What online tabletop best supports Ars today?

My gaming group will shortly begin another Ars Magica campaign online. Last time we limped along with Discord and some journaling software, but it's been two years and I'm wondering what is the current best choice of online tabletop software to play Ars Magica? I'm leaning toward Foundry VTT for the new game, but I'd love to hear what experiences the rest of the folks here have had.

One quirk - my house rules use a 0-9 roll, with exploding 9s on a stress die, in place of the current AM5 system. So supporting the custom dice a plus.

See the previous thread if you are interested the discussion from 2 years back.

What I've considered:

  1. Roll20 My group has used, but not loved, Roll20. Network issues in particular have bedeviled us in games using other systems, and while the interface is familiar and generally bug-free, it's aimed primarily at tactical combat, and has limited options for eye candy and special effects useful maintaining engagement with theater of the mind. An acceptable baseline if nothing else works, but not great.
  2. Fantasy Grounds I had a lot of hope for Fantasy Grounds, especially the new Unity version, but the ruleset is no longer in development. (The author was so awesome that the company hired him full time. Great for the platform as a whole, not so great for playing Ars online.) It's a client/server system, so getting my players to install and run a new piece of software wasn't ideal, but I would then have control of the complete system. I'd only face slow connections when I had a net slow down, and if the SG has network problems no platform would work. Good looking, a friendly community, and a character sheet with known bugs that aren't going to get fixed.
  3. Foundry The new hotness, I've been really excited by the possibilities from Foundry. Pay once and I have total control, no cost and no new software for my players, great community, and amazing modules that do almost anything you'd possibly want. Plus weird bugs and outright failures with almost every new release. I want to love this, and the early Ars Magica support is promising (my players will be use Metacreator for the number crunching during character creation anyway), but one session totally wrecked by some quirky incompatibility between modules is one too many. I used to be paid to be a software tester, I don't want to do it for free just to get my VTT to work.
  4. Astral With serious effort and money behind it, Astral will probably be amazing in another year or so. It isn't amazing now. I don't need another mapping app, the nifty ability to use an existing pdf character sheet and overlay the numbers isn't useful to me here, and as of this summer the state of the code was ... rough. If I'm going to be fighting through weird bugs to get my game to be playable, I'd prefer to support the plucky underdog writing code just because they think it's cool, not offering my skills to a corporation at a steep discount. And I have no idea whatever whether it currently supports Ars.
  5. TableTop Simulator Theoretically, TTS could support any game, since it's really just a meeting place where games can be played. We can roll attractive 3d dice bouncing around with full physics, but unless I'm willing to code a game (or win the lottery and pay some other guy to do it), we'd just be sitting on virtual chairs at a virtual table using the same fillable character sheets we have in Discord. The ability to display 3d terrain and characters is awesome, but spending hours to create a walkable simulation of Durenmar isn't actually the best use of my SG prep time. Mind you, if I had infinite resources, I'd absolutely choose TTS - hiring fleets of minions to code the character sheets, 3d design my characters (Heroforge now supports output to TTS at a modest cost per model) and buildings, design the virtual room and table to match the meeting room for the local covenant, and convert the rulebooks into attractive, usable, in-game resources. And pay a professional SG to run the campaign for me so I can get a chance to play. But unfortunately I have caviar tastes and a ez-cheez budget.

I wish I could help but my experience playing online is WAY out of date, as in I actually coded up a dice roller applebot for the GM to run in mIRC.

However I have been seriously eyeing picking up TTS to play games with my old high school/college buddies. All of them are heretics who play WW D10, CoC, and GURPS, along with board games. I will be following this to see if anything new comes out compared to the old thread.

So I play in one online game and run another:

we use google hangout (now meet) for the in game talking, and have a 2 yr long googlehangout chat where we discuss game related things (what we want to do next session, any rules/lore discussions, dropping links/pics during session). We keep everything else in the google suite either Sheets or Docs. The ST made a character sheet template which does almost all the calculations, and only needed a little tailoring for each character (lab improvements, lab help, and major focus I had to add myself).
We have a sheet for the library, one with all the magic items we have (made) and one for the vis log, we also have a massive Docs document which has all the links to the above, all the background information, and links to all the grog character sheets. I also keep an IC Chronicle of the game, written from my character's PoV in a note (77 pages long so far).
For dice rolling, we are friends and work on a trust basis, so we each have either physical dice (mostly d10, but occasionnaly an old GW scatter die) or just use an online dice roller as needed.

We use discord for the in game talking, and have multiple parallel chats for each topic (links, maps, covenant buildings, specific long running quests, lab designs, noble houses etc). We keep everything else in the google suite either Sheets or Docs. I reused the character sheets from the above mentioned game with each player tailoring for their character.

We have a shared googledrive folder where everything is saved (including magi & grog character sheets) in many cases I just copied, emptied and renamed the sheets from the other game We have a sheet for the library, one with all the magic items we have (made) and one for the vis log (I do this one differently, so that the players don't know if say infernal/divine vis went into the stock but I know exactly which source is used for which item, infernal tainted weapon here we go), I made a smaller covenant Doc with links to all the grog character sheets as well as a few words on each of them, to help when choosing who to take on a mission.
One player has coded a diceroller bot for the game, so 2 players use that, whereas the last player and I prefer to roll physical dice.

On top of this I have a massive word ST document on my PC where I have all the info about the game sorted (although it is getting difficult as I am at ca 70 pages), it has my prep notes, post game notes, background, stats for NPCs (especially recurring foes like dogs and hunters).


The saga I currently plays in uses Fantasy Grounds and it works well for us. We are used to a few strange quirks being thrown up.

I've used roll20 for warhammer-based games as the character sheets work OK, I've no idea if the Ars magica character sheet works well or not. We do suffer the odd network availability issue with roll20.

For the recent "Image from the wizard torn" online convention, we mostly dispensed with VTTs and played over Discord or Zoom as it solved the problems of trying to match players to games that their computer setup was compatible with.

1 Like