online RPG tool wanted 

When I run D&D (3.5e) online, I need four windows:
- videoconference (jitsi)
- map software (maptools; used to be 2x, but a player took over screensharing the PC view)
- chatroom for dicerolling and posting pictures and text blobs, with history (mattermost)
- DM's notes and such (nextcloud)

Plus extras for rules, pdfs, etc.

Juggling this many is a lot of time-wasting cognitive overhead. I'd love an all-in-one app that does most of this. Any suggestions, preferably FOSS?

re: online RPG tool wanted 

I have toyed with the idea of forking jitsi to add some web-based tools (dice especially) into the one conference view, but self-hosting jitsi has been a buggy nightmare. Big Blue Button may be easier, but it's a big unknown to me.

Roll20 findings 

Some pretty big issues with roll20 make it a tossup whether it is better to use it or the workflow I have now:

- can't upload from firefox (images corrupted)
- on chrome, cursor bugs out on mouseover on many controls, freezing chrome for seconds to hours
- grid is nearly useless on maps not designed on a computer specifically for VTTs (e.g. screenshot of hand-drawn map of PDF of 2e-era module), unlike MapTools' grid.

I haven't even gotten to a test run with other players yet...

re: online RPG tool wanted 

@CarlMuckenhoupt yeah, I think having the map, dice and video in the same window would be the real killer feature. Evidently roll20 does that, and I'm trying it out again (at the free tier) to see whether there's some dealbreaking detail I don't know about yet.

re: online RPG tool wanted 

@gdorn It's not an immediate solution (sorry), but I'm working on a tool with all of that based on XMPP. It's conception time (implementation will start during June). I need specific solution because I'm blind. And I didn't find any FOSS with accessibility. So, if it's good in 2023, I'm in. Don't hesitate to tell me if you have other needs, how you play a game, and all you want. This can help me a lot. Thanks !

re: online RPG tool wanted 

@gdorn From all I've heard BBB is worse in every regard re: self-hosting, extendability, etc. People I know said they struggled to run it on anything besides the official release, so no containerizing it yourself etc.pp. (It works fine if you take it as it is, I don't want to harp pm the product itself), but take with a grain of salt, ymmv, and so on

re: online RPG tool wanted 

@Nogamara yeah, I at least had Jitsi working for a while. Sadly, when jitsi breaks on the browser side, there's just no useful debugging info to figure wtf happened. And it's been broken for far longer than it worked, so I'm stuck with the public instance.

It'd probably be easier to graft WebRTC into a map/dice SPA than to go the other route.

re: online RPG tool wanted 

@gdorn Hmm, I only ran Jitsi Meet "once", mid to end of 2020, and it worked pretty much flawlessly for ~6 people - daily 30min call though and no fancy stuff, hardly any screen sharing, so I wouldn't say I can contribute any more than "good luck" :)

re: Roll20 findings 

@gdorn perhaps the image upload corruption is because you are preventing it from using the canvas (preventing canvas fingerprinting). I keep forgetting about this.

re: Roll20 findings 

@kensanata yeah, that is the cause, but the fix (disable anti-fingerprinting) doesn't appear to work. It's not a dealbreaker; I can upload assets via chrome and then do the rest of the interactions with firefox. It'll be annoying when I need to upload new assets in the middle of a session, but that doesn't happen too often. Unless I hit the storage limit, anyway.

re: Roll20 findings 

@gdorn Firefox used to work fine with it, that sucks

re: online RPG tool wanted 

@gdorn I think Maptool ( can combined some of these. I can't do video chat, but I think it has text chat, image posting and DM notes. It is a bit of a bear to learn, but it is Open Source and has been in development for .....well, I found it in 2010 or so, and it wasn't new then?

re: online RPG tool wanted 

@Canageek Yeah, maptool is my go-to. I've used it for over a decade - back before online-only gaming, I ran a projector with it to put the map directly on the table.

re: online RPG tool wanted 

@gdorn Oh I missed that in your post. My apologies. Can it not do the chatroom and dice for you?

re: online RPG tool wanted 

@Canageek I think the big problem there was getting everybody to install and use it. Since it isn't web-based, everybody needs a working copy of it, across multiple operating systems and on some very disparate networks.

