FGU Quick-Start for GMs/DMs: Part 3 - Dry-Run A Game

This series of FGU Quick-Start Guides for GMs is brought to you courtesy of Hywel Phillips, a Fantasy Grounds Community member in collaboration with Smiteworks USA, LLC, makers of Fantasy Grounds.

Getting going in Fantasy Grounds Unity

The first time you launch Fantasy Grounds it looks complex and imposing and you’re probably wondering how on earth you’re going to get started, let alone get to the point of running a game for your players. This is how you’re going to do it.

To do this part you will need to have installed Fantasy Grounds and gone through the first two parts of the tutorial.

Part 1: Prepare the adventure
Link: https://fantasygroundsunity.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/FGCP/pages/2017230849

Part 2: Generate a party of pre-gen adventurers
Link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ZqviC9XaGdYNZzTMNzwRRIM4d36yU-ltXuDwK85sIlY/edit?usp=sharing

Install FGU and run Check For Updates

This guide assumes you’ve gotten as far as installing Fantasy Grounds, registered for an account, and run “Check for Updates” to make sure you have the latest version. 

You can download the program at the following link:
Link: https://www.fantasygrounds.com/home/FantasyGroundsUnity.php

If you assistance with installation, please see the following link:
Link:

There is also a Quick Start Guide with general information at the following link:
Link:

Running The Adventure

In this part we are going to run our party through the adventure we wrote, with us doing everything for both the player characters and the NPCs. During a real game you will only be handling the NPCs, of course, but it is hugely useful to know what is going on from the player side so you can help them learn how to use FGU - and how to use its automation features to take a LOT of the work off your shoulders.

FGU can take care of at least 90% of the record-keeping for us if we let it, and I’ve discovered high-level combats with multiple foes are significantly easier and quicker to run via FGU than they are with pencil and paper at the tabletop. You WANT to offload as much thinking and record-keeping onto FGU and the players as you can, so you can concentrate on the stuff that actually needs your attention, like what the NPCs are doing.

Launch Fantasy Grounds ready to host

FGU will do its usual spinning d20, then get you to the main FGU window:

Players can only connect once you have the game up and running on your computer.

GM and Player Instances

The next step is not obvious, and not 100% essential. You could do your dry game entirely from the GM’s point of view, running both player characters and NPC from the same window. 90% of this tutorial will apply, and the few details that differ shouldn’t trip you up. So, if this next section is indecipherable nonsense to you, just handle everything in your GM window.

But for a real representation of how everything looks in a live game, it’s really helpful to launch a second instance of Fantasy Grounds on your own computer and use it to connect to your live game as a player.

  • On a Mac, you do this by launching a Terminal window and entering:

open -n /Applications/SmiteWorks/Fantasy\ Grounds/FantasyGrounds.app

(Assuming you have Fantasy Grounds installed in Applications, which you very likely have). 

  • On Windows, you can right click over the Unity icon on the task bar and select Fantasy Grounds in order to start the second one.

A second FGU instance will open up. We’ll call this one the Player instance, and our original naturally enough will be the GM instance. We’ll be able to see exactly what both the GM and player see as the game progresses, which is very useful to understand what’s likely to be happening for the players when they ask you a question.

Side note 1: As you are running both instances on the same computer, you COULD run in LAN mode- it’s more efficient. But running in Public Cloud mode works fine for me, it’s a truer representation of what the players will see and it is one less thing to forget to change back before you first live game session. 

Side note 2: You should only ever run two instances of FGU on your computer at once, one GM instance and one Player instance. Any more than that will start competing to write to certain internal FGU files and could screw up the database for your campaign, so is definitely worth avoiding. 

Side note 3: You can back up a campaign by going into the directory FGU stores the campaigns in (on my machine it is in the SmiteWorks/Fantasy Grounds/campaigns directory in my user home directory). While FGU is NOT running, just copy the directory for your campaign, and rename it in the Finder/Windows. It’s worth doing this from time to time if you are experimenting, of if you want to run a new group through your pre-gen adventure.

Side note 4: It’s tempting to store FGU’s files in a cloud storage directory to OneDrive or iCloud or Dropbox. This is not recommended - if the cloud system tries to do file actions while you are running a game in FGU, it can mess stuff up. So it is better to keep your “live” FGU files on a local directory. Copy the whole thing over to a cloud directory in Finder/Windows while FGU isn’t running to make backups.

I just wanted to mention these as they are gotchas! that trip people up sometimes. 

In your Player Instance, choose Join Campaign. Type in your own GM name into the search box, and hit search.

