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Science and technology

How to make use of MapTool to construct an interactive dungeon RPG

In my earlier article on MapTool, I defined how you can obtain, set up, and configure your personal personal, open source virtual tabletop so that you and your mates can play a role-playing recreation (RPG) collectively. MapTool is a posh utility with a lot of options, and this text demonstrates how a recreation grasp (GM) can benefit from it.

Update JavaFX

MapTool requires JavaFX, however Java maintainers just lately stopped bundling it in Java downloads. This implies that, even in case you have Java put in, you may not have JavaFX put in.

Some Linux distributions have a JavaFX bundle out there, so should you attempt to run MapTool and get an error about JavaFX, obtain the newest self-contained model:

Build a marketing campaign

The top-level file in MapTool is a marketing campaign (.cmpgn) file. A marketing campaign can comprise the entire maps required by the sport you are operating. As your gamers progress by means of the marketing campaign, everybody modifications to the suitable map and performs.

For that to go easily, it’s essential to do some prep work.

First, you want the digital equivalents of miniatures: tokens in MapTool terminology. Tokens can be found from numerous websites, however essentially the most prolific is If you are still simply attempting out digital tabletops and are not able to put money into digital artwork but, you may get a shocking assortment of starter tokens from for $zero.

You can add starter content material to MapTool rapidly and simply utilizing its built-in useful resource importer. Go to the File menu and choose Add Resource to Library.

In the Add Resource to Library dialogue field, choose the RPTools tab, situated on the bottom-left. This lists all of the free artwork packs out there from the RPTools server, tokens and maps alike. Click to obtain and import.

You can import belongings you have already got in your laptop by deciding on information from the file system, utilizing the identical dialogue field.

MapTool sources seem within the Library panel. If your MapTool window has no Library panel, choose Library within the Window menu so as to add one.

Gather your maps

The subsequent step in getting ready on your recreation is to assemble maps. Depending on what you are enjoying, which may imply it is advisable to draw your maps, buy a map pack, or simply open a map bundled with a recreation module. If all you want is a generic dungeon, you can even obtain free maps from inside MapTool’s Add Resource to Library.

If you have got a set of maps you propose to make use of typically, you’ll be able to import them as sources. If you might be constructing a marketing campaign you propose to make use of simply as soon as, you’ll be able to rapidly add any PNG or JPEG file as a New Map within the Map menu.

Set the Background to a texture that roughly matches your map or to a impartial shade.

Set the Map to your map graphics file.

Give your new map a singular Name. The map title is seen to your gamers, so hold it freed from spoilers.

To change between maps, click on the Select Map button within the top-right nook of the MapTool window, and select the map title within the drop-down menu that seems.

Before you let your gamers unfastened in your map, you continue to have some vital prep work to do. 

Adjust the grid dimension

Since most RPGs govern how far gamers can transfer throughout their flip, particularly throughout fight, recreation maps are designed to a selected scale. The commonest scale is one map sq. for each 5 ft. Most maps you obtain have already got a grid drawn on them; should you’re designing a map, you need to draw on graph paper to maintain your scale constant. Whether your map graphic has a grid or not, MapTool does not learn about it, however you’ll be able to alter the digital grid overlay in order that your participant tokens are constrained into squares alongside the grid.

MapTool does not present the grid by default, so go to the Map menu and choose Adjust grid. This shows MapTool’s grid traces, and your purpose is to make MapTool’s grid line up with the grid drawn onto your map graphic. If your map graphic does not have a grid, it could point out its scale; a typical scale is one inch per 5 ft, and you may often assume 72 pixels is one inch (on a 72 DPI display). While adjusting the grid, you’ll be able to change the colour of the grid traces on your personal reference. Set the cell dimension in pixels. Click and drag to align MapTool’s grid to your map’s grid.

If your map has no grid and also you need the grid to stay seen after you alter it, go to the View menu and choose Show Grid.

Add gamers and NPCs

To add a participant character (PC), non-player character (NPC), or monster to your map, discover an applicable token in your Library panel, then drag and drop one onto your map. In the New Token dialogue field that seems, give the token a reputation and set it as an NPC or a PC, then click on the OK button.

