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Monday, January 16, 2017

Fantasy Grounds VTT is a Great Way to Play

There's new construction under way, and I'm enjoying myself immensely.

I haven't DM'd in a little while, and some recent events have opened the door for me to run some games.  First, the DM for our regular Sunday night Fantasy Grounds game had injured himself and required a long rest & recoup, so I heeded the call and started prepping.  We recently moved from Castles & Crusades to 5e in order to help recruit some new folks to the virtual table.  The other game I'm prepping is also for Fantasy Grounds (FG), but in a complete 180 degree shift, it's for AD&D 1e, a ruleset just recently developed.

I've been a user of the Fantasy Grounds Virtual Tabletop platform since 2008, when technology finally rose to the point where playing a game via the internet became plausible with the advent of the VTT software and VoiP services like skype and hangouts.  I enjoy the flexibility of playing in this way, though in no way does it replace the more personal and intimate experience of playing live and in person around the table.  The dice are not as fun to roll, and the books are all digital...there are elements of roleplaying that siimply cannot be reproduced via the internet.

What I HAVE managed to do via the internet and VTT's is schedule games that I can regularly attend, engage with people who also desire to play but cannot get to a group at all or as much as they would like to, and I've even managed to make some long and lasting friendships.  Adulting is busy work, and it doesn't allow for the sort of freedom and flexibility I had as a young person engaging in my hobby.  Many weekends were lost to the table, and I wouldn't trade that time for anything, but now the choices are harder, and VTT's fill the void nicely.

I've spoken before of my dislike of 5e, but I'm running it.  Most of the players now coming to Fantasy Grounds, and coming to or back to gaming are doing so because of 5e.  I'm split about how it makes me feel.  I know that coming off of 3.5e, and then 4e, it feels like a step forward in the evolution of the product for many people.  To me it feels like a compromise on many levels, but I'm not going to rehash, just read the first post.  What I DO like is that it's incredibly well supported on Fantasy Grounds, and there are features I wish were available in many of the other rulesets I enjoy like Castles & Crusades, and now AD&D1e.  It makes character creation, and campaign creation, a much more pleasant process than I'm used to with other rulesets
With the new AD&D1e ruleset, which is neatly built on top of the familiar (to me) Castles & Crusades ruleset, it's like coming home.  The look & feel of the ruleset is very Old School and the coder of the ruleset will be joining in as a player so that should be a good time.  Fresh out of it's 'wrapping' it has a few bugs, but the ruleset creator has been quick to make adjustments.  It's getting alot of positive attention and I think it will be well supported.

Mostly, I'm enjoying the creative process of worldbuilding.  I plan on doing a few near-future blog posts on my process that are a bit more specific, but I've learned over many, many years of creating playvironments (I just made this word up...maybe it will catch on) that it's good to start with a small place, a few encounters, and a couple of interesting NPC's and let the game world build itself organically through play.  At its simplest, I drop a rock I made into a pond I stumbled upon, and the ripples will become the gameworld.

I'm a big fan of Fantasy Grounds.  It has managed to keep me in the hobby, which certainly would not have been the case if playing live and in person was my only option.  I know that many folks don't like gaming this way, or prefer the freemium model of Roll20, but FG seems to me to be the best VTT currently available.  Is it expensive?  Not really, if you are interested in playing rulesets that aren't 5e.  Not gonna lie, buying all of the add-ons to make 5e work well (and give you and your players access to all the bits n pieces of the PHB, DMG, and MM) can run upwards of $100+.  It's not cheap to be one of the Cool Kids, never is.  Thankfully that's not my main mode, so over the last 8 years my financial investment in the product has been negligible.

There are many Fantasy Grounds actual play videos as well as video reviews and tutorials on youtube so head over and take a look if you're interested in what VTT gaming with FG has to offer, and stop by the forum on their website to see how involved and passionate the user base can be.


  1. I wish WOTC would get off their asses and allow licensing of their older stuff - they have no clue what kind interest out there for it.

  2. Always wanted to use FG2, but not everyone has it, what would one have to buy if I wanted to run a game and allow players to join up? (let's say they all didn't have the software)

    1. If you want to run a game for an unlimited number of players W/O any licensing whatsoever, you would be looking at the ULTIMATE license. You can use their subscription model at $9.99 a month, or their buy-it-now version for unlimited use at $149. My advice for new users is to dive in with a subscription, give the software a spin, and decide if an outright purchase makes sense.

      I also HIGHLY recommend you play in a few games first, before you spend a nickel of your hard earned cash! There are plenty of ultimate license holders looking for players, and during FGDaze (their online conventions held a few times a year) everything is free as well (licensing is turned off), so there are alot of great ways to try-before-you-buy.

      There are extraneous costs as well, depending on the ruleset you play. On the inexpensive end you can purchase the Castles & Crusades ruleset for about $10. There are also free-to-play options, like the 5e SRD materials. The 5e Ruleset is 'baked in', so you can play a full game (but with limited access to the CORE materials like the PHB, DMG, and MM) without spending any more money. Most folks, however, end up putting out the $$$ for the mods/books that make that ruleset a full 5e experience.

      in the end, cost varies greatly depending on your needs/wants. I've only ever had the FULL license, and have played primarily C&C ($10) and now the new ADnD1e Ruleset ($0 but required the C&C ruleset to work correctly, so really $10)

      There is a ton of info at the store here

      If you end up laying out some cash, and want to pop into a game, HMU. Always a spot for you in my Wed. evening 1e session!

      BTW: I DO NOT work for FG lol.

    2. Wow thanks for the info. I'll have to poke around and join a weekend game with GM like u said to try it before investing. Dude weds night? What time (zone) for how long?

    3. 7pm est till 9:15est...yup. Wednesday. Starting this week.

  3. You would need to purchase the ultimate license. That allows you as the DM to have anyone with the free demo version to join your game and have full access to all the features.

    Or everyone buys the 40$ game and then they can connect to whomever wants to DM and access anything that DM has.

    If you wanted to play savage worlds it would be another 10 bucks to buy the guides.(totally worth it... Makes everything in game drag and drop)

    If you wanted to play 5e you have access to 5e SRD for free also everything is drag and drop, race, class, weapons, inventory , full automation, drop a dragon on the map and select 5 people and breath weapon...FG rolls a save for all them and then roll damage and FG will apply damage for you and also half damage to anyone that saved.

    If your a player go use roll20...If your a DM you want to use FG for its amazing accounting work it does..

    If your not sure you tube Mathew collville video on fantasy grounds... The guys excitement is infectious