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  1. #1

    Using FG at the tabletop

    The short version: can FG serve as a useful tool for a group of gamers playing in-person at the tabletop (for mapping encounters, etc)?

    The long version:

    I'm starting a D&D group with a few people from work. We've all had some experience with D&D in the past, but we've all been out of the RPG scene for quite a while. Since it looks like I'll be DMing, I've been trying to get up to speed with D&D in particular and with modern tools of the trade in general. It's a lot to take in all at once, so I thought that I'd just ask my question at the outset and save myself a lot of time in trying to figure out if FG could be the kind of tool that I'm looking for.

    As I said, it looks like I'll be the DM. My players and I are all professionals who work long hours, so we (especially me as the DM) will have limited time to put into all of the prep work for sessions. I'm really interested in anything that could help streamline the process. For instance, we plan to run Lost Mines of Phandelver, and, if that goes well, continue into Princes of the Apocalypse after that; using published campaigns should, I would hope, cut down on the amount of prep time necessary.

    I'm really intrigued by FG's modules for these published adventures. Were I going to be playing online, I'd be all over FG; it looks really great from what I can see! However, we'll be getting together every other week in person, and I'm wondering if FG could help us (me!) at the tabletop with maps, battle grids, pictures, whatever. I think the idea would be to have us all sit at a table with me on one end, two players on each side, and an old wide-screen TV hooked up to my laptop at the end opposite me. We could use some sort of digital tool (maybe FG!) to map out battles and anything else that would be helpful.

    So, my question is this: could FG be helpful in this way, or is it really not amenable to that kind of use? In an ideal world, it would stop me from having to prepare maps and help keep track of everything. If it would be a really awkward use of the platform or just not workable, that's fine; I'm just trying to get a sense of that at the outset of my exploration.

    Thanks so much for your help!

  2. #2
    It absolutely can be used like that. What I'd do is run the GM client on your main laptop and connect in with a player client on the TV output screen. That way you can retain the GM only things just for you and use map masking and all of that.

    There's a few tricks for 5E as well where you can have your friends roll dice at the table and just apply the effects in game. You'd set up Attack and Damage effects on a dummy character with no dice. drag them to the bar and use the modifier stack to add whatever the roll is then drag onto wherever you need it.

    The 5E adventures are amazing too since they include everything needed, maps, monsters, pregens and story for you. My friend, who had never DM'd before, bought Lost Mines of Phandelver and ran a flawless and fun game since it was all so easy for him.
    Last edited by kylania; August 15th, 2015 at 18:24.

  3. #3

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    Some groups do use FG in face to face groups, so that use is viable and there are some threads giving their experience. I will say there are three reasons people use FG for a face to face game, convenience, being able to broadcast the map and figures to a screen, and they have a hybrid group where only some are online.

    There have also been some groups where they start out like you are proposing and then have gone to everyone having a laptop sitting around a table. Given your situation this sounds like it would be optimal if you guys already have laptops. This would mean everyone could use all the built in automation of the FG combat tracker and you would not have to pass around a wireless keyboard or mouse or just move everyone. You could also have a "player" computer + the widescreen and just have the player's "hotseat" the laptop if not everyone has one.

    For you, the DM, running FG would make things easier if you used the official adventures since you would not have to input anything, carry any books around and could just prep by reading the adventure. It would be easier on you, the DM, if there was at least one other computer the player's could use for input so you would not have a share a mouse and keyboard with the players or have to move the PCs.

  4. #4
    Nylanfs's Avatar
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    Welcome to the community!

    Yes to all the above posts and I will throw this out there if you are going to be playing in one location.

    https://goo.gl/photos/ce2pLw2G98Sno6Ht7
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  5. #5
    I am using FG to DM LMoP at the table and also as a player in Dragon Hoard. I would say that FG can definitely help at the table, but not as much as it could. I run 2 instances of FG... the DM instance and the player instance. I run the DM instance on my laptop and display the player instance on an external monitor for the players to see. I can easily display maps and pictures of items/creatures/etc. I use the combat tracker to help run combat, which is pretty useful. Using the fog of war to reveal maps as the characters explore is nice. It frees up time that is normally wasted by players drawing maps.

