Fantasy Grounds Fridays Pre
  1. #1

    First time user experience

    Hello everyone,

    I'm currently in the process of prepping my first FGU game session comming from Roll20 playing the Exalted 3rd Edition system.

    With this thread I intend to give a little bit of feedback to the devs (and maybe extension/module authors) of this wonderful software. There are mostly good things, but also a few bad things. I do not intend to give an objective critic but the subjective user experience from someone transitioning to FG. I'm comming from the perspective of someone that has used Roll20 for all his games (DnD, Exalted 1-3rd Edition, Demons, Vampire, Scion) for the last 7 years.
    Since the pandemic hit Roll20 got unbearable to use so we are looking for alternatives and I found Fantasy Grounds Unity to be the most promising I found so far. I also took a short look at VTT but since we've been burned by the whole web interface and using a middleman server thing I bought the FGU license. It's also a lot more attractive on the financial site of things. The choice between paying monthly or a one time purchase is great.

    Well local servers were one thing, the other one was MoreCore. Since we are mainly playing Exalted (a Storyteller system like Vampire) MoreCore was a godsent with all the functionality it brings to the table and to be honest it was one of the main reasons I decided to go with FGU. So thank you very much @damned.


    Now onto the main part.

    I have finished my prep work for our first FGU session. This includes a lot of work for the character sheets and importing stuff from the Exalted 3rd Edition books. Our most important requirement is having a working character sheet. Exalted has a lot of things and numbers going (9 attributes, 26+ Abilities, most players have a list of ~15-30 Intimacies for the social system, 4 static defense values, 7+ Health with 5 different wound states, 2 kinds of XP, 3 kinds of meta crafting ressources and a few other things). The real "meat" of the character sheet doesn't lie with the numbers though. It's the Charms. They are like DnD spells and every character starts with 15 of those. Currently my players are at around 40 Charms each. Each splat has different Charms but they all count around ~700 Charms to chose from each.

    So having a way to put those into the sheet in a somewhat neat way is extremly important. The base character sheet from FG is able to deliver on that. We set up the Charms as Abilities and simply link them from the Abilities tab. It did however extremly poor for displaying all the numbers. MoreCore was the solution and an extremely good one at that.
    The only somewhat sad part is that the Abilities tab gets crowded very fast. Please don't misunderstand, it is still superior to the sheet on Roll20.

    That was the first and most important hurdle to climb. After I realized that MoreCore was all that it took to give us more quality of life that Roll20 ever did, I decided to switch. As I was experimenting on how to do Charms in FG I learned how the database worked. And it's freaking awesome. MoreCore also played a role in that with the WorldBuilder feature and today I discovered the Author extension.

    I did struggle and still do struggle on how to organize stuff, though. The other thing - also the reason why I love Author - is that the entries in the database have a lot of "baggage" so that we are able to find the stuff we need quickly using the search function. There is a search function. It's awesome. It's freaking awesome. Currently under the abillties database we have around ~16 pages of charms.
    Having to import all of these was... well work that needed to be done. Now we only need to drag and drop to build our characters. Which is something we Exalted player weren't really able to do since the second edition.

    With that being said... Because there is so much stuff everything gets crowded real fast. But while I don't see how I can manage everything like I want I'm sure there is a more efficient way to display and order stuff that I haven't discovered yet because of my very small experience working with FG. Time will tell.


    With that being said my next endeavour was the re-creation of a combat encounter I already prepped on Roll20. So I snatched my map loaded it up, put it into FG and got completely confused. Mainly on how to set up the combat and was tired from copy and pasting hundreds of charms... Well I got sidetracked and played around with maps instead.
    I saw what Pins could do and fell in love with them. I don't know why anymore but I had some trouble to set them up (sorry I was really tired) but after I found the trick which I don't remember anymore I recreated our map from Roll20 and made it pretty. This also where the World Builder feature from MoreCore flexed it's muscles. Creating/linking and sharing/hiding stuff from the "world map" gives a feeling of depth we didn't have before in this way.

    So after that and a break I went back to the combat. Watched a video how the encounter menu and the combat tracker work and sighed. Exalted has dynamic initiative. Since the combat tracker sorts automatically there would be a lot of situations where actors that have already acted drop below the active NPC/PC.

