View Full Version : Sell me on Fantasy Grounds vs the Competition

November 12th, 2010, 23:14
I'm in the middle of trying this thing out, but I can't actually test the stuff I want to test without paying for it, so I'd like to know how this compares to the other prominent VTT solutions from people who love it.

I have a weekly group, we meet in person, we play D&D4. We like it a lot, and it's my intention to use FG to run D&D4. I have about 20 or 30 friends scattered across the country who bug me constantly to run a game, and FG looks like a robust solution for D&D4 over the internets.

I note that there's at least one other popular VTT solution that also supports 4E. I can't really tell what the difference between the two programs is, except in very abstract terms. I understand that one program is more map-centric, with a map acting as the table, and FG tries to abstract things back one level more so you're looking at an actual table, which contains maps and characters and space for rolling dice.

But while I understand that, conceptually, I have no real understanding what it means during play. What my reaction to both would be.

So I'd like to hear from people who have tried both. Given that one is free and the other costs money, why did you pick FG?

Another question, then, is the robustness of the 4E toolset. I watched a video that seemed pretty impressive in terms of how well FG understands 4E. The white dragon breathes on everyone and it's...it actually seems easier than doing in live and in person.

But I note the competition has stuff like dynamic LOS that reveals and obscures the dungeon as the players move through it. That seems pretty keen. Though A: it seems like a lot of work, as someone...me...would have to define all the walls and pillars and trees so the engine knew what was what and B: it seems *kinda* gimmicky. Like...just fog of war would be fine. And I know FG supports that.

Lastly, what kind of Adventure support for 4E is there? I rooted around and I couldn't find anything. I see there are tokens for a lot of the real modules, cleverly renamed so as to avoid problems. That's great, I would buy those. But do I have to enter the adventure data manually? I sorta presume, if this thing is popular enough...someone must have done it before me.

I also have stacks of older modules I've love to run under 4E, but while I would be delighted if I could download/buy Temple of Elemental Evil (regardless of system) already entered for FG, I sorta presume I'd have to do it myself.

Oh one more question. Do I pay for the 4E rules set? Is it like a plugin? Do the players all have to buy it, or can I push it to them? I think I know the answers, and it's "Yes, Yes, No, Yes," but I'm looking at dropping $150 on this thing and I'd really like to remove ambiguity before I do so. :D

November 12th, 2010, 23:29
Easy questions first:

Do I pay for the 4E rules set?
It's included with FG, so yes you pay for it, but it's not extra. However its the system and doesn't include any "rules text".

Is it like a plugin?
Yes, all rulesets could be considered as plugins, FG comes pre-installed with 4e and 3.5e

Do the players all have to buy it, or can I push it to them?
No, Yes.

Now some of the others:

Why did you pick FG?
For me it's more immersive, the "feel" of FG is less like a windows program than the competition. It also concentrates more on the role playing and the character sheet than the map. That said FG can do still do more than what you can do with battlemaps on the real table.

Lastly, what kind of Adventure support for 4E is there?
Very little unfortunately as the 4e license doesn't allow it. There are some adventures available through ENWorld and a parser that makes it easier to create your own.

November 13th, 2010, 01:07
I think I put this in the wrong forum, as I'm mostly interested in the experiences of people who've chosen this, regardless of rules set, over the competition and why.

November 13th, 2010, 04:37
This thread might give you some ideas of why people chose FG.


November 13th, 2010, 16:15
I chose FG because I was (and still am) really impressed with the "tabletop" feel. This is a hard thing to quantify, but Fantasy Grounds, for me, feels like roleplaying instead of like a computer game.

The best example of this is the dice. It's obviously true that you do not NEED to see dice roll to play an RPG--an appropriately constructed random number generator works just fine. But I really, really like picking up the dice, playing with them, and watching them bounce across the chat window. When I call for players to make a roll, I like seeing their dice suddenly fly onto the table. It's a visceral thing.

That same thing can be said of lots of other FG qualities, like image handouts and the ability to assign multiple "voices" to the GM characters.

Also, if you are looking at the competition I'm thinking of, I toyed with it a little and found it very tedious to construct and define objects for all my own maps. Some people say it is easy and are very good at it, but that wasn't my own experience. With FG, by contrast, I can always just grab an image, manipulate it a little with Photoshop (usually to shrink the size of big files), and drop it straight into the program. Boom: fancy map in fifteen minutes. I've gotten really addicted to maps for this reason; these days I often use more than one in a session.

November 15th, 2010, 01:26
Very little unfortunately as the 4e license doesn't allow it. There are some adventures available through ENWorld and a parser that makes it easier to create your own.

