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Jan 2, 2024 · 13 min read
Building a unique VTT for tabletop role-playing games
We begin the new year filled with hearts full of gratitude and excitement for where our adventures take us next. Looking back at 2023, we are very proud of our achievements and progress in product development. Creating an easy-to-use virtual tabletop (VTT) that enables mobile-friendly TTRPG gaming is challenging.
We wanted to start this year by reviewing where Quest Portal stands today in a sea of VTTs and highlighting some of the things we shipped last year. The TLDR:
- Launched a mobile app for playing TTRPGs with your friends.
- Launched AI tools for Game Masters in TTRPGs.
- Improved editing experience for worldbuilding Game Masters and note-takers.
- Launched editable character sheets we are calling Universal Character Sheets.
- ... and more!
What makes Quest Portal unique?
We as a company have a clear mission. We want to make TTRPGs more accessible and social because role-playing games foster empathy, improve mental health, and make humans more creative*.
To do that we need to increase the number of Game Masters worldwide. This is what we set out to do and is still what we show up to work for. We translate that mission into a few things that make us unique.
- Unbeaten ease-of-use. We put a lot of thought into how we design our applications and the user experience of being a Game Master on our platform.
- Reduction in the number of tools you require to enjoy playing TTRPGs. Quest Portal already has an extensive feature set, but we are constantly adding more to make playing on Quest Portal even better.
- Mobile is as important as the web application. We were the first to launch a fully native app for iOS and Android that allows you to play on a mobile device. We know mobile isn’t as great as the web application today, but we will get there.
- We are openly betting on AI being a toolbox that will significantly help create more Game Masters. We have taken the first steps with Assistants that can help you answer questions about the game you are running, help you be creative on the fly, and shorten the time it takes to prepare your games.
Additionally, you can create unlimited characters and campaigns and enjoy unlimited storage for free on Quest Portal.
We solidified this uniqueness in 2023 by releasing many updates to our platform. We are early in our journey but think the coming year will be transformative for us and the TTRPG space.
* The benefits of playing TTRPGs have been extensively researched.
- TTRPGs and Mental Health
- The transformative potential of TTPRGs
- Tabletop role-playing games and creativity
What was released in 2023 on Quest Portal?
Here are the highlights of what we shipped in 2023. We write weekly changelogs that you can read if you want more details.
There's also a video walkthrough of the platform!
Mobile app for playing TTRPGs
The year started with a bang. We released our mobile app in January of 2023. It was bare bones, but it meant we could start shipping improvements.
The mobile app was released as a companion app for players to participate in sessions from their mobile devices. It started as a way to chat with your group and to roll some dice, but it is only on iOS. But it quickly grew to allow you to connect to a session, view scenes, and move tokens on iOS and Android.
The year has only convinced us to invest heavily in creating a mobile-friendly TTRPG gaming experience.
- We want you to be able to play your favourite role-playing game on your mobile device.
- We want you to be able to continue engaging with your group in between sessions via chat, notes and more.
- We want you to be able to create easily from your mobile device and bring those creations into your game.
Spoiler alert it looks like 2024 will start just like 2023 with a major update to our mobile app.
Powerful editor that is focused on creating content for TTRPGs
A note editor was one of the first things we built on Quest Portal. Being TTRPG players we understood that note-taking is an integral part of the experience. However, we soon realized that a powerful editor could unlock a lot of value and help take the experience of playing on Quest Portal to the next level.
We released multiplayer notes to let the party take notes together and see each other's cursors and writing in real time. This has made taking notes so much more fun and useful in sessions.
We released roll buttons as the first add-on to our custom-built notes for playing role-playing games. With roll buttons, you can add buttons to your notes to throw dice.
We plan on making more custom add-ons to the editing experience that allow you to create more engaging content and better organize the information in your game.
Universal Character Sheets and overhauled character experience
In early March, we launched the ability for Game Masters to create NPCs and use them in their campaigns. We followed that up with the launch of Universal Character Sheets which allowed you to create a character sheet for whatever game you wanted to play. If the goal was to keep information about your character in one place, then the Universal Sheets were the place to do so.
Our Universal Character Sheets are built on our editor. All our additions to enhance the note-taking experience are transferred to the universal characters sheets and vice versa.
- There are roll buttons for adding rollable characteristics and attributes.
- Game Masters and Players can create characters together with the Multiplayer Notes functionality.
- Easily organise content into headings, paragraphs, tables, bullets and more.
We are excited to bring even more updates to our character sheets in 2024.