    Then the next problem are the NPC sheets. They are bad for Exalted NPCs. A lot of numbers don't really fit in there. It is easier for me to completely ignore the first page and simply copy/paste the NPC Sheet into the notes tab.

    MoreCore came to the resuce once again. The added combat rolls to combat tracker feature is nice, the additional space is also nice, but I still have wrong names in places and I alraedy know that this will lead to confusion till I learn the XML/Lua necessary to change it myself. That is gonna happen just not anytime soon. The more important feature was the addition the combat tracker for "already acted this turn" checkboxes. Ex3 combat can get really unwieldy so having less things to remember or note down somewhere else the better.

    Putting the encounter on the actual map was a lot of trial and error. It was also then that I realized that for some reason images can't be tokens if you aren't a player character. Since we always used character pictures as tokens I was a bit surprised as to why I needed to upload the same picture in two different places to use it as a image record as well as a token.
    Then I had the problem that the tokens were way too small. After some time of unruly clicking I saw that I need a grid. Okay makes sense and my plant giants stopped playing dwarves.

    I did not bother with lightning/los/effects yet. The players can literally melt cities to the ground within a few hours in game time. They can see for miles within total darkness and use their hearing as a magical sonar that can penetrate stone walls to recreate the scenery on the other side. Nothing is hidden, nothing can't be changed, withing a battle actors can traverse quite literally kilometeres within a few rounds and as such putting a lot of work into making good looking and interesting maps is a lot less attractive than in DnD. There are exceptions so when I get to them I will try out the options FGU has.

    The UI... Well I honestly don't know what to say about it. Sidebars are weird. I have yet to decide which sidebars my players should see and which they shouldn't. It is kinda hard to make out what should go where and why. The software itself doesn't really help with organizing. Well organizing in the sense that it doesn't show you what is best practice or why you should do certain things you want to do in certain ways. Story vs. Notes vs. Quests as an example. Since we need MoreCore it's WorldBuilder and Investigator functionality is added on top so it gets even wilder. Oh and a hint that categories that are not filled with an item will be deleted when closing the campaign would have been quite helpful. I think I lost around 60 or so categories I wanted to fill at some point because of that.

    My players have already tested a bit and started building their characters and the consens was "a bit worse than Roll20 and a bit clunky but managable". With themes "a lot prettier" got added to the list.


    Now... Community. It has nothing to do with the software but still worth mentioning since you need to interact when looking up stuff. It was nothing but helpful and amazing. The forum seems to be an incredible nice place and the developer (or community manager?) activity is through the roof.

    Currently my greatest fear is that the technic gremlins of our FG copies decide to go on a strike demanding more cookies. We have two players that have constant problems with their machines (and sometimes internet) but it was enough for roll20. Well if we ignore that the side sometimes somehow makes us wait for a few minutes (!) to show anyone the results of the role. The only thing that can make it worse are disconnects/crashes/incredible lags/losing data. I doubt that anything so drastic will happen, but if something can go wrong it probably will somehow.


    Soo all in all FG seems to have incredible potential to make our games much better. There a few things I need to get in order and get used to. I need to develop a new workflow and if everything plays well I absolutely need to figure out how XML and Lua to change the NPC sheet.

    I'll also update this post after our session tomorrow, hopefully with without any complains about technical difficulties.


    Well then this concludes my rambling. Thank you for reading and thank you Smite Works for developing FG. Showing my players what new toys we can use with FG got us all excited for the switch and our first FG session. That alone speaks volumes about your work. Normally people dislike change. My players and I are no exception.

  2. #2
    LordEntrails's Avatar
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    Welcome to FG. I'm sure the devs will appreciate the feedback.

    Glad you are finding things (mostly) to your liking, and especially the community. It's something a lot of us work hard to insure is the open, welcoming, and helpful place that it is. As always, just ask if you can't find the answer to your questions

  3. #3
    damned's Avatar
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    Hi Arrix

    As you know MoreCore is a generic framework and I put things in there that i think work for multiple systems. Sometimes stuff goes in there that only works for specific systems so long as it doesnt break the generic nature of the system.