    The downsides:
    1) The font is too small, making text difficult to read. You cannot change the font size. You have to scale the entire UI in order to make the fonts readable, which isn't ideal. Since I also have the physical manuals and adventure, I tend to use those rather than trying to read too much text from FG....
    2) A lot of content is linked, making it easy to jump to related content. However, each click opens a new window. So, you quickly end up with many windows open, cluttering up the desktop. If FG navigated content similar to how Realm Works navigates content, I think it would be much easier.
    3) Finding ad-hoc information in the reference books can be a pain. Try finding the list of available languages from the PHB in FG. I was originally hoping that FG would streamline game play by making it easy to look up rules.

    All in all, we have found it useful. However, if the above were addressed, it would be so much more useful (to me at least).

  6. #6
    Thank you so much for your quick responses!

    @kylania and Griogre: The idea would definitely be to have people roll physical dice at the table; that's the best part! We'd use FG to track and organize other things, in and out of combat. My strong desire would be to not have everyone with laptops at the table; I think that that would make us too disconnected. In the idea case, there'd only be one, but we could use two if needed. I think that, rather than pass around the player computer, people could just point to where they want their characters to go (for instance: "up three squares, one square to the right, next to that orc"), and one person could do the moving. Passing around a computer/mouse seems like it could really bog things down.

    @Nylanfs: That's a sweet setup, but I have neither the time nor the resources (like a room where I could leave that sort of setup in place) to execute it! I think that a TV at the end of the table is the best that I could do, haha.

    @ddaley: I am very interested in your experience; thanks for sharing! To be clear, are you running these two instances on the same laptop? Being able to run the DM instance on my laptop screen and a player instance (with fog of war and everything) on the TV screen would be perfect. Are you on mac or PC? Is running to instances possible on Mac? (I've got a windows partition on my laptop, but I really don't like using it if I don't have to, haha!)

    Thanks again!

  7. #7
    damned's Avatar
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    ddaley - I assume you are playing 5e? what theme are you using? Is it just the Library and Story fonts that you would like bigger? How much bigger?

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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by damned View Post
    ddaley - I assume you are playing 5e? what theme are you using? Is it just the Library and Story fonts that you would like bigger? How much bigger?
    Yes, we are playing 5e. I am not sure what theme... I didn't change the theme (and not sure how to). I think it is mainly the fonts in the Library and Story. I did scaleui 125 to make things more readable. I would go a bit larger if I didn't have to scale the entire UI.

    Both my laptop and external monitor are running at 1080p.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Equitable Remedy View Post
    Thank you so much for your quick responses!

    @ddaley: I am very interested in your experience; thanks for sharing! To be clear, are you running these two instances on the same laptop? Being able to run the DM instance on my laptop screen and a player instance (with fog of war and everything) on the TV screen would be perfect. Are you on mac or PC? Is running to instances possible on Mac? (I've got a windows partition on my laptop, but I really don't like using it if I don't have to, haha!)

    Thanks again!
    Remedy,

    I am running two instances on a single PC (laptop) and displaying the player instance on an external monitor. I have run two instances on a Mac as well. In order to run two instances on the Mac, it seemed like I had to copy the application and give the second instance another name. However, my macbook is too old, small and under powered.

    I think what you are wanting to do is exactly what I am doing. I display maps and use fog of war to conceal unexplored parts from the players. My players use paper character sheets, but I try to keep their characters in FG up to date. That makes it easy for me to see what abilities and spells and what not that they have. I use the combat tracker and display combat tokens on the screen most of the time. We also use a flip mat and minis, but I like to keep the screen in sync with the mat. But, it is easier for the players at the table to move their minis on the mat. There are times when we don't use the mat and there are times when I don't bother with putting tokens on the map (on the screen). It just depends on the situation.

    EDIT: I should point out, that when I installed on the Mac, I did not use Steam (as I avoid Steam whenever possible). I am not sure how Steam would impact running two instances.
    Last edited by ddaley; August 16th, 2015 at 16:35.

  10. #10
    Trenloe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ddaley View Post
    The font is too small, making text difficult to read. You cannot change the font size. You have to scale the entire UI in order to make the fonts readable, which isn't ideal. Since I also have the physical manuals and adventure, I tend to use those rather than trying to read too much text from FG....
    Try the extension below as a quick experiment. This increases the body text of story entries and reference entries from 10 points to 11 points (the body text, not the headers).

    Instructions on installing extensions here: http://www.fantasygrounds.com/wiki/i...iew#Extensions

    Activate the "5E Reference Font - 11 points" extension for a 5E campaign.
    Attached Files Attached Files


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