FGU attempts to resolve the connection, then downloads a bunch of files. This takes a long time the first time anyone connects to your game, and can be particularly slow if the GM’s internet upload speed isn’t super and several players are connecting at once. It takes longer if you’ve got a lot of modules loaded - it’ll be copying the whole of the Player’s Handbook, Tasha’s, etc. to the players. It’s much quicker the second time they join the game.

It should be pretty quick for you, running just the SRD for this game to your own machine, but be aware that it can take several minutes at the start of game night if everyone’s doing it the same time.

After that, we get the familiar rolling d20 / “thinking about it” FGU loading screen, then the player should see the main FGU window, with two windows already open in the middle of the screen:

This is an illustration of why running your test with a GM instance and a Player Instance helps - you can anticipate what’s going to pop up for your players.

The top window is campaign setup.

Untick Show on load so it doesn’t pop up every time, then hit Next.

Next is module load. Choose 5E- SRD, as that’s all we’re using for this game. 

Wait, what? If you’ve got a long memory, you might notice that this isn’t quite the same as appeared for you as the GM when did this back at the start of these tutorials. That’s because the players shouldn’t have access to everything the GM does- like all the monster stats. The GM can control exactly which modules players have permission to load. The default here is what we need for this game, hooray.

So close the Module Set Load confirmation window (X in top right hand corner of the window, as you’re probably now rehearsing saying to all your players at this point) and then they can close the Campaign Setup window as well. There are some player options they can get to from this screen, but let’s give them (and ourselves) the defaults for the first session. The less cognitive load we can put them through, the less likely they are to run away screaming. 

This should leave the Character Selection window on the Player instance.

If you have accidentally closed this one as well, you can bring it back from the sidebar, player subsection, hit the arrow to open that bit of sidebar. Click Characters

The odds are high that one of your players will need that in your first session, trust me. 

Select the first character in the party (still in the Player Instance, of course). That claims that character for you. The character sheet will open front-and-center, and the character portrait will appear in the top left of the FGU window, above the chat window.

 

 

 

Flip back to the GM instance (I have them on separate spaces on my Mac desktop, but minimize and maximize, however you want to do it). 

You’ll see the character portrait has appeared there too, and a notification has shown up in the chat window:

Great! 

For your first game you probably want one character per player, but FGU allows multiple characters. We’ll use that for our dry run so the Player instance is controlling all four party members - remember we don’t want to be running two Player instances on one computer, FGU might get its files muddled.

It’s simple enough to claim another character. Re-open the character selection window in the Player Instance, click on the next character:

Repeat to claim all four characters, then arrange the character sheets tolerably on your screen:

If you are running on a smaller screen than me, you may want to stick to one sheet open at a time. 

If you close a character sheet, there are a few ways to get it to pop back up again. Somewhat annoyingly, the Character Selection window you get from the sidebar doesn’t work, as you’ve already claimed it. 

Close a character sheet in the Player Instance, and bring it back by double clicking on the character portrait at the top left.

Doing that also puts the character name in Bold which means they are the active character for when you type stuff in the chat:

If you like, you can also drag the character’s portrait from their character sheet to the hotkey slot down at the bottom of the screen:

* Yours will look slightly different from this - it will just say “1” in the corner, not “S-C-1”. Prize if you can guess why.

** (for those who just have to know, FGU has multiple sets of hotkeys, including ones that appear when you hold down SHIFT and CTRL/CMD. The keyboard shortcut in MacOS for grabbing the screen is SHIFT-CMD-4, so when I make these screengrabs, FGU is expecting a shift-cmd hotkey, which it shows us with S-C-1 etc.)

Hit F1. (On a Mac you probably need hold down Fn as you do it). Then again. 

Puzzkin’s character sheet toggles between visible and not visible, staying in the same place. 

So if you’ve not got much screen space on your Player Instance, drag and drop the tokens from all four party members into the first four hotkey slots. Then call up their character sheets and dismiss them again with one keypress. 

Flipping back to the GM instance you should see the four character portraits at the top, and no characters down in the hotkey bar - they are set individually for each participant, not universally across everyone in the game.

GM Window Management

We’ve done some window management for our player instance, but before we get started we should do a bit of optimization for the GM too.

This is the window arrangement I personally prefer.

Right click on the chat window.

Padlock icon to unlock the chat window position and size. 

Now you can resize the chat window (click on the bottom right of its frame and drag around as usual). Make it wider and shorter, and reposition back to just on top of the dice tray like this:

Bring up the combat tracker from the top row left crossed swords icon above the sidebar. Resize and reposition the combat tracker window and position it above the chat window. Compulsively readjust the chat window so the edge lines up, if you are like me.

