Good programs or sites for running online campaigns

Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hey all. I'm going to be GMing for a group in the near future and want to do so online. I've seen a number of sites or programs over the years that allow for this, but don't have experience with any of them. Does anyone have advice or suggestions? If it matters, I want a system that will let me draw basic maps, use creature tokens, a dice rolling mechanic, and some kind of voice chat. The voice chat is definitely preferable but if it's only text chat that'd be okay too, we could just Skype or something.

Thanks for any advice.

1 person marked this as a favorite. does all of this.

Silver Crusade

Yep. I highly recommend practicing in roll20 before trying to run a game. They have nice video tutorials. A lot of people on these forums are Roll20 users.

I use roll20 for maps, tokens, and dice. For historic reasons my group uses google hangouts for chat. This has worked very well for us.

If you are running an AP or module that you own on pdf you can import map images and hide the portions the party has not yet seen.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Dang that was fast. Thanks all!

I recommend Roll20 as well. However, my group had issues with the voice function. It was very unreliable so we used Discord in tandem with Roll20.

Lakesidefantasy wrote:
I recommend Roll20 as well. However, my group had issues with the voice function. It was very unreliable so we used Discord in tandem with Roll20.


Silver Crusade

Heather 540 wrote:
Lakesidefantasy wrote:
I recommend Roll20 as well. However, my group had issues with the voice function. It was very unreliable so we used Discord in tandem with Roll20.

Roll20 has greatly improved their built-in voice system since we all had those problems.

Does anybody have some macros handy? Can't seem to grasp how to make them.

I'd like to see some practical macro exemples too.

If you're using Roll20, you can make an attack in the character sheet. It's good since it can add crit damage automatically. Otherwise, go to the Collection tab and click 'Add' next to Macro. Then you just type in what you want it to do. For example, if you want to roll three d6's, just type /r 3d6.

I would recommend against Roll20. I would recommend Fantasy Grounds instead.

First, I simply like the application more, particularly the combat tracker.

Second, Roll20 had the owner treat one of its players like dirt -- he was a complete jerk. Mistakenly banned someone and refused to acknowledge his mistake, just doubled down on being a royal tool. You can google the incident if you'd like, but all else equal I'd prefer to use something other than Roll20.

And I like Fantasy Grounds more anyway (I've used both).

If you'd like a tour of Fantasy Grounds I'd be happy to show you around this weekend, just reply here or message me.

Scarab Sages

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Personally, out of the three virtual tabletops I've experienced so far I like maptools the most, then roll20 - though much less than maptools, and finally fantasy grounds.

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doc chaos wrote:
Does anybody have some macros handy? Can't seem to grasp how to make them.

to make macros you can ether use a sheet (the far most tab let you add macros for said sheet. need the gm to hand you a sheet though) or use the overall macro bar which is the 2nd from the right in the tabs where the chat is.(the right most is the setting tab)

one of the most impotent macros i use is the one that not only roll for initiative but also place your token and rolled initiative on the initiative list.
be sure to have the token selected before using the macro. otherwise while it will roll for the initiative it will not place you in the initiative order table: (use what is between the ' marks)


X is your initiative bonus, so for say +3 initiative bonus the macro would look like '[[1d20+3.03&{tracker}]]'.
im using 'X.0X' so if your total roll is the same as some1 else when the gm set the list to show by order those with greater initiative bonus who act before will be higher on the list and get to act sooner.(say two one with +2 the other with +3 roll and get 15 total - 13+2,12+3 their totals would be 15.03 and then 15.02 so the +3 would act sooner)

btw for rolling i like to use '[[XdY+Z]]' rather then '/r XdY+Z' as it takes less room in the chat line and so it makes the wall of text less severe to read.

zza ni wrote:
one of the most impotent macros i use is the one that not only roll for initiative but also place your token and rolled initiative on the initiative list.

FYI in Fantasy Grounds you just click on the Initiative button on your character sheet.

i know, and in roll20 if you fill up your character sheet corectly you also have an initative macro built in. but some just don't like to use the given sheet and it's macro9or fill it up) it's much faster just doing the macros. he asked for macros at roll20 and i gave him what he asked for.

