CC3+ at the Table

Many gamers use some kind of digital solution such as virtual table-top software to display maps on a projector or computer screen even when running a local game (as opposed to running a game over the internet, where such software is pretty much required). All of these software solutions have their advantages and disadvantages, but  CC3+ itself may actually be a very good solution, depending on your needs. Now, just to start with the limitations, CC3+ don’t have any kind of remote viewing/projecting options, so this do require that you share the screen you are actually working on (This can be a secondary screen/projector that is set up to mirror yours, or it can be done through screen sharing software, which allow others to see your screen even over the internet).

So, why would you use CC3+ for this? What advantages does it have over other VTT software? Well, the main reason CC3+ is good for this is that this is where you made your map in the first place. This means that the map is fully interactive, and you have all your regular CC3+ tools available to you to manipulate the map during play. If you export the map from CC3+ to an image file for use in a VTT program, then everything becomes static. In CC3+ you can hide or show sheets and layers, you can move symbols and edit whatever you need to do.

Of course, CC3+ isn’t optimized for use during play, while a VTT program is made just for that purpose, so some things are probably a bit more complicated to do in CC3+, so it is up to you if the flexibility CC3+ offer with regards to what you can do with your map during game play is worth it. For this article, I’ll showcase a few features of CC3+ that helps you during play.

Quick Move

One of the nice time savers is the quick move feature. Normally, when you wish to move an entity, you have to go through a complete selection process. To activate Quick Move, just Hit Control + Q (Or select it from the edit menu. Now, you can just click on the edge of an entity as usual, but instead of going through the selection process and prompts for origin, you just “pick up” the entity immediately, and can click to place it wherever you want. Furthermore, the command doesn’t end after moving the first entity, you can immediately click on the edge of another to move that, and so on. Simply right click to end the command.

This command makes it real simple to move things like player and monster tokens around on the map, either when playing out a battle, or when moving the players around as they explore the dungeon. Combine it with Cursor Snap enabled to make things work nice and smooth on a grid.

Lights

If you have set up a proper lighted dungeon with the appropriate effects, you can embed a light symbol into a player token. If you tried out my example map from my previous article on Interactive Maps you’ll have noticed that the light follow the character around, all thanks to embedding a lighting symbol into the character symbol itself. Because the map was set up as a proper lighted dungeon, the walls and doors blocked the light, and only the areas actually visible from a character in that position would be visible. Many VTT programs have their own implementation of light of course, but the downside is that they cannot understand the walls in the image exported by CC3+, so you have to do extra work to tell it where the walls are, while CC3+ already have full knowledge of this. This also means that if you replace a closed door in CC3+ with an open door, it will automatically recalculate the light and shine it properly through the new opening.

Adding light to a symbol

To add a light to a symbol is easy. First, place the symbol in your map. Now, go to Symbols -> Symbol manager, scroll down in the list, find your symbol, clicking it to select it, and hit the Edit button. CC3+ now ask you to place two corners of the symbol edit window. This is just a temporary window for working with the symbol, and not a permanent addition to your map, so don’t worry about covering anything up with it.

Now, with the symbol open in the edit window, select Dungeon -> Light -> Add Light from the menu. and place the light symbol in the middle of the character symbol. To get the light radius as large as you need you may need to zoom out in the edit window, or simply making a small circle, and just increment the value in the dialog box that shows as the final part of creating the light. Once you have created the light, close the edit window. CC3+ will ask you to save your changes to the symbol, so click Yes. It is important to realize that we only edited the symbol as it will appear in the current map, we did NOT change the original in the symbol catalog, but because it is cached in the map now, as long as we are in the current map, CC3+ will always favor our cached modified copy, even if we try to place a new copy from the symbol catalog window.

Note that if the X-Shaped mark indicating the light is visible, you can hide it with Dungeon -> Lights -> Hide Light Symbols. This doesn’t remove the actual light, just the marker that indicates where the light is.

Another thing to be aware of when using lights with tokens is what sheet the token is on. If the token is on a sheet that blocks light, it will actually block it’s own light, so remember this when using the tokens, don’t keep them on a sheet that is part of the lighting setup.

Sheets and Layers

With CC3+, showing and hiding sheets and layers are simple. For example, in my Interactive Maps tutorial, I kept layers for quickly switching features, like replacing a closed door with an open one. The closed door was on one layer, and the open on another. When the players declare they are opening the door, you can hide the one with the closed door and show the one with the open door (as well as the layer with the pit trap right under their feet that they forgot to search for and disarm). If you combine it with lights, the opening in the open door symbol will let the light trough without any special action on your side, allowing the players to illuminate part of the room before entering it.

If you don’t use lights, you can also use sheets to hide complete rooms, and as the players enter the area, simply show the sheet with the room on it (excluding any traps, which you have on yet another sheet).

In some cases it is more appropriate to use sheets, but hiding/showing these works the same way as for layers, just a different dialog. The advantage to using layers is that you don’t have to copy the same effects to a bunch of different sheets. In any case, don’t be afraid to use both.