You’ll find your own optimum window arrangement but I think this is a good place to start. If you have a really small screen, you’ll have to summon and dismiss windows a lot more. This is why many GMs run FGU on the biggest screen they can get hold of.

Welcoming The Party

In the GM instance, open the map for your adventure. Sidebar -> images to open the image window.

Click on the shield-link-thingy to the left of Desert Ruins to open the map. Position it next to the Combat Tracker/Chat window stack. If you have the screen real-estate, leave a bit of space on the far side for NPC sheets etc. as you need them.

Recall that we added the party to the combat tracker and the map already, at the end of Tutorial 2. Go back and revisit that if you didn’t do it.

We’re ready to welcome the party - we want to share the map with them so they can see it, too. Right click on the body of the map.

The leftmost icon with a window and a person and two arrows (sharing), then:

Same again to share the record. 

Flip back to the Player Instance:

Rearrange the map window to taste on the Player instance. While we are at it, we can rearrange the chat window, call up the Combat Tracker and put them on top of each other for the player instance too:

Things That Will Happen When Real Players Do This

“Oh no! I closed the map! How do I bring it back?”

  • Bring up your character sheet. Double-click on the character token. 

(they can get at all the maps you’ve shared with them from sidebar->Images too, but they usually want to open the main battlemap their character is currently on).

“But I closed my character sheet too! How do I bring it back?”

  • Double-click on your character portrait on the top right of your screen. 

“The map is huge! How do I make it smaller?/bigger?”

  • To scale the map inside the window, hover your mouse over the map window and use your mouse scroll wheel. 

  • To scroll on the map, click and hold the mouse wheel and drag the mouse. The map pans inside the window. 

  • With no token selected, the cursor keys also pan the map around inside the window. 

  • There’s a little gold arrow icon on the bottom right of the map window, next to the resize-window grab handle:

If you left-click and hold the mouse on the golden cursor arrows widget, it also pans the map inside the map window. 

  • There’s a gotcha if you are on a Mac and using an apple magic mouse or trackpad - no mouse wheel. There are workarounds, but honestly by far the best one is buying a cheap mouse with a mouse wheel and using it to run your FGU games. A clickable scroll wheel is just too useful to live without for long.

“The map window has obscured everything and I can’t get to resize it.”

  • Left click and drag in the map window. That moves the whole window around. Reposition so you can see the bottom right corner of the window, then you can resize the window to taste.

“Can I just fit the map inside the window?”

  • Zoom to fit

“I can’t see zoom to fit”

  • Toggle toolbar

“How do I move the chat window?”

  • Right click on it, padlock to unlock it.

“Can I make the map go into the background like Roll20?”

  • Arrow at the top of the map window, by the close icon.

“Argh! It went weird”

  • You might need to rearrange so you can see where the window controls have moved to. There are three options available here, use the arrows to switch in and out. One of them hides the chat window which in my opinion is useless. So as a player I either keep the map in its normal window, or go one level down.

I think this is a pretty nice layout, and should make players who have used other VTTs feel a bit less freaked out:

“Do players NEED to see the combat tracker?”

  • Not actually need, no. But at minimum it works like the initiative tracker in other VTTs, and it can let them keep track of a bunch of stuff for themselves. So I think it’s useful to train them to having it open. If they are on a laptop with a really small screen though, prioritize the chat window. 

“Now you come to mention it, everything is really small on my screen”

  • In the chat window, try typing “/scaleui 200” play around with that number until you’ve got an optimum mix of screen space and readability. FGU tries to guess this setting automatically for Retina screens etc. but it doesn’t always get it spot on. 

“Everything runs really slowly now that the map is on my screen”

  • In the chat window, try “/imagequality 3”. Then try “/vsync 2” or “/vsync 3”. Imagequality reduces the resolution of line of sight and shadows; blocky shadows are better than a stuttering machine. Vsync drops FGU from trying to update every frame of the screen refresh to half or less. This might give slow machines more of a chance. It can make the UI less responsive, because it is only checking mouse interactions half as often etc. So it’s a bit of a tradeoff. 

Sorry, I know that was a lot. But these questions crop up most often for me when introducing new players, so I hope they are of some help to you in advance. I thought it was most useful to put them in at the point in the game they normally crop up. 

I’ll add more as we go.

Start Play (at last!)

Go back to the GM instance of FGU. 

On the map, you should have pinned the story with our introductory read-out text. 

Click on the pin to bring up the linked story:

In your best GM scene-setting tone, read out the text to yourself. Lovely. For reference and just to remind us how it works, click on the speech bubble in the story window next to the text to ping it to the chat window too:

Ask “What do you do?”

