Sunday, 28 April 2013

The (almost) universal, face to face, no input, Maptool framework.

Maptool can be used "out of the box", as a simple whiteboard upon which you can move your game tokens.
But, if you want to make your work as a gamemaster easier, you can automate a lot of things, and, therefore, I developped  a few frameworks, intended to help me (see here or here, for exemple).
But they proved to be much too cumbersome for the way I play.
Using a virtual tabletop is, for me, a way to simplify my preparation and organization of the game sessions, and , whilst quite simple by Maptool frameworks standards, I found that they were still getting too much in the way for my use of Maptool.

Indeed, I use Maptool exclusively to play face to face games, with real players, and not to play online. I use Maptool as a display for my players and to record easily gaming stuff. You'll find a compleat explanation about the setup I use here, but, basically, it is simply a computer with a second screen attached to it.
I quickly realised that I don't need a tool for managing the characters or the NPCs. As we are all gathered with classic character sheets, and I have my scenario containing all the values I need. So, there was no need to record those values in the program beforehand.
The framework is used by the gamemaster (me), so, there is no need for control or validation from the program. Rules don't need to be set in the framework, I know them.

My main objective was to get rid of the need to input values before playing. If the maps and the tokens were present, I wanted to be able to open the framework and begin to play with most games I am using.
The conclusion, was that, in opposition with my earlier frameworks, I was going to record spent points (hit points loss, power spent,...) instead of substracting them from a maximum that I had to input before the session. And, I was to get rid of any automation for calculating levels or special effects when those points were lost. I was going to do it as I do it anyway: by checking my notes.

If you are like me, you probably dust off old games from time to time, or try new ones. Making a new framework each time, or even adapting an old one is too much work for one-off or trial sessions.
So, I decided to make the framework around « generic » stats, in the hope that I would be able to use it with most games I could decide to try.

I decided to just have a few counters for the stats that appear in most games and only record spent or recovered points. That did take away the chore of inputting any maximum (or even any stat) before gaming.

This framework is pre-ready to play with most games I have been using, so, I suppose it should be usable with very few modifications for most games, or even, as a base for a more full-fledged framework.
Maybe you could add one macro or two for very special needs (I am doing it for my Flashing Blades framework that needs a way to record combat maneuvers from the characters). Or you could remove the macros that have no use for your game (the locations of wounds, for exemple, if your game does not use it).

The resulting framework is really lightweight and simplistic, it doesn't do much, but it doesn't take any preparation time and it works, more or less, with every game I have tried upon it. That's what I wanted.

As Maptool frameworks goes, this one is not much to look at, it is not original at all, but it is usable directly in my games without any preliminary work, and for me, that was the priority.

So, here is the Almost Universal Face to Face No Input Maptool Framework for even Game masters that have no Maptool experience.

And here is the PDF explaining how to use it. The framework is a very simple one, so, the explanations have been made with the idea that the reader has almost no knowledge of Maptool. If you have any level of experience with Maptool, you don't really need to read it.

You'll find very useful information for modifying it to your taste (changing the stats names or macros, for exemple), here (read Introduction to Tokens, Introduction to properties and Introduction to Macro Writing and you'll know as much as I do).

If you are an experienced Maptool user, you can safely disregard the framework and the pdf, but I hope it shall prove useful for non power users like me.


  1. I love this framework but I am having a problem with fog of war and getting auto reveal on movement to function. The fog of war just stays in place no matter what I do. Please help!

  2. Sorry for replying late (I had not seen the question). The framework has no effect on the fog of war (or lighting and view for that matter). Do you switch to the fow tools to reveal the parts of the map you want to show?