Carpe Blogiem: My Love/Hate Relationship With Virtual Tabletops

I’ve been playing role-playing games for a long time, I’ve been into computers almost as long. When I found out the two could combine…oh man, I geeked out. My first VTT was MapTools (version 1.19 I think). I spent hours toying with it and trying to make it work…and it did. But not the way I’d seen others demonstrate it working. It was incredibly frustrating. I tried my hand at coding (and I wasn’t bad at it), but I just didn’t have time to learn how to do everything I needed to do to do what I wanted. I have the same problem with the GURPS Character Assistant. I love that bit of software, but creating custom files for my personal campaigns was just a nightmare. So I left MapTools alone for a while, and went back to gaming without a VTT. Which kind of sucked because I can’t free hand maps. Give me a piece of wood and I can carve a figure, try to have me drawing something and you get something like this….

See my problem? I suck at drawing things. If I were a GURPS character I’d probably have some sort of quirk-related Incompetence for drawing. Anyways, I again grew frustrated with my lack of sketching ability so I tried Fantasy Grounds. It did the same thing to me – drove me nuts and I ended up leaving it be…again. This cycle repeated for a while, until I actually plopped down money for Battlegrounds which I used the longest, but again, grew frustrated with. I eventually came round back to MapTool and used that for a while, especially with the GURPS ruleset that Wraithchild worked up. Still, it didn’t hold me for long. Maybe that’s because I run a exclusive face to face game – though we’re considering a hybrid model at the moment. For me, VTTs have always been a resource to use at the gaming table – not to replace the gaming table. Even if I was running a online game I would probably want to use something simple, maybe like Epic Table or I might come back to Fantasy Grounds (which has been much improved) or MapTool. Still, I got my license for Battlegrounds and Heruca is a damn fine fellow (one of the nicest blokes you’ll ever meet). After transcribing all of the interviews for +Douglas Cole‘s RPGBA Blog Carnival for Gaming Ballistic, I’ve got a whole new yen for a VTT – but my needs have changed since before. I want something easy to use, preferably with little to no scripting needs (or that have them done already), and that I can use at my gaming table or online. When I finally get time to evaluate what software is right for me, I’ll probably come back and edit this post. Until then, I really suggest you check out what Doug’s been up to this month – if he hasn’t covered all the popular VTTs out there, I don’t know who has. I’m sure there are a few missing of course, but all the major ones are there.

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