Flip to the Player instance. You’ll see the text in the chat window there too, of course. 

Zoom into the map (mouse scroll wheel) so you can see what’s going on. Grab a character’s token and have them advance by dragging and dropping the token.  

By default, they can’t freely move their tokens without GM approval. So they see a movement arrow, saying how much movement it takes to get that far.

Flip back to the GM instance. You see the same movement arrow, but with the addition of a little green tick to approve or a red cross to deny that movement.

Click the green tick to allow the move. The token will glide across, swap to the Player instance and you’ll see it has moved there, too. It might stop part way if you dragged it past a line-of-sight blocking wall. The line-of-sight has updated according to what they can see from their new position, as you’d expect.

How useful this mode is depends on how well-behaved your players are. If they are timid little lambs and don’t move anything until it is their turn, you can toggle token locking off on the toolbox on the side of the map window:

Try that and flip back to the player instance; now you can move tokens freely by dragging the token or using the cursor keys (with a token selected. If no token is selected it pans the map in the window instead). 

Notice that you still can’t move the token through the line-of-sight blocking walls that you drew onto the map back in tutorial 1. As GM you can hold shift and drag the token through walls; this doesn’t work for players. 

It’s your choice whether or not to leave token locking on or off, it’ll depend on your group.

Our first encounter

Recall that there are a bunch of gnolls living in the area to the north of where the player characters are. There’s some stuff closer to them, but it’s passive. The gnolls on the other hand might have lookouts and might notice the PCs moving into the oasis. 

In the GM instance, bring up the Area One: Gnolls encounter either from the Sidebar->Encounters or by finding the story you pinned to the map for Area One and clicking on the link you made to the encounter there. (I personally pin the encounter directly to the map too, but that can lead to clutter).

Now it is time to put the gnolls on the combat tracker and the map. We pre-planned where they should be, so we can just add the encounter to the combat tracker using the arrow at the bottom left of the encounter window. Click it. 

Fantasy Grounds has just done a whole lot of stuff for us.

It’s added six gnolls to the combat tracker, and helpfully appended a number to each of their names so we can keep track of which is which. It’s remembered where we set them up on the map, and added their tokens. 

It’s also rolled initiative for them automatically, getting a 4, which is higher than the zeros the players have because they’ve not rolled yet. It’s decided that as we hadn’t said in the encounter if the gnolls were friendly, neutral or hostile, we probably mean them to be hostile by default, so it has colored them red on the tracker. 

The little red/green helmet thing on the tracker can change that eg if you charm one of them. 

But the tokens look a bit see-through. That’s because the gnolls are unseen to the PCs for the moment, as we can see if we swap back to the Player instance:

There’s no sign of the gnolls on the player’s combat tracker or map yet, though as the GM we can see them, grab their tokens and move them around, and so on.

Let’s see if the gnolls see the party and vice versa. Ask the party to each make a perception check. In the Player Instance, go to each character’s skill tab on their character sheets and double click in the little box with their perception bonus is it (with the little d20 in the corner).

They make a skill roll, and that’s reported in the chat window for everyone, so we can see it on the GM instance too. (You can automate via party sheet but players like to roll themselves)

22’s pretty likely to spot most things, but say we wanted to make a single stealth roll for the gnolls collectively as the GM and see if they remain hidden. How do we do that?

In the GM instance, click on the shield-link-thingy for Gnoll 1 on the combat tracker to bring up its NPC sheet.

Gnolls don’t have proficiency listed for any skills, so we just use a straight DEX roll for their stealth - click the little “C” for a characteristic roll next to DEX. (S is for a Save). Ditto for WIS for perception. 

With a 7 DEX, they are slobbing out at home and not bothering to hide - only Elethonia’s perception roll was bad enough not to spot them. With a perception of 9, they’d probably not spot anyone sneaking up, but the PCs were just stomping in. So both sides have seen each other. 

Note that by default these GM rolls were hidden. Swap back to the Player Instance and see that indeed these rolls have not shown up for the players. (There is a way to make a player roll so only the GM sees the result by the way - it’s called the Dice Tower but its outside the scope of this tutorial).

Roll for Initiative! Our First Fight

We can now reveal the gnolls to the player. There’s a little “eye” icon on the combat tracker. There’s one per combatant, just under the “G” (which is their token): 

But we can use the one at the top of the tracker to toggle them all at once:

On the GM’s instance, the only change is that the tokens on the map become solid. 

