atOn to the final of my posts for now regarding Fantasy Grounds. It is my Virtual Tabletop (VTT) of choice by far. It has great features and some solid content that is enjoyed by most of the players that sit at my VTT. But there are issues that I have with the system overall, and it is largely to do with my gaming style. You see, I love games that are left of centre. I love playing old-school games, alternative games and games that generally do not have the support that other games might. Often times that means that the games I run have no official or community support in Fantasy Grounds. So how does the system hold up under these circumstances?
If you scratch at the surface of running a game that does not have a support system you will hear the words MoreCore eventually. There is a base system that is not MoreCore, and it is not great, but MoreCore is a community-created system that acts as a “catchall” for Fantasy Grounds. It has been developed largely by an Australian Fantasy Grounds fan known as “The Damned” on the forums. He is brilliant and his contributions are innumerable to mention here.
MoreCore is largely what I have used in a lot of systems on Fantasy Grounds when I experiment. The most recent was running Super Squadron in it passably. It is a great add-on and has so much material in it, but it is also not straightforward. There is a lot of overhead required in running a system on MoreCore. You have to create the character sheets, learn how to roll the dice the right way, and work out how to get the equipment and mechanics into the system. It is a lot of work, but it does exist, and it may be the answer you are looking for to run your game of Human Occupied Landfill or Big Eyes Small Mouth!
Things beyond MoreCore can become murky. There are a bunch of community-supported modules that can be picked up and applied as a system. But they are just that, community supported. I recently wanted to start a Classic Traveller game and found a community-supported module for that system. Loaded it up and it started throwing errors all over the place. A bit of digging into the core rules found its last update was around 2016.
So I tried, as I am a programmer of sorts, to dig into the code. I followed a number of documented descriptions to resolve these issues which just caused more issues in the long run. The decision at that point was that MoreCore is good, but I would rather work in systems where the code was directed and easy to use. I decided I wanted to add to the community support and code my own systems and modules.
Problems I encountered
The main issue that I have run into is not Fantasy Grounds specific, but it is a barrier to me being able to achieve this. The major issue is the documentation for Fantasy Grounds, development, creation and general ruleset are scattered. Not only are they scattered, they are not well labelled so you can’t work out, in reality, what is current and what is gone by the wayside.
As I mentioned above, this is not just a Fantasy Grounds problem, but it is my problem with Fantasy Grounds. I know of at least four different locations that purport to give the information on what to do if you want to start programming a system or a module. I followed a process on how to become a content creator. Then four or five weeks passed and the president of the company, Doug Davison, emailed back, cc’ing a gent by the name of James thanking me for my interest and asking James to set me up. That reply was on the 1st of February and I have still heard nothing.
Sure, I get that the number of people like myself is few and far between. Many people would just settle on MoreCore and try to run the game or search every other VTT on the market to see if their game is supported on one of them. But I do exist, and they put this material on their sites and documentation that you can build this. It seems to me that they are more socially focused though, tending to favour promotion over support.
I say this because I have been running my Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC) game on Fantasy Grounds Unity through Twitch, and then sending them to YouTube. One day, out of the blue I got a new Twitch follower and they PMed me saying how they enjoyed my content. They then gave me a link to look at for supporting Fantasy Grounds.
Following the follower up with a bit of basic sleuthing, I found they are the Fantasy Grounds Social Media person. I looked at the link and signed up wondering what it was and it was an affiliate program. A whole bunch of banners and links I can use to advertise the program and make money from the sales generated.
I am not in this for the money. Fantasy Grounds is promoted here because I like it and I believe that it is the best VTT for me and my players. I highlight this in the content so you can see what I am doing and give it a try. It may not be for you, but you get a straight down the line review from me. This is the third post in a row looking at Fantasy Grounds and you will see I have not put a single linkable banner for sales in at all. I do not need to profit from suggesting to you what I like about the system.
What I would like to see…
I would love to see a consolidation of the material that Fantasy Grounds provides. You have forums, wikis, guides and all sorts of avenues out there to look at. Do I sign up on a Wiki, or a forum, or is it the Forge? I have recently had communication with some people who code bits and pieces for the system and who were completely unaware of a development Wiki I had found.
Make the system accessible to those of us that can code, and who want to support these lesser-used systems. I would much rather spend thirty days coding a system so my players can have a targetted game than spend every session telling them what they need to do to fire off a spell.
I have a bunch of content that I would love to modularise and sell in your product, but I need to know HOW. Please, look at the avenues of information that are out there and focus them. Make it clear where to go for each line of enquiry. I am not saying you need one touchstone for all the information, but you should have a common touchstone for each type and a clear direction for it.
It has been three weeks of posts breaking down the features of Fantasy Grounds. You can see that from a player and Game Master of common, well-supported games I feel this system is at the top of the game. It is modern, well supported and easy to use overall. There is a learning curve to it, but there are forums to assist and a bunch of support videos out there to help with that. My main criticism is that I have run into a wall attempting to generate content for the community. It is a minority of users that are like me, and overall, not something that will break me from using the system. Thanks for reading, and keep on rolling!
I have been touting Fantasy Grounds for a long time. My support caught the eye of the Fantasy Grounds president years ago and for a long time, he gave me $5 a month via a PayPal donation. It was never requested, nor really discussed. I saw it as appreciation for the support I gave and it all got used in keeping the site going. When I pulled back from making posts because I had opened a game store and did not have the time to blog, they stopped the donation. This is all good. But I do not recommend this because it makes me money.
In fact, when you see a review come from me on a game of any type, I have generally paid for the book or PDF to review it. People approach me to do reviews, and I will say yes, but I will normally purchase the book to support the creator. Often they will provide me with a PDF copy, but I will buy it anyway to support the creator.
Just a final note, I have started a Patreon. If you feel you could support this blog with as little as a dollar a month (and a couple of other tiers) please take a look at the page here and join if you can. The Patreon is about keeping the blog going. There are no secret posts, or hidden posts if you do not join. Just a way to help me to keep the blog going into the future. Thanks for considering it.