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Q-man

Using line of sight in Maptool (Part 1)

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Some time ago I worked out how to make good use of the line of sight calculations in MapTool. Its pretty neat how it works. The players are shown an outline if what their characters can see; any tokens not within that shape are not shown to them. Which is really need for the Seeker in our group, he has a habit of hiding behind pillars and popping out to fire a few arrows on his turn before returning to cover. When he's behind the pillar he actually can't see whats going on in the melee, so every time he pokes his head out he's greeted with a new scene as the combatants shift and move.

Its been a while since I stood behind the podium and lectured on how the widgets in maptool work, and I've been reusing the same campaign file over and over because I didn't remember exactly how I made it work. Thats probably a clear indication that its about time to make some notes and store them somewhere.

I should start by saying that along with the line of sight work you can add lighting effects as well. Those are pretty complicated and trickier to get right. Possibly later I can be talked into discussing the lighting stuff, for now I'm going to ignore those and we'll just turn on the effects so that your players vision is limited to what their character can see.

First you'll need to make some settings in your campaign properties. So head into those properties, and specifically the Sight tab, which ought to look something like this:


MapTool allows you to define a bunch of different types of vision. This variety is more important if you mess with lighting, when you're just doing the line of sight having more than one is probably overkill. What you'll want to do for now is to make sure the normal vision line is the way you want it. By default the line looks like this:
Code:
Normal: circle distance=22.5
The formatting for it is as follows:
Code:
<Name>: <Shape> [arc=<Degrees>] distance=<Number> [<Options>]
The Name value is just an identifier for this vision, doesn't matter what you call it so long as you can pick it out of a list.
The Shape value can be Square, Circle, or Cone; this describes the shape of the characters vision. Either Square or Cricle should be fine for most cases; the only real consideration is that Square works better on a rectangular grid while Circle fits a hex grid better. The Arc value is only needed if you have coneshaped vision, it specifies the angle of the arc.
Distance specifies how far the vision reaches. Its important to know that the distance is not the number of cells on the map, its based on the distance each cell represents. When you create a new map you specify the distance per cell. If you set the distance to 5, then a vision distance of 20 will only reach across 4 squares; if you want the vision to reach 20 cells you have to increase it to a vision distance of 100.
The Options are used for tweaking how this vision deals with lighting. They aren't required, so its safe to just leave them blank.

Once you have your campaign setup properly, the next step is to edit your tokens. Head to the config tab of the token properties:


There are two settings of interest here, first the check box for Has Sight needs to be checked. Then the dropdown next to it lists all of the vision types defined in your campus, select one that you've prepared for the campaign. This really only needs to be done for the PC tokens, there's nothing stopping you from doing it for all the NPC's as well but its probably not really necessary.

Now create your map however you normally do. Dragging images to the background layer, creating monster tokens, whatever you normally do. Now head to the Vision Blocking Layer Tools on the toolbar, its the icon that looks like an eye in a circle:


These tools all work like the Drawing tools, what you do with them is to draw in the areas that the players aren't allowed to see through. You'll see that it marks the areas in blue, that represents objects that will block line of sight. Draw away until you've covered everthing that will block vision. Here's a quick example where there is a block of stone that will block vision:


In this example the mystic, on the left of the stone, won't be able to see through to the troll, on the right of the stone. When you are in the Vision Blocking Later Tools you won't be able to work with the tokens. Switching back to the interaction tools you can hold the mouse over the token with vision and MapTools will draw a white line showing the edges of that tokens vision:


These lines are only shown when the mouse is over that token. Once you move it the lines will go away. There you ahve it, MapTools is now able to show you what a character is able to see.

Its rather unimpressive. White lines? C'mon, I promised that it would hide and reveal things to the players! Yes I know, and I'll come through with that part soon. This is getting a bit longer that I expected so its going to be in two parts.

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