Flip to the Player instance though and you’ll see that the gnolls have appeared on the map and the combat tracker:

Note that our selected token can only see two of the six gnolls, so only those appear on the map. They can see the whole group on the tracker though. It’s a requested feature for FGU to have the map visibility control the combat tracker visibility for the players, but it doesn’t do it as of the time of writing. So for now if you want one of the gnolls to be skulking, you have to keep its visibility turned off on the tracker by hand.

Also note that the Gnolls entries are a lot less detailed for players than for the GM - they can see that they are healthy rather than wounded, that they are enemies, and where they come in the initiative order.

Time for the players to roll initiative - it’s on the main tab of their character sheets in the middle. 

As they roll, the combat tracker updates accordingly. The GM (but not the players) can manually change initiatives on the tracker by clicking in the relevant box and entering a new number.

In passing, FGU has grouped all the Gnolls onto the same initiative. It has also given each one the standard number of HP. This is controlled by Options too - you can roll HP for each as they get put onto the tracker. You can choose to give them each their own initiative score, too.

Let’s start the combat. Hit the “Next Actor” button, which is the down-arrow at the bottom of the tracker:

A turn marker advances, highlighting the character whose turn it is:

And announces it in chat:

(an Option lets you bong a bell for the player to wake them up too).

What is our wizard going to do? Let’s say her colleagues have alerted her to the gnolls. She’s going to zap one.

For the sake of simplicity for this example, leave token locking off. 

In the Player instance, do this:

Move her forward a bit. Now, she wants to know the range to the closest gnoll. FGU can calculate this by Targeting the gnoll. With her token selected, CTRL-click the target gnoll. (CMD-click on Mac).

An arrow pointing to the target appears, with the range listed in the middle of the arrow. (Getting this right is why we had to make sure the grid was set up correctly all the way back in tutorial 1).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open up her character sheet, go to the Actions tab. 

Can’t remember the range of her Fire bolt cantrip?

Click the shield-link-thingy next to the spell there and the spell description pops up. 120 feet. We’re good to go.

Open up the detailed actions for the spell with the magnifying glass next to it:

Click either the “Cast” or “Atk” button. (Cast does whichever of Atk or Save is applicable for this spell). 

FGU rolls the fire bolt ranged spell attack roll. But look in the chat window, it has done more than that for us:

It’s compared the roll to Gnoll 3’s AC and told us that the attack has hit. If we now click the DMG yellow blood-drop icon for the spell, it rolls the damage:

And it has applied that damage to Gnoll 3.

The Player instance combat tracker shows that Gnoll3 is now wounded:

Whereas the GM instance tracks the HP:

Options control how much detail the players see of enemy health, and whether they have health bars by the tokens. By default FGU has coloured dots next to the tokens, which I find almost invisible to my middle aged-eyes. If you like, in the GM instance go to Options (cog wheel near the top of the sidebar).

In passing, set Turn: Auto-center map to off. (I find it distracting to have the map jumping around)

Scroll down a bit and GM: Show health to bar, Player: Show Ally health to bar, Player: Show Enemy health to bar too. And if you prefer it, try Show name to Title, too. 

Close the options window or play around a bit to see what the other settings do. 

If you open Options in the Player instance, you’ll see you only have a very small number to choose. Turn: Auto-center map to off here too for sanity. Note that the tokens on the map all now have health bars, and titles. 

Finish Elethonia’s Turn

Back in the Player instance, move her token to behind the wall so she’s got cover from the incoming gnolls. Note in the Player instance, her targeting arrow has disappeared:

Even though in the combat tracker we can see that she still has Gnoll 3 targeted:

And in the GM instance if we have her token selected we can still see it:

This is FGU very sensibly presenting the information in the view for the GM and for the player differently. 

It can sometimes cause the GM a little confusion - remember that the players will be seeing a reduced subset of the entire scene information, as appropriate to what their character can see. They can’t necessarily see everything you can. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To finish her turn, either the Player can click the “Turn complete” down arrow at the bottom of their combat tracker:

Or the GM can advance the turn using the similar down-arrow on their tracker, where it is labelled “Next Actor”.

It’s a matter of group etiquette how to handle this. I prefer to advance the turn myself as the GM; others prefer to have players do it. 

If you both do it, you’ll suddenly discover you’ve skipped someone’s turn. 

Fix it by dragging the turn marker arrow at the side of the combat tracker back up to the person whose turn it is:

This can also be useful for quickly getting to monster stats for attacks of opportunity etc. which is another reason I prefer the GM to control the turns. 

Starting the next turn

In the Player instance, you might not be able to see the token for the character whose turn it now is. That’s because you still have Elethonia’s token selected and FGU is showing you the world though her eyes. She can’t see the other PCs. 

