Date Posted: 11-05-2021

From Tabletop to Desktop – Using Virtual Tabletops

Have you been thinking about getting into WFRP on a virtual tabletop, but not sure how to begin? Today, we have an excellent guest blog post from Lance Anderson who many of you may know from the Warhammer Community.

From Tabletop to Desktop

Moving Your Game Online

If you had asked me 10, 5, or even 2 years ago if I would play a tabletop RPG online, my answer would have been a firm, no-hesitation ‘NO!’. However, if you are like my gaming group, we found that COVID has forced us to look into different options outside our normal routines. I now look at this forced move as an overall positive change for me and my group.

There are benefits to both styles — in person and online — but I admit I didn’t fully realise these differences until I actually started to game online. Let’s talk about some of what I’ve learned and hopefully it will help you if you are still on the fence about taking your game online.

Before we dig in, I do want to be upfront: online gaming may not be for everyone and it may even be a temporary solution for you and your group during COVID. That’s ok — there are many benefits to gaming in person, and I can honestly say I can’t wait until we can again. However, I believe that online gaming will be a lasting part of this hobby, and developing tools to support it crucial for all tabletop RPGs.

Different Ways to Game

When most think of playing a tabletop RPG online, they consider a virtual tabletop (VTT). This includes many platforms, including Roll20 and Foundry VTT. There are many others out there as well. However, while I believe it is potentially the best way to play online, you don’t have to use a VTT. I know a lot of gamers connect using a voice app like Discord. I myself have done some smaller one-on-one sessions with my players using Discord or even just calling on my phone!

Having said this, I do believe you can get the most mileage out of your games with a VTT, so that’s where I’ll be focusing my efforts. As a Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP) GM and player, the recent support by Cubicle 7 with Roll20 and Foundry has made online gaming even better! Let’s dig in.

Flexibility

The most obvious benefit of playing your game online is its superior flexibility. You can still play with your group if you are on a trip and can log in from the hotel room. You can play games with players on the other side of the world. A snowstorm or car trouble won’t end your game night. By eliminating the need to be in the same room, you open up your options to schedule your game.

I also would be remiss not to mention the benefits of being able to stay home and limit exposure during a pandemic like we’re dealing with now. It can actually make gaming safer!  

Game Prep and Organisation

One of the biggest benefits to VTTs has been the ease of organisation and preparation as a GM. Most GMs I know carry around notebooks and folders filled with all sorts of things to help run their games. I know I do. I have in-game calendars, NPC stat blocks, character sheets, maps, notes… the list goes on. With a platform like Roll20 or Foundry VTT, I can load all of that information virtually and have it just a few mouse clicks away.

Having this access helps with organisation immensely. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had my players wait at the table as I frantically search through my overflowing folders to find a needed stat block or custom rule. With a VTT you often can have this information ready to access as soon as you need it – no paper shuffling necessary.

Virtual tabletops are an immense help when preparing a game. You don’t have to print or draw a map for your players or set up elaborate miniature scenes (though these are awesome). You can easily download free maps and resources online and simply load them into the VTT. You can have these resources available at any time — you can even set it so your players always have access as well. I can’t tell you the number of times my players lose maps I give them.

It gets even easier when you look into the official modules. Currently, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay is supported on Roll20 and Foundry VTT. One of the biggest advantages to getting modules is the access you have to the rules, stat blocks and even lore from the rulebook. This takes the work of setting up your own stat blocks, finding maps, and other time consuming prep work as they are already pre-loaded for you.

WFRP currently has modules for Roll20 and Foundry VTT, but there is VTT support planned for Warhammer 40,000: Wrath & Glory and Age of Sigmar: Soulbound — be on the lookout!

Player Access

Player access to content is much easier with a VTT. Depending on the platform and what you do for set-up, your players can access their character sheet and game rules even when the GM is not online. This allows players to spend XP and have everything squared away for the next session. Roll20 allows this as a default in their free version. Foundry also allows this, though it requires setting up a Forge account or your own server.

Mechanics and Math

Sometimes rolls get complicated; I wouldn’t call myself strong in math. Rolling on a virtual tabletop takes into account all of your bonuses and other factors, doing all the math for you right as you roll. It’s like having an easy button.

Rules (at your fingertips)

Remember when I said ‘sometimes rolls get complicated’? Well how about those really complicated situations. In WFRP you may have an attack roll that has to take into account Talents, Creature Traits, Weapon and Armor Qualities and Flaws, and various other bonuses or modifiers. With a module-supported VTT, you have easy access to all of this at your fingertips. You can often simply click a button or only be a couple of clicks away from answering a rules question. This can be easier on a VTT with search and linking functions and saves time compared to flipping through a book.

Atmosphere

Although it might not rival elaborate prop and miniatures set ups for in-person gaming, virtual tabletops have their own atmospheric elements. For example, when you make a roll using the WFRP Roll20 module, the result looks like it came right from the character sheet. Foundry VTT allows you to put rain and snow effects on your maps. Both platforms have built-in media players so you can upload music and sound effects to set the atmosphere of your game as well!

In conclusion, I would simply say this: the tools now available for taking your game online can provide as enjoyable a gaming experience as in person. I suppose there is one downside, as a GM, I’ve noticed my players buy me fewer snacks then when I’m in person…hmmm, maybe I should mention that to them.

Lance.

NEW TO FOUNDRY VIRTUAL TABLETOP?

Foundry Virtual Tabletop works using modern web technologies where one player (the host) runs an application which hosts the game server and other players can connect using a web browser. As a “virtual tabletop”, the software provides a set of digital tools which are designed to imitate and expand upon the experience of playing a game in-person with your friends. Support for character sheets, rolling dice, exploring battlemaps, and moving heroic tokens are just a few of the many features which enable this experience. 

For more information check out this handy FAQ. Register for a Foundry Virtual Tabletop account hereor purchase a software license for $50 (+VAT)  here to run games for your group. Then you can purchase the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay modules from $14.99 (intro price, + VAT if applicable) directly from cubicle7games.com.

Browse all WFRP modules for Foundry VTT here.

NEW TO ROLL20®?

If you have yet to use Roll20® or any Virtual Tabletop (VTT) it’s really easy to get started –  find out more on the Roll20® website here or sign up for a free account here. Everything you need will be right in your browser, there is nothing to download or install. Why not check out this handy Roll20® Crash Course that helps GM’s to get their games online or this guide to getting started as a player.

Check out the WFRP Bundle on Roll20 here!

Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.© Copyright Games Workshop Limited 2021