Grand Lodge

TL;DR: FG looks like it is better if you don't care about dynamic lighting, but R20 has dynamic lighting and it is awesome.

I use R20 for the online game I run, and after a little bit of practice, it is pretty good. The hardest thing to do starting out is getting maps to scale properly sometimes, but there are good tutorials out there on how to fix scaling problems.

I have looked at FG, and it looks amazing, but it is missing the one function that is causing me to use R20: dynamic lighting. Yes, you have to have the premium membership to use it, and it take a lot of work to get to work on your maps, but it is pretty special for the players. Also, it gets rid of the "can I see that monster from here?" question.... With dynamic lighting, the answer is: "well, can you see it?"

One trick that I absolutely wish I knew previously is that if you are using the PF character sheets in R20, you can click on any function that is rollable, and then when it pops up in chat, you just click the chat box where you would normally type and press the up arrow. That will actually put the entire macro that the character sheet calls into text in the chatbox. You can then cut/copy and paste that into a macro button or (what I do) use the ability tab and just make it an ability that is tied to a token button. Then, when you click on the token, all the abilities tied to it pop up on a bar and you can just click them. I do this for all my NPCs attacks, saves, initiative, spells, etc. It is also MUCH faster than typing out my own macros, and then trying to hunt down the inevitable syntax errors that I make in them.

In terms of cost, FG is a higher up-front cost to get a license that allows you to GM and your players to play without purchasing the software, but R20 is actually more expensive in the long run. FG is a one-time fee, and R20 is a monthly or yearly subscription fee, which adds up to more than the cost of FG over the course of a year or so. Not sure if that is a factor for you, but its something to be aware of when making the decision. I haven't used/looked at mapmaker, so can't speak to it.

Liberty's Edge

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I highly recomend to anyone and EVERYONE here to check out Role Gate, it is a newer Play by Post/Chat webpage that's free, it works on mobile, easily integrates character sheets, custom dice, different modes of chat for IC and OOC, tones, all sorts of stuff.

I wish I had a proper review I could post up here but truth be told, I do not have the ability to reliably schedule playtime, and that stops me from playing other VTTs, besides most games involve voice chat and I prefer not to need/desire that unless I'm playing in person. I have a busy environment, work from home, and have a kid in the house so I looked into Play by Posts, but the.... the forums here, and elsewhere just prove too steep a learning curve and provide no UI help or easy mobile use.

Since I discovered Role Gate I've been able to participate in 3 games as a player and host a game of my own as GM. This is all within just the last two months and I'm playing more easily and often these days than ever.

My group’s been using d20Pro for years and I’d recommend giving it a try. It’s cheap for a GM license, and easy to get started with.

Most importantly for us, it has a pretty robust Hero Lab .por Importer. We’re heavy users of HL, so that’s key for us.

Has anyone experience with Tabletop Simulator?

The two most popular, seem to be either Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds.
I've looked into both, and suggest you do the same.

My group currently uses Roll 20, and it's worked fine for us overall. But I also like a lot of what I see in Fantasy Grounds, and want to use that eventually.

It seems to me, Roll20 is pretty accessible and quick to learn. Some complain about connectivity though (about 1 in 5 of our sessions are plagued with repeated drop-outs). But it has a few feature F-G doesn't, like the dynamic lighting.

However, F-G plans to incorporate those features pretty soon.
Fantasy Grounds seem much more detailed, and in-depth. The learning curve is higher, but it has some pretty amazing features, with a lot of expansion plans.

Roll20 has a chat feature currently, but again, the sometimes spotty connectivity screws that up. For either system, you might be better off using G hangouts, or some other means for communication.

They also have different pricing, both for service/subscription options, and for add-ones (like game system rules sets, tokens, etc). Check out both to learn the differences.

I think either of these would be a fine choice. Just look into both thoroughly to figure out which will suit your needs now, and in the future.
There are some long-time users on YouTube, most using both, that have done some useful comparison videos. And tutorials, once you've decided on one.

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