Click in the the token you have currently selected; it toggles so it is now unselected and you can see the other PC tokens. (There’s an Option to control exactly what players can see in this situation, called Party Vision). 

Puzzkin the rogue wants to run closer, fire his bow, then duck back into hiding. But we’ve turned off token locking. How can he keep track of how far he’s moving? The easy way is just to count squares (which is what almost all my players end up doing). 

But there’s a general need to measure distances on the map, which you can do with Pointers. This also addresses how to “ping” something to draw people’s attention to it.

Draw a quick pointer

Start with your mouse at the character. Now click and hold both left and right mouse buttons together, and drag.

A pointer appears. You can grab its end points to fine tune it, or repeat the both-buttons drag to draw it again. Click and release both mouse buttons together to remove it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have more than one player connected it could get confusing with lots of these around. Can we set a color?

We can. It’ll also change the color of that player’s dice when they roll so we can see who is rolling. 

You’ll likely know FGU well enough by now that if I say it’s in that little color palette icon, left hand side of the second row of little icons above the sidebar, you should be able to figure it out. 

You can also draw other pointer shapes (for fireball area of effects etc.) Right mouse click on the map, the arrow for pointers. Play around. You can delete them from the right click menu.  

Weapon Attacks and Effects

In the Player Instance, move the rogue up to a firing position. FGU doesn’t automatically handle things like long range; just click the ADV or DIS buttons down by the dice tray before rolling. (There’s an extension to do it automatically if it bugs you). 

He doesn’t get his sneak attack this turn strictly speaking, since he’d need advantage. But nonetheless let’s skip ahead and show how it works. Go to the rogue’s Actions tab and open up the magnifying glass by sneak attack.

Click on the yellow button by “Effect”. An Effect is something FGU keeps track of in the combat tracker for that character:

Some of them are just aids to memory, but this one has a system effect. It says that when we roll damage for Puzzkin, FGU is going to add 2d6 to the damage. It only lasts for [ROLL] so once we’ve done it once, it’ll be removed for us automatically.

Aside: inevitably, once players start putting effects on things, they are going to apply the effect to the wrong things and give the Gnoll a 2d6 damage boost. Here is how to fix it as the GM. 
Swap back to the GM instance. Notice the effect is on Puzzkin. 

Click the Effects icon (I think it is meant to be a winged boot, for god knows what reason):

Now you can delete the effect with the red and white line button.

Re-apply it from the character sheet in the Player instance. 

The player can do something similar for effects they have applied on their own version of the combat tracker, but trust me when I say that very few players will get savvy enough with FGU to ever do that. It’s MUCH more likely you’ll be fixing it for them. 

Get Puzzkin to target the gnoll in the Player instance (make sure his token is selected, then CTRL/CMD-click on the gnoll to target). 

Roll to hit from the weapon entry on the Actions tab (double click the +5 with black d20 in it by shortbow).

If like me your rogue misses, note that you can still roll damage. FGU doesn’t apply the damage automatically until the damage roll step, hit or miss. There are just too many occasions where you want to verify the hit before proceeding to damage. (“Didn’t I have advantage? Can I spend my inspiration?”)

So roll damage anyway (double click in the 1d6+3 piercing box by Shortbow) and let’s see the sneak attack kick in:

As usual, FGU tells us in detail what’s happened here. It rolled d6+3 piercing damage, then added 2d6 extra which it has shown in a different color. Total is 13, which it has then applied to the Gnoll, heavily wounding him (leaving him on 1 HP in my example). 

For the players Gnoll 3 shows up as heavily wounded, and the Sneak Attack effect has been discharged on Puzzkin and has now gone.

You should now know how to move Puzzkin just behind the wall and roll a Stealth skill for him to hide at the end of his turn. 

Can we put an effect on him to represent being hidden? Not by default, but the invisible condition in the 5E SRD rules does pretty much the same thing. Open the Effects window from the little person icon on the sidebar top icons.

You can drag and drop the Invisible condition from that list onto Puzzkin, either on to his token on the map or his entry in the combat tracker. Either the GM or player can do that. I prefer to do it all as the GM. 

 Pop back around the corner with Puzzkin’s token and send another arrow at the gnoll by rolling another attack.

FGU knows that invisible attackers get advantage and has rolled that attack with advantage for us.

It doesn’t know exactly under what conditions the invisibility will get cancelled, though, so note that the effect remains on Puzzkin:

This is another reason why I like to keep control of conditions and effect myself as the GM.

Can you set up a custom hidden effect that discharges on a roll, like sneak attack? Absolutely. How to do so is beyond the scope of this tutorial, you’ve got more than enough to deal with for now. As usual, you can also buy modules where someone has kindly entered a huge number of this sort of thing for you. 