    For me the most important things to learn are:

    Character sheet usage and building - you look like you have that going. Use Rolls and use Roll Parameters where they make sense.
    Combat, Encounters and Maps - Everything goes into the CT and from the CT to the map (encounters have a special way, well worth learning, check the Wiki). The map should have a grid on it. Tokens will size based on Medium being 1 grid unit. Learn how to target. Not all systems need targeting but its a core part of FG dice interactions. Use Rolls for NPCs too but try and put the attacks into one roll if you can, not clicking on skill+attribute+roll. Ofc that will depend on how your NPCs are stat'ed in your system. The Combat Tracker is designed for the GM to use. Players use their own Charsheets.
    For Init - check in Options and set Init to manual or whatever makes most sense. If players get to act again later, after they act, have them alter their Init on their Charsheet. If its always the same amount you can create a few /myinit rolls and they click one of those to reset their init after they act. There is an option to have no init and you tick off next to their name when they act. I dont know what works for your system.
    Content - This is the easiest part, but the part you could do for months and months. I suggest you get in enough for your next session only each time as you might learn better ways to layout or organise data over time. If you input it all now and then decide later that a different format is better you have more to retype.

    If you have MoreCore suggestions/requests I consider them based on utility to others, my ability and my time. MoreCore has also had plenty of additions from others too over time.

    For Theme and layout, you can 100% build a theme that suits your campaign, it does require some work but it can be really worth it. If you do that, and you use your own artwork, it would be great to share with others.
    There is a tonne of stuff you can watch here if you get keen: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...qc_9w1TWQfTPUA

    MoreCore - Generic Ruleset
    --- Projects ---
    Extensions | Tutorials | MoreCore | MoreCore Themes | Call of Cthulhu | Maelstrom | FG Con

  4. #4
    Welcome to FG. I'm sure the devs will appreciate the feedback.

    Glad you are finding things (mostly) to your liking, and especially the community. It's something a lot of us work hard to insure is the open, welcoming, and helpful place that it is. As always, just ask if you can't find the answer to your questions
    Thanks for the warm welcome. And the work shows! I frequent quite a few other RPG forums and spent quite a bit of time in the Skyrim modding community so I can honestly say that so far this place is amazing and very kind.


    Character sheet usage and building - you look like you have that going
    I hope so. As I said in the other thread we are still finding the perfect way to set it up but the usage is easy and makes things quite comfortable. The most recent addition is that I imported a lot of stuff from the core books through author as a Reference Manual so that my players can link the Merit description within the Roll's description. The roll itself is set up as a modifier so it catches not only the Merits that do narrative stuff only but also those that give bonuses to certain actions. So yeah, feature heaven.

    Everything goes into the CT and from the CT to the map (encounters have a special way, well worth learning, check the Wiki). Learn how to target.
    Currently in the process of doing exactly that. Comming from Roll20 this still feels weird.


    Use Rolls for NPCs too but try and put the attacks into one roll if you can, not clicking on skill+attribute+roll.
    Already doing that. That is also the way the system is set up. NPCs don't have the same sheets as players but Quic Character Sheets (QCs). They only have the most relevant pools like Senses: 14 dice or something like that. I personally do it the Scion way defining 3 levels of competence for a certain NPC like "Good at it" 12 dice, "Okay at it" 8 dice, "Not learned" (2 dice).

    The problems are not the pools but all the other values a QC needs.

    check in Options and set Init to manual or whatever makes most sense.
    I honestly don't know what you mean by that. I checked the wiki and did not find an option to turn off the auto-sorting of actors. Ideally it would just sort on turn end.

