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DrivethruRPG letter

Posted: Thu May 27, 2010 9:17 pm
by Hamish
A Better Game
So I've been looking at online game tables lately.

If you don't know what I mean, I'm talking about software designed specifically for playing tabletop RPGs (or at least having that functionality built in to a larger package) via the Internet. I've not had a great deal of luck in the past with such things, but there's been a lot of development since my last exploration.

You see, I have friends and folks who wish to game with me literally all over the world. I know of many other GMs and players facing a similar situation. As well, a lot of game publishers could really benefit from facilitating RPG play via the `Net, both as a way to run "demo games" in virtual space, and as a means to promote even more sales as more GMs are able to find players, form games, and run them.

My role here at DriveThruRPG is such that I pretty much have to keep it neutral as to which I think get the job done best, but I can share with you what I've found to try so far. Truth is, I've only just begun this particular journey, so I don't know much about most of the programs. So we can learn about this together.

In no particular order, here's what I've looked at and/or downloaded so far:

Fantasy Grounds. One of the better known programs in play, with a great many systems and sets related to various game systems available.
OpenRPG (Traipse). There's been a great deal of effort to create an open source table for gamers, and this is one of the variant efforts by Knowledge Arcana.
d20Pro. A very high-end piece of software designed specifically for d20, Pathfinder, and similar systems.
ScreenMonkey. Another long-developed software package that many have used to great satisfaction.
RPGObjects OpenRPG. Another variant of the OpenRPG program, totally free.
Klooge. I fully admit I know very little about this one, at least for now, but I've heard of it more than once.
GlitterComm. This is one I know nothing about, other than the front page, but it's free and I am intrigued by what I've read.
There's a site I have been experimenting with; it's not a virtual tabletop, but it's a GM and Campaign management site that has some really neat features. It's called the Obsidian Portal, and I look forward to figuring out more of its secrets.

(Heck, it's the first time I've ever understood a wiki setup...)

So, have you used any of these? Or something else? I'd love to know your experiences (
So I'm letting them know that I too looked and sampled and that I choose Battlegrounds RPG, which was not on the list.


Posted: Fri May 28, 2010 1:37 am
by heruca
Grrr! How could he miss Battlegrounds, yet mention a "dead" and largely unknown VT like GlitterComm? Heck, he even missed MapTools and Gametable. :shock:

Here's a link to the original newsletter that Hamish quoted from (scroll down nearly to the bottom).

Perhaps we should all email Sean and ask him for a mention in a follow-up piece for the next newsletter.

Posted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 8:59 pm
by Hamish
And here's this weeks comments!

Apparently I hit another hot-button topic last week with my coverage of virtual game tables. Let's dive right in.

A number of you, like Peter Medrano, were concerned about some of my omissions. "Your discussion of online game tables was missing one of the big ones, in my oh so humble opinion! You might want to make mention of MapTools, part of the RPTools group of software ( MapTools has a few things going for it that really push it to the front of the pack (and make it the game table my group uses)."

(And Jayson Stevens kindly pointed out that Rite Publishing's Fantastic Maps series features some maps specifically for that tool.)

I was less concerned about leaving things out, simply because I knew I could count on you folks to bring me up to speed. "One program you missed is Battlegrounds RPG. A system that I've chosen for our (soon to be started) D&D 4E campaign... We've been playing Traveller for almost 2 years now via Screenmonkey and Skype... But when we decided to opt into 4E, the graphics avalable on ScreenMonkey, well, pales in comparison to what is now available...

So take a peek at the Battlegrounds website. It deserves both a mention and your attention!" - James Bachup.

For some, like Kevin Flynn, the learning curves and other elements just don't seem to work. "I was trying to use some of these with my local group, around a table with half a dozen notebooks and a projector. It works to a point, and the point is that my players were not as skilled with the system as I was so there was a lot of wasted time and things bogged down. In the end, because they couldnt put as much time into it as I did, I gave up and went back to tabletop."

Finally, Ben Phillips offers the following suggestion - "LOVE the bomb squad story! Suggestion: In the reviews, can you add a bullet point for the intended system?"

I've forwarded that along to the team to see how easy it would be to implement. Please feel free, my friends, to share any ideas like this you have.

As always, please drop me a line at if you have anything to share, as I always appreciate the feedback and suggestions. I am now getting so many emails that I may not be able to reply to everyone, but please know I read each message I receive.
And there was a link to Battlegrounds (it was embedded in the original text). So hopefully others will also follow it here. (Granted there was a typo in my name, but thats the least important thing in this case)

Take care


Posted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 10:35 pm
by heruca
Great. Thanks for sending him that email.