and investigated. It potentially seems like one of those products you might need to buy to get further along than you can with the demo you really properly evaluate it.

As far as I could tell, Fantasy Grounds has gone the farthest with trying to provide full automation for the game rules. The downside for Pathfinder is that:

1. The GM has buy the data set per book to play material from that book (pretty much) for players to have characters based on that materisl and

2. Data sets for most Pathfinder books do not appear to be available.

Am I wrong about any of this? Fantasy Ground folks?


With MapTool 1.4.0.5, I find the following tools invaluable:

1. Hero Lab (Encounter Builder)
2. Hero Lab (Encounter Library)
3. hl2mt.exe


One thing I'd like to see VTTs help with is flying, especially with the vision blocking layer. For example, if some flies over a building and everyone else is one the ground, the flier needs to see everything but the others should still have their vision blocked by the building.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I completely agree with you on MapTools. I've been using it for years and years, with very few problems.

As a note, there is already a very good set of campaign macros for D&D3.5/Pathfinder 1.0. While not quite perfect, it covers just about everything that MapTools can cover. It can be found at:

http://forums.rptools.net/viewtopic.php?f=53&t=26670&p=263194#p2631 94

I'm mentioning that mostly because I use and like it, and partly so you don't have to "re-invent the wheel" if you don't want to.

Add in the "Bag of Tricks" to add even more neat features. I'll let you find that one on your own, but it shouldn't be difficult.


I've looked at it before, and you've reminded me to take a look at it again.

The scripts there are very sophisticated , and it will take some time for me to dig through them all.

No, I don't think there's just one solution. The macros I've created have the virtue of being just the opposite ... Easy to understand -- probably even for beginners. Provide just enough functionality to play. Don't require JSON and dialogs to create PC nor NPC tokens. Just have to fill-in token properties using stat blocks and other, optional information. Very straight forward. Clean design that's easy to understand at a glance.

Yes, in terms of learning advanced MapTool functionality, your link is invaluable -- and I'll admit pretty much takes me to class. Yet, for what I want, it feels way over designed and far more complex than what I'm looking for. The design does not look as intuitive as I'd like.

Still, the work done there is a major contribution, and I'll certainly continue to study it till I understand it better. It is much more impressive than what I've done.

Being a wheel, though, is probably a stretch. More like a masterpiece of programming that belongs in a very nice place in a museum way deep inside -- and maybe mine just goes on the ticket stub.

Therefore, I'm sure that there's room for lots more interpretations of what sort of macros work best, and, hopefully, we'll see more implementations.


I'll share my experiences, although all my games are face-to-face and I'm using the VTT strictly as an accessory.

The VTT I'm using is Roll20. The main reasons are that it is free, easy to use (for what I'm doing), and web-based (no software installs/updates). We have HeroLab for the update and "does everyone have the right files?" headaches.

I use MapTool, but only to draw my own custom maps. The massive library of graphical items is what keeps me using it instead of just using Photoshop or the like. I do some final editing in Photoshop to get a JPG of the map. Then it gets loaded up to Roll20.

I'm using Roll20 strictly for the fog of war, ping feature, and graphical handouts. My players are all using laptops (HeroLab) and can see the map as players with Roll20. I reveal as necessary. Dungeon-crawling made simple.

The players get to see pretty maps without having everything revealed to them. All of us can "ping" on the map. They can also view any graphical handouts I've exposed to them whenever they want.

When it comes time for combat, I'm drawing on a grid table (6' x 4' plexiglass over white butcher paper with a 1" grid). We're all using token/minis/whatever and dropping real dice. I use white-board markers which makes clean up super-easy. An end-of-the-session wipe with rubbing alcohol keeps the plexiglass looking like new.

Anything else graphical (monsters, NPCs, images of places) is being shown to the players via a 14" diagonal iPad. Yep, I'm lazy. I'd rather hold up full-color artwork than say 1,000 words.

TL;DR: Since I'm just displaying pretty pictures, Roll20 does a great job without all the weight of MapTool. But, we play face-to-face.