Once a token is on the map, attempt transferring it to see how its actions are constrained to the grid you’ve got designated. Make certain Interaction Tools, situated within the toolbar just below the File menu, is chosen.

Each token added to a map has its personal set of properties, together with the path it is going through, a light-weight supply, participant possession, circumstances (resembling incapacitated, susceptible, useless, and so forth), and even class attributes. You can set as many or as few of those as you need, however on the very least you need to right-click on every token and assign it possession. Your gamers have to be logged into your MapTool server for tokens to be assigned to them, however you’ll be able to assign your self NPCs and monsters prematurely.

The right-click menu gives entry to all vital token-related features, together with setting which path it is going through, setting a well being bar and well being worth, a replica and paste operate (enabling you and your gamers to maneuver tokens from map to map), and far more.

Activate fog-of-war results

If you are utilizing maps completely to coordinate fight, it’s possible you’ll not want a fog-of-war impact. But should you’re utilizing maps to assist your gamers visualize a dungeon they’re exploring, you most likely don’t desire them to see the entire map earlier than they’ve made vital strikes, like opening locked doorways or braving a decaying bridge over a pit of sizzling lava.

The fog-of-war impact is a useful software for the GM, and it is important to set it up early in order that your gamers do not unintentionally get a sneak peek in any respect the horrors your dungeon holds for them.

To activate fog-of-war on a map, go to the Map and choose Fog-of-War. This blackens your complete display on your gamers, so the next move is to disclose some portion of the map in order that your gamers aren’t confronted with complete darkness once they change to the map. Fog-of-war is a subtractive course of; it begins 100% darkish, and because the gamers progress, you reveal new parts of the map utilizing fog-of-war drawing instruments out there within the FOG toolbar, just below the View menu.

You can reveal sections of the map in rectangle blocks, ovals, polygons, diamonds, and freehand shapes. Once you’ve got chosen the form, click on and launch on the map, drag to outline an space to disclose, after which click on once more.

If you are unintentionally overzealous with what you reveal, you have got two methods to reverse what you’ve got performed: You can manually draw new fog, or you’ll be able to reset all fog. The faster methodology is to reset all fog with Ctrl+Shift+A. The extra elegant resolution is to press Shift, then click on and launch, draw an space of fog, after which click on once more. Instead of exposing an space of the map, it restores fog.

Add lighting results

Fog-of-war mimics the pure phenomenon of not with the ability to see areas of the world aside from the place you might be, however lighting results mimic the visibility participant characters may expertise in gentle and darkish. For video games like Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons 5e, visibility is ruled by gentle sources matched in opposition to gentle circumstances.

First, activate lighting by clicking on the Map menu, deciding on Vision, after which selecting both Daylight or Night. Now lighting results are energetic, however none of your gamers have gentle sources, in order that they don’t have any visibility.

To assign gentle sources to gamers, right-click on the suitable token and select Light Source. Definitions exist for the D20 system (candle, lantern, torch, and so forth) and in generic measurements.

With lighting results energetic, gamers can expose parts of fog-of-war as their gentle sources get nearer to unexposed fog. That’s an ideal impact, however it does not make a lot sense when gamers can illuminate the following room proper by means of a strong wall. To forestall that, it’s a must to assist MapTool differentiate between empty house and strong objects.

Define strong objects

Defining partitions and different strong objects by means of which gentle shouldn’t cross is less complicated than it sounds. MapTool’s Vision Blocking Layer (VBL) instruments are primary and constructed to reduce prep time. There are a number of primary shapes out there, together with a primary rectangle and an oval. Draw these shapes over all of the strong partitions, doorways, pillars, and different obstructions, and you’ve got on the spot rudimentary physics.

Now your gamers can transfer across the map with gentle sources with out seeing what lurks within the shadows of a close-by pillar or behind an innocent-looking door… till it is too late!

