About Me

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Seattle, Washington, United States
I'm an old time roleplayer who became a soldier who became a veteran who became a developer who became a dba who became a manager who never gave up his dream of a better world. Even if I have to create it myself.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Awesome Tool: MapTool

Folks kind enough to play RPGs with me over the years are now spread out amongst three continents - so, I've been examining various tools for a potential virtual playtest.

I've selected MapTool for a number of reasons.

  • Hex map support
  • Easy to learn
  • Easy to get a server running... usually
  • I've been a player in it before, albeit briefly
  • Solid macro language
  • TokenTool lets me make tokens from character portraits
  • I can make a dungeon map very quickly
  • Good support sites like RPTools Tutorial

And of course it follows Rule #1, in that many of its features add to the fun of the experience (such as customizable visibility boundaries and lighting options).  Some of these features - like per-player visibility - actually go beyond ordinary tabletop play, and are easy to manage as a GM.

My intention is to use MapTool similar to the battlemat at home - mostly to see a map and where things are on it.  I'll also use it for player die rolling, although I will probably continue to use Dicenomicon on my iPad for the GM rolls.

The initiative system will also have to be ported into MapTool, which is the most complex task I face.

Anything other than Maps, Dice, Initiative, Tokens, and maybe a Gems generator is futured - I've learned the hard way to keep the first phase of a project minimal, to avoid the fearsome neverending-project monster.

I will post more on MapTool as time goes on, including some of the macros I create to support the Phoenix ruleset.  Baby Bat will be helping me QA, so hopefully it all turns out fairly solid!


  1. Looks pretty cool.
    A couple of years ago, I remember WOTC talking about creating an online version of D&D.
    I had a look at it, and it seems like it's in beta now for D&D Insiders and is called Virtual Table.

    Might be something to keep an eye on in the future I reckon.

    1. WotC has been talking about that since before 4e came out... and now 5e is coming out... sadly, like many game companies, they have a history of horrible managers. We'll see if that changes.

      Nonetheless, I have taken a look at the latest rewrite just to see. It doesn't support Hex maps unfortunately, which is a key feature I was looking for. Also, it isn't very customizable or extensible, being made solely for their flagship game (which makes some degree of sense for a company using 19th century economic theory).

      It will probably be a good tool for D&D, although I'm curious if they let you customize it for campaigns - their existing tools don't support that very well.

      More competition in the space never hurts - hopefully they come up with some new tricks to impress everyone with!

  2. My husband plays on Skype with his buddies once per week and soon, he's going to give Google Hangout a shot. We all move so far away, it is nice to know there's still ways to get together, even if online.

    Cheers and boogie boogie.

    1. I've used MapTool for many years now but tried hangouts recently. I wrote up my experience @ http://rptroll.blogspot.com/2012/01/google-hangouts-with-extras-for-rpg.html

      The net of the article is that Hangouts are functional but a bit frustrating when compared to MapTool.

    2. Thanks bunches. I'll pass this along to Tim. Happy Gaming & Boogie Boogie.


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