Feature Request: Tokens with Art

One thing I don’t see mentioned here and that seems to fit with Shmeppy’s design: Generic tokens. There was a recent Reddit Post with 4 tokens in different variants that was intended to cover all possible use cases (look for the reply by the original poster with the details of the icon language used).

There is also Sly Flourish’ generic monster tokens PDF which I feel look a bit better but aren’t as comprehensive as the language in the previous post.

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In in-person play I have multiple sets of d6s. Then if there are like 3 goblins, i’ll use the red d6s and turn them so they are numbered, 1, 2, and 3. Then the towns people may be the green d6s. Players have to protect them. This helps people identify who theyre attacking/protecting. Also it lets me indicate which baddies/goodies are taking action.

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When I try and figure out whether to implement a particular feature. I tend to focus on the problem being addressed rather than the specifics of the feature itself.

For this feature, one problem that (some version of) this feature could attack is “I want a more immersive experience.” I talk to that in my first post in this thread and it’s generally a problem I’m willing to let lie and not attack directly.

So my question for those of you who are interested in this feature (or some variant of it): what problem are you trying to solve?

Disclaimer: I have not actually used Shmeppy in a game yet (I discovered it yesterday). So this is based on theory, but in my professional life I design visualizations, so I’m familiar with the problem space.

Problem that I would want this to solve: Rapid ingestion of map state.

I expect the current colored markers + labels to be slightly slow to interpret, and thus be a distraction during play. It is possible that people will so fully learn the colors that it won’t work that way - but my gut instinct says that a set of icons will be quicker/more intuitive to interpret than a set of colored circles. Colored circles also have clear problems for color-blind people.

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While I’m not necessarily interested in art (I fully agree with the minimalistic design principal), there is some difficulty surrounding the cluttering of text tags on tokens in tight situations. If you have a group of player characters with their named tokens, or a tight cluster of enemies, it results in a bit of visual clutter. I think one solution that doesn’t compromise the design (In my eyes, solely as a user) would be the ability to number tokens.

I’ve provided a map below and snipped out a section of it for a mock of this concept. In our game, we abbreviate the names of mooks/enemies, and use full names for specific players/NPCs. In this example, M would stand for Monk, G for guard, and there is a named NPC with them at the table.

This isn’t a direct feature request or anything, but I am curious about your stance on the concept of numbered tokens.


I’ve thought about making it so that when a token label could fit within a token, it renders on top of it like this. I think the interface would be a little weird, especially while editing the label, but it could help the label clutter for a decently common situation.

I haven’t given dev time to improving the label clutter in awhile, and this is just one possible solution to that problem, so I’m not sure whether it’s the best one/a good one to do.

In theory, it seems reasonable though. And is certainly a solution I plan to explore a bit when I turn my gaze to token labels again.

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My personal take on this discussion is that adding image imports is unnecessary, but adding some form of on-the-token identification could be extremely useful. I’ve run three sessions so far in Shmeppy, and their only complaint about tokens was “Why do we need to have our character name on them when we could just have a symbol?”. They don’t want to have to read their name to figure out which is theirs, and they are notoriously bad at remembering their assigned colour. I think a small library of basic shapes and symbols could help with the clutter of names and this problem. Nothing too complex, maybe an X, a crescent shape, a star, or other simplistic symbols that wouldn’t wreck the look of the tool. I would argue that this goes right to the core of basic “this is a whiteboard that i slapped onto my kitchen table” gameplay: we never used words, we used buttons, dice, pencil sharpeners or in one memorable game, a blueberry. There may be some drawbacks to ease of use with this, but I feel as if it follows the original guidelines of Shmeppy.

The absence of art is a crucial attraction of Shmeppy. Many VTTs allow for (require) detailed artistic work to craft basic maps. The maps usually require the import gorgeous full-colour artwork. The endpoint of this is an expensive, time-consuming map that can divert us from our imagination. Words + Shmeppy allow for a balance between creativity and game organization. Being image and rule agnostic will enable us to use our imaginations and not pocketbooks to build stories. Eventually, each group will develop its own image language.

Shmeppy is the art.


I’m personally opposed to uploading token art for the same reasons John noted. My thoughts are that the only level of token differentiation I’d want is:

  • Color
  • Shape (circle, square, triangles of different orientations, pawn silhouette, and star perhaps)
  • A single letter/number printed on it, maybe two.

This would let me be able to tell my players that the White Pawns are all skeletons, then label them 1, 2, 3, 4 so it’s clear which one has been hurt for both my tracking and my players’ understanding of what’s been hurt. That’d be suuuuuper useful.


The main problem I see with tokens numbered in that way is that at the scale most people are looking at their maps, this makes numbers harder to read, especially when you’re getting into double digits.

As for creating this, the shift-drag gesture isn’t used for tokens yet (just alt-shift-drag to delete them). So you could drag a rectangle that then gets filled with numbered tokens.
And if we want to avoid the in-token numbering, maybe after the end of the drag the final token has the name text field token active, which when confirmed applies this name plus a subsequent number to all the tokens. So shift+drag 3 x 3 rectangle -> 9 tokens appear, last has a text box -> enter “skeleton” -> labels “skeleton 1” to “skeleton 9” get applied.

Forgetting which color is theirs seems just as likely as forgetting which shape is theirs, and you could always use Emoji/any other unicode character in the label if you really wanted to avoid text.

