For Your Consideration – Power VTT
I’ve been following the progress of another virtual tabletop app, this one called Power VTT, and wanted to bring it to the attention of those for whom these things have merit.
I haven’t actually tried the app in earnest, so I can’t provide a review; even if I owned it I couldn’t review it in full because I’m not playing nor am I running anything at this time. But from the looks of things, it’s shaping up to be a decent entry in the increasing pool of VTTs solutions for your remote RPG needs. It can be downloaded as a desktop app, or used through a compatible web browser for on-the-go access.
First and foremost, PVTT’s strongest suit seems to be its map builder functionality. Using a provided set of 200 assets, with more available in packs through their marketplace, a GM can construct a custom map to suit the needs of the adventure at hand. Map making is something that a lot of VTT’s aim for because it’s probably one of the most crucial tools for a GM when not dealing with pre-published materials, or when the GM doesn’t have or doesn’t want to deal with other tools such as Campaign Cartographer or Fractal Mapper. However, not all VTTs excel in this arena, as they tend to focus more on the sharing of assets, real-time gameplay, and sometimes ruleset integrations. Focusing on the map making aspect first seems to give PVTT a leg-up on other tools, but is a far more “sellable” tool than “yet another online tabletop”. Even if you have another preferred VTT, PVTT allows you to export your maps for use in those other applications, which is a nice community-centric option.
Should you be looking for a way to play with your group, PVTT can apparently handle that as well as a work in progress. It comes with an implementation of the D&D 5E character sheet, although the application does not yet have 5E rules automation. However, it looks like 5E is the only supported character sheet at the moment. Still, well-oiled teams can find ways to play with a combo of online and offline, and PVTT allows for live sharing of maps, token movement, and even real-time weather effects and FoW/LoS dynamic lighting, something you don’t yet find in many other VTTs.
As far as cost is concerned, it looks like everyone can register and use the map editor for free, as well as create and manage characters. It has a 25MB storage limit, however, which probably applies more to the maps you create than anything else. At this tier, you cannot host games online (though not sure if you can participate in other hosted games). After that, the PVTT is offered as a service, starting at $2.99 a month, or pre-paid for a year starting at $29.99. It looks like the major difference between the paid tiers is the number of concurrent online games you can host (up from zero), and the amount of online space you are granted to store your materials.
Right now, I think the price of free for the map editor and 200 basic assets is a great reason to take a look at PVTT. While the dynamic weather and LoS tools are cool and unique, the bare-bones character sheet (for a single system) and lack of rules automation currently puts online features one step above a whiteboard. While that may sound like a slight, I believe this project is a one- or two-man development effort, which should make the whole project seem that much more impressive for everything it does offer. However, I’m personally put off by the subtle marketing digs at other VTTs; I find the map editor and asset market, as well as the LoS and weather tools, to be powerful enough to differentiate this project from others, and punching up as a sales tactic cheapens the impact of the feature set.
Power VTT is going to be launching a Kickstarter soon no doubt so the developer(s) can focus on pushing ahead with the features that are on their to-do list. Already, though, it seems that the tool might be great for creating maps for whatever online tool you use, and I’ll be looking at generating some for testing purposes in the near future. I’m not quite sold on the subscription model for what’s beyond the map editor currently, but the team seems dedicated to making a tool that can fill in a niche between online only and high-end power-VTTs that I think a lot of people might be interested in.