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  1. #1

    Tried the demo. Disappointed, not enough rules validation.

    Hi All!

    I'm new to the table top roleplaying and gaming systems in general (played and finished Icewind Dale, Baldur's Gate, PST and a few other back in the day and loved them, but pretty much kited and save scammed my way through them without much regard for the underlying rules systems). Tried FG and am intrigued by the versatility and the flexible game style which it allows for. At this point I'm mostly interested in solo gaming (solitaire RPGing, if you will) where I can learn and experiment with the rules mechanics within loosely coupled narratives or adventure stories. I was actually inspired to try FG while reading some LitRPG novels which contained descriptions of battles and encounters, and I think FG could supplement such books wonderfully.

    So after having done my research, I installed FG and for a few days now have been reading online materials, watching tutorials on how the game (D&D 5e) could be conducted. Alas, it feels like either due to my general lack of experience with table tops, game rule systems and the role of the DM in games, my expectations for FG are not correct or are too excessive, perhaps. Below I am listing some points (all of which are IMHO, btw), in hopes that perhaps you could advise me and guide me in the right direction in my approach to FG.

    Unnecessary and incapacitating restrictions of functionality:
    • Party member portraits are not displayed in the top left corner. This is a conventional UI element, and while I understand that only connected players’ characters are displayed in this fashion I don't understand why it has to be this way. I feel that all characters on the party roster should be displayed there, both for consistency of the interface layout and also for immersion (where connected players would not may realize that some of their party members are controlled by the DM, for example).
    • Character movement distance arrows not shown to DM on the battle map. I can see how not seeing it may add value during pre-combat placement, but not during a creature’s regular turn movement.

    Unregulated freedom by a DM to change everything and anything, often in wrong places:
    • On the character screen, AC magnifying glass - I was able to toggle Armor Proficiency On or Off for a fighter character. So which is it? Under Abilities/Proficiencies it still said "Proficient in all types of armor", yet on the Main tab it now said Not proficient in armor.
    • Was able to enter custom weight for individual items equipped by a character. Why? Arguably a DM could come up with a justification for why suddenly items carried in the backpack felt less heavy to the character, but even that could be done within the scope of current rules as to preserve the integrity of the rules, e.g. by boosting the character's Strength ability score.
    • There's a million other instances where a value can just be arbitrarily altered by a DM. Ability scores, Skill modifiers (Acrobatics, change from Dex to Int for a warrior, no problem). Why not restrict manual editing of the ability scores to a level increase mode or to by having the DM grant a character a corresponding trait or a feat? That would still give the DM power to affect anything in the game but would be done in a cohesive way within the scope of current game rules.
    • I almost feel that, in order to make the system friendlier to new players and DMs and particularly to solo players such as myself, there should be multiple DM administrator levels, such that at the lowest level a DM would be permitted to advance the story and to control characters and NPCs, without being able to edit different values in the most unexpected places, wondering whether it's something they're expected to change or to edit manually or something that shouldn't be touched under normal game conditions.

