Virtual Tabletop Gaming - What's a VTT?
Virtual Tabletops surged in popularity in recent years - ascending from obscurity during the onslaught of Coronavirus Covid-19 and the proceeding isolation we all faced as lockdown swept the world.
Typically and historically, roleplaying games have been enjoyed in face-to-face environments where you share the experience closely with your chosen erstwhile compatriots. Of course, this pastime was completely incompatible with social distancing and lockdown guidelines - at least where I lived!
But the community and the hobby continued to live and breathe behind closed doors, thanks in no short measure to the tools we used to play our games - Virtual Tabletop platforms.
Virtual Tabletops (henceforth known as VTTs or VTTRPGs) were around before Covid, but with their penetration levels in the community pre-Covid they still had a lot of room to grow.
In this article I'll touch upon a few different VTTs - freshly launched Foundry Virtual Tabletop, big hitter Roll20 and new kid on the block Owlbear Rodeo.
In each instance the principal is the same - the point in a virtual tabletop is to allow groups of RPG lovers to experience the game from the comfort of their own device, regardless of the distance they might find between each other.
The VTT of choice itself is loaded up with all of the necessary rules and mechanics that any party and their Dungeon Master (or Games Master if you prefer!) would need to play the game. The game of choice more times than not is Dungeons and Dragons - but there is a whole world of RPG titles out there to explore!
Officially launching in May 2022 - FoundryTT is one of the most versatile VTT platforms.
In the case of Foundry and Roll20, their functionality goes beyond just one brand of game - each platform can accommodate any set of pen-and-paper rules imaginable. The popularity and reach of both of these platforms has afforded them much support in return; users are able to add their own elements to the system and share them amongst the community at large. In a short space of time, modifications and add-ons have become a big part of the VTT eco-system irrespective of the platform.
Appeared on scene in 2012 after a successful Kickstarter - Roll20 has over 8 million users to date.
The best RPG in-person experiences are filled with unique props, vibrant maps and a healthy dosage of comfort food! It's no surprise that VTTs would endeavour to give Games Masters the tools they need to replicate this experience in a digital space. VTTs allow a Games Master to control the game environment - from the map that players find themselves on, to the characters that the players find themselves facing! The system handles all the dice rolls and calculations as well - up front and transparent for everyone to see.
Nobody is rolling dice on the other side of a dodgy camera feed here!
This content that players and Games Masters need isn't always readily available - this is where Modemkiller comes in. The library of fantasy assets that we have are ready to use on VTT platforms - Fantasy Maps, Fantasy Characters and their respective tokens can all be used to bring your VTTRPG experiences to life. This is true irrespective of whether you're a Games Master or a Player, and irrespective of your choice of platform as well!
Map Packs come in all shapes and sizes - you can find our library of content here.
RPG enthusiasts are spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting their VTT platform. in 2022 there are several options and none are a bad choice - it comes down to the personal slant more than anything else. Intuitiveness, functionality and style can all vary from group of games to group of gamers - some will even make uses of more than one!
This could be the reason several platforms can co-exist in a niche market like the one TTRPGs find themselves in. Testament still, Owlbear Rodeo is in open development - growing and adapting at every opportunity.
Currently in a state of open development - Owlbear Rodeo tracks it's growth in an interesting blog.
Each VTT platform approaches fundraising in different ways - examples at time of writing being that Owlbear Rodeo is based on a monthly subscription; whereas FoundryVTT uses a one-off payment for complete access. Both equally providing access for a Games Master to run games for groups of players.
The VTT eco-system continues to grow and to thrive. Some players still like to play from the comfort of their own home as much as they like to play in person - whether a lockdown is in place or not!
VTTs provide this cross-section of the community with a wonderful tool, as they journey on their own brand of escapism - and long may it continue!