It’s important to show you how effects work for the rogue’s sneak attack because they’ll be doing it most rounds and it speeds things up a lot to handle it automatically. The player will be quick to pick up how to do it!

The scope of effects is HUGE and there’s an amazing amount already built-in to FGU.

But I don’t want to overload you too heavily, we’re already nearly 50 pages into this tutorial.

Let’s move on to our Cleric’s turn.

Multiple Targets and Concentration

In the Player instance, move the cleric into the middle of the group. Now use CTRL/CMD-click to select targets. You can select more than one at once, including yourself by CTRL-clicking your own token:

You can verify from the combat tracker:

There are other ways to target and untarget things but you can read up on them later.

In the cleric’s Actions tab, expand Bless.

Click the yellow effect button, this will apply it to all four targeted party members. 

Go back to Puzzkin’s sheet, action tab and roll another shortbow attack.

Now we’ve rolled with advantage from invisibility AND added the d4 from Bless automatically. 

In fact we rolled a natural 20, which is a critical hit. I know it’s not Puzzkin’s turn, but we’re learning here. FGU takes care of criticals for you too. If you were to roll damage now you’d get:

FGU has correctly rolled critical damage, applied it to the Gnoll, which is now dying so it has applied the Unconscious effect to it. If we’d had sneak attack on, it would have rolled those dice in the critical damage correctly too.

You may have noticed the little C by the bless effect. This denotes concentration, which FGU also tracks for us. Let’s put it to the test. Time for the revenge of the gnolls.

The Monsters Attack

Swap back to the GM instance and advance the turn to the first gnoll. 

FGU does highlight which gnoll this is on the map, but honestly it’s invisible to my eyes. You can get an extension to make it more prominent. Select the gnoll’s token (you can get an extension to do that automatically when the turn advances to each combatant too).

Move gnoll 1 up a bit and target the cleric. 

Now take a look at the Combat Tracker. As we saw in lesson 1, you can roll stuff right from the NPC sheet. But for most things NPC’s can do, you can do them right from the combat tracker, a great time-saver. Link thingies are there if you need reminding what a trait does. 

Hover your mouse over the ATK+3 by longbow on the combat tracker. It’s highlighted in blue. Double-click to roll the attack.

Mine muffed, with a 1 (which as FGU says is an Automatic Miss). But let’s do the damage anyway because I want to show you what happens with concentration. Double-click on the longbow’s damage on the combat tracker entry. 

FGU rolled the damage, applied it to the cleric, noted that he is now wounded. It’s spotted that he’s concentrated on a spell, and made a concentration check, correctly calculating the DC, and correctly adding on the bonus from the Bless spell. (How many times have you forgotten that damned d4?)

Heironymous has passed his concentration save, and the Bless stays up. 

That’s the C in the effect taken care of. In case you are wondering the D is duration - FGU will expire the spell automatically when 10 rounds are up. 

That’s almost all you’ll ever need to run combats in FGU and have it take care of the vast majority of the book-keeping for you. Just a few quick odds and ends left.

Healing, Enemy Effects and Saves

Open the cure wounds spell on the cleric’s action tab. 

If he targets a character’s token on the map and presses that yellow and red cross button, FGU will roll the healing dice and add it to the revelant characters HP, as you’d expect.

Guiding bolt has an effect after its damage which you apply to an enemy struck by the spell; it grants advantage to the next person to attack that enemy. How often have you forgotten that as a DM? This way the player can apply the effect to the enemy as they cast the spell and FGU will handle it all for us. Clicking the yellow effect button puts the effect on the character's current target. Or you can drag and drop the yellow icon onto a token on the map, or their entry on the combat tracker.

Saves

Advance the turn tracker past the last combatant and it’ll hop back up to the start, increment the round counter at the bottom of the combat tracker, (decreasing the duration of the bless spell when it gets to the cleric’s turn this round). 

Let’s assemble this situation:

Remember shift-drag as GM to move tokens through walls.

You can target the gnolls for Elethonia as the GM if you want, too, sometimes useful. 

Swap back to the Player instance, Elethonia’s actions tab and open up shatter.

Click on “Cast” yellow button (or “Save”).

FGU makes each of the three gnolls roll a save. One succeeds and two fail. 

Click the DMG yellow button for shatter to inflict the damage on the targets. 

FGU has remembered which gnoll made its save and delivered half damage to it, whilst doing full damage to the other two.

At high levels this is a HUGE timesaver.

As GM you can use this to force player character saves from NPC spells as well, which you can explore on your own. 