Plus I don't think the chat has history, which we use for long-term notes and pictures and such, to make them searchable in the future.

@invisivel @Canageek Yeah, I'm following that project, but it's got a long way to go before I can replace maptools with it. I really hope it succeeds, though; if it reaches its vision, it could be a viable self-hosted alternative to roll20.

re: online RPG tool wanted 

@gdorn Oh yeah, that has always been my issue with it. I ran on IRC for a while posting screenshots from Maptools and people where like "Why don't you use the builtin chat"

I am supervised there isn't logging or history though

online RPG tool wanted 

@gdorn I know it's not open source, but do you have anything in particular against Roll20 or any of their VTT ilk?

If you want something a little more lightweight I recently found

re: online RPG tool wanted 

@dandteaco I've toyed with Roll20 a couple times, but it was hard to tell from the free trial whether I could make it do what I wanted. I'm not interested in moving character sheets online (they're far too complex, especially for high-level 3.5) and that just leaves it being able to display maps and roll dice, which I could technically do in one app already (maptools).

re: online RPG tool wanted 

@dandteaco I'm having another look at it now, and it seems to have added some things, or they work now. Maybe it'll do the job of videoconference + map + dice + chat now, but the devil will be in the details. I'm also not stoked about how many trackers they're using, but thanks for nudging me to have another look.

re: online RPG tool wanted 

@gdorn yeah, there are a couple of competitors out there as well. The term is VTT and maybe you can find one without all the trackers and with the same feature sets (which what you are looking for is pretty standard as a base level).

Let me know if you go another direction, I'm always wanting a better system

re: online RPG tool wanted 

@gdorn I'm not a Roll20 evangelist but if I had your requirements I would love Roll20. You don't need to import the rules or character sheets which are the biggest pains in their system. What they excel at is map, voice/video chat, dice rolling. You can even make some simple macros to speed things up without getting too in the weeds.

I really want Owlbear Rodeo to get a chat function

re: online RPG tool wanted 

@dandteaco yeah, I tried Owlbear Rodeo last time I was angsting about this problem. It seemed really unfinished. It might be really nice when they add things like accounts and saved maps and tokens and such.

@gdorn Are you familiar with Foundry VTT? They have a demo on their site.

It is web-based like Roll20, but you host it yourself.

I'm not sure if it supports 3.5e fully.

And last I checked, it does not do the video conferencing bit.

If you want to stop hosting things, there's The Forge; they offer foundry hosting.

@owls I've looked at the demo, but it's too hard to tell what the GM experience is like from that alone. The bit I can glean is that it wants to be an exceptionally polished experience, with full management of character sheets and encounters, which probably won't work well with my DMing style. But I can't know for sure without spending $50 on it.

@gdorn I'd say Roll20 is like that as well.

I think we burned our GM out from using R20 during the pandemic.

When you have all the fancy dynamic lighting, animations, encounter automation, etc tools, you feel compelled to use them.

But they create A LOT of extra work for the DM, beyond the typical prep.

I hope you find something perfect for your group(s) soon!

@owls I'm going to avoid getting bogged down by those extra features by just using the free tier. I can't imagine actually putting in the work needed to automate dynamic lighting or character sheets anyway, and my initiative system isn't implemented by any software I've ever seen. My group switche to Foundry VTT near the start of the pandemic and have really liked it. We don’t use the built in Video conferencing, just because one player has a work installed firewall that blocks it, but I think it would work fine for most people.

@gdorn Mythic table for the maps, dice, chat, tokens, etc... and a jitsi for video. Just pop mythic table and pip a always on top video screen.

re: online RPG tool wanted 

@gdorn have you looked at ?

I forgot if it does sound both ways.
But it would likely be easier to add than other tabletop stuff in jitsi.

Looking forward to see what you find

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