New to Virtual Tabletop software

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david.steele
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New to Virtual Tabletop software

Post by david.steele » Sun Nov 07, 2010 3:33 am

I am trying to determine which virtual tabletop software to invest in. I know that maptools is free, but I am not necessarily concerned about the cost. I am more interested in the features and quality of the software. I am also not concerned with which operating systems are supported, etc. I can work around those types of limitations easily enough.

That said, I would use the software to run a GURPS game (not online, but at a table where everyone would have a laptop). One of my biggest interests (aside from supporting GURPS) is Fog of War. Ideally, each players laptop should show only that player character's "view" of the map (and ideally, I could have REALLY large maps - like whole cities. but don't think this is possible with ANY of the various softwares based on what I have seen).

I am looking for your (possibly baised) opinions on Battlegrounds for use with GURPS games.

Also, I know about the SJ limitations on automation of the game (seems like most games have similiar limitations). Is it possible for me (and easy) to ignore the limitation for my own games and automate stuff? (Email me offline if needed.) I am out of practice, but have programming experience. I would really like software to help with as many rules as possible.

fb66
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Post by fb66 » Sun Nov 07, 2010 6:26 am

I am a GURPS gm who is currently using Battlegrounds to run my online wild west campaign. I have found that it is a very gurps friendly program in that it has in built HEX map suport unlike some others. I have run very roleplay based sessions using the text editor which proved to be up to the task. I have run heavily tactical sessions and the figure handling and map system proved to be very up to the task.
I am not programer and thus cant offer much in the way of insight to automating rules. The closest i get to this is some very gurps specific dice macros with appropriate look up tables. As for the legality of automaing your own game again i am no lawyer but if you do not distribute your programs and keep them very much for your own personal use i cant see lawyers beating down your door lol.
The ONLY gripe i have with the way battlegrounds works is very minor and concerns the turn sequencer. If you have two characters with identicle basic speed and DX (the two criterior for setting turn order) then battlegrounds will randomly assign their turn order which is VERY bad in gurps. the way arround that is to add an extra decimal place to the BS stat.
IE
char 1 BS=6 dx=12
char2 BS=6 DX=12

change char 2 to BS 6.01
this will give a consistant turn order.

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heruca
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Post by heruca » Sun Nov 07, 2010 7:25 am

Welcome, david.steele.

Since you plan on using BRPG to play GURPS, I suggest you have a look at these threads.

Turn Sequencer settings for GURPS 3rd and 4th Edition

GURPS dice macros

Custom text labels for GURPS 4E

Gladiator Arena for GURPS

There may be other GURPS-specific stuff to be found on these forums, but these should help get you off to a running start.
:arrow: Please help spread the word about BRPG and BGE, and never hesitate to tell me how I can make them better suit your gaming needs.

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Kazander
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Post by Kazander » Sun Nov 07, 2010 8:40 pm

David,

I play GURPS all the time, in a Fantasy setting of my own using BRPG. Have been doing so for 2.5 years.

I like BRPG because of the active support of the developer, and the native support for Hex maps. GURPS support is not just an afterthought like it is in so many of the other VTTs. Also front-and-center for me is that it runs on Mac and Windows PCs--I have mixed group so anything that is Windows-only is useless to me.

Verson 1.6L, even though it's 'beta', is very stable and has significant features that you probably want over the official 1.4i release.

Regarding your specific requirements, Fog of War is available in BRPG. Each player does (optionally) get their own view with specific light sources, and each character's Night/Dark vision capabilities. However, Line of Sight is not supported, and thus you (as GM) have to be careful to reveal only portions of the map the characters have explored already. Otherwise, light sources will go right through walls, and they'll still be able to see what's revealed way on the other side of the map if there is a light source there, even though it's around 5 corners for example.

Also, Arcs of Vision are not supported, so characters will be able to see things on the map that they map not be able to--an enemy running up behind them for example. You may have 1 character that see the thug sneaking up on his friend so you have to reveal it on the map, even though the affected character himself shouldn't be able to see the thug.