    Not following common conventions for CRPGs (workflows and UI layout):
    • No character ragdoll in the character Inventory screen. There's an icon indicating whether an item is equipped or is carried in the backpack, which is a hit or miss to use. There's a bug, as in Tutorial campaign, from the beginning all items in character inventories are marked as if they're in the backpack, while in reality some like armor and weapons, are equipped)
    • Case in point, I'm looking at the stats of one of the characters from the tutorial campaign, Ravina, Wiz lvl 4, and her AC is 15. Base 10 + Armor 3 + Full Dex modifier 2 = 15. The problem is she's not wearing any armor (not that can be seen in the inventory panel, anyway), so I am not able to tell where the Armor modifier 3 is coming from, perhaps I accidentally entered it myself.
    • No quick slots for usable items. From some video tutorials I learned how to add custom actions emulating e.g. a potion of healing. Well perhaps adding such an action, or power, should create a potion of healing in the character's inventory? Or perhaps inventory itself should be made less convoluted and more similar to other video games which have been implementing inventories in more or less similar fashion? So that there would be a clear distinction between actions derived from character's abilities as opposed to from consumable items? I understand that FG's primary purpose is to emulate a live table top session, but it is also undoubtedly a computer game and so certain elements should be taken advantage of rather than being a hindrance, especially if there's no reason for why they can't be. Now, creating such custom power may be akin to creating a shortcut to using said potion, or an equivalent of an item placed in a quick slot. Shouldn’t the game validate whether the character actually possesses the potion in their inventory? This kind of accounting and mundane record keeping hardly adds to the enjoyment of playing a game.
    • Projectile ammo. Again, as of now there’s too much work involved in keeping track of something that should be doable with a single key stroke. If there's a stack of arrows in the inventory I should be able to equip it and use it until it's expended, instead of having to manually enter the number on the character's Attack ability, then remember to remove the arrows from their inventory, etc. This can turn into a nightmare when using multiple characters and different ammo types later on.
    • CRPGs have been using weapon sets forever. Surprisingly, I don't see it in FG which implements similar mechanics of parcels and encounters for items and NPCs. What about two-handed weapons, or dual wielding? With weapon sets the player could define two sets, one for handling such weapon with one hand, and one for handling the same with two-hands, per their preference.
    • Combat is a combat, it has the logical order of rounds. Strangely I am able to change the number of the current round arbitrarily but I don't understand why and can't tell what overall effect it may have. Some enemies have Recharge timers (e.g. hell hound's Fire breath) which don’t seem to be affected by advancing the combat round this way. And what about dialing the round number back? One would think it would (as it should) function similar to Undo command in editing applications, so all actions and effects for players and NPCs would get reverted back to the specified round, but it doesn’t work that way, and I don’t know what it does.
    Last edited by MrNone; February 3rd, 2021 at 01:54.

  2. #2
    Lack of basic validations by the system (which is not the same as automation):
    • Creatures on the battle map may move past their maximum distance which is based on their basic speed (if I understand the rules correctly). The information to validate this is readily available – i.e. the system knows the creature's speed, the distance it's attempting to move, so why can't it display a warning e.g. by coloring the arrow red instead of green, for example?
    • Attack distance is not respected. Can melee or touch attack at any distance
    • Maximum number of targets for attacks or abilities is not respected - e.g. can melee attack all creatures on the map in a single hit (irrespective of the distance, too); same with spells, a magic missile cast by a level 4 wizard can attack any number of targets, rather than 3 or perhaps 4, depending on the spell slot number (something I haven't learned about yet).
    • Ability to use items which are not in character's inventory. E.g. the system will at least display a message warning when using ranged weapon without ammo, but only if ammo number was manually set in the first place. I.e. the ammo is not equipped, per say, and the notion of quiver is missing altogether (don’t know if it’s defined in the rules). Or using the healing potion through a custom created action as described above – the system doesn’t keep track of actual corresponding items in the inventory.
    • Attacks of opportunity. E.g. if it was used by the character in the current round, the system won't automatically keep track of it, there's even an explicit React checkbox to be set by the player or by DM? As far as I can tell the system already has required information in order to be able to at least give a warning if a character attempts it multiple times within the same round. It would be neat if the system added a message if an enemy moved outside of a player’s reach zone, for example, and the player still has unused Attack of Opportunity for the combat round X.
    • Leveled up a character. On the character screen, the character level number increased, but the number of XP required to reach the next level didn’t change. I'm sure the amount of XP required for the next level is in the rules somewhere. Another gripe is, as a DM (I presume that's why) I am able to level up a character regardless of their current XP, just by clicking the Level Up button. To a new player such as myself, it may be confusing. Does the system have a bug? Do the the rules allow leveling up arbitrarely regardless of how much XP the character has? I think FG should display a warning/prevent leveling up unless the character has the required amount of XP. As a DM, I then should be able to assign the necessary amount of XP and which would then enable leveling up.

    And finally, my biggest concern overall, which I'm afraid may be a deal breaker for me.