Macros

Hiding and showing sheets and layers can be done much easier with macros, and you can assign macros to hotspots in the map, letting you just click a certain area in the map to have something happen. For example, In the Interactive Maps tutorial I mentioned above, I placed a key symbol next to the doors which could be clicked to easily “open” the door by automatically hiding and showing the correct layers. This allows you to access this functionality with a simple mouse click, instead of going through the dialog, which is both faster, and doesn’t reveal your sheet/layer list to the players you are sharing your screen with. To show/hide layers you can use the SHOW, HIDE, TOGL or TOGLF commands, while sheets have the SHOWSHT, HIDESHT, TOGLSHT or TOGLSHTF. When using a hotspot, I prefer the toggle commands, because this means that i can click again to put thing back in place, such as closing the door again.

Note that the hotspot don’t have to be a symbol next to the door, you can just as well place it on the actual door itself, as long as you know it is there. Instead of going for a hotspot, you can also put the macro into the CC3+ macro file, so you can just type a short command on the CC3+ command line to activate the macro.

For example, if you make two layers called DOOR 1 OPEN and DOOR 1 CLOSED and place the appropriate open and closed door symbols on them, and set the initial state by hiding the DOOR 1 OPEN layer and keep the DOOR 1 CLOSED layer, you can easily toggle the state of the door with the following macro command

TOGLF DOOR 1*

TOGLF understands wildcards, so it will toggle all layers that start with DOOR 1. This will result in DOOR 1 OPEN now being toggled from hidden to visible, and DOOR 1 CLOSED being toggled from visible to hidden, all with a single command. (Of course, when using wildcards, keep an eye on your naming scheme so you don’t accidentally toggle more layers than planned)

For more advanced macros, I recommend you check out the Interactive Maps tutorial I mentioned above, it talks a lot more about macros. There is also the Hiding and Showing Map Features article which talks about simple macros, and

Built-In Quick Move

Quick move is great, but there is actually a version you can build right into the character/monster tokens, similar to what we did with the light above.

To do this, simply start editing the symbol like we did earlier, but this time, select Tools -> Macros -> Make Hotspot. The macro text for the hotspot should be

MOVACT;

And then just click ok, and draw a rectangular hotspot around the figure. Unfortunately, hotspots don’t work when rotated, so if you plan to rotate the token as it moves around the map, you’ll need to add the same hotspot once for each possible rotation (usually 4). To do this, simply rotate the symbol around it’s origin, draw a new hotspot, rotate it again, draw the third hotspot and repeat until the symbol is back in it’s original position. Make sure the hotspots are also rotated for each step. Finally, just close the symbol editing window and accept to save the changes as before.

You’ll probably see the hotspots visible in the map at this point, so go to View -> Hide Hyperlinks to hide them. You should now be able to just click on the symbol to “pick it up” and then place it. Note that this version of quick move ends when you place the symbol, since it is intended to help you quickly move a single token.

The standard DD3 Skirmish Symbols Catalog contain symbols with this functionality already included, so you can try it with these if you don’t want to make your own. Note that they are not set up to handle rotation, so make sure you place them facing the same direction as shown in the symbol catalog (Right click inside the map with the symbol at the cursor and hit Set Normal and then More in the Symbol Parameters dialog. Place the symbol and hit Esc to finish placing symbols, and you can now click on the symbol to try this feature (you should see your cursor change to a hand when over the hotspot)

Multiple Windows

CC3+ do support multiple view windows inside the same instance of CC3+. Just go to View -> Windows -> New Window. Both these two windows will show the same map, but they can be zoomed and scrolled individually. However, since it is the same map, any edits you do in one window will immediately be visible in the other as well. If you have a multi-monitor setup, you could manually resize CC3+ to cover both windows, and use two View windows, one on “your” screen, and the other on the screen shared with the players. This way, you can do map manipulation without the players seeing everything you do in detail. You’ll manually need to resize the windows to make this setup though, and it only really works well if you have the same resolution on both monitors. In addition, CC3+ doesn’t really know what you are doing, so you’ll end up with some toolbars on one screen and some on the other and most of the status bar on the second screen. Dialogs will also have a tendency to pop up in the exact middle, which is probably half of the dialog on each screen. So there are some kinks with this approach, but it is still pretty usable. (Note that you CAN NOT do this across two different instances of CC3+, it has to be two view windows in the same instance (Well, you can use the workaround of saving the map in one instance and loading the map in the other, but that gets really clunky))

Conclusion

Being used as a digital battlemap at the table isn’t really what CC3+ was built for, so you won’t get all the shiny features of many VTT programs. But on the other hand, if you are making your maps in CC3+ normally, using it this way gives you a bunch of options those VTT’s can’t handle with a flat image export from your map, so while you’ll have to consider your needs at the table to determine if the extra possibilities given by CC3+ outweighs the lost features from your VTT, but CC3+ can actually be a strong contender here.

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