I downloaded and experimented with Mote, today. Their website makes a lot of promises. It's a modified version of MapTool.

It will import MapTool campaigns, but, today, I didn't have much luck with it. I tried to import a 30MB campaign (mine are all currently that size).

Mote took over 15 minutes before it stopped with an out of memory error, through a native file version for Mote was created for the same campaign.

I reset the launch parameters and set them to max. 4048MB RAM and 4MB stack size (the per thread stack). I tried to load the native Mote file created above. Mote cranked away for over 25 minutes, but it still didn't finish loading the file. I gave up and stopped it.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Some great info and thoughts about VTT play here, well worth the read!

The Online Region of Paizos Organised Play obviously has a lot of investment in VTTs (you can find our Discord server here), the most common by far is Roll20, we tend to see games for that on a daily basis, following on from that in popularity is Fantasy Grounds. Both are excellent choices with different strengths and learning curves and I'd recommend giving them both a try before deciding which one works for each group of players.

D20 Pro and Maptools are not something we see being used much at all in the Organised Play format, perhaps that will change as things shift, but for now they're certainly not ones we see a lot of games on.

In regards to your 'flying' question and roofs there's some very cool options now available in Roll20 that will do something close to what you're looking for I think, you can see more about it here.

Roll20 has also recently made a lot of improvements to their advanced fog of war option which should hopefully enable it to run much more smoothly on most peoples PCs (fingers crossed!). It's a brilliant option in my opinion, most of the players I've used it with certainly seem to enjoy it.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Starfinder Maps Subscriber

One thing that I know is that the VTT Venture Officers are awesome and helpful! I hope that you come join us for some games on the discord!

Hmm


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I have used Maptool for the last 10 years or so, with Lindsay's macro set. It has been amazing.

I wish there was someway for Paizo to directly support Maptool, but honestly, with the PDFs I have everything I need with a little bit of setup.

I can only hope Lindsay, or someone else makes a PF2e macro set when it comes out.

Maptool is the bomb.


I think he meant "bolm". :)


Has anyone had experience with other VTTs not mentioned?

Is there a way that Paizo can better support VTTs?

Emerald Spire's maps, for example, are way too expensive. They are more convenient to use with a VTT -- but versions of them exist in the Emerald Spire Module PDF. Yet, these maps cost $55.99 in PDF format, while the module (contains the maps but they'd have to be edited before players could see them) costs $24.99?

Emerald Spire maps in PDF format good for VTT

Emerald Spire module that includes all the maps in PDF format but must be edited before showing to players

Also, maps in AP and module PDF occassionally have to be edited before they can be presented to players -- because they reveal traps and secret doors.


Mark the Wise and Powerful wrote:

Has anyone had experience with other VTTs not mentioned?

Is there a way that Paizo can better support VTTs?

Emerald Spire's maps, for example, are way too expensive. They are more convenient to use with a VTT -- but versions of them exist in the Emerald Spire Module PDF. Yet, these maps cost $55.99 in PDF format, while the module (contains the maps but they'd have to be edited before players could see them) costs $24.99?

Emerald Spire maps in PDF format good for VTT

Emerald Spire module that includes all the maps in PDF format but must be edited before showing to players

Also, maps in AP and module PDF occassionally have to be edited before they can be presented to players -- because they reveal traps and secret doors.

I haven't purchased modules in a while so I can't speak on them, however AP maps allow you to use a "player view" that allows you to remove the trap icon.

I used roll20. After I upload the "player view" I use roll20's GM layer to add the "T(trap)" symbol.

PS: I do agree that the maps are overpriced by themselves, and the ones with the modules should have different viewing options like the AP's do.

PS2: The AP's will come with a second book that has only the maps which can be edited. The actual AP book that has the maps doesn't allow you to edit them. However as long as they continue to have the 2nd book for the map it should be find for AP's.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I find the maps that come with the AP PDFs are just fine for VTTs. A little bit of Photoshop here and there, and you are good to go.


Has anyone tried Battlegrounds (aka BRPG)?


For the most part, I agree the maps that come with the APs work well with VTT, except when they are really big.