This seems extremely strange to me. If someone's done the work to create an adventure in Fantasy Grounds, you're saying there's no existing community or mechanism via which they can share it?

Isn't that a colossal waste of effort, everyone having to duplicate everyone else's work? Seems a blow to the user base that everyone has to roll their own.

You sure about the ENWorld thing, I couldn't find anything over there. Mind you, they don't make it easy. :D

November 15th, 2010, 01:48
From what I've read regarding the GSL and 4e, you cannot share things that involves WoTC's material (AFAIK).

However if you were to create an adventure, which didn't include (nor referenced?) any monsters, powers, classes etc. from their books, and instead created your own (I think Green Ronin have done something like that) you could share what you've made...

I'm not a lawyer;
I'm just guessing based on other forum posts;
I have no experience with 4e D&D.

November 15th, 2010, 05:44
I am biased, of course, but I was initially drawn to Fantasy Grounds because of the interface and extensibility of the product. I like to play a variety of different games and I like that the interface can be changed to accommodate each one. Each ruleset not only contains different rules, automation and data (when the license allows), but it also changes the look and presentation. Setting the proper mood and tone for your game goes a long way when you run a game as a GM in my opinion.

Another significant bonus for Fantasy Grounds is that it has the best framework for supporting publishers and publisher content as purchasable add-ons. Anything that we sell as an add-on can be built by the end user willing to invest the time and effort, but if you want a neatly organized and complete version built for you without all the effort, you can invest a small sum of money and get instant gratification. By ensuring that a large share of that purchase goes directly back to the publisher and another portion goes to any community developer who built the product, it creates an incentive for publishers and community developers to work with us. In turn, showing support for many RPG products continues to draw in new licensees and expands the user pool -- benefiting both SmiteWorks and the community at large.

November 15th, 2010, 12:04
You want to check out the tutorial videos, they are in the downloads section under Video Tutorials.

If you are planning on buying fantasy grounds, they are an invaluable resource, and if you are just looking, they'll give you a good idea of what goes into running / playing the game.

Another spot you may want to check out is the Gallery in the forums

Good luck in picking!

November 15th, 2010, 14:19
I picked it after testing three or four possibilities for a 4e game with friends scattered around the country. I mainly chose FG because I liked the scalability of its automation. You can use a lot of automation for things like movement if you want, or very little. My group doesn't use the movement functions or the map grid at all, but we all love the combat tracker. I also liked the idea of being able to use it for other games/rulesets if we want to. The active community was also an important selling point. The folks around here are quite helpful and friendly.

Hye Roler
November 16th, 2010, 16:48
I've played several sessions using Fantasy Grounds with folks over the Internet and I enjoyed that a lot. Although recently (and very fortunately), I've formed a home gaming group with some local folks and I'm running my game with it. I have all of the info I need right there at my finger tips. Story items, npc/monster stats, etc.

Plus, once it is "time to roll initiative" I can't tell you how much easier it was to have my GM Map showing all of the PCs and NPCs on it while they were moving figures on a real battlemap on the table. Making stealth rolls and tracking movement of hidden npcs was WAY easier. As a GM I was able to be much more tactical in my approach since I saw everything happen before me without giving anything away to the players. Additionally, the Combat Tracker was invaluable in keeping track of 8 players and tons of monsters. Knowing exactly when someone was bloodied, auto damage drops, etc. I even tracked PC health and conditions.

Bottom line: I've tried all of the others and there is nothing that can compare to FGII in terms of the feel and capabilities. I'm confident that future releases will just continue to impress. :)

November 16th, 2010, 19:54
I bought the ULTIMATE license, so you can stop selling me now. :D

So far, the learning curve is steep, and I feel the tutorials assume a little too much on the viewer's part about how Fantasy Grounds organizes its data, but I've made a lot of progress in a short time thanks to the help of people on this forum and I am looking forward to deploying this to my group.

November 17th, 2010, 11:55
The learning curve is steep indeed. Make sure you go through the User Guide for 4e in the library area.

And I can't stress enough how much it helped me to run test combats and such before I started running my first campaign(which I'm doing right now). Get one good friend and have them help you by making a character and and trying to kill your monsters.

You'll want to use mod files, though making them is a feat in its own right. Creating your own data libraries is crazy helpful.

Moon Wizard
November 21st, 2010, 22:23
Yes, the User guides for hosting and playing are invaluable. It was the first thing that I did when I joined the company, because it was all buried in forums and readme files before that. People were always asking how to do specific things, so I remade the User guides.

I also updated the reference section for ruleset creation to be more correct and complete. However, it needs more work as well. It's just a lower priority since there are so many examples in the existing rulesets out there.