MapTool offers three features that help to simulate the idea that when a character is adventuring in an environment, they are not always granted an "ominiscient view" of the entire area - they can't see through walls, around corners, or into the depths of dark dungeons. This is a difficult thing to simulate when playing face to face, but with a computer, it becomes possible to restrict a character's vision to what they might actually see - thus raising the tension and possibly the immersion of the game. The three features that MapTool offers are Sight, Light, and Fog of War.
Sight is the ability for a token to "see" its surroundings - in this case, what a player's token can "see" becomes visible to the player on their instance of MapTool (the GM can always see everything on the map; players, on the other hand, can be limited in what they see by things like Vision Blocking Layers, light, and Fog of War). This makes for a more immersive game, as players will wonder "What's around that corner?" and, "I hope my torch doesn't burn out...it's dark in this dungeon!"
Light is a feature that allows tokens and objects to cast "light" over a certain area, illuminating it. This means that in a dark dungeon, torches on the walls can illuminate small areas of the dungeon (removing/erasing any Fog of War that might cover that area) and be seen by the players (in other words, the area illuminated by the light source becomes visible to the players, assuming that the player's token has sight, and there is no VBL in the way).
Light is critical when a map is using "Night" mode for vision, since without light, a token is stuck in the pitch black!
Fog of War is a system that represents what a token has seen as it is moved about the Map, and what part of the map or environment the token can directly see at that time. Fog of War should not be confused with shadows or darkness. You can have Fog of War on a Map that has no light or vision mode active at all.
When a token with sight "sees" into an area of Fog of War, the Fog is erased, letting the player see the map that was hidden beneath the opaque Fog of War. When an area that a token has seen is no longer directly visible to the token, the opaque Fog of War (the "Hard Fog") is replaced by a semitransparent Fog (called "Soft Fog"). This is a visual reminder that the player has seen that area, but cannot see it right now. Any token in the Soft Fog is hidden from the character just as if it were in Hard Fog.
Remember: Fog of War simply indicates what area of the maps have been directly seen by a token.
Fog of War is a sufficiently complex discussion on its own that - even though it is intimately connected with light and sight - it deserves its own brief, but separate, tutorial. Check out Introduction to Fog of War to get details and screenshots on using Fog of War in your games.
A sample dungeon is used for all of the screenshots and examples in this tutorial (and in the Introduction to Vision Blocking). A screenshot of the sample dungeon is shown at right; you can also download the Campaign File for this dungeon here.
Both Sight Types and Light Sources are configured from the Campaign Properties window, under the Sight and Light tabs. To open the Campaign Properties dialog, go to Edit > Campaign Properties.
The Sight Types tab lets you set up different kinds of "sight" (such as low-light, or darkvision/infrared, or normal vision, and so forth). MapTool has some default sight types set up when you first open it. If you look at the sight tab, you'll see the following:
Conic Vision: cone arc=120 Normal Vision - Short Range: circle distance=10.0 Lowlight: circle x2 Darkvision: circle r60 Square Vision: square Normal: circle
Each of those items defines a Sight Type. The sight type is defined using a specific syntax, explained in the Campaign Properties window. The most basic one is simply a shape, as in:
This simply says that "normal sight is circular." There is no limit to the range except the vision distance set on the Map itself, which defaults to 1,000 units. You can set e.g. distance=10 to limit the sight, this can reflect a thick fog for example where the players wade through.
A more complex entry is the one for "Lowlight" sight:
Lowlight: circle x2
In this case, the vision name is Lowlight, and the shape is circular. However, an additional option was added on the end - x2. This is an option that interacts with light sources, multiplying their effective radius by 2 for any token that has the Lowlight vision. So where a token with Normal vision might see 20 units when using a torch, a token with Lowlight vision can see 40 units.
Looking at an even more complex entry, consider the one for "Darkvision":
Darkvision: circle r60
In this entry, there are four components.
Tip:you can use r0.5 in normal vision, this way when you turn on night mode, players that do not have a light source can at least still see there own token. This setting could look like: "Normal: circle r0.5", adding limited vision in the mix, this would become: "Normal Vision - Short Range: circle r0.5 distance=10.0 "
Configuring sight types is unique to the game being played, and so the specifics of it need to be left to the campaign designer. However, suffice it to say that Sight is a configurable option and offers a great deal of flexibility.
Flexible as it is, there are a few limitations on Token Sight.
The Light tab provides an interface very similar to the Sight tab - a text window with a number of different items defined as a simple string of text. The default MapTool campaign properties show the following light sources:
D20 ---- Candle - 5 : 5 10#000000 Lamp - 15 : 15 30#000000 Torch - 20 : 20 40#000000 Everburning - 20 : 20 40#000000 Lantern, Hooded - 30 : 30 60#000000 Sunrod - 30 : 30 60#000000 Generic ---- 5 : 5 15 : 15 20 : 20 30 : 30 40 : 40 60 : 60
In the above default lights, there are two groups: D20 and Generic. A group is defined by typing its name, and placing beneath it four hyphens in a row:
----. Groups appear in the right-click menu on a token, and are basically a way for you, as GM, to organize the different light sources in your game.
