D&D Virtual Table - first impressions
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.
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...
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.