Most players prefer to roll the saves themselves. You can always apply the damage by hand and there are a couple of tricks to help. 

Let’s say by accident that Elethonia caught another character in the shatter, perhaps the fighter, but we forgot to target them. As the GM, you can drag and drop that 14 damage from the chat window (the white bit where the dice and the 14 are showing) onto the fighter’s token on the map, or on the combat tracker. This is what FG reports if you do:

It’s spotted that the 14 was thunder damage, and applied it to the fighter.

But maybe they should have made their save. You can heal that damage again in various ways, but one way is to right click on it on the chat window and use ± to negate it, then drag and drop to the fighter again:

FGU has healed the damage done in error. 

Now on the original 14 damage where the roll from the spell was, right click and choose ½, drag and drop to the fighter:

Sorted.

Rests

Click the Menu button at the bottom of the combat tracker in the GM instance. 

Padlock with an eye is a rest (Why? Who knows?) Then there’s a long and short rest.

A long rest will give everyone full HP again, including our unconscious gnoll 3, and will remove duration effects like the bless. But some stray effects may remain - gnoll 3 is still unconscious, and Puzzkin is still invisible. It’s not hard to clean these few things up. 

This menu contains other useful stuff like removing all enemies from the tracker, rolling all NPC initiatives, etc.. You can probably figure those out by yourself now.

Treasure!

You should have everything you need to run through this whole adventure now. What about when the party claim the loot in the chest?

Go to the GM instance. 

Bring up the parcel, either from Sidebar->Parcels or from the link we put in the story about it in part 1 of the tutorial. 

Open the party sheet, top little icons of the sidebar. 

Drag and drop the shield-link-thingy of the chest parcel to the parcel items section of the party sheet, on the inventory tab there. As usual you can do that from the parcel’s own window, or its link in the story or the parcel’s window.

Go to the Player instance. Open the party sheet there too, from the sidebar:

Note that the unidentified magic items show up for the players as “Elegant scroll” etc. until marked as identified by the GM.

The GM can assign the items to PCs by typing character names under “Assignment”

It autocompletes as soon as the name is unique. 

To distribute to the players, press the down arrow just below description boxes.

FGU has evenly split the coins, put the Cartographer’s tools into Puzzkin’s inventory, left the remainder 2 GP in the party sheet, along with the unidentified scrolls. 

Ready Player One?

Oh, one last GOTCHA!

In the GM instance, sidebar->Characters.

Right click on each character in turn, Clear Owner. 

Otherwise, when live players try to connect to your game, there won’t be any unclaimed characters for them to grab.

/save in the chat window just for paranoia.

Right click, close Fantasy Grounds.

Good Luck!

There is more that FGU can do for you, but I’ve introduced you to 90% of it, showed you how to prepare your first adventure from scratch, build a party, and run your first game.

Things may go to Hell the first time you run a session for actual players, but that’s no different from GM’ing in person. Stay calm, check the chat window to see what FGU has done, try right-clicking or drag-and-drop, or just click in the combat tracker and manually fix anything that’s gone awry.

For your first session, I strongly suggest a maximum of four players, ideally fewer. When you’ve run a few games, you will be comfortable enough to cope with a larger group, but it is asking for brain ache and overload to have too many players too soon.

Ditto, schedule a short first session: two hours is probably plenty. If you can get through getting players connected, moving characters on a map, and having a combat against a single group of gnolls, you’ll have done all you need to do. Session two is, I promise you, an absolute breeze by comparison. 

What Else Do I need?

At the time of writing, 95% of groups appear to be playing using Discord for voice chat (and video chat if desired). Figure out how that works for session 1 too, or use something else (Zoom, Teams, Skype) if you know how that works already. Or get one of the players to be responsible for organizing that side of it for the first session if they do it for work and you don’t. 

Don’t Panic

There’s a lot to FGU, and I could have taken you through a much more cut-back set of features for your first game if I just wanted to replicate the experience of Roll20 or (vanilla Foundry without extensions). 

But I think it is important to be introduced to the way FGU is MEANT to work, so you can see which bits you’re going to want to read up on or play around with further. You don’t HAVE to let FGU keep track of Bless for you. But once you’ve understood that it can, and how it does it, you can start to trust FGU to handle a lot of the grunt-work for you. You can offload more tasks on FGU and onto your players. You can actually start to reduce your cognitive load at the game table. 

You can build your own adventures with stories and maps and encounters and parcels, or you can buy a commercial adventure with it all set up for you, which is what I’d recommend once you’ve tried your first playtest session with just one or two players just to learn how the software works. It’ll all be laid out for you ready to run.