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Letís Use the Combat Tracker Effect Visibility Options Extension

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Introducing the Combat Tracker EVOE

Hello and welcome to a new instructional blog series (the series index).

In my previous ďNeophyte TacklesĒ series I meander my way through my experiences and the lessons learned in developing my first Fantasy Grounds Extension. The fruit of that series was the starting point of this series: The Combat Tracker Effect Visibility Options Extension (or EVOE).

The EVOE currently only works with the 5E ruleset. The 5E Combat Tracker provides two visibility options for effects to the Game or Dungeon Master: a visible to all (VSBL) option and a visible to the GM only (GM) option.

The EVOE provides two additional visibility options for the DM to use: an option that displays an effect to the player whose character has the effect (TRGT) and an option that displays an effect to the player who inflicted the effect (SORC).

One can think of these options as providing a range of visibilities, from less to more, to the players. GM is the least visible, only one person sees these effects in their Combat Tracker. TRGT provides a little more visibility: the effect is displayed to the GM and to the player whose character has the effect. SORC, yet a little more visibility, displays the effect to the GM, the player whose character is affected, and to the player whose character is the source or inflictor of the effect. VSBL provides the most visibility, showing the effect to everyone.

Here is a potion of the GMís Combat Tracker showing the four visibility options (circled in red).

01 - Options.png

Important: Please note the change of the button labels. In v0.0.1 the labels, from least visible to most visible were: GM, SELF, TRGT, VSBL. But as of version v0.1.0 the respective labels are: GM, TRGT, SORC, VSBL. While implementing my latest revisions to the EVOE it became readily apparent that the previous set of labels had been a poor initial choice. I apologize for any confusion.

So why would one use the Combat Tracker Effects Visibility Options Extension? At times the GM might not want to blurt out, your character is exhausted or your character has a disease or your character put on a cursed ring. Instead the DM might want the player to puzzle out what is happening to their character and why. An immediate response is, youíre ďhidingĒ effects from the player. I prefer to think of this as consistency with how other information is revealed to players. The GM is constantly ďhidingĒ information from, and then revealing a little at a time to, the players. Whether it is terrain, hidden traps, unsolved puzzles, or monsters lying in ambush. Some effects should be just one more item to explore in the fabric of a campaign.

Why use a blog to distribute information about the EVOE? Why not a Wiki page or a simple .PDF manual? It wasnít until I started adding more functionality to the EVOE that I realized that inconsistencies are introduced by limiting effect visibility. The employer of EVOE will face this problem. As I discover some myself and GMs uncover others, I want to provide a forum for discussing mitigation tactics, helpful hints, for dealing the with meta-gaming that might occur.

Hereís an example of one scenario that Iíve posted before in the FG Forums:
Krystryd drinks from a fountain. The DM adds the intoxication effect with GM visibility to Krystryd. Later on the party comes upon some orcs and the party immediately attacks. When Krystryd rolls her attack itís at disadvantage. A astute player would ask, ďWhy was Krystrydís attack at disadvantage?Ē The DM might reply, ďSheís feeling a little light headed. Maybe not in complete control of her faculties.Ē The player: head scratching, thinking - Oh crap! Fountain! ďIs she drunk?Ē DM: ďYeah, Iíd say thatís accurateĒ and changes the visibility to VSBL.

Besides verbal mitigation there might be ways to employ an effect one way when there is limited visibility and another way when the effect is visible to all. One example is a die modifier to damage. The EVOE doesnít hide the rolling of dice. But it might not reveal the additional damage to all players. An orc swinging a magical Great Axe might deal 1d12+3 slashing damage plus the effect DMG: 1d4+1, fire. If the magical fire damage is hidden then the players will see two dice silhouettes but only see the 1d12 die of damage reported. ďWhatís up?Ē they ask. To mitigate this ahead of time the DM might use DMG: +4, fire while the effect is hidden, but change it to DMG: 1d4+1, fire once everyone knows about the magical property of the axe.

Finally, in the immediate future I will be adding more and more functionality to EVOE. For example, as of this writing the ATK, DMG and DMGTYPE offensive effects are supported. Some defensive effects are supported, such as AC, RESIST and COVER. Plus most of the conditional effects, Poisoned, Invisible, etc. Some effects that are not yet handled properly are those operating on saving throws, ability and skill checks. Iíll add these as soon as I can.

And a spoiler alert! I hope to eventually add support for effects operating on items, like a cursed sword or magical ring.

I hope you enjoy using the Combat Tracker Effect Visibility Options Extension, which can be downloaded here.

This blog post was written just prior to the release of EVOE v0.1.0.

Please feel free to PM me, or post comments, questions and/or criticisms either here or in the forums.

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Updated September 10th, 2016 at 21:07 by Minty23185Fresh



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