Aura is not included by default and must be added manually.
Beneath each group header are a list of light sources. The syntax for these is very similar to the syntax for Sight Types, with a couple exceptions. Let's look at the entry for Sunrod:
Sunrod - 30: 30 60#000000
There are three elements shown here:
One element is left out here, which is the light source shape. Like Sight Types, light sources can have shapes. The default shape is circular, and so if you do not specify a shape, the light source will default to circle-shaped. The other shapes are:
To give a token Sight and Light, do the following:
Recent builds of MapTool introduced the concept of Vision Modes, which let the GM dictate how vision and light will affect a given map. There are three Vision Modes: Off, Day, and Night, each of which alters the way in which light and vision interact for a token.
In the following discussion of vision modes, what is visible to the player as they move their token is based on what is visible to the token itself. Thus, if, under the proper settings, an enemy token is visible to the player's token, the player will see it on the Map. However, if that enemy token is not visible to the player's token, it will not appear on the player's instance of MapTool.
When Map Vision is set to "Off," Token vision settings are not taken into account when displaying information to players: all things are visible at all times, unless hidden beneath Fog of War.
In Day mode, light sources are not considered when evaluating token vision and what lies inside the tokens visual range. Furthermore, no part of the map is hidden from the players (that is, they will see the entire map - not necessarily all the tokens on a map, but they will see the layout of the entire dungeon, building, or area). Effectively, the Day mode assumes that a bright sun is shining down on everything, illuminating it all, and everything is visible unless blocked by VBL or covered by Fog of War.
This mode incorporates Light Sources into the calculations, effectively assuming that it is "night" in the game, and that without a light source, the tokens are in a pitch-black environment and can see nothing. If Fog of War is used with Night Mode, light sources will reveal areas covered by Fog of War, assuming a token can see the light source and the area is not blocked by VBL.
You can use Fog of War with any of the Vision modes: Off, Day, or Night.
Sight, Light, and Fog interact in a number of ways in-play. To start, let's look at using Sight without Light or Fog of War. The examples below will use the sample dungeon shown to the right. Note that the sample dungeon uses Vision Blocking, a feature of MapTool that blocks the line of sight of a token (meaning you can use it to indicate the placement of walls, pillars, and similar objects that would obstruct a character's vision).
When you configure a token to have sight, when you hover your mouse token over the token, MapTool will illustrate the limit of the token's visual range with a white border (a circle if the sight type is circular, or square if square, or a cone if it's cone shaped, etc.). The screenshot to the right shows a PC token with the sight type "Normal - Short Range" configured. Note the white circle indicating the boundary of the token's vision.
In the first screenshot to the right, there is no VBL on the map, so the token's visual range is unaffected. For a more practical illustration of the "line of sight" boundary, consider the second screenshot, taken using the same token, but on the dungeon map, which employs VBL along the the walls of the dungeon. If you look closely, you'll see the white boundary - however, instead of being circular, it is blocked in certain areas by the VBL of the map, and thus has an irregular shape.
As mentioned above, there are three vision modes - Off, Day, and Night. Each setting affects how token vision is evaluated by MapTool.
When Vision is set to Off, the token's sight settings are not taken into account when deciding what to display to the player. Instead, the player can look at all of the items and backgrounds on the map. VBL will still block the "visual boundary", but it won't actually block vision in any way - something on the far side of VBL from a token is still visible on the player's screen.
The two screenshots to the right illustrate this: the top screenshot is the GM's view of the screen, while the shot on the bottom is the Player's view of the same map - note that they both see the same items. The only items a player will not see are those items on the Hidden layer, or those items that the GM has explicitly flagged as invisible to players.
When Vision is set to Day, the token's sight settings are take into account when determining what objects and other tokens are visible to the player. Light source settings are not taken into account. If an object or token lies outside the player's token's vision, it will not be visible to the player. Likewise, if an object or token lies beyond VBL from the player token, it will not be visible.
The screenshots to the right show this (again, the top is the GM's view, and the bottom is the Player view). Note that in the player view, the Dragon and Hero token are not visible to the Elf token (the player token), because they are hidden by VBL.
When vision is set to Night, both the token's sight settings and the token's light source setting is taken into account when determining what the token is able to see. If a token lacks a light source, it will be unable to see anything unless it has a sight type that indicates personal light (in other words, a sight type like the "Darkvision" type discussed previously) - in fact, the token itself will not be visible to the player!
The screenshots to the right show Night-mode vision in effect. The top screenshot is the GM view; the second two show the Player view without a light source on the player's Elf token, and then with the "Candle - 5" light source selected. There are several things to note about this: