Best VTT in 2023? We have the answer… and some bonuses you’ll want to read!
With the roll of a digital die and the click of a mouse, Dungeons and Dragons players around the globe have embraced the world of virtual tabletops (VTTs). In the past few years, especially considering the social distancing measures introduced by the pandemic, VTTs have become a staple in the TTRPG community. If you’re on the hunt for the perfect virtual space to embark on your D&D adventures, look no further. Here’s the lowdown on the top virtual tabletops of 2023 that cater to every kind of player.
The digital realm has opened up a treasure chest of possibilities for Dungeons and Dragons enthusiasts. With the roll of a digital die and the click of a mouse, players across different continents can now converge in rich, fantasy worlds, experiencing the thrill of the game while miles apart. The shift towards virtual tabletops (VTTs) was nudged sharply by the global pandemic, pushing social interactions into the digital sphere out of necessity. But even as the world inches back towards normalcy, the TTRPG community has largely continued to revel in the realm of VTTs, finding in them a convenient, expansive, and deeply customizable way to play.
The appeal of VTTs lies in their ability to simulate the D&D experience in an accessible and often more immersive way. They are the perfect solution for scattered groups, or for those who simply enjoy the tech-assisted aspect of play. The best virtual tabletops of 2023 offer a myriad of tools designed to streamline gameplay: from automated character sheets and dynamic lighting to integrations with expansive databases of D&D lore. This digital evolution of D&D ensures the game’s core essence is not just preserved but enhanced, offering a more visually and functionally engaging experience.
But with the abundance of choices available, selecting the right VTT can be as daunting as facing a Lich without a cleric in your party. Each platform caters to different aspects of the gaming experience, whether you’re looking for the feel of traditional play, craving the flexibility of extensive customization, or needing an interface that’s easy for RPG newcomers. It’s about finding the balance between functionality, user-friendliness, and immersion that suits your particular campaign and playstyle.
In the landscape of 2023’s VTTs, there are standout platforms that have proven themselves to be the companions of choice for D&D players. These virtual tabletops have been forged in the fires of community feedback, technological advancements, and a deep understanding of what makes tabletop roleplaying games such an enduring pastime. They are the digital alchemists that transform the classic pen-and-paper experience into something magical and boundary-less. Here’s an overview of the top contenders that have captured the hearts and imaginations of the TTRPG community.
Best VTT 2023?
Here’s our list!
1. Roll20: The Veteran’s Choice
The Roll20 VTT is almost synonymous with virtual tabletop gaming. Launched in 2012, it has carved a niche for itself as a robust, all-encompassing platform. It’s a browser-based haven where both players and DMs can find solace in its user-friendly interface and vast array of supported games.
For players, it’s a dream, with free account creation and no mandatory downloads; everything happens in your web browser. You get digital dice, automated character sheets, and rules reference tools at your fingertips. For Dungeon Masters (DMs), however, the story is slightly different. While a basic free account is available, truly unlocking Roll20’s potential involves a subscription. The Plus level is great for hobbyists, but for the true enthusiasts, the Pro level at $99.99/year offers unmatched features.
Despite its ease and depth, Roll20 does have its quirks. The built-in audio and video chat is less than stellar, leading many to integrate it with Discord for communication. It’s a small price to pay for an otherwise seamless experience.
2. Foundry VTT: The Innovator’s Playground
A relative newcomer compared to Roll20, Foundry VTT quickly earned its stripes with exceptional customization capabilities. It’s the dreamland for DMs who want to tailor every aspect of their campaign. Foundry’s impressive dynamic lighting, line of sight rules, and animation make maps nearly leap off the screen.
Players can join games for free through their browsers, but DMs face a one-time cost of $50 for a license. It’s a steep upfront price, but consider it an investment into a future of free updates and total access to a blossoming suite of features.
However, Foundry’s complexity can be a double-edged sword. It demands a steeper learning curve and a fair bit of tech know-how. And like Roll20, the built-in voice and video are often swapped out for Discord’s reliable service.
3. Tabletop Simulator: The Tactile Enthusiast’s Domain
The Tabletop Simulator (TTS) isn’t exclusively for RPGs—it’s a jack-of-all-trades in the digital board game world. It’s less a VTT and more a physics sandbox where you can simulate a real-life gaming table, complete with 3D miniatures and environments. It’s the closest you can get to the feel of a physical table, with the added bonus of VR support.
Yet, TTS comes with its quirks. It lacks the automation that makes Roll20 and Foundry feel smooth. You’re essentially playing D&D with a digital representation of physical pieces, which can feel clunky. Each player will need their own copy of the game, which runs at $19.99—a barrier if you’re looking to bring in new players.
Choosing Your VTT in 2023
In this blossoming digital age, each virtual tabletop platform carves out its own niche in the realm of online role-playing games, enticing adventurers with varying tastes. Roll20, a venerable elder in the realm of VTTs, offers a tried-and-true structure that appeals to both novices and veterans. Its intuitive design, coupled with a vast library of resources, makes it a beacon for those seeking familiarity and comprehensive support within their campaigns. For players and Dungeon Masters (DMs) who prioritize ease of access and a wealth of content right out of the gate, Roll20 stands as a towering stronghold amidst the ever-expanding digital landscape.
In contrast, Foundry VTT, like a skilled artisan, puts the power of customization into the hands of its users. It’s a canvas for the imaginative, a tool for creators who yearn to sculpt their fantastical worlds down to the last pixel. The depth of control Foundry affords is its most enchanting spell, allowing DMs to weave complex narratives with intricate detail, turning every campaign into a unique masterpiece. The upfront cost may act as a gatekeeper, but for those who cross its threshold, Foundry VTT becomes a sanctum of limitless potential, where every rule and tile can be tweaked to perfection.
Tabletop Simulator, meanwhile, offers a more tactile experience, akin to the sensation of sitting around an actual table, with the clatter of dice and the rustle of character sheets. It stands apart in its ability to replicate the physics of a real-world game room, offering a playful and hands-on approach. This platform might lack the automated systems of its counterparts, but it compensates with a charm that resonates with the traditionalist’s soul. It’s a bridge between the old and the new, extending the camaraderie and tangible joys of a physical game into the virtual sphere. For those who delight in the physicality of board gaming, Tabletop Simulator is a homely cottage in the woods, a nostalgic retreat into the familiar.
As these virtual realms unfold before you, the decision on where to anchor your fantasy escapades ultimately rests in your hands. Whether you’re drawn to the robust, streamlined corridors of Roll20, the deep and intricate labyrinths of Foundry, or the charming, miniature-filled valleys of Tabletop Simulator, your experience will be rich with stories waiting to be told. Each platform serves as a gateway to endless adventure, a summoning circle where heroes converge and legends come to life. So ready your virtual dice, gather your fellowship of pixelated adventurers, and embark on a journey that transcends the physical boundaries of our world, all from the glowing window of your screen.