D20Pro can handle even the largest maps in the APs, but not so with MapTool (for example). MapTool has been so stable and reliable (and easy to use) for my group that we will probably never leave it -- but this is and area where D20Pro did much better. The issue all has to do with being able to scale the grid.

In D20Pro, I was able to do the complete Iron Gods Part 2 ScrapWall map and put all the encounters on it. I did the math and scaled the map with MS Paint -- so that as it turned out 1 pixel was 5 sq. ft (and with D20Pro I was able to put one medium-sized token, aka pawn or creature, inside that 1 pixel grid square so rock-n-roll). Just barely worked. Can't have 1 pixel grid squares with MapTool -- so I had to carve up ScrapWall into about 6 separate maps.

What would be great would be to have a VTT where you could scale both the grid and the map (and save precious memory in the process).


heruca wrote:
Has anyone tried Battlegrounds (aka BRPG)?

Interesting. I took a look at the website. I hope someone has comments about it ... I'd love to know more. Will probably take a look when I have time.


maptools

Great for making macros and saving chracters. But dear gods getting everyone using the same version, with a working version of java, and setting up your network to actually host a game was a PITT.

Fantasy Grounds

Very frustrating. It's like if someone took a bad character sheet from roll 20 and said "you must use this interface using this macro to do the thing". It added, subtracted, or did just plain weird things to my rolls with no way of me figuring out why, opening up the hood, or just going around the damned interface.

Requiring that either the player pay or the dm pay a LOT is an absolute turn off for new people.

Roll20

A 1970s engine. Nothing fancy but it will get you from point A to point B.

Pro: Web based interface. Click this link. Sign up. Click that link again and it's running. You can make a functional for a game character with a new person in 15 minutes. Faster with my new toy.

Roll 20 Quickstart Guide

Con: you need a paid account to store characters. Moving them around is a little clunky

Google slides

Cons-No dice roller thus no character saving. Doesn't differentiate chracters and map so the maps always getting moved.

Pros: I don't need to save images on my computer and then put them on the slide. Copy , paste, its there.

My dm for war of the crown bought the official version and.. BLECH. Half the characters are a red token with gold lettering with the persons name... wth? There's 900 characters, I need an image. Even the roll 20 tables i make the day a scenario drops are better.


BigNorseWolf wrote:

maptools

Great for making macros and saving chracters. But dear gods getting everyone using the same version, with a working version of java, and setting up your network to actually host a game was a PITT.

Fantasy Grounds

Very frustrating. It's like if someone took a bad character sheet from roll 20 and said "you must use this interface using this macro to do the thing". It added, subtracted, or did just plain weird things to my rolls with no way of me figuring out why, opening up the hood, or just going around the damned interface.

Requiring that either the player pay or the dm pay a LOT is an absolute turn off for new people.

Roll20

A 1970s engine. Nothing fancy but it will get you from point A to point B.

Pro: Web based interface. Click this link. Sign up. Click that link again and it's running. You can make a functional for a game character with a new person in 15 minutes. Faster with my new toy.

Roll 20 Quickstart Guide

Con: you need a paid account to store characters. Moving them around is a little clunky

Google slides

Cons-No dice roller thus no character saving. Doesn't differentiate chracters and map so the maps always getting moved.

Pros: I don't need to save images on my computer and then put them on the slide. Copy , paste, its there.

My dm for war of the crown bought the official version and.. BLECH. Half the characters are a red token with gold lettering with the persons name... wth? There's 900 characters, I need an image. Even the roll 20 tables i make the day a scenario drops are better.

We're using MapTool very successfully. The biggest problem is getting people to follow the simple and illustrated but long set of instructions I wrote. I've fixed all the issues in my instructions. We're having very little trouble.

I will make my instructions available -- when I do, I'll post a link to this forum. I also have macros already posted that make using MapTool with Pathfinder much easier (see link at the beginning of this forum).


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Easy to follow instructions I've created to tell GMs and players how to get setup to play a VTT campaign with MapTool can be found at:

VTT Campaign Instructions for MapTool

If you're not using MapTool, you may still find these instructions useful. It tells you how we also use other tools to run our campaign.

