You might have seen posts about Foundry on here lately. This is what the fuss is all about.
VTT - Virtual Tabletop - is a way to play tabletop games over the internet. Foundry VTT gained a lot of popularity lately with combination of reasonable pricing and great feature set. It has a lot of systems available, but I will focus solely on Pathfinder2E in this post.
As GM you purchase Foundry once for $50 and get a server license. You need to host it somehow: rent a server or just use your own PC for free. This is all you pay for it, no additional costs. You set up everything for the game and players connect via regular browser.
What you should and shouldn't expect
In foundry with pf2e system you get:
- Support for system and every book for free. Foundry PF2e system is open-source and developed by the community, and this means you get support for every rule bundled in.
- So far system was developing super fast, with a new version every week or so. APG support was added in just three days after release, for example. New modules pop up often.
- Maps have lots of tools: dynamic lighting, doors, hidden doors, weather effects, distance calculation, different types of walls.
- Gorgeous character sheet. Loot sheet is automated: will calculate AC, HP, attacks, skills, bulk and more for you.
- Most of aonprd is already backed into the system. Bestiary, NPC, monsters from adventures, items from different books, actions, deities, iconics etc
- Journal system with decent text editor
- Rollable tables so you can roll random deity, random loot, random name or random terrain - with ability to create your own tables.
- Good interface
- Exclusive content - not a huge lot, but Foundry have some nice maps and music sets available for free. It expands over time.
- Macros system which allows to automate a lot of things.
- Hundreds of mods to extend functionality. I'm not exaggerating.
What you shouldn't expect, at least for now:
- No art. It has some nice icons for items and spells, but most of the monsters are just default picture. You will have to add art for your monsters manually.
- No character builder. The system wouldn't check if you added additional feat or have impossible stats.
- No full automation. A lot of things are automated between modules and macros, but far from all of them. You will have to do some things the old way, like you are playing at the table.
- No official content. You couldn't buy prepared adventure from Paizo and instantly run it. But you have some ways to make preparation easy - see at the end.
After you buy Foundry you should host it somehow. You have three main options.
You could host it yourself on your PC. This is free, but would require some router setup and might not be possible with some ISP.
You could use partner foundry hosting
. For now prices range from $4.49 to $12.99 per month for GM only. Probably easiest method.
Or you could host it on a general purpose web server. Gives you most control, prices could be very different. Hosting guide
has more details.
Read this guide
for general interface.
In short: install PF2e system, create a new world with pf2e system, login into the world. Create accounts for your players, set scenes, create PC, set up NPC, add journals, music and modules as you see fit. You are ready to go.
Pro tip: go to "Compendium packs" tab. You will see all bundled stuff you can just use in your game. Press "Compendium browser" in the bottom to bring up the interface with sort, filter, multi-compendium search and other goodies.
Creating your map
To prepare map you need to create new scene and set map image as background.
After it you should draw walls.
Walls could block both vision and movement (normal walls), block only movement (invisible walls, perfect for windows), or block only vision(Ethereal walls). With terrain walls players can see an object, but can't see behind an object.
Normal doors can be seen by players and can be opened by players if they are unlocked. Secret doors could only be seen by GM.
Pro tip: you can set wall as one-sided in wall setting. Works super well for different levels of terrain.
Check the official walls guide
The next thing you should do is add lighting. Check "Global illumination" in scene settings if you want to just light up everything, perfect if your map is outside in a day. For more complicated cases draw your own light sources. Change setting like size, angle and color as you see fit and of course see official lighting guide
Pro tip: if you have same light sources in a scene just copy-paste the first one. Also works with just about everything you can put on the map.
Pro tip #2: Create journal entries with rooms description and drag-and-drop in every room for quick reference.
You do not have to create your own monster most of the time - official monsters are included in compendiums. In case something is missing Monster import UI
module can help you fix it fast. You also can apply "elite" and "weak" templates with one click.
What you do need is to add art and tokens to your monster. Compendium image mapper
could help you add an existing art collection to bestiary fast, and with VTTA Tokenizer
you could create pretty tokens from art.
Create actor with type "character". Search for feats and drag-and-drop them into character sheet, fill everything what could be filled. It wouldn't check for feat compatibility or correct proficiency for this level. This adds a little bit of a chore, but also means system supports a lot of homebrew content and some variant rules without any changes.
If character has darkvision go to "prototype token" and set "dim vision" for something like 500. For things like torches/light cantrip you can modify "emit light" fields or install something like Torch
Select every token participating in combat, right click - toggle combat state. You can see everybody in combat tracker, players and gm can roll initiative and fight begins. Players can select a different skill for initiative from character sheet. For more details on combat use the official combat guide
Pro tip: right-click on combat tracker icon to turn it into the nice draggable window with initiative.
If you want to automate something you will probably need to use macros for it. Some basic macros included with the system. For more selection you can go to wiki - Players section
, GM section
As I mentioned, Foundry has lots of modules. Here are some modules which in my opinion deserves a special highlight. Go to link to see gifs and images with the demonstration: Polyglot
- in-universe language support. Say something in Draconic and only characters who know Draconic will understand. For everybody else it will be gibberish. Dancing lights
- modifies light to be even more dynamic. Even one torch looks exiting with it. It's better you just see it. You can see some sample videos on github page or here is
amazing demonstration provided by Pudding#8224 in discord. This is not an animated map; it's all done with foundry lighting engine and this module. Token Mold
- random name generator for enemies. Could generate whole name, add adjectives like "clumsy bandit" or "tall bandit" and do a bunch of other stuff. Token action hud
- overlay menu with character actions. With it interface gets out of the way and players can focus on playing.
Other cool modules I haven't mentioned in other parts of this post: GM Screen
, Combat Enhancements
, Easy Target
, Dice tray
, The Furnace
, Health Estimate
, Less Fog
, Quick Rolls
, Playlist importer
, GM Token-Drag Visibility
, Token Info Icons
, Turn Alert
, Turn Marker
This is only modules I constantly use. This is far from the full list. I highly recommend spending time and look through PF2E-oriented module list
. You probably will find other modules which fit your playstyle well.
How to play Paizo adventures
You can't buy official adventures for foundry VTT. But you have a couple of alternatives. PDF to Foundry
module works like a charm: it takes your bought watermarked PDF and makes Foundry adventure from it. It extracts maps, sets walls and lighting, add location notes - does most of the boring preparation stuff for you. It's not perfect, and it supports only Age of Ashes, Fall of Plaguestone and some PFS scenarios for now.
This Extinction Curse maps remake
is another approach to the same problem: of course you would not get location notes and such, but fun-remade maps are better for VTT use - and have walls with lighting included. You might have seen posts from LiosLionheart
If you play something else you will probably have to prepare everything yourself.
You probably get by this point - the best thing about foundry is community. If you have problem - good chance it was already solved by somebody or a solution will emerge soon. Discord is a really nice place to get help.
I wanted to end this with a little thank you to all developers who put so much effort in system and modules. Some I encountered personally, and wanted to thank personally: fryguy, nikolaj-a, TMun, LiquidSonic, Putty, Shandyan, Foundry creator Atropos and Foundry developer Anathema. Everybody here
, everybody who worked on modules and Foundry - thank you. Disclaimer
I haven't affiliated with the foundry. I bought it for full price, used for 2 months for my own games and involved with development of a couple of modules mentioned.