Advice Needed for First Time Virtual Group

So my weekly group has been meeting at a gaming cafe but now needs to meet virtually. Most players have never played that way before. Wondering which is the better option FG or R20, especially since I’m not sure how much people can afford to get started. We already use D&D Beyond for character sheets and to track various things in the campaign (currently near the end of Dungeon of the Mad Mage).

Appreciate any recommendations. Thanks!

I think you would find roll20 cheaper and easier to use versus Fantasy Grounds. With Fantasy Grounds, everything has to be done within FG and this means buying all the resources to use for any given adventure module as well as resources for players for classes and races and stuff like that.

Roll20 has D&D Beyond functionality implemented with eh Beyond20 app. My friends and I use roll20 with D&D Beyond and the Beyond20 app to run our campaigns. I’m currently playing in a 53 Descent Into Avernus campaign and a Tombs of Annihilation campaign both using roll20 with D&D Beyond and Beyond 20 app and using free resources we find on the net for maps and tokens and such.

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The cost in FG is the modules, books and membership, ability to design your campaign is built in but heavy learning curve so you could host without paying for modules if you want to roll up your sleeves and figure out all the knobs, levers, buttons, slides, toggles, switches…

Membership-wise, you can save others money by getting an ultimate membership for the DM and that lets everyone else play for free but only at your DM table which means you have to be logged in for them to access the table and do character creation.

Books have to be purchased at least by the DM (who can share them at the table with an ultimate account) or you can’t do anything so there’s no way around that cost. Purchased books establish the library of resources for running any campaign. Minimum needed would be Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide and Monster Manual.

Minimum investment would be an Ultimate license and three books which is around $250. They do run sales so you cna wait and save maybe 20% if you are patient.

Roll20 is far more organic and free but lacks the spit and polish and spoon fed features of FG. If you have your own campaign and maps drawn for tabletop gaming, you will find it much easier to use them here.

Overall, roll20 is more the free and easy place to get started especially if you have your own campaign you want to run.

Roll20’s missions statement: The Roll20 team is dedicated to enabling gamers to unite across any distance via our easy-to-use gaming tools. This means we strive to lessen the technical burden on the participants, facilitate the formation of new gaming groups, and to make barriers to entry as few as possible when gathering around a table for camaraderie. To accomplish these goals we seek to create a service that is sustainable and will be a resource to the gaming community as long as it is needed.

FG is more investment of money and time with a greater learning curve for all involved, and more suitable for official campaigns.

You can access the FG User Manual here

Probably too much info but hopefully some if not all of it will help you make the best decision for continuing the fun you are having with your friends!

It really comes down to if you want to play or do you want to look up rules.

Fantasy Grounds stores all the data for AC/Saves/To Hits/Damage. So that all you do is click a button and it handles all the calculations for you. Does he have cover? Are you blinded? Do they have blur up? Better remember all that in Roll20 because it wont. Fantasy Grounds will store all that for you so it just comes down to clicking a button while you have your target selected.

The major costs for both are the books and modules, which Fantasy Grounds typically offers for cheaper (Avernus on Roll20 is 49.95Avernus on Fantasy Grounds is 29.95) If you’re worried about price, the subscription is slightly higher on Fantasy Grounds ($8.33 Roll20 / $9.99 FG) a month for the DM and the rest play for free. But the ongoing costs are much cheaper on Fantasy Grounds. In addition, only Fantasy Grounds offers a buy once option. If I had paid Roll20 a subscription for as long as I’ve had Fantasy Grounds It would have cost me just under $1400 versus $150 I paid once for Fantasy grounds and I would still be paying Roll20. That’s not modules, or rules, it’s just the amount I would have to pay just to use the full software.

But Here’s a guy that has hundreds of hours in each, and he does a pretty good job of comparing the two. He mentions that Roll20 has dynamic lighting and and automatic fog of war, but Fantasy Grounds has that in their new product Fantasy Ground Unity which just went into Open Beta today. The new Fantasy Grounds will be the same subscription cost as the current. Just cancel one and start the other, it’s backwards compatible so all the modules you bought for this version will work in the next.

I would also take a loot at his other videos and see his other reviews of Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds. He also reviews D&D Beyond.

People that claim that fantasy grounds is more expensive than Roll20, simply haven’t done their research. Roll20 gives you a dollar off on subscription and then charges you near double for everything else.

In addition, any claim that Fantasy Grounds requires you to buy the resources and doesn’t allow you to load your own, such as maps or tokens is incorrect. You can build everything yourself in Fantasy Grounds. Load a map, some tokens and go. You don’t get the automation FG is best at, but even that you can plug in yourself. But, you aren’t limited to just bought rules and modules. We have used FG since this group in OTG was first formed in 2010 and back then there weren’t any purchased rulesets. They were all made by fans. So, you certainly can make your campaign from scratch. Most of the VTT group of OTG have been doing it for 14 years.

If all you want is something to use for a one-shot weekend, Roll20 will suffice. But, if you’re really looking to make this a long-term hobby, Fantasy Grounds will do more and save you money, and has a new version in final testing that will cost the same amount. If you find you like FG, then wait for FGU to be released and buy it flat out. No more subscription payments. Roll20 can’t say that.

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