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View Full Version : D&D Virtual Table - first impressions



tilt
11-03-2011, 07:46 AM
Note: The program is still in Beta, so there might be changes to the final version and limits on what you can do at the moment.

I received a mail from Wizards inviting me to take a look at their new Virtual Tabletop.
A quick note for people who don't know what it is: Dungeons & Dragons virtual tabletop is a way to play traditional "pen&paper" roleplaying games with your friends (or random people from the web) online. Basically you get a system to run a game on your computer and your players log on to it.
The short testing I've done is alone - so I have not tried to actually play on the VT yet, only looked around in the DM section playing with maps and settings.

it includes:
A bunch of map tiles, character tokens and monster tokens
Import function for characters from DDI Character Builder
Import function for DDI Monster Builder
Online storage for all your adventures
Integrated Vivox voice chat, including voice fonts.


You start out by naming a campaign/session and marking it as open or closed (ie. only for people you invite), after opening it you get a grid and some menus. You can choose what version of D&D you're running all the way back to 1st. You can also choose between D&D Core world, Forgotten Realms etc. - nice :)
You can choose to import an adventure or you can throw on a background and then drag and drop tiles onto it.
The tiles are sorted in wilderness, dungeon and city and if you've loaded an adventure the tiles from that appear here too.
Unfortunately you can't import your own map yet (I'm guessing you will be able to later on).
I imported my 14th level Swordmage without problems, and all his powers and skills are there, however, the portrait I've uploaded for his character sheet don't make it into D&DVT - annoying.
There is a dice roller where you can easily click on how many of the different dice you want to throw and then it calculates the result for you - it works but is a little bit disappointing concidering the beautiful dice roller you get with Fantasy Grounds (where the dice actually roll across the screen for all players to see).
When you are in combat you choose a target, the relevant attack power and roll, then you roll for damage - I think the option for auto-damage would be nice here. Also the system only recognizes the chances to hit and damage, it is not aware of range, bursts etc. So when I use Greenflame blade which damages all the enemies around the enemy I hit it can't handle that. Also when I use Sword Burst I still have to manually choose each enemy I attack in burst 1 around me. (all hexes around me). - thats a do-over Wizards.
But the options of importing characters and monsters - or even make them right in the game is good. The initiative tracker is easy to use, there is a journal for notes and it supports hiding part of the maps for the players. You can also draw simple lines and boxes on the map for illustration purposes and areas of effect and such. There is a line-of-sight function as well. But there is still a lot to do for them to catch up to the other products out there I think. They have the money to be BETTER, so cough up Wizards, spend what it needs to get there...

Verdict:
At the moment I think MapTools still is a better option, especially since its free. Fantasy Grounds is pretty much on level with D&DVT I think. What Wizards have going for them is the connection with their other stuff online (char builder, monster builder) and they have a much nicer layout than for instance Map Tools. Originally they wanted to do all this in 3D, but that obviously got to difficult (read expensive) for them to make which is too bad for that would have put them on top of the list. Now, they are a struggling number 2 and really need to up the ante to get ahead. Wizards, if you want people to pay for something - you have to make it worth the money.

anstett
11-03-2011, 09:44 AM
Thanks for the review!

BOB

BlueMoon
11-07-2011, 10:54 AM
Any chance of it supporting past editions? DND 3.X,AD&D,OD&D

tilt
11-07-2011, 12:39 PM
its is buildt to support all the official D&D versions right back from number 1

OldGuy
11-08-2011, 01:46 AM
Thanks for the review. I was wondering how it was coming along.

I saw a screenshot months ago that showed a drop down where you could select which version game you were playing. I've never seen any mention as to what (if anything) that selection actually does. Have you played with it yet? If you select 2nd edition does it recognize the 2e skill list? If you select 1e does a red popup appear warning you that you have entered a THAC0 zone?

I'm also curious if they have announced yet how it will be sold (standalone, part of ddi, separate subscription).

It has the potential to be amazing. I hope it will be.

Jaxilon
11-08-2011, 03:01 AM
Interesting.

Another thing the other VTTs have going for them imo is that they allow you to use other RPG systems. Does Wizards have any allowances planned for that?

tilt
11-08-2011, 05:23 AM
@jax - nope, don't think they plan on it being used with other systems. If they were to expand later on it would probably only be for their own games as well.
@oldguy - haven't played with other systems than 4e yet - haven't even had time to return to try some more. For now the program will be free with a ddi subscription but that does leave one with 2 big questions:
1. Will they charge later on? - the wording on the website does apply that there will be additional cost later on.
2. Will it be required for ALL players to be a ddi subscriber to play? They don't say anything about that yet - however my gut feeling says yes. There has long been an "understanding" that a ddi subscription to ddi was for the GM and up to 4 players (since you were able to update "character builder" 5 times a month but Wizard always only came with one monthly update. I believe that they want to change that now and have all players subscribe too. On their webpage they tell people to subscribe to gain access to the beta test (clues of what to come? YES)

What will that mean - imho it spells the death of the program after the initial beta opening is over, of course there will always be some people who are willing to pay to play - but consider this, if Wizards will ask for more money to gain access to the gaming table (or a separate subscription) then we're suddenly talking people having to cough up x-dollar (my guess would be 5) every month. The closest competitors would be MapTools which is free and Fantasy Grounds (nicer interface) which costs $25 for a player license (one time fee). I think with fees in addition to the ddi fee people will drop out of using the program and Wizards will be left with a small group of players, which will not give them the funds to keep developing the program, so the system will stagnate and finally end.