MapTool macros I created can be found at:

Pathfinder 1e macros for MapTool 1.4.0.5

I suggest using the 4.6.1 version of the macros (which can be found in one of my latest replies to my original posting).


Mark the wise and powerful wrote:
We're using MapTool very successfully. The biggest problem is getting people to follow the simple and illustrated but long set of instructions I wrote. I've fixed all the issues in my instructions. We're having very little trouble.

Fixed all the issues you're having. Not the issues everyone might have. If you're trying to get new guy into a game that start up is absurdly complicated.


Mark the Wise and Powerful wrote:

Easy to follow instructions I've created to tell GMs and players how to get setup to play a VTT campaign with MapTool can be found at:

VTT Campaign Instructions for MapTool

If you're not using MapTool, you may still find these instructions useful. It tells you how we also use other tools to run our campaign.

MapTool macros I created can be found at:

Pathfinder 1e macros for MapTool 1.4.0.5

I suggest using the 4.6.1 version of the macros (which can be found in one of my latest replies to my original posting).

The macros also work in MapTool 1.4.1.8 and very likely in 1.5.1.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Mark the wise and powerful wrote:
We're using MapTool very successfully. The biggest problem is getting people to follow the simple and illustrated but long set of instructions I wrote. I've fixed all the issues in my instructions. We're having very little trouble.

Fixed all the issues you're having. Not the issues everyone might have. If you're trying to get new guy into a game that start up is absurdly complicated.

I've greatly simplified them for MapTool 1.4.1.8.

What issues am I having?

You seem to be having some of your own. Looked like kind of a hostile post.


Mark the Wise and Powerful wrote:
Mark the Wise and Powerful wrote:

Easy to follow instructions I've created to tell GMs and players how to get setup to play a VTT campaign with MapTool can be found at:

VTT Campaign Instructions for MapTool

If you're not using MapTool, you may still find these instructions useful. It tells you how we also use other tools to run our campaign.

MapTool macros I created can be found at:

Pathfinder 1e macros for MapTool 1.4.0.5

I suggest using the 4.6.1 version of the macros (which can be found in one of my latest replies to my original posting).

The macros also work in MapTool 1.4.1.8 and very likely in 1.5.1.

VTT Campaign Setup Instructions for MapTool 1.4.0.5 and MapTool 1.4.1.8 (1.5.1 may be similar) -- along with other needed (and free) tools

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Mark the Wise and Powerful wrote:

I've greatly simplified them for MapTool 1.4.1.8.

What issues am I having?

The ones you mentioned fixing. If you were't having issues with something, it's not fixed for the people who are having issues with it.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Mark the Wise and Powerful wrote:

I've greatly simplified them for MapTool 1.4.1.8.

What issues am I having?

The ones you mentioned fixing. If you were't having issues with something, it's not fixed for the people who are having issues with it.

My original message wasn't clear enough. I was not having any issues with my documentation. The documentation helps fix the following issues with players (and GMs) installing MapTool (and these issues are listed at the top of the dicument):

1. Wrong version of MapTool is installed.

2. The macros don't work.

3. The Java updater breaks the Java installation -- so MapTool doesn't work.

Non-technical players in my group who followed these instructions had no problem, except some got tripped up on the Target property cut-and-paste. One other player was intimidated by the length of the instructions -- but was able to get through simply because I sent him each step of the instructions one at a time by cutting and pasting them from the document.

The lastest version of the instructions I put out for setting things up with MapTool 1.4.1.8 are greatly simplified (because Java is included as part of their install unlike 1.4.0.5) -- so they should be absolutely no problem even for the least technical player (or GM). They probably also work for MapTool 1.5.1 (which I did install but forget the details).


I've released the 4.6.2 version of my MapTool macros. You can find the link for them above.


I'm a maptools guy and a software dev, and I feel like it goes hand in hand to pick that over the other options.

I feel like it gives me 'almost' everything I would want. I use it as my 'actual' table top on a embedded 45 inch TV with an IR touch screen overlay that works well enough(even though maptools isn't great with touch type capabilities).

