If you’re new to Virtua Rasa, start with the Player’s Quickstart.
If you want to use Virtua Rasa as a Game Master, the GM’s Quickstart will also help.
Quick Start Player’s Guide for Virtua Rasa
World domination is a player’s game. So is saving reality.
Virtua Rasa is where you find the tools and meet the talent to go forth and conquer. Or preserve. Or maybe even both.
Create an Account
If you’re new to adventures in our online worlds, go choose your username right now. We’ll still be here when you get back. If you get lost, this friendly icon (found at the top of every page) will get you to help.
Usernames are publicly visible. So unless you intend to announce your identity, we recommend that you choose a username that’s not personally identifiable. And hey, keep it classy, because the Internet remembers.
Your email address will not be made public. We’ll only use it for account maintenance, important service announcements, and the occasional (brief!) newsletter… but only if you tell us you want to get the newsletter. We promise not to spam you — we hate getting it, too!
Meet the Icons
The icons in this section aren't active, so clicking on them toggles zooming. Take a closer look!
This meeple is your intrepid stand-in for units and tokens in this Quick Start.
Menus and Pop-Ups
Icons along the edges of the map let you interact with your map, your worlds, other players, Virtua Rasa, and even announce things to the Internet at large. Icons with this symbol will open a page in a new tab or window. Other icons toggle a pop-up area or dropdown list.
These buttons appear at the top of every page and let you communicate with Virtua Rasa:
Tell Virtua Rasa that you need help! Anything you need to know about using Virtua Rasa as a player or as a GM is somewhere in our Tome of Knowledge. Read and be enlightened.
If you want to wander without being lost, it helps to have a map. (Apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien.) The name of the world you’re in appears to the right of the globe icon. Clicking the globe icon opens a dropdown list of revealed maps for the world. Hide it by clicking the globe icon again.
Tell Virtua Rasa what you want to do. Clicking the user icon opens a dropdown list of user-based activities.
Hide it by clicking the user icon again.
Here are the highlights of the icons and buttons you'll use most when adventuring in a world:
Next to the user icon is a button with your username on it. (In our demo world, it has your random unit’s name on it.) Click this to find your unit on the map, if you’ve lost it.
Te last icon you might need to know about is the “stack indicator&rdquo — this will show up when more than one unit is in the same space. Click on it (in the map; the icon here is only a sample) and it will reveal all the units. If one of the units is yours, and you want to move it out of the stack, you can single-click it in the popup, and then double-click somewhere else on the map. Your unit will move to the space you double-clicked. To dismiss the popup, you can hit Escape, or you click somewhere else on the map if you haven't already chosen a unit to move.
Once your account is created, give your username to your Gamemaster, and ask them to add you to their world. Their world will then appear on your Profile page. The link for the world can be bookmarked, so that you don’t always need to get to it from your profile page, but all worlds that you have access to will always be listed there.
Using the Map
It’s pretty likely that you’re going to get a unit in this world, so that you can move your character around the map. The pop-ups on the right will help you interact with the map, and are discussed in detail on the Navigating the Map page. A quick summary of the most important is below.
The unit list can be accessed from the “Units” pop-up, which can be opened and closed by clicking on the button with the six meeples on it . This shows all of the visible units on the map1 and the connected players. (Each player currently connected to the world will have a green dot to the left of their name in the list.)
You can reorder any unit that you’re allowed to edit by dragging and dropping it within the unit list. (For example, this can be used to show initiative order.) You can also double-click any unit’s name to pan the map so that unit is visible.
Moving the Map
The compass rose button shows and hides the map movement pop-up. This can be used to zoom in and out, pan, center on your unit, or move the view to the edges or center of the map.
You can also interact with the map without using pop-ups:
- Pan with click-drag or touch-drag
- Zoom in and out with the scroll wheel or a pinch
- Move units by clicking or touching them and then dragging them
- Point to a place on the map with shift-click or long-press
- Draw on the map by shift-click-drag or long-press-drag
The chat button shows and hides the text chat pop-up, and lists the number of number of unread messages below it.
Go play a game!
Feel free to read the rest of the manual if you want a more in-depth explanation of the user interface and how Virtua Rasa works.
We give you what you need to make them give it all they’ve got!