BRPG supports modestly-sized maps. 40 hexes wide by 46 hexes tall, at the most (2400 pixels square). These are map objects, and both FoW and grids are supported at this resolution. These maps are small if you have fast-moving characters or ones with long-range missile weapons. Their capabilities tend to be a bit stunted because of the map size.

However, if you're willing to do without FoW and the built-in grids, you can map 4000-pixel square objects, and place them like tiles to make a very large map. I don't know if there are any practical size limits here, but you will have to transfer such large objects to your players as media exports, rather than hosted on a web server like 'real' maps can be. These can be very large files, even if you zip them first. I use Skydrive to distribute them to my players, but any similar service will do.

With snap-to-grid enabled for movement, you'll want to make sure that your maps scale to 61 pixels per 3 feet/1 yard on the map for GURPS movement.

You can put your own grids on your map-objects first before importing them to BPRG, but this maps object placement tricky--such that your visible grids align properly with BPRG snap-to grids.

Regarding automation, the only thing BRPG does is initiative, and custom die rolls. It will not automate attack/defense/damage/injury in any automatic way. You can do table lookups, like Critical Hits, but that necessitates a secondary die roll (which you probably save as a Global Die Macro so you only have to make it once). I have all my tables implemented this way: spell failures, fright checks, lasting injuries, NPC reactions, random hit locations (various body types), and crit hit/miss tables. You cannot keep an editable character sheet in BRPG. You may have a static one for reference if you wish--I prefer PDF files printed from GCA, myself. With PDF XChange Viewer, I can mark off ammunition or make notes on the sheet for later.

AFAIK, any further automation simply isn't possible with BRPG; it's a closed system. It's not like several other VTT's that way. It doesn't require programming (which I consider an asset since I don't have time), but on the other hand it doesn't allow it either.

Heruca is very open to feature requests; anything that requires a major re-write will typically have to wait for version 2 (at a very unspecified date).

Hope that helps.

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heruca
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Post by heruca » Tue Nov 09, 2010 7:54 am

Kazander wrote:Arcs of Vision are not supported, so characters will be able to see things on the map that they map not be able to--an enemy running up behind them for example. You may have 1 character that sees the thug sneaking up on his friend so you have to reveal it on the map, even though the affected character himself shouldn't be able to see the thug.
Judgement call. The GM could choose not to reveal the enemy on the map (so that the other players don't see it), and just send the person who can see the enemy a private text chat message.
Kazander wrote:BRPG supports modestly-sized maps. 40 hexes wide by 46 hexes tall, at the most (2400 pixels square).
Correction: maps in BRPG can be up to 4000 x 4000 pixels.
Kazander wrote:However, if you're willing to do without FoW and the built-in grids, you can map 4000-pixel square objects, and place them like tiles to make a very large map. I don't know if there are any practical size limits here, but you will have to transfer such large objects to your players as media exports, rather than hosted on a web server like 'real' maps can be.
You can technically use server-based maps for this, too, if, prior to the actual game session, you load each "map segment" in turn while all the players are connected. That gets all the map media onto the players' PCs, so that when the GM loads up the Encounter that uses all those huge bitmaps in a larger layout, it will all load up super fast on the player's clients, since the required media is already present locally.
Kazander wrote:With snap-to-grid enabled for movement, you'll want to make sure that your maps scale to 61 pixels per 3 feet/1 yard on the map for GURPS movement.
Correction: 122 pixels per hex (flat-side to flat-side).
:arrow: Please help spread the word about BRPG and BGE, and never hesitate to tell me how I can make them better suit your gaming needs.

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Kazander
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Post by Kazander » Wed Nov 10, 2010 11:12 pm

Sorry about the map size and resolution errors. I've been stuck on 2400x2400 for so long--I just plain keep forgetting it's 4000 square. Not sure why; stubborn neurons? The 61 pixels/hex was a just plain old silly mistake.

Regarding the Arc of Vision though, I'm going to have to respectfully disagree. The method you suggest is clumsy, and not so useful in the heat of battle where there are many figures. Numbered grids might make it more plausible.

On this note (and it's probably going to make you roll your eyes--perhaps even groan, or scoff!), I'm going to head over to the Feedback forum and toss this one in there. :-)

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