Content subscriptions for publishers
In April we launched the first publisher subscription in collaboration with our friends at Chaosium. The subscription gave you access to all the core rulebooks for Chaosium's hit game Call of Cthulhu. You could access the Investigator Handbook, Keeper Rulebook, Malleus Monstrorum Vol 1 & 2, and Grand Grimoire of Cthulhu Mythos Magic for only $5/month.
By doing this we were the first VTT to offer subscription access to a publisher's content. This allowed you to sample the goods before committing to a longer term. Subscriptions are also a great way to support publishers that you love.
Since we launched this in April we have been adding sources, unlocking new books for subscribers without an increase in prices. In 2024 we aim to add more publishers and offer their content as a subscription.
Chaosium Core subscription
Subscribe to access the core rulebooks of Call of Cthulhu with the Chaosium Core subscription.
AI Assistants and launch of Pro
We are on a mission to create more Game Masters in the world. Becoming a Game Master is hard and full of challenges. It can be daunting to face all the content you must read and the rules you must learn and manage all that while making sessions entertaining for players. This often leads to newer GMs over-prepping or feeling less confident when running games.
Our AI Assistants are the first set of tools we are launching to help Game Masters overcome those challenges. These Assistants have access to all the content in your Library and are created specifically for a certain system to help answer questions about the rules and lore in the source books.
Furthermore, our AI Assistants can answer questions about the real world, help you be creative, format content, summarize, rewrite, and lots more.
Read more about our approach to AI here.
We launched our Pro subscription with access to the AI Assistants and our avatar generator. The avatar generator allows Game Masters and players to create fantastic images of their characters quickly.
We are seeing many TTRPG players start using AI tools to help with their games. We love this for the space as we are big believers that this will make tabletop role-playing games more accessible.
We have a roadmap filled with great updates for Pro subscribers and we are very excited to bring them to you in 2024.
Immersive sessions and powerful tools
The year was also filled with updates on how sessions felt. Here's a recap of the updates:
- Popping out tools. Tools in the sidebar could now be popped out and kept on another screen for easier access.
- Organising content was made easier with subfolders for notes and scene folders for Scene Deck.
- We launched our library and included the D&D 5e and Blades in the Dark SRDs for free.
- Improvements to Call of Cthulhu sheets included adding the highlights tab for quick access to sections and actions.
- We updated the upload function of new scenes and tokens, so you only need to drag and drop onto the scene to add new things.
Bringing your game to Quest Portal in 2024
The above summary of updates should solidify our uniqueness in the market. Many have taken steps to move their games over from Discord or other VTTs to Quest Portal, but we are the first to admit that it might not be suitable for every group (just yet). You might need to apply some workarounds to get the best experience.
Using character sheet platforms
If you are running games that require character sheets with a lot of automation or access to content purchased on other platforms, then you might want to keep using those alongside Quest Portal.
D&D Beyond + Quest Portal is a very popular combo where players set up characters in D&D Beyond and the game is run on Quest Portal. The Game Masters running these games usually use our universal sheets for monsters or NPCs and are happy allowing rolls from players to be on D&D Beyond.
The same goes for other character sheet creation platforms like Pathbuilder, Dhole's House, and more.
More than one VTT
For most games going more theatre-of-the-mind is better and helps players get more into role-playing. However, there are games and situations where great map tool support and fancy things like dynamic lighting can improve the experience.
We have talked to many Quest Portal users and experts on Roll20 or Foundry who choose the best tool for the job for each of their sessions. They have shared that they use Quest Portal for most sessions, but sometimes they prep dungeon crawls or epic battles in other VTTs and have people switch over for those sessions (still keeping the audio going in QP).
A bit of copying and pasting
We have plans to launch our support for modules/adventures in 2024. However, until then if you want to run premade content from publishers you will need to input the content into the platform yourself.
You can get away with only creating scenes, characters, and NPCs in Quest Portal leaving the adventure text in its original platform/book/PDF. Or if you want it all in Quest Portal you can copy the text into our Notes feature to keep the text handy and minimize switching contexts while running your session.
If any of the above are a hard requirement, Quest Portal might not be your ideal platform. However, if you are already running games free of those constraints or are happy to play with them then we recommend switching over to Quest Portal.
Get started with Quest Portal
Sign up for free and create unlimited characters, unlimited campaigns and enjoy unlimited storage.
We hope you are as excited for 2024 as we are. We truly believe this year will be great for TTRPG players. If you have any questions or feature suggestions, please connect with us on our Discord server.
Please share your thoughts on Discord or engage with this post on our socials. We appreciate you!
Happy New Year!