VTT ≠ Live games. Many of us prefer live games. We are doing this in the interim. This means you may not want to invest a lot of time or money. However, it’s all another tool in your kit to use.
We are approaching this discussion with the goal to create a “Minimum Viable Product” for your players — an experience that allows them to enjoy a functional Pathfinder game in the virtual setting. The goal of this session is not VTT system mastery.
To Roll or Not to Roll?
One of the first concerns is whether you or your players want to roll dice using the honor system or in the VTT app.
Pro: Almost every gm requires players to roll in the open. Rolling in the VTT environment replicates that. Pro: Dice rolling can add to narrative tension at the table. Con: It takes extra time. Con: Learning macros adds to player/GM cognitive load, reducing enjoyment.
Choosing the Right Tool
Time spent learning is a big factor. We’ve seen that rolling dice in-app increases a 4-hour scenario’s runtime by 45 min to an hour. Different platforms offer a variety of solutions that may ease this:
- Roll20 consolidates the map and terminal into one interface for the user, reducing the need to manage windows.
- Roll20 can automate dice rolling for the player who invests time into creating a character sheet.
- Google Slides requires you roll in Slack or Discord, making the process slower (depending on user window management).
- Discord offers dice bots but does not offer an in-app mapping solution but is popular and easy to learn.
- Slack can offer map and dice in one interface (see Patrick’s Map Bot).
- Foundry has a high learning curve for both players and GMs but can save time with official (and unofficial) imports
It’s up to you. As a GM part of my style is to always roll in front of players, so I do so. I pre-build macros ahead of time so I just need to copy/paste/use a macro or expander (e.g. TextExpander).
However, I let players decide how they roll dice based on preference… often, they do a mix of both as players want to learn new systems (they’re Pathfinder players, so of course they have aptitude for this…), but have limited patience especially on weeknights.