I was wondering what software other people are using in combination with Shmeppy. For my more “trad” games, I see three things contributing to a good online playing experience:
- chat (both voice and text)
- maps (even if not doing round by round tactical stuff)
- character sheets + dice rollers
Now #1 is easy enough to do, discord seems an acceptable solution, but if this epidemic has shown one thing to me, it’s that there’s a lot of chat experiences out there, with none working perfectly. If need be, I could always host my own mumble/jitsi.
The second one seems the main focus of all the VTT projects. It’s refreshing that shmeppy is taking another route here.
But #3 is the other part that VTTs often handle: A good way to enter and modify your character sheet, and quickly use it to roll dice.
That’s currently a gap in my ideal “simple” setup. I could use some VTT for just this, but that seems a bit like overkill. The other way is just rolling real dice and writing down everything on regular notes, just like you do at a real table. Worked for years and years, of course.
But maybe there’s a good middle ground or some interesting tricks and tips you’ve all got.
Some “intelligent notes” system would work great for me. Just plaster some regular note with [[Axe Damage: 2d8+2]] or something like that, and then you can click it like a button or link.
So the original mocks for Shmeppy had exactly the thing you’re describing in it, funnily enough. I was going to create a simple note taking system that understood dice rolling notation, and you could click on the dice rolls to execute them.
I’ve since had thoughts of creating it as a stand-alone tool, but I don’t really do hobby programming projects much anymore, so I’ve never really got it going.
A piece of paper and pencil/eraser in front of you.
The problem with digital tools is that they can be pretty inflexible. I know a lot of people use editable PDFs, but they are very clunky to use during play. I normally print mine and put them in a simple plastic folder and then write on them with a dry erase marker.
Have you tried DnD Beyond’s digital character sheets with the dice roller overlay?
My setup (as the DM) looks something like this:
My main monitor has Shmeppy on one half, and kind of a digital DM screen on the other half
Second monitor has three things on it: Video call along the top edge so I can see everyone, shared initiative counter (google “improved initiate”) takes about a third of the screen under the video call, and Onenote for notes on the other two thirds.
Additionally I have books etc… open on my desk.
The party I play with are all people I knew before switching to online, so I just let them use there own dice in person and manage there char sheets however they want to. I do make them update a google sheet version of their sheet when they level up, but only so I can use it as a tool to plan encounters based on abilities, skills, etc…
You may also want to try using Dungeon Masters Vault to build and roll characters:
I don’t play D&D 5E, but even if, both D&D Beyond and the Vault appear to be quite complex and comprehensive solutions. I think this space needs a few more “hacks”
But as shown by @Dyllbert’s post, one benefit of the more heavy VTTs is that you get everything in one window, whereas you have to juggle quite a few browser windows if each part is a different webapp, even if each of that is very simple.
By the way, me favoring automated rolls doesn’t stem from not trusting players, just pure laziness as that makes it easier to tally the hit point loss of some NPCs…
I actually think the lack of all the heavy VTT features is a GOOD thing. I would much rather have many windows and everything separate, it gives me the flexibility to only be using what I need at any given time. I only use shmeppy for encounters, I don’t have my players moving their token about in social or exploratory situations, since that is just too micro-managy for my taste. This means when I am not in combat, I don’t need shmeppy or my initiative tracker (which also allows you to roll dice in it). This give me much more room to either pull up more notes or information on screen, or simply focus on the books in front of me. I appreciate simple tools that can easily be employed when I need them only as opposed to being stuck with a single unwieldy and large solution that does more than I actually need.
I think Shmeppy perfectly fits the gap it is intended to fill. It is a virtual wet-erase style battlemap, it isn’t supposed to be more.
I don’t have time to do a full write-up right now but I definitely think this crowd would appreciate www.improved-initiative.com which I have been using for some time now.
I track PCs, NPCs, custom monster stat blocks, etc. as well as the spells my players pick at each rest, custom spell card entries for the Fighter maneuvers and Monk ki abilities, and it hyperlinks everything possible so you can just click on Concentrating, or Fireball, or Fists of Unbroken Air, and it gives you a little pop window which describes the ability.
It also includes automated dice rolling with the standard notation format though I only use that for monster initiative, everything else is rolled by each player or me manually (even while remote like we are now, I sent a few small dice sets to each player at the beginning of quarantine since this used to be a tabletop campaign of all new players so I supplied all the materials).
Have a look around, I think you’ll enjoy it!
Please consider this as a paid add on for the shmeppy. Pleasy please MacPlease?
Shmeppy for the map.
Rolz.org for dice, persona records, and notes.
Zoom paid for chit chatting.
Plonk! has just been announced on reddit. It looks pretty close to what I’d picture as a minimal version. I’d probably add to that variables/annotations and syncing the output, of course.