    For Theme and layout, you can 100% build a theme that suits your campaign, it does require some work but it can be really worth it. If you do that, and you use your own artwork, it would be great to share with others.
    There is a tonne of stuff you can watch here if you get keen: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...qc_9w1TWQfTPUA
    Ah yes another point I forgot to make in my opening post. The amount of community created tutorials may not be as much as for say DnD Beyond (or at least I haven't found it on the net yet) but the stuff that is there is incredible helpful. You youtube series included my players and I found a few very, very good ressources that teach us how to do stuff. I'm outsourcing a few custom roll additions and theme adjustments to my players.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arrix View Post
    I honestly don't know what you mean by that. I checked the wiki and did not find an option to turn off the auto-sorting of actors. Ideally it would just sort on turn end.
    Under Options (the OPT button, top right) there are a number of options. If you click the button, scroll down to "ModeCore Options". Four of the options deal with initiative: CT:Initiative; CT: Initiative Dice Size; CT: Initiative Order; CT: Manual Turn Order. The last one is what damned was talking about.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Griogre View Post
    Under Options (the OPT button, top right) there are a number of options. If you click the button, scroll down to "ModeCore Options". Four of the options deal with initiative: CT:Initiative; CT: Initiative Dice Size; CT: Initiative Order; CT: Manual Turn Order. The last one is what damned was talking about.
    Ah okay, yes we use that and it works fine. It actually is the option which greatly helps Ex3 Combat. I'll go into detail with that in the MoreCore thread if damned wants me to. But I believe the Exalted combat is very unique and the options it would need wouldn't really help other systems.

    Back to the main reason this thread exists. We just had our first session. I spent around an hour to explain stuff, how to setup rolls, how the modifier work, what to hotkey and what to always have access to. After that we jumped in, did a few rolls, my players decided to pick a fight with a fey creature and in the end a reflection of the mother of on of my player's characters came to life to scold her and show her how things should be.

    After the introduction everything went smoothly. The way the rolls were setup with MoreCore was understood immediately and in the end everyone was ecstatic. Rolling is soooooooooo much faster than in Roll20. Except for a few cases no math is required. Well adding things up is easy, nobody ever complained about that, but holy moly it makes a difference when you just need to click the right stuff. And the other part is that we don't need to wait ~30 seconds up to a few minutes (in the worst case) for results to show up. I think I had one roll that had a bit of lag (MoreCore, the new /exalted roll with automatic successes took a few seconds to resolve with 25 dice thrown).

    We had no disconnects. One player has problems with performance though. Nothing major according to her. She freezed a single time and that caused to Discord to die. But in FG she was still online and it didn't crash at all. Most likely a problem with her PC and not FG. She was also the player I was worried about the most. But it works! Not perfectly but still better than Roll20 all in all.
    No connection problems at all using the LAN modus.

    The biggest hiccup while playing was during the fight. Or more precise directly at the start of the fight. My players of course did not do what I expected them to do and the ended up fighting something different than I thought they would. So the encounter I prepared wasn't really useful. And I once again I triped over tokens and how to drag them to the map. I basically tried every option starting with dragging the npc sheet in different ways onto the map till I found how it works. This just feels off to me somehow.
    But after that was done the fight itself went way smoother than I expected. The MoreCore option to set who already acted was very useful. Rolling from the combat tracker was also a big help.

    I did also realize after the fight, but the map options, the effects and such, are incredible cool. On Roll20 we did not have the subscription to have those so it is a very nice level up that also makes sense for a lot of Exalted maps and situations. I'm looking forward to playing around with them.

    Sadly one of my most used features of Roll20 did not work in FG. The "sync view" option, which I believe should centre the view of every player looking at the map to my own view, did not work at all. Two players landed somewhere on the other side of the map, while the other two were placed in the near vincinity of my view but still far off. It felt a lot like a bug.

    The Reference Manuals are awesome as well. All the work I put into those already paid off. It speeds up the game so much compared to searching in PDFs.


    So to sum it up: It felt awesome. Every player likes FGU way more than Roll20 and I'm positive that I will cancel my Roll20 subscription if we experience the same level of smoothness and stability next week. Next week will also feature a lot more opportunities for the players to use all the info pins I went crazy with on the world and city maps. I'm looking forward to that. I think they will be a lot more engaged with the world like that.
    I still need to get used to how NPCs are set up and how to do tokens and encounters. But that is something that will resolve itself with practice and spending a little bit of time getting used to it.

  7. #7

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    I'm not that familiar with moreCore but, for must rulesets, one thing that might help with moving hostile creature tokens to the map is you can grab all of them at once by drag and dropping the red hostile creature creature on your map. That grabs all the hostiles on the tracker and puts them in a diagonal line on the map. It's often faster to drag them all at once and then reorganizing them on the map instead of just dragging them on the map one at a time.

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