Online Play and Fantasy Grounds
Last year I ran a couple of hangout games using Roll20 in other systems. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes there were issues. I'd like to take part in an online BRP game sometime, possibly as the GM. That's true for a lot of systems, actually -- between not having money to travel and not having good transportation for a local game it's starting to develop some appeal.
Now there's an official "set" for BRP available for Fantasy grounds, one of the leading virtual tabletops. The problem is the expense; the Full GM license for FGII and the BRP module will set me back almost $60 if I get them both at the same time. I don't know that I can make that investment unless there's a reasonably certainty I'd get to use it. By contrast, the monthly fee for Roll20 does not contain any game system material, but does let me use the various play and GM functions. Although I have a learning curve there too.
So how hard is it to learn and use Fantasy Grounds? Is the BRP support any good?
Not so hard to learn, but you might encunter network issues. Make sure that you have a publc IP address reachable by clients on your PC before investing in Fantasy Grounds, or prepare to use Hamachi for virtual networking (best solution).
The BRP ruleset is 3 year old and does not benefit of the most recent features. Smiteworks has not disclosed any ETA for an update. You can still play, anyway.
I'm currently running a One Ring game using Roll20, no issues. I also playing in a Griffin Mountain game using Roll20, no issues. Both of these use G+ Hangouts for voice and video which doesn't rely on the Roll20 servers which are several orders of magnitude more likely to have issues than Google. I've also played Legend via Skype several times with no issues attributable to their servers.
Most issues with on-line gaming come down to individual problems with local bandwidth due to ISP issues or just crappy connections. I manage about 10-12 Mbps and generally have no issues but mostly keep video turned off unless I actually need to see the person at the other end.
Roll20 did an upgrade of their game features mid December which may have improved things but I don't tend to use their system standalone except for building a campaign and doing macros etc., so I can't say if it's an improvement or not .
Unfortunately I could not find references to any of the d100 games on the system when I last visited. Rolling dice the right way should work just fine, though. I'm just wondering what other things I will need to track down in the system to run BRP/RQ/D100 adequately.
Roll20 does not track anything natively but three unnamed variables per token, die rolls and map positioning.
If your campaign does not revolve around mapping, you might consider using simply Skype/Hangouts and http://dicelog.com/dice for die rolls. Dicelog's dice chat is way more friendly than Roll20's. I have ran 3 sessons of Call of Catthulhu with this combination and it worked. You may object that this forces you to use separate character sheets in excel or pdf format, but so does roll20, too.
It isn't hard to learn Fantasy Grounds. There is more to learn if you are going to GM. I have been using it to GM a PF campaign for a couple of years now and it works great. The people on the forums for FG are super helpful and there are lots of videos to watch to learn how to use it. If you have a question just ask on the forum and you will get lots of feedback.
Originally Posted by Michael Hopcroft
The issue of the BRP ruleset is a bit trickier to answer. The BRP ruleset was written a few years ago by a freelance community member. FG has undergone a number of upgrades ( all of them free ) but the BRP ruleset author is not active anymore and has not updated it. I own the BRP ruleset but haven't been using it ( due to the PF game). As far as I know it still works fine, but does not include as many of the advanced features that PF, 3.5, Savage Worlds, and 4th include. There is nothing concrete about a ruleset upgrade.
Now that FG3 has been released there has been discussion about someone either updating or creating a new d100 ruleset. The new CORE layered ruleset architecture should help with keeping the ruleset up to date.
I would consider the CoC ruleset since I believe it is being updated by Smiteworks and it might give you a base for d100. Just depends on what BRP options you want to use. Cruise around the FG forums for more info.
The best way to learn FG is to just play around with it. You can do this by downloading the program and electing to use the unregistered version. Watch some videos, then try to do what it shows in the video. Even better, try to join in a game that is seeking players or ask to lurk. The more you use it the better you will understand it. I'm still learning about new features or things I didn't know I could do.
I think it is the best VTT for GMs due to its record keeping ability. Some GMs use it to record keep for pbp or live games too.
Of course if you join in FG Con 4 coming up in May, you'll get to play using the most popular rulesets. I am planning to run a BRP game so it better still be working ;-)
See my signature for info and check the forums too.
I would love to take part in FG Con. The last virtual convention I went to was a blast. We were mainly playing and socializing on Hangouts, so I'm wondering how FG handles the socializing aspects. And whether it supports voice at all.
Originally Posted by wbcreighton
I downloaded the demo just now. It'll probably be at least a couple of days before I can purchase my license (probably the Full license so I can GM -- the Ultimate sounds nice but is a bit spendy for me at the moment).
There are several games I am interested in, the majority opf which do not show up on the list of games FG supports. And I'm wondering how many of the rulesets that are listed on the site, either from fans or officially, work with the newest edition (apparently the program just completed a major upgrade cycle). I have ideas on what I would like to see but no ideas whatsoever on how to make them real. I regret my age -- if I were younger I would probably have been taught enough programming in high school and college that I could have a go at building a ruleset. As it is I'll probably be as completely lost at sea as I would be adapting a template set for Hero Lab (which supports CoC but not really the full scope of BRP).
Unfortunately the only game I am currently running online on FG is in Italian (and it isn't BRP it is 13th Age) so I doubt it would provide a good experience for you. But I have tried the new version and it is really really good. Cannot wait for Moon Wizard & co to upgrade all the rulesets beyond PF and 4e, which are the most widely used ones.
Remember that the full license allows you to GM only for those with a Lite license, so you are not actually saving anything - you are just spreading the cost among the entire group. Unless you already have a group, you might be better off by experimenting with the demo license to see whether the program suits your tastes. You can tinker with several versions of D&D for free, even with the demo version.
Fantasy Grounds does not provide support for voice or video - for one very simple reason: there are better dedicated programs for that. You can run Skype, Ventrilo, Teamspeak or Google Hangouts together with it at no cost. Had FG an integrated voice chat, you would be stuck with that choice, even if it turned out to have issues with your connection.
Last edited by RosenMcStern; February 13th, 2014 at 10:40.
Well we have run 3 online conventions and we encourage the participants to use the FG Communities Teamspeak servers. There is a central voip chatroom that you can meet up and discuss gaming with like minded rpgers. I have spent a fair amount of time during the past conventions just chatting with friends and people I hadn't met until then. It was a lot of fun. Usually people hanging out chatting will get recruited for a session that is short of players or a GM decides to run a session because of a request.
Originally Posted by Michael Hopcroft
One nice thing about the Full license is that you can upgrade to an Ultimate at a later date. They sometimes put the licenses on sale once or twice a year. I only use the Full License, but three of our group are also GMs who have Full Licenses. We bought a bundle of Full and Lites at the same time ( for the discount ).
Our group uses Skype and have had minimal problems with it. I like the ongoing chat record that it keeps.
Last edited by wbcreighton; February 13th, 2014 at 19:17.
Reason: added Skype comment