    Lack of implementation/automation for feats, traits, special abilities, auras, etc. (for the lack of a more accurate term by me)
    • Initially I noticed that "Pack tactics" trait (possessed by all NPCs in the very first encounter in the demo campaign) was having no effect (i.e. no hit roll advantage) during combat
    • After some scrupulous research (which, mind you, wasn't easy considering that I am new to the scene) I found out that such elements could somehow be applied from the Effects menu
    • As it turned out it wasn't just Pack tactics, but also Fighting Style (armor defense), Favored Enemy by rangers, to name a few which I was able to discover during the very first encounter
    • The problem, to me, is not that it's somewhat cumbersome to enable these special abilities, which may require custom scripting with keywords, conditional statements etc., but that they are not included with the version of FG or game rules e.g. D&D 5e module. I.e. I can’t just look them up from the Effects menu and manually activate them on a character with the corresponding traits, because they are not implemented.
    • E.g. I found a custom module in the store, which is $5, which adds "Pack tactics" trait (as a selectable effect, I suppose?), which is but one of many. And then there is a bundle which enables all such traits and abilities which is $85
    • Now, am I correct in my understanding that a core rule system (e.g. purchased and activated in FG) would be incomplete and still missing a lot of basic essential rules and checks, which while they can be added manually would be impractical if not impossible to do because it would take months or years, and so they would need to be added as a separate bundle for additional cost, like the $85 bundle above? I don't have a problem with business model of purchasing extra bundles, but only for additional optional content such as stories, tokens, maybe some exotic rules etc. but not for core rules.

    So that’s where I stand as a potential FG customer.

    Intrigued by the system and ready to delve in, yet wishing for more features, such as
    • the UI with more quality of life improvements (resizable fonts?) and better adherence to the de facto standard of how party based CRPG interfaces are set up, especially Inventory screen
    • automatic validation and bookkeeping (movement and attack distance, ammo, consumable items)
    • more transparency in modifiers and save rolls (where’s that +3 AC coming from if no armor is worn?)
    • less ad-hock editing (why am I able to toggle Armor proficiency off for a fighter, or change ability for a skill to a different ability?)


    And concerned by how much extra time and money investment may be required to have the system behave according the how the core rules define it should behave (i.e. many traits and abilities missing/not implemented, namely “Pack tactics”).
    Last edited by MrNone; February 3rd, 2021 at 01:54.

  3. #3
    It looks like you're trying to compare video games to tabletop games. And, my friend, they are two different beasts. While CRPG's are, as you describe, much more rigid in their design tabletop games are expressly allowed to diverge from that rigidity. I won't argue some of your points on the quality of life improvements for the UI, there can certainly be improvements there, but try to understand that the interface is meant TO ALLOW for changes in things like this. Game Masters have what's known as house rules (personal modified rules) that can literally alter any facet of a game. A lot of this stuff is meant to replicate an in person tabletop experience. Heck, sometimes I let my players move farther or perform more actions than the base DnD 5E rules allow. Why? Because it makes the game better, it's fun! This would not be possible if the FG rules for 5E were so strict as to only allow the characters movement that is listed on their sheet. Freedom and flexibility are just a few of the fundamental differences between tabletop and computer gaming.

    On top of that FG is designed to be compatible with multiple tabletop game systems itself (Dungeons and Dragons, Call of Cthulhu, Savage Worlds, Pathfinder, etc.). These all have their own shared and unique rules for how the games are played and the interface needs to be able to support that. Again, I can't stress enough that tabletop games are meant to be flexible, what you feel is lazy or game-breaking in allowing arbitrary changes to stats, might actually be something that is allowed in a home campaign. There's so much more I could say here, but I'll leave you with this.... FG is made by a handful of developers (please others correct me here if wrong) and not the dozens or hundreds that you see making computer games. I suggest tempering your expectations. Feel free to share your suggests on improvements to the application here: http://fgapp.idea.informer.com/

  4. #4
    damned's Avatar
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    Welcome MrNone

    Unnecessary and incapacitating restrictions of functionality:
    what about dead PCs?
    what about PCs that arent here today?
    what about NPCs that are fleshed out fully using PCs?
    To get the PCs loaded here in your solo game load a player instance and connect tp your game.
    As a GM/Solo they are not required in terms of controlling characters
    Many tables have 6 players, some have more. Seeing all these arrows everywhere from all of those is going to very quickly make many tables unplayable...

    Unregulated freedom by a DM to change everything and anything, often in wrong places:
    Almost no one plays everything RAW. Unless you are playing ALO or similar. Most tables ignore encumbrance to a large extent for example. RPGs have always been malleable. DMs are amongst the most opinionated people anywhere - DMs always know better.
    And there are so many complexities in the rules, exceptions and exceptions to the rules that many of the more nuanced/niche stuff will never be automated. Some people manage this with adjustments to charsheet, some with effects and some with modifiers and others with a handwave.