Track initiative

Eventually, your gamers are going to come across one thing that wishes to kill them, and meaning fight. In most RPG programs, fight is performed in rounds, with the order of turns determined by an initiative roll. During fight, every participant (so as of their initiative roll, from biggest to lowest) tries to defeat their foe, ideally dealing sufficient injury till their foe is left with no well being factors (HP). It’s often essentially the most paperwork a GM has to do throughout a recreation as a result of it includes monitoring whose flip it’s, how a lot injury every monster has taken, what quantity of harm every monster’s assault offers, what particular skills every monster has, and extra. Luckily, MapTool may help with that—and higher but, you’ll be able to lengthen it with a customized macro to do much more.

MapTool’s primary initiative panel helps you retain observe of whose flip it’s and what number of rounds have transpired to this point. To view the initiative panel, go to the Window menu and choose Initiative.

To add characters to the initiative order, right-click a token and choose Add To Initiative. As you add every, the token and its label seem within the initiative panel within the order that you just add them. If you make a mistake or somebody holds their motion and modifications the initiative order, click on and drag the tokens within the initiative panel to reorder them.

During fight, click on the Next button within the top-left of the initiative panel to progress to the following character. As lengthy as you employ the Next button, the Round counter increments, serving to you observe what number of rounds the fight has lasted (which is useful when you have got spells or results that final just for a selected variety of rounds).

Tracking fight order is useful, however it’s even higher to trace well being factors. Your gamers needs to be monitoring their very own well being, however since everybody’s staring on the similar display, it does not harm to trace it publicly in a single place. An HP property and a graphical well being bar (which you’ll activate) are assigned to every token, in order that’s all of the infrastructure it is advisable to observe HP in MapTool, however doing it manually takes a variety of clicking round. Since MapTool will be prolonged with macros, it is trivial to carry all these elements collectively for a easy GM expertise.

The first step is to activate graphical well being bars on your tokens. To do that, right-click on every token and choose Edit. In the Edit Token dialog field, click on on the State tab and deselect the radio button subsequent to Hide.

Do this for every token whose well being you need to expose.

Write a macro

Macros have entry to all token properties, so every token’s HP will be tracked by studying and writing no matter worth exists within the token’s HP property. The graphical well being bar, nevertheless, bases its state on a share, so for the well being bars to be significant, your tokens additionally will need to have some worth that represents 100% of its HP.

Go to the Edit menu and choose Campaign Properties to globally add properties to tokens. In the Campaign Properties window, choose the Token Properties tab after which click on the Basic class within the left column. Under *@HP, add *@MaxHP and click on the Update button. Click the OK button to shut the window.

Now right-click a token and choose Edit. In the Edit Token window, choose the State tab and enter a price for the token’s most HP (from the participant’s character sheet).

To create a brand new macro, reveal the Campaign panel within the Window menu.

In the Campaign panel, right-click and choose Add New Macro. A button labeled New seems within the panel. Right-click on the New button and choose Edit.

Enter this code within the macro editor window:

[h:standing = enter(
"hpType|Damage,Healing|Damage or heal?|RADIO|SELECT=0")]

[if(hpType == zero),CODE:
        [h:HP = HP - hpAmount]
        [h:bar.Health = HP / MaxHP]
        [] takes [r:hpAmount] injury.;

You can discover full documentation of features out there in MapTool macros and their syntax from the RPTools wiki.

In the Details tab, allow Include Label and Apply to Selected Tokens, and go away all different values at their default. Give your macro a greater title than New, resembling HPTracker, then click on Apply and OK.

Your marketing campaign now has a brand new capacity!

Select a token and click on your HPTracker button. Enter the variety of factors to deduct from the token, click on OK, and watch the well being bar change to mirror the token’s new state.

It might appear to be a easy change, however within the warmth of battle, this can be a GM’s biggest weapon.

During the sport

There’s clearly loads you are able to do with MapTool, however with a little bit prep work, most of your work is finished nicely earlier than you begin enjoying. You may even create a template marketing campaign by creating an empty marketing campaign with solely the macros and settings you need, so all it’s a must to do is import maps and stat out tokens.

During the sport, your workflow is generally about revealing areas from fog-of-war and managing fight. The gamers can handle their very own tokens, and your prep work takes care of every thing else.

MapTool makes digital gaming simple and enjoyable, and most significantly, it retains it open supply and self-contained. Level-up right now by studying MapTool and utilizing it on your video games.

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