Monday, October 20, 2014

Adventure Mon...Uh I Need a Break.

The well is running dry, my free time is running low, and I really need to get back to playing.

So I am taking a hiatus on Adventure Mondays! for a while until I recharge.

There are several articles already written for GM Wednesday! so that should keep.

So what am I doing right now? Well since I'm out in the sticks and my FLGS have devoted their weekend table space to Magic and wargaming tournaments, I'm looking at starting something online.



After looking around, it seems the best options are G+ Hangouts, Roll20, and Fantasy Grounds.

Here's what I've learned about them.

Fantasy Grounds

Pros: It has everything you need to run Savage Worlds, you own the program.
Cons: It has the biggest buy-in. Seriously it costs money. Also it isn't persistent so I have to be online for my players to connect.

If I had the disposable income, I might go this route. Unfortunately I don't so for now I will have to pass.

Roll20

Pros: Robust, free, can be tweaked to cover the Savage Worlds basics, shallow learning curve, persistently online so players can visit it.
Cons: Not originally made for Savage Worlds so it needs to be adapted, designed around miniatures play so may not be necessary for "theater of the mind", also it is browser based so you don't actually own the software.

I am investigating this but it may actually be more than I need. I prefer not to use miniatures as they make people think more about the board than about being cinematic.

However if I can hide the grid lines, I could put up pictures of thematic locations.

G+ Hangouts

Pros: Free and easy.
Cons: I can't find anyone with advice on how to use it to do anything other than chat. It would be neat to share images and handouts and I'm sure it can do it. But it seems I can't experiment with hangouts unless I'm in a hangout with at least one other person. Also it requires that the GM and the players trust each other to not fudge their rolls.

I may just start here if I can figure this doohickey out. Right now I feel that if I try to pre-plan a game session (maps, etc) then I will never run a game session. What I need right now is to just hit the ground running and trust my instincts.


3 comments:

  1. I've used all three (although not all for Savage Worlds)--here are my thoughts:

    I've used Fantasy Grounds off and on for some years. It is indeed the slickest-looking, but the monetary buy-in is really quite prohibitive, and over time the lack of persistence bothered me. (Also, the fact that I could only access the program on one computer--I tend to work on gaming stuff on a variety of different computers, so that severely hampered my prepping.)

    On a Savage Worlds note, that rules module recently got a big and much-needed overhaul, but it was a fan-led project that didn't get any proper documentation, so using it was sometimes a real headache. Pass.

    Google Hangouts is great for just a meat-and-potatoes, no-nonsense sort of gaming. You can share images with a built-in widget called Screenshare: just have your image/handout open in a separate window (PDF or image viewer or whatever), then you share that window to the Hangout. It replaces your mug onscreen with the window, so the players can easily view it. You can only do one at a time, obviously, and there's no way for players to reference the image/handout without having you reshare it, but it works well enough.

    Also, there's no built-in card-dealing or dice-rolling widget, so you'll have to go analog (and use the honor system) or use a third-party site for those.

    Roll20 I've just gotten into, and I like it quite a bit. You can turn off the gridlines easily enough if you just want to share images. Indeed, it seems flexible enough to create some very attractive and informative VTTs. The persistent, web-based link is a big plus both for me as a GM and for my players, as are the little extras, like background music and built-in cards and dice.

    Like I said, I'm just getting into Roll20, so I'm still in the honeymoon phase, but it seems to occupy a happy middle ground between Fantasy Grounds and Google Hangouts, and I'm quite liking that place at the moment.

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  2. Hi, welcome to the world of only RPGing!
    I just wanted to say that Fantasy Grounds have just introduced a $10/month subscription option for their Ultimate license. This drops the entry barrier somewhat. It's a great way to see how it works and decide if you want to pay the one time for ever license fee and own the software.
    Also, on Savage Worlds, FG has amazing support for it, far, far more complete that any other VTT. These is full support for everything you would need... Bennies, automatic exploding dice, card based initiative tracker, even things like adventure cards and a chase tracker. It really is amazing.
    It also has the full, Official documentation included and there are a whole load of avid players on the FG Community forums just dying to show you how it works. One of them made a YouTube video just last week.
    I really recommend that you at least give it a go. I assure you, you won't regret it!

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  3. There is now a new option to subscribe to FG for only $3.99 / month. You get all the included art assets (tokens, maps, etc) which far outweighs your first few months investment.
    https://www.fantasygrounds.com/store/

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