Friday, October 22, 2021
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Review: Fantasy Grounds Classic

Fantasy Grounds Classic is the first generation virtual table top (VTT) produced by Smiteworks LLC. It is capable of being used to play any of the following role playing game rulesets: 5th, 4th, 2nd, 1st/AD&D edition Dungeons and Dragons, W.O.I.N, Rolemaster, Vampire – The Masquerade, Savage Worlds, Deadlands, Mutants and Masterminds, Fifth Edition Fantasy, Call of Cthulu, Castles and Crusades, 13th Age, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Barbarians of Lemuria, 1st and 2nd edition Pathfinder, Starfinder, and Traveller.

It should be noted that this software can be used in person and it is significantly reduces the workload and and increased speed at which a game master can run a game. It can alternatively be used on a local area network and an internet connection is not required when you are not running an online session.

Although the term classic indicates it is perhaps old don’t let this monika fool you Fantasy Grounds Classic is a fully featured virtual table top with all the mechanical tools of the (at time of writing) beta version of Fantasy Grounds Unity. If you do decide to purchase Classic you can rest assured that any purchases made from the Smiteworks store will work on Fantasy Grounds Unity should you choose to upgrade in future.

Smiteworks have also said they will continue to support Classic for several more years at which time they expect the community to have moved to the Unity version so if you purchase now you are sure to get full value from it.

There are three options when it comes to purchase:

Demo: (Free) You can play in any game if the game master has an ultimate licence. You can’t connect to anyone with a demo or standard licence, and you can’t share any of your purchased content with another player. You can however test all the other features of the software including generating a character and rolling dice. If you are so inclined. It comes with the standard reference document for 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons which is enough for a Dungeon Master to use it at a normal table game to run the Lost Mines of Phandelver if you purchased the physical boxed set.

Standard: (Paid) You can connect to any player with a standard or ultimate licence. If you are the game master you can share any content you own with other players.

Ultimate: (Paid) You can invite any player to play with you (Demo or Standard licence). If you are the game master you can share any content you own with the connecting players.

In all cases the payment is a one-off cost. For those people who intend to play for a long-time the higher upfront cost will be lower than paying the monthly subscription model common to other VTT platforms.

Smiteworks does offer a monthly subscription but with a now reduced price due to Fantasy Ground Unity being released we don’t think many would take up this option. Indeed Smiteworks its-self actively encourages everyone to purchase a licence outright as they see it as better value.

Fantasy Grounds Classic Game Master Interface Showing Player Map, Combat Tracker and Location Information from the 5e Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Storm King’s Thunder

The most complex component of Fantasy Grounds Classic is setting up to host a game (as the game master). To run a game a game master must perform an adjustment known as port forwarding on their modem to allow others to connect. Its relatively easy to do for someone very comfortable with technology but its not for the average Joe or Jane. In addition, if you are reliant upon a satellite modem or tethering to a mobile phone you will likely not be able to do this so you will have to be content to be a player and not a game master. Fantasy Grounds Unity users a third party server lobby to connect players and game masters and eliminates this process entirely.

No such complexity for someone who isn’t hosting a game.

Once connected the process of creating and running games is straight forward and indeed easier, quicker and more efficient than other VTT platforms, or when using books. Encounters take seconds to plan, maps are simple to setup, and combats are a breeze to run even with a dozen enemy combatants in play. The Fantasy Ground interface places the information you need as a player or game master right at your fingertips at the the time you need it.

Dreaded tasks such as encumbrance, and maths literally disappear as tasks which means the game runs far more efficiently and you can play more in the time that you have.

“Dreaded tasks such as encumbrance, and maths literally disappear”

One of the really nice features permitted by Smiteworks is that they allow users of the Fantasy Grounds software to create their own modules and extensions for functionality they don’t provide. Fantasy Grounds community content is available for purchase on DMsGuild and DriveThruRPG with Smiteworks not taking an additional cut.

Smiteworks also supports Fantasy Grounds College which is a dedicated volunteer community of gamers to help bring new game masters up to speed with the VTT and organises virtual events. At least twice a year Smitworks provides Ultimate Licence capability to all users to enable the running of virtual gaming events – these are a great time to check out the full potential of the software.

In summary Fantasy Grounds Classic is the best VTT in the market barring the recently released Fantasy Grounds Unity VTT. Sure there are other competitors and pretty gaming table software but if you are looking form the best value fully functional VTT this is it. Oh – any any software purchased for classic will work on Unity so you can start cheap and work your way up.

Fantasy Grounds Classic is no longer receiving updates as of June 2021. The software will continue to operate but will received no updates and new and existing products won’t be be updated to ensure compatibility. It is recommended that you purchase the Fantasy Grounds Unity version instead.


Task Suitability
Value for Money


Fantasy Grounds Classic is a fully featured virtual table top software capable of playing a wide range of table top games. The software is not as complex as people first think but underneath the hood is a powerful set of tools that allows you to automate the mechanics of game play and focus on the story. If you have the cash - purchase Fantasy Grounds Unity instead as it has all the features of Fantasy Grounds Classic along with line of sight, easier connection to game, and the ability to have higher resolution maps.