Guide to Skype

The following is a compilation of the basics and pieces of advice that have been floating around for online GMs, players, and coordinators. Thanks to everyone who contributed to and reviewed the document!

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Last updated 09/19/2010.

A detailed update history can be found below.

Setting up MapTool

Download MapTool (and its friends CharacterTool, DiceTool, InitiativeTool, and TokenTool) zipfiles from the RPTools website, and unzip them into a directory of your choice. There is no installer; just unzip and run. I recommend unzipping all of the tools into a single directory, and unzipping MapTool last.

You'll probably want to create a shortcut to MapToolLauncher.exe. Note that to execute the other tools, you execute the .jar file (such as tokentool-1.0.b28.jar).

When you first launch MapTool, it will pop up a small window called MapTool Launcher Settings, with memory and stack size values. The MapTool experts recommend using the defaults unless the framework you'll be using recommends otherwise. (The veggiesama framework for D&D 4E, for example, recommends settings of Max Mem = 1024, Min Mem = 1024, Stack Size = 10.)

Hosting and playing a game

One person, usually the GM, hosts the server and the other participants connect to that server. The hoster also loads the campaign file, which the connection process automatically also loads for the participants.


  1. A good idea for anyone, but particularly for those hosting the server, is to turn off autosave (or at least set the values so that autosave happens infrequently. That's a little bit of a disadvantage, since if the program does experience problems you might not have the latest saved campaign. However, if autosave frequency is set too high, you're susceptible to "can't create native thread - out of memory" errors every time someone runs a macro, and eventually MapTool will hang.
    To change the autosave values, set both EDIT -> Preferences -> Application tab -> “Save: Campaign autosave every ” and “Save: Time between autosaves".
    Every 5 minutes is too frequent, every 300 minutes works. YMMV.
  2. Monitoring memory usage. In the main MapTool window, the bottom right contains status indicators, one of which is Memory used / Total Memory. That section displays the numeric values as well as green bars to indicate percentage used. Double-clicking in that section triggers memory garbage collection, reducing the amount of memory used.
  3. Window management. MapTool allows you to move and resize its internal windows (such as Initiative, Selection, Chat, and others), and to let them "float" outside of the main window. If you use this feature, do NOT move any of the floating windows to a different monitor screen. MapTool gets confused and "loses" that internal window, and there's no easy way to get it back. The only way that I know is to revert to a single screen (monitor) and refresh the window; it then "finds" the lost window.
    Using a remote desktop program to access the computer where MapTool is running from another will revert to a single window, as will undocking a laptop, and, perhaps the simplest, changing your display options, then changing them back once the lost window is found. Note that simply closing and reopening MapTool or rebooting the machine won't work - it "remembers" that the lost window wasn't on the main screen and the window stays lost.

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New material copyright Maryrita Steinhour 2007,2010 with thanks to all contributors!