I built a 'lite' Starfinder NPC/Ship maptools library/macro set to allow me to quickly spin up stuff for my games in about a day and a half of work. It's not perfect but it gets the job done!

I've also considered 'rolling my own' VTT over the years just to bypass a few of the limitations that maptools has, but I usually realize my 'eyes are bigger than my stomach' when it comes to actually doing the work.

The few thinks that I would love to have in Maptools is the ability to 'paint on' difficult terrain and create custom templates(for effects), since the default ones are a little 3.5-y and aren't flexible for alternate systems.

Anyone else have any particular nitpicks? Those are the two I would like along with some small UI/usability enhancements(initiative tracker being able to be visible in full screen!).


My posting for MapTool macros I've created has been moved to:

Campaign Frameworks


And I released version 4.6.3.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

@Asurasan The terrain modifier stuff is in the current version (1.5.1, but 1.5.2 should be out this weekend, probably). You can plop down tokens on the map (on any layer, including Hidden) and then double-click the token and set the Terrain Movement Modifier. This feature, combined with the new "AI" button in the upper right corner, will perform more intelligent pathing to get the PC token from point A to point B. (We're still testing these features and we'd love to get feedback. We have a Discord server, but the best place for feedback is GitHub.com/RPTools/maptool , in particular the Issues tab. You can fill in a template and tell what feature(s) you'd like to see.)

Our resident bard has been posting information on our main web site RPTools.net over the last month or so, to get people up to speed with the 1.5 release series. We're continuing to do bug fixes and clean stuff up, while also trying to work on a rewrite using JavaFX for the GUI. That'll be a long process, but we're shooting for monthly releases of the 1.5 / 1.6 series in the meantime.

There are two areas where *I* think MapTool needs work. The first is that the D&D/PF way of doing vision is based on each corner of the character's "footprint" on the map (the squares or hexes or ISO cells that the token occupies). MapTool has always done vision from the center of the token for performance reasons (and because we're game-system agnostic), but we hope that a new vision system for 2.0 will allow all four corners to be used. (As a workaround, we're thinking that maybe the "token facing" could be used to indicate which edge/corner the user wanted vision to be based on. Since D&D/PF don't use facing anyway, that should work fine.)

The other area is how the vision system interacts with spells like "fog cloud" and similar, as mentioned by one of the poster's, above. There are some ideas for "gradient vision" that would allow a GM to define how distance affects vision. We need to make this generic enough so that it not only works for D&D/PF, but any other game system as well.

This desire to be game-system agnostic wasn't strictly followed in the early days. The spell templates are a good example of that. Many of them are based on D&D/PF and don't work for other game systems or when hex grids are used. (Since we're all volunteers, we would really benefit from having a programming contributor with an interesting in making hexes work better in MT! None of the core group currently play hex-based games so we don't have much expertise with them.)


My MapTool macros have been moved to:

RPTool's Campaign Frameworks forum

As I've said ... I highly recommend MapTool. My group is now using version 1.4.1.8, and we're chomping at the bit to try a stable build of 1.5 at some point.


If you haven't answered yet:

1. What is your favorite VTT?

2. What features do you see missing in VTTs that you would like to have?

3. What do you like most about your favorite VTT?

4. Do you prefer VTT over traditional tabletop? Why or why not?

5. Is Pathfinder better done over VTT?

6. Are their any VTTs you are thinking about trying and want more info about them?

7. How would you rank (between 1 and 10 with 10 the best) the VTTs you've come into contact with?

8. If you're using a VTT, what other tools do you use with it to:

a. Develop your campaign?

b. Run your campaign?

9. Are you having any trouble with recruiting?

10. Do you prefer combat, role playing, or both?


I've released version 5.0 of my MapTool 1.4.1.8 macros for Pathfinder 1e.

They should also work with MapTool 1.4.0.5 and 1.5,X.

Major new features are described at and the macros can be downloaded from:

RPTool's Campaign Frameworks forum

I'm not associated with RPTools, but I've got to tell you lots of exciting, new developments are going on there with MapTool. They are constantly pouring out ... And it's all free -- but if you like it, those guys deserve a donation.