Screen Shot 2020-08-17 at 1.55.32 PM

Making it easier to remember which token is which is a reason to add more differentiators to tokens, but it doesn’t seem like the problem would be improved all-that-substantially by adding shapes.


Variety in token shapes and having the ability to put a letter/number or two inside the token would be perfect for me as well, to make it easier to distinguish groups (usually players from monsters) and to identify individuals within groups. I dislike the labels because of the visual clutter they create. This would mirror the way we do it in meatspace, where we typically put dice and basic meeples or pawns on a battle mat.


I like the idea of being able to get a label inside a token somehow. I think that would neatly solve a number of open thoughts about how to further differentiate tokens to show different things. Simple, but having a letter or unicode emoji inside rather than as a “speech bubble” as it is currently could really open up a lot of opportunities.

Good point regarding ‘visual clutter’, cutting down flow of information to avoid overload is important. ‘Simpler’ levels of information (shape, colour, even emoji to some extent) is to prefer above more complex info like text. Now both these levels could be combined selectively, shapes/colours/simple symbol can be combined with text (like names etc), let tool-tips or similar appear upon hoovering of mouse pointer. Food for thought.

A post was split to a new topic: Change edge colors for tokens


As a… what was the term? Power User? I am always extremely hesitant to ask about features. I try to exploit every new feature you put in to push my maps to the next level. I love the artistry, and the limitations that the platform provide help me paint the best damn duck I can muster, in a “Constraints v Creativity” sort of way. Even though I know that clearly isn’t the intent of the painted duck ideology, it’s just what I love doing with it. No other system inspires me as much as Shmeppy does.

That being said, what are your thoughts on this topic, as well as ideas brought up in this thread, now that a year has passed? I’m super thankful for all the great features that have gotten added within that year. I love shmeppy, but I am curious where you stand these days. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I still feel similarly to how I felt before. I could better imagine implementing something like this in the distant future though if the current scope of Shmeppy feels suitably polished.

Before I reply here, a note about my own usage: I first discovered Shmeppy at least a year ago, and was immediately a huge fan. Others in my group love it as well, but our most recent DM prefers the fancy VTTs and likes doing all the extra work, so we’ve been playing there (while not always grumbling we’d get more play time and less “fix broken things” time if we were using Shmeppy). This last weekend it was finally my turn to DM again, and I came to Shmeppy to get set up and was glad to subscribe as soon as I saw that was the model now. I was also thrilled to see background images, because when I have maps in a book or off a site, uploading them is even faster than drawing my own on a whiteboard. That’s not the topic here, but it is related to my view on this topic.

Having played a full weekend, there were two things I wanted to come comment on this: this topic, and spell AOE effects.

I get this and why you view this as violating trait 3. People don’t want to leave well enough alone. However, I do not think that’s the only way to look at this, or that it needs to be a binary thing (only solid color tokens, or the kitchen duck/sink).

I am very much trying to solve a trait 1 problem. In a real world game, as a DM with a whiteboard, my players manage their own tokens. They show up with a random die, or a coin, or a lego figure, or a 3d printed model they proudly designed themselves, or an intricately painted scale mini they paid a hundred dollars for. I don’t care, they throw them all down on the table and as long as they mostly take the same size on the map, we’re good. I am responsible for the monster minis but I have zero responsibility for making the player minis or making sure they keep track of which one is theirs.

I don’t have that experience with Shmeppy today. I as the DM have to create 100% of the tokens on the board, and I have to bother to figure out a unique color for each player, avoiding the colors I will use for monsters. And then I have to label them all with a name or initial anyway, and hope the labels don’t overlap weird ways in tight corridors (this is better than it was, but it’s not like it’s perfect).

I would not have to do this if I had a way to assign a token to a player as the primary owner (still allowing anyone to move it, because that’s how real life works) and 1) have it show the token by their name on the “connected” list as well as 2a) letting them upload an image for it if they want, or at least 2b) let them control the color and a name part of the label*. This would make it not my problem anymore, which is very much a trait 1 DM QOL thing.

*I’d still prefer 2a over 2b, per the thread topic, because it tracks that real life part better where some people have paid hundreds for minis and want to get to use them. With things moving more and more online, people are designing and paying for digital tokens and want to use them. That’s been an “opt-in” part of real life table top for decades, and it’s a shame I have to give it up here. Look at this forum–some of you have photos of your face, some have cartoony figures, some of us have left it at letters. It’s the same concept.

Regardless, Shmeppy is the best tool and I’m a proud subscriber. It’s well past 80% what I need, but this feature is a large part of the remaining percent I’m hoping to see.

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I really agree with the general sentiment of this post. One of the last frontiers that I’d love to wake up and see addressed is related to this.

Players having more control over their tokens.

I’ve had players that require multiple tokens (summoners, necromancers, etc.), and it’s always been awkward for them to painstakingly move each token individually when they know I can just group select them and whisk them to the other side of the board.
In addition to that, if a player was able to name their own token and adjust their own text, it would be a huge game changer. Keeping track of initiative or health inside the token text is a great management tool. Any name changes or utilizing emojis (for condition effects or otherwise) is also very handy, but the DM is the one that needs to upkeep it all due to how its implemented, which can slow things down.

Just wanted to hitch on to the back of this comment while I swung by. Thanks for listening!

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Tokens can now have art on them! I forgot to update this topic. The feature landed awhile back this last year.