Michael back with our latest Earthdawn developer’s blog. Last time I discussed a character build I put together for a playtest of the Foundry tabletop platform. Today, I’d like to chat about my experiences filling in a character sheet and playing in a game.
I do want to point out before I start that Foundry is not a free service and does require a one-time license fee to use their platform. Similarly, the Earthdawn plugins are standalone products for an additional fee. You’ll have to judge for yourself whether any of these products are worth the expense in place of alternative methods of online gaming.
First thing I want to discuss is the platform itself. Foundry is hosted by the user, meaning someone has to run the game off their system rather than it being hosted on a public server. My group didn’t experience any significant issues with input lag with this setup, though I expect all our internet connections were of sufficient speed. I’m not sure how the platform would function if the host had a slower computer or limited bandwidth (just something to keep in mind).
One nuisance we did experience was that the host had to send out their IP address anytime their local network changed. They also had to keep the Foundry system running for others to access/modify characters, but neither of these were huge drawbacks in my opinion.
For character building, the process was rather intuitive. I was able to figure out the drag-and-drop method of populating talents, skills, and other traits with little to no instruction. Once I got used to how the Earthdawn modules were organized, I was able to find everything I needed relatively quickly. I do think that tracking custom content would require a bit more effort, specifically when using non-published thread items. I’d guess there is an easy way to do this, but I didn’t look into this since it was my first time using the platform. Exporting and modifying characters via a text editor is possible, so if all else fails it could be accomplished via this method.
The session itself went pretty well. Foundry has its quirks, just like Roll20 does, but with a little trial and error we were able to figure out most of the features we needed. One function we discovered was the ability for the GM to pause the game and prevent players from moving tokens/objects. That feature was a bit confusing at the start when the players couldn’t figure out how to move their token, but having this ability is useful for chaotic groups who may move things they’re not supposed to. It did take a round to figure out the initiative system. Once we did, however, we discovered a useful feature that allow the player who’s turn it was to indicate they were done by progressing the turn to the next actor.
Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to try out my t’skrang/spirit mount/wheeling attack build due to the major combat scene occurring indoors. The main purpose of my playtest was to use the integrated spell system, which had some quality of life functionality due to the digital platform. With the Earthdawn plugin, spellcasters can share the details of a particular spell with both players and GM with a couple of mouse clicks. The ability to post spell effects to the chat made it easy not only for the GM to read the effects, but also gave other players access to the information.
Overall, I’d say Foundry is a worthwhile platform to consider for digital Earthdawn games. As I mentioned, there is an upfront expense associated with the platform and game specific plugins, but these are all one-time costs. Only the host needs to purchase the products in order to run the game, so it gets around the need for players to purchase the software in order to play. As a quick shameless plug: Players and Gamemasters Guide have already been released as Foundry plugins, with the Companion and Mystic Paths planned to be released in the near future.
Until next time, thanks for reading!