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Brother Glacius

Roll20 vs Fantasy Grounds - anyone have input?

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I'm part of a group using Roll20.  I am a player, not the GM.  Our GM has commented that as a GM he feels like Roll20 is worth investing in.  As a player the rest of us have seen no reason to invest and we find that Roll20 works fine for us.  No experience with Fantasy Grounds.


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Roll20 Update:

So I've been using Roll20 now for about 6 months, running a 5e D&D game and playing in a few. I did look into Fantasy Grounds a bit, but honestly, the interface for roll20 was so easy, it seems like too much work to learn something else. I am currently a mid-tier subscriber to Roll20. I have also purchased the PHB for roll20 as that seemed like a basic investment if you are going to run 5th edition.

That being said, I've actually spent more money investing in books on D&D Beyond. The interface is nice, I can buy pieces of books instead of the whole thing which makes my money go farther. And honestly, roll20 lets me get away with it due to the fact that it is so easy to import that info into my game. What I do with roll20 works for me, and I know I'm not using its full potential, but there is some reasoning behind it which I'll get to.

The Good:

Easy to use. It is. If you want to run any game, it is not hard to use the VTT on a very basic level. It basically becomes a white board with a grid that you can slap tokens down on. Not only that, but then it scales up to a very detailed system that uses fog of war, dynamic lighting, and all sorts of goodies. If you are willing to either spend the money for that, and/or put in the work so that it goes smoothly. It is also OS independent due to being browser based. I have friends on Macs and PCs playing the same game with no issues. The built in audio/video is great too. I would never have imagined how important that would be, but it really adds to the experience. For me, I'm playing with friends and friends of friends from way back. So being able to see those people is a huge benefit. So much so that everyone made sure they had web cams before joining. The rules interface for 5e is fantastic. The character builder now supports leveling up and they continue to add rules from new books (provided you buy them) into it. But the character builder is also flexible enough so that you can add in your own rules and items easily. I was able to build the UA Artificer character into it quite easily. There is a lot of flexibility and capability with roll20. You can go simple or as complex as you want to go.

Also, you don't have to spend money into it. You can, and get pretty decent content available. But it will cost you. Personally, I don't want to spend $50 on a monster manual I already own. But that gives you a token for each monster and a link to the stat sheet for it which makes using its abilities and actions during the game a simple as one click. I have yet to buy any adventures, but apparently they are quite good to. You get dynamic lighting maps already made and ready to go. I think if the cost was reduced by a solid 20-30% across the board, I might be more interested in buying those things...but to me personally, they are asking too much.

The Bad:

Honestly, there really isn't any. I've touched on the cost aspect, but my friends who have spent are very happy with it and do find it worth the investment. In fact, one of my buddies has spent quite a bit into roll20 and is a top tier subscriber. He is able to create a game, and then let someone else DM it and benefit from the content that he has purchased. The only thing that gets a bad mark is that sometimes it is unreliable. I play in a game with 7 other people. Getting everyone to be able to see and hear everyone else is sometimes a crap shoot. Or there are times when there is a small four player game and one person keeps dropping in and out of audio/video. And sometimes the VTT just locks up. I'd say on average, about 30min of time is wasted on tech issues per session. But considering what we are trying to do, and the fact that it can work the majority of the time....well, that's pretty darn good. Using Chrome over Firefox is a must for reliability.

I guess the best testimonial that I can give roll20 is that after I started up a once a month D&D game with my college buddies, we now have a total of 4 games being run by four different DMs, all using roll20.


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