TL;DR: Maptool is great, the newest version(s) are much easier to get started with. Don't get sucked into the trap of trying to do too much with it too fast.

I've been using Maptool since (at least) Kingmaker first came out. Being able to have dedicated maps for the different hexes the players might investigate, tracking the progress in the overworld (adding little tokens to hexes to indicate when they were searched, etc.), and developing their kingdom cities.

I largely have used it as just a tabletop, with the vision features, and a little status tracking to show players via icon overlays. All my actual initiative/combat tracking was done in the desktop version of Hero Lab.

Recently I've been using the Maptool fork that added a bunch of neat features (including a fairly seamless installer that bundles the appropriate Java files, a robust built-in macro editor, and other stuff), but everything from that fork has since been merged into 1.5, so it's pretty great for anyone just starting with Maptool.

For the PF2 playtest, I created Condition icons and some action statuses (like "raised shield") to keep track of some of the new stuff, which has been helpful. They're just cosmetic overlays, though. I used notepad++ to track combat with hit points and initiative, which...was not ideal? I've had years of Hero Lab tracking all that, so going back to manually tracking everything seemed like a hassle, although PF2 playtest at least was easy to keep track.

I had some time off and literally just got around to implementing initiative in Maptool, and some basic HP and dying/wounded status indicators for monsters (which the players really liked, but I did it so that I wouldn't have to manually keep track).

I've generally found that the really fancy frameworks people have created are *too* fancy, and given that I regularly had to create slight tweaks to characters ability calculations in Hero Lab, trying to import them into Maptool just seemed really cumbersome when Hero Lab already had a combat tracker.

As a result, I end up writing my own macros for a lot of it (using other peoples' + wiki guides as starting points). They're comparatively simple to what a lot of other people do, though. I'm not a software developer by trade, and it can be hard for me to think my way around some specific quirks to the language. I'm sure that some of the ways I do things are also more cumbersome and kludgy as a result, but they're generally prioritized to be simple and flexible for play to avoid edge-case problems caused by imperfect automation. At this point, literally the only rolls I automate are initiative for NPCs, and the macro prompts for each NPC type's modifier so I can pick whatever modifier is appropriate on the fly. It also asks for player's results because my players like to roll their own physical dice, and get sad when they don't get to roll them for stuff.

I wish there was more standardization for certain things in Maptool - there are a ton of community macros that do amazing things, but they can often feel like elaborate "hacks" bolted together by very clever people.

One collection of such tweaks (the Bag of Tricks) has a decent door implementation that I had to stop using because I kept getting really bad performance over the network. Jamz (a contributing dev who made the aforementioned fork) has a door implementation that's dead simple by comparison, but you have to make sure the doors aren't snap-to-grid or you get inconsistent results. Both of these door implementations are combined with a million other features created for those users' home games (like playing a sound). Those collections are filled with other features that are often similarly finicky, and can be a giant hassle to untangle from one another. Doors really should have a basic, universal implementation in the Maptool.

It's easy to completely avoid these extra capabilities and use it as a literal virtual tabletop, though, and presumably that's where a lot of the lesser-featured VTTs survive. Every time I've looked at one of them, though, I've quickly found them limited in some basic way that didn't increase the user-friendliness. Maptool's casual power for some things (map size and vision) have kept me coming back again and again, though. The newest versions are as full-featured and easier to get up and running as any version to date.

Focus on it as a powerful tool whose capabilities can grow with your willingness to learn basic scripting. Even if you don't do any of that, you can at least have neat tokens and battle art without having to buy a bunch of minis or carry around maps.


Click on the link below:

Easy instructions for GMs to setup an RPG campaign with MapTool

Pathfinders, I currently recommend MapTool 1.4.1.8 over the previous popular 1.4.0.5 version because it's much easier to install, setup, and use -- and it has lots of nice new features.

The 1.5.X version is even more exciting, but I'm going to wait a while before committing to it (since it's what some people might call a beta test version). Nice features, though so it's very hard to wait.

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