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Roll20 vs Fantasy Grounds. Which is the best Virtual Table Top (VTT)?

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Garyc
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Posted On: 03/05/2018 at 03:38 AM
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I am really excited to get back into D&D.

On the D&D website, http://dnd.wizards.com/digital_tools, it mentions two digital tools to play D&D 5th edition.  The first is Fantasy Grounds; the second is Roll20.

It seems the content on Roll20 is priced twice as high compared to Fantasy Grounds ($24.99 vs $49.99).  Also, Fantasy Grounds allows you to buy the Ultimate version for $150, and avoid paying monthly fees.  Roll20, to experience everything, you have to pay $9.99/month forever.

Question #1:  Being new to the digital scene with Virtual Table Tops (VTT'), I was wondering if anyone could give pros/cons for these platforms.  

Question #2:  From a player perspective, I think either system is free (assuming the DM has invested their time/money in the platform).  Is one platform better for players? For DM's?

Am hoping someone who has used Fantasy Grounds and/or Roll20 can offer their 2 cents (good, bad, ugly).  I don't see myself using both systems, so any insight would be great.  As mentioned in a previous post, I am willing to spend money for a quality experience.

 

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Response:

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Oreofox
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Replied On: 03/05/2018 at 04:48 AM PST
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gHmxi4EydE

That's a video of someone breaking down the costs of each compared to the other. Basically, in the long run, paying the $150 is cheaper.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb-d3Zcznj4

That's a guy who goes through the various features between the two.

I personally have 0 real experience with Fantasy Grounds. I can tell you, though, that Roll20 is super easy to use and learn, while Fantasy Grounds has a learning curve. One thing Roll20 has that Fantasy Grounds doesn't (if you pay a monthly fee) is dynamic lighting, which is amazing. The "fog of war" is different for each character, and the player can only see what their character can. Also, Roll20 is completely free (though the space for free users, especially DMs, is excessively low), while you need to pay for Fantasy Grounds. Unless the DM buys the $150 version, in which case the players can just use the demo version.

Both videos are 40-45 minutes long, but are fairly worth the watch. You can skip the first one, as it's nothing but price comparisons. Or watch both. I haven't watched the 2nd one, though, so no idea what all is in it.

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Briseadh
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Replied On: 03/05/2018 at 06:26 AM PST
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I have only played on Roll20 with Oreo and a few others when life schedules made it possible. I love the Fog of War feature. It made things more interesting at times because one char might see the big baddy, but the other can't due to line of sight or their vision type. I have only used it free and not really DMd on it except one attempt but my style was not up to the players looking for a DM. I still have about 10 hours of game (give or take hours of RP) setup for it though. I wouldn't mind trying it with Oreo, Radio and a few others who would understand my style and sense of humor. ;)

Don't mess with Mama Bear, I might hug you too tight. =D
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Garyc
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Replied On: 03/06/2018 at 07:10 PM PST
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Oreo:

I watched the videos. Thanks for sharing the links.

Fantasy Grounds does have Fog of War, but they do not have the line of sight that Roll20 does.  It seems FG has been promising line of sight for a few years now, but has not delivered.

Line of sight issue aside, Fantasy Grounds seems like the better deal.  According to the first video link, Fantasy Grounds costs less (both initial cost and purchased content).  Additionally, User Interface and functionality is better (everything is pre-programmed for you to include 5th Edition rules - no wasting time setting up macros, functions, etc).  As a free "Demo" user on Fantasy Grounds, you also get full functionality if your DM has the Ultimate edition.  I think it's nice (for DM's) to have the option of "owning" the Fantasy Grounds software and avoiding a recurring monthly subscription.

On the other hand, the user base for Roll20 is much larger than for Fantasy Grounds.   For content creation, the Roll20 "free" version is also better than the "Demo" version of Fantasy grounds.  With Roll20's free version, if you are willing to put in the time and effort, you can manually input all your D&D books, maps, monster stats, etc.  The 2nd video even mentioned you could create any board game (like monopoly), and play it with the free version.  The guy in the 2nd video mentioned he spent over 1000 hours programming 5e D&D ruleset, but in the end cancelled his subscription, and bought Fantasy Grounds which he prefers when DM'ing

I have no plans to be a DM, nor do I have any plans to purchase content on either Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds.  (I bought the books, and don't want to repurchase them again). 

For me, I guess it comes down to whichever platform I can find a good group with.  I'm open to either platform.  I just need to find a DM willing to have patience with a new player like myself.  Roll20 might be a good choice since it has a larger user base.  Fantasy Grounds might be a better experience for having a more polished User Interface.  I don't think I'll go wrong with either choice.  Ultimately it just comes down to finding a good DM.

Another cool takaway from the videos was a highly recommended program called "Maptools".  Its free, and you can create decent maps which can be uploaded into either Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds.

 

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Garyc
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Replied On: 03/06/2018 at 07:42 PM PST
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Garyc
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Replied On: 03/06/2018 at 07:45 PM PST
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I've done my "5 minute sniff test" of Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds.

I had not considered accessibility of these two Virtual Tabletop programs.   Fantasy Grounds is a software that must be run on either PC, Mac, or Linux.  (no IOS or Android tablet).   Roll20, on the other hand, is all done in the web browser.  I believe you can access it on your phone, tablet, computer - any way you prefer to access the web.

 

Has anyone played Roll20 on a tablet?  Is it do-able?

 

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Oreofox
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Replied On: 03/07/2018 at 09:16 AM PST
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I have not attempted roll20 on a tablet or phone, which it can supposedly do. I haven't come across anyone who has, either. I do have an ipad, and could attempt to try it on there. I just prefer using the PC for most things, and not really a mobile platform type person.

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Garyc
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Replied On: 03/10/2018 at 04:28 AM PST
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I have moved beyond the sniff test.  While I have not played a campaign in either Roll20 or Fantasy grounds, I have spent some more time exploring each.

From the perspective of someone new to VTT, I MUCH prefer Roll20.  I like the user interface; it's easy to understand and things just makes sense.

I disagree with all the positive hype about Fantasy Grounds.  When launching the program, it feels like an old, clunky DOS/Unix program.  The 3-D dice are hard to read (the 4 sided dice are impossible to read).  The User Interface is not intuitive.  I spent more time trying to figure out things, and less time enjoying/understanding what it had to offer.

After more research, I found out that Roll20 does make APPs for your tablet.  However, I think the PC would be the best experience (larger screen, ability to run other applications such as Discord, etc).  But at least there is an option to play on a tablet. 

It looks like you can search for groups that play the game/version you are in to.  With more people using Roll20, I am hopeful to find one.  I wish summer would hurry and get here so I can play already!

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