I’ve had a day to play around with MapTool. When I first discovered this program for playing D&D online, I was very impressed, but still a little bit wary. It seemed to do everything OpenRPG did, but better (with the possible exception of easy networking). It had some slick features that Gametable lacked, but I didn’t know if it had dice macros.
Does MapTool have macros – that’s a good one!
MapTool, as it turns out, is all about macros. See, I’m a very experienced programmer in languages such as Visual Basic for Applications (VBA – mainly for Excel). When I discover the potential for programming in a game, I begin to salivate. (I’m a former casual interactive fiction programmer.) It turns out that MapTool lets you tie macros to individual tokens as well as to your campaign as a whole (for all of the players to use) and to your installation of MapTool (global macros). This means that, for instance, you can put a monster token on the board and then start writing as many macros as you want for it. Each macro will create a little button that’s available whenever you select the token.
I created a macro called “Simple Attack” and then imported it to every new token on the battlefield. This would put a button connected to the token called “Attack” (in red letters, just for style). When clicked, the Attack button would send messages to the chat window that only the GM can see, first with an attack roll (d20+0 versus AC by default) and then a damage roll (d6+0 by default). I would edit this macro for the new token. For instance, on a Giant Rat, I edited it to be called “Bite” and changed the attack roll to d20+6 versus AC and the damage to 3 (no roll). On an Ochre Jelly, I changed the name to “Slam”, the attack to d20+8 versus AC and the damage to 2d6+1 and ongoing 5 acid damage (save ends). This will all automatically show up in my chat window whenever I click the appropriate button. No more looking up the attack modifier, what defense it’s attacking, how much damage, etc. Just click the button and inform the player of the PC’s doom!
Naturally, the same can be done for player tokens. I haven’t created any macros for the players yet, but I fully intend to do so. I’ll be interested to see whether the players use the macros for their powers or not – I’m guessing they probably will.
I’ve also set up each token with appropriate properties – hit points, defenses, speed, ability scores, etc. Whenever you mouse over a token, a little portrait shows up with all of these stats next to it. When I roll to hit Reflex against Barbara’s character,I can just mouse over Barbara’s token and see what her Reflex defense is. Way, way cool.
I’ve also customized the conditions I’m using in my campaign. To the left, you can see what I’ve set the various conditions to look like. Whenever a character is bloodied, I’ll set the “Bloodied” state to be checked, and a red dot will appear in the bottom right corner of the token’s picture. If they’re prone, they get a blue ring. Slowed, a red yield sign. Dazed is a green cross. I’ve added a purple triangle to remind us of ongoing damage. Unconscious characters will have a gray X, which will become red if the character dies. I absolutely love this. I know there are more conditions I’ll need to add (I just realized that I need to show which tokens are marked, for instance), but these should get the game going. Honestly, this is an area where MapTool is superior to a real life game. It’s a pain in the butt to put little beads next to minis on a physical battle map to show which ones are marked by our warden, which are tagged by our ranger as her Hunter’s Quarry, which are bloodied, etc. In MapTool you can’t miss it (as long as you know what the shapes mean, of course).
The down side of MapTool is that I do have to have map files prepared to import. I found a great site with beautiful Keep on the Shadowfell maps called the Mad Mapper. While I love the maps of the Keep that I built myself in Gametable (mine are more colorful), I’m having tremendous trouble with Gametable’s Export Map function. This function is supposed to export the map as a JPG file, which I could load into MapTool after resizing, but for some reason the exporter either exports a blank map or a map with just a few objects from the top left corner of my map. I hate going with screen shots, so for now I’m stuck with maps I find online. I’d love to keep building maps within Gametable, but if I can’t export them as images that’s just not going to work.
What do you use for building map images? Do you just draw in Photoshop? That seems like it would be tremendously difficult if you want to stick to a grid. I’m open to suggestions!
I should also mention that I’ve discovered the DND 4e Combat Manager, a totally slick little tool that lets you import your characters from Character Builder and your monsters from Adventure Tools and then run combats. There seems to be a bug that prevents the Combat Manager from importing many of the Character Builder stats (max HP, defenses, ability scores, etc.) but it does import names and powers, and I added the numbers for my three PCs manually. The monsters import perfectly. With this tool, I can roll initiative, see what powers are available (including tracking encounter and daily powers for the PCs if they like), keep track of HP, and manage conditions that have certain end points (save ends, end of next turn, etc.). I love the condition reminders for things like ongoing damages or saving throws. I don’t know if I’ll end up preferring this program over my homebrew Excel tracker, but I’ll admit that it’s looking pretty attractive.
As always, I love getting comments, so please let me know your thoughts.