    Not following common conventions for CRPGs (workflows and UI layout):
    Its not a CRPG and has no plans to be one.
    Its a tool to facilitate TTRPG and that is very different to a CRPG.
    Many tables dont track ammo and other consumables. Its just boring and mundane. There are options to do so but they are not default or forced.
    Undo in an environment like this would require a full transaction tracking system be built in and that is a massive undertaking for little gain - I cant see it ever happening.

    Lack of basic validations by the system (which is not the same as automation):
    There are many rules that allow for say splitting movement, for moving at faster speed, for moving and not attacking, for moving by way of skill/feat/spell etc which all would need to be allowed for. Right now, ou can move 6 squares (or whatever it is) in most circumstances. Is that difficult to track?
    Many spells can be cast at higher levels which changes various parameters. Spells are vary varied in their effects. Some have saves, some dont, some have areas of effect, some have number of targets, some have areas of effect and allow shaping, some can be dodged, some can be resisted, some can be immune, some are hand waved, some are very very specific. Say you code all of those in, in every permutation (massive undertaking) but at your table the rules are slightly different or you use spells from another source
    There are definitely more areas that will be improved upon, there are very frequent updates, but there is no intention by the devs to attempt to code everything.
    Use the 2 character level up methods - either drag and drop classes or the character wizard.

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  5. #5
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    Lack of implementation/automation for feats, traits, special abilities, auras, etc. (for the lack of a more accurate term by me)
    I would like to see this improved in the base product too.

    Fantasy Grounds does far more automation than any other product in this space - but it will never come close to automating everything.
    You are the best arbiter of whether the product is a good fit for you and your needs.
    Whatever you choose enjoy your gaming.

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  6. #6
    I am trying to compare Fantasy Grounds to other video games, yes, because it may be considered a full-fledged video game rather than an auxiliary app to support live table top sessions, depending on one's perspective. I will probably never participate in a table top, yet I appreciate FG for the level of sophistication and complexity it can provide for me to indulge in as strictly a video game player.

    I actually feel that one particular idea, namely improving support for single-player, might be worth for developers to carefully consider as it might elevate VTT and FG in particular to a whole new level of popularity. Imagine sci-fi and fantasy novels (books) being released supplemented by FG modules? Similar to how many of them are released with audio book versions? Prince of Thorns, Awaken Online, The Gutter Prayer… tis but a few examples, these novels have plenty of battles and skirmishes which could be replicated in FG. So the novel itself would provide the world building, the story arc, the “campaign” and flavor text, if you will, but then the battles described in the book could also be played within FG. Something like that.

    Please note that I am not proposing a feature bloat and trying to be reasonable about what I think could be changed or enhanced in the UI, as I see that existing functionality already allows for many things which could be a certain way, but are not. I will try to post some suggestions on the informer.com link which you provided, perhaps a few at a time, and I am confident that they would not be detrimental to the existing system.

  7. #7
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    There is definitely a market for that. I agree with you 100%.
    I have been exploring building a basic solo rpg ruleset on Fantasy Grounds - but the two options I am looking at still dont really fill your identified gaps.
    One is a much reduced in complexity RPG system built around Solo play and the other is more a generator tool for 5E.

    I dont know what SmiteWorks plans are in that area but they have their hands very full with what they are currently doing so Im not expecting to see it any time soon.
    There are many things that we do know they are working on that are part of the core TTRPG experience.

    MoreCore - Generic Ruleset
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  8. #8
    DM-less games are a relatively new introduction to the TTRPG world. DMs have been running themselves through games for years, just to see if/how well they would work, generally in prep for running the adventure for a group. Only recently have actual adventures/stories started popping up for players and not for DMs. You might want to take a look over here https://www.dmsguild.com/browse.php?...page=1&sort=0d

  9. #9
    In my opinion, you should try FG doing what it was designed for: playing role playing games as a group. Some of the one shot games are designed to introduce FG to beginners. You can play for free under specific conditions. Then you can see for yourself how others use FG, and make a better decision. Who knows? You might enjoy the comradery, verbal horseplay, and sense of team work the comes with group play.

    Also, I personally love the video game version of Gloomhaven for playing a D&Dish game alone. It is still in beta, but that might be what you are looking for.

  10. #10
    This thread is prime example of wrong expectation and lack of understanding of a product.
    The past is a rudder to guide us, not an anchor to hold us back.

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