Anyone currently using VTTs for Ars Magica play? Anyone used more than one? What have the upsides and downsides been? What would make it easier for you going forward?
Up to recently, I had only played Ars in Roll20 and very briefly with the extension available for Fantasy Grounds. In both cases, the main issue was the same: they had an acceptable character sheet but there was an utter lack of support for long-time events or seasonal lab activities, that of course, are the key points in Ars.
The system being developed at the moment for Foundry is quite complete, and even though it is not finished, it already has a solid XP gain system and seasonal lab activities are in the pipeline. Covenant sheets and character sheets can be linked so that some bonuses (but not all) are applied automatically... it looks pretty good. I think that, more than any whistles and bells, Ars need a solid implementation of seasonal activities. I have only tried the system for Foundry occasionally in short adventures (I don't think it's ready for a saga yet... but it's not that far) and had a very nice experience.
Actually, I hope that, if Open Magica ever comes true, it will also include the option to have the full info of the SRD. Right now the system is bare-bones as far as info is concerned for legal reasons, and the greatest problem (as in any non-supported systems) is actually having to enter all the info manually. And Ars has tons and tons of info to be introduced...
I have looked at the Roll20 option, but not found enough functions to be excited.
Fantasy Grounds used to work, but has become less functional as Fantasy Grounds Unity gets more and more updates and the extension for Ars Magica falls further behind. I wouldn't recommend it now.
Foundry works tolerably well.
We use roll20 for our character sheet but have an excel file for covenant related things (Vis source and reserves, lab activity, library, To-do list...)
I recommend Foundry. Very active development support and works well.
Used to use Fantasy Grounds, and tried Roll20 - just no. AM on FG has been broken for long time and looks pretty much abandoned. Roll20 works, but I dislike the interface.
I toyed with both Roll20 and the FGU extention, but in the end decided to (attempt to) run my online saga using just Discord+dice roller mod, and a .doc file for the sheets. I didn't find the automation provided by either of the VTTs to be extraordinarily helpful to run games, but they both were needlessly complicated to configure.
The fact that I was introducing new players into the system is also one of the reasons. I'm already navigating a complex system, I don't want to teach them how to navigate a complex interface.
(In the end the saga failed to launch for unrelated reasons.)
It would be useful for an FGU extention to allow the creation of streamlined character sheets based on the type of character and magic system (usual is mundane, but click a button and now you can fill in hermetic details, click another and you can fill in maleficia, etc).
An automated spell design wizard would also be neat. Select TeFo combination, drag and drop a baseline, R/D/T, additional mag for complexity and it creates the skeleton of a spell in your sheet, you just need to fill in the detailed effect.
Neither VTT has, as far as I recall, an option for me, as the GM, to set a global aura (say, Divine 3) that is automatically computed for all characters spells, powers, abilities and etc. It's a minor thing that I can do myself, but it's this kind of minor thing that a VTT should automate IMO.
We're using Roll20 atm, it is a bit unpleasant.
The character sheet simplifies lab activity sort of, but I can't even figure out how to add requisites to a formulaic spell.
I use Excel. It auto-computes my lab total for me after I select season, type of activity, which of my conditional bonuses apply, whether I experiment and things like that.
On R20, just set the arts to your lowest art(s) of the spells, no auto-selection between reqs.
Like Temprobe, I mostly just use spreadsheets. In my case google sheets because sharing them is easy. I do load the scored into R20 for the dice roller if the game I'm in uses them but my PbP game doesn't use it and the voice game only some players do so I have somewhat stopped and never used it to track xp and the like.
I have tried Roll20, I have tried spreadsheets, and I find that nothing really adds value over manual sheets and notes. So I type markdown, and we have a dicebot in discord, and things work fairly well.
There is a lot I would have wished for, but nobody seems to provide it. And a little advantage is not good enough; it has to be near perfect for the troupe to agree on something.
Foundry solves some of those issues. Even though only Hermetic magic is covered at the moment, it includes an awesome Magic Codex where you can pick a base effect, apply any parameters (including those from non-core books) and auto-calculate the level of the spell, including additional magnitudes for Size, complexity, etc. As I said in m previous post, the main problem here is that you have to enter the guidelines manually (which can take a lot of time), as there is no official support from Atlas at that level. The same codex can be used to generate effects for magic items.
Foundry also supports Auras with an automated effect: you set the aura (of any kind) in a scene, and the rolls will suffer the corresponding effects depending on the standard realm interaction. To tell the truth, right now auras only affect spell rolls and not Supernatural abilities, but hopefully that will also arrive, eventually. The system is constantly evolving and improving.
That's what I did, which lead to me having to give an hilarious explanation for why a spell to animate a zombie and give it rudimentary intelligence appeared to be a Mentem spell to a newer player.
We've been using Metacreator, with all character/covenant files (etc) in Dropbox for a while now.
Works OK, not exactly a VTT, but it does what we need it to do.
I tried Fantasy Grounds, but it just didn't work. Have used Roll20, and as others have said the Character sheet is okay for the basics, We use Metacreator as the source of truth for the library and character sheets. I leave the updating of the Roll20 sheets to the players. We use an automated combat spreadsheet that makes it less about numbers and more a storytelling exercise.
I'd be really curious to hear more about this and see the sheet if that would be cool.
Would need to document inline how it works, but sure, no liability etc, works using Excel Macro. Doesn't allow for spell combat
Well, no need to do it just on my account but if you were thinking of doing that work anyway I think a bunch of folks here would be interested.