We are planning our next actual play arc now and as part of that we wanted to try out a new-to-us virtual tabletop, TaleSpire! This is our TaleSpire review and the experience we’ve had with it so far.
I (David) have had TaleSpire for a while now but haven’t used it much. Mainly because as a virtual tabletop, everyone else in the game also needs a copy. So combined with my non-luck for having a consistent game, using TaleSpire hasn’t been really possible for me… until now.
Building in TaleSpire
I had time a few months back to build inside TaleSpire and I found it quite easy, for the most part, and fun to build in. There were the usual issues with learning a new application. Once I got used to the UI and keybinds, I was able to create maps. Using a small mod, I was able to bring in a 2d map from the first adventure of the Cyberpunk RED – Tales of the Red book and create a multilevel symphony hall. It did take a while, mainly due to my learning curve, but it isn’t a short process if you want good results. If you’d like to use it, it’s posted here: https://talestavern.com/slab/rendition-of-symphony-hall-cyberpunk-tales-of-the-red/
It’s very much like building and painting terrain for the tabletop. More accurately, it’s like having a huge amount of Lego-like terrain that you can pick from and build the setting that need for your game. So if you don’t know all of the pieces available, it can take a while to sort through all of them to find the perfect piece. So this is definitely not something you do on a spur of the moment at the table.
Not time to build? Community to the rescue!
The nice thing though from TaleSpire is the ability to copy entire boards and what they call slabs (sections of maps) to others. There are several sites now out there that have taken advantage of this functionality to give us all access to community built maps. There are hundreds of boards and slabs out there for the taking if you need a map at the last minute. The community has even come up with a pseudo-standard for creating modular maps, where a GM can build a board quickly out of multiple groups of pieces.
The two largest board/slab sharing sites are Tales Tavern and Tales Bazaar:
If any of you find more sharing of slabs and boards out there, please let us know!
Using TaleSpire for DnD and other ttrpgs
We recently played a small game of Cyberpunk RED to test out pieces of the rules systems and used a junkyard map that had been community created. It worked quite well.
The thing to think about when using TaleSpire is to think of it as if it were a map that your group has laid out on a table in front of everyone. It’s not like a video game with a fog of war and hidden areas. If you want to do that, there are ways to hide areas of the map as the GM, but it’s not automatically done for you. The camera is also able to be changed on a per-player basis. So when you are playing remember that your players may be looking at something different, or at different angles, than you are. There are also ways for the GM to focus everyones’ cameras to GM-defined shots, so if players get lost, the GM can bring them all back.
Is TaleSpire worth it? So far, I say yes.
Overall, I see some great things for TaleSpire coming. It already has the ability to bring in HeroForge minis to your TaleSpire game, and there is more development still going on. For the cost of $25, it’s not a huge cost for each player to get, especially if you are gaming remotely.
As we use TaleSpire more, I’ll let you all know how things are going with it, both the good and the not-so-good. I have high hopes for it, but only time will tell.