Upgrading your membership will let you create “Premium” worlds and upgrade your existing world to Premium.
The main screen of Virtua Rasa is the map, which can be accessed from your Profile page, or can be bookmarked for faster access.
All newly created worlds start out empty.
To start playing, you’ll need to create some units. Click the button on the right side with six meeples on it.
The picture of the units pop-up has some units in it already, but your unit list will be empty until you’ve added some to the map.
Click the meeple with a plus on it . The most important parts here are the name, colors, icon, and size, and all of the fields are discussed in units.html. For now, choose whatever values you like for the unit, and then press the save button. The unit will now appear in your list!
Doubleclick the name in the list, and the map will pan so that the unit is in view. Since you’re the Gamemaster, you can always edit or move all units. Drag the unit to wherever you like, and create as many as you need for your players and your first encounter!
Adding a Player
As mentioned above, your Profile page always contains all of the worlds to which you have access. A link called “Manage Players” appears in the “Units“ column for each world you own or for which you’re a Gamemaster. Click the link next to the world you just created.
To let your players move or edit their tokens, you’ll need to assign it to them on the Units page. Click the profile icon and then on the “Units” link, which will open a new tab or window. Find the player’s unit in the list and press the edit button. In the panel on the right, scroll to the bottom, and click the appropriate boxes. Setting the “default” checkbox for a user means that their comments in chat will use that unit’s colors and name in chat. Setting the “Can Edit” checkbox will allow them to move the unit, change its icon and colors, and so on.
Keep reading! The next section applies to you as well as to your players.
Go play a game!
If you have any questions, you can always get back to this manual with the book button in the titlebar of the application pages. Feel free to read the rest of the manual if you want an explanation of the user interface, or more details on how Virtua Rasa works.
Creating an Account
While there are open demo worlds to get a feel for what Virtua Rasa can do, to enjoy the full features you need to log in. We have two ways you can log in. First we support several OAuth providers, currently Google, Facebook, Discord, Amazon, and Patreon. Second, you can create a VrituaRasa account, which is free. Either way you get a small “Basic” world.
To log in with Oauth, select the provider you wish to use. They will ask you to confirm that you wish to give us basic information (your email address and whatever name you choose to display). Once you have you will be redirected to your Virtua Rasa profile page.
To create an account, go to Request Account. Fill out the form and click “Request Account” — an email will be sent to you with a link to activate your account. (We send out the email promptly, and the link expires in an hour, so if you don’t see it within a few minutes, make sure it’s not in your spam folder and that you’ve given us the correct email address.) The link will lead you to a page where you can set your password. Now you can log into your account, join the worlds of other users, and even create a world of your own.
Joining a game
To join a game world, get a link to the world's map from the game master. When you go to that link, you will be prompted to log in if you haven't already. Initially you will only be able to watch, but you are visisble in the Player's menu (the green eye). The game master can give you full access from that menu.
(We’re working on improving communication for users who want to join games — watch this space for updates!)
When you log in, you’ll be presented with your profile page. If you have’nt created your free Basic world yet, you’ll be presented with an option to do so. Below that will be a list of all the worlds you can access. There is also a tab for changing your email address or your password.
A Note About Privacy
The short version is that we respect your privacy and will collect only the minimum necessary data to make things work. We’ll use your email only for activating your account, resetting your password, and notifying you of major system changes that might affect any of your games. Once we set up mailing lists, we’ll have an easy way to opt in or out of getting them.
Usernames are publicly visible. If you’re concerned about minimizing online visibility, please choose a username that isn’t easily associated with your real-life identity.
Navigating the World
Panning and zooming the map works similar to most map applications. Click+drag or touch+drag will pan the map. The mouse wheel or touch pinch will zoom. There is also a navigation popup on the right sidebar that provides pan and zoom controls. Finally, the arrow keys will pan the map, and +/- zoom.
The simplest way to move a unit is to drag it. Click-drag or touch-drag to where you want the unit to be, and release. The unit will be moved in a straight line to that square.
If you want a more complex path, you can use waypointed movement. Double click or long press the unit you wish to move. Single click or touch various points of your path. Finally, double click or long press at your destination.
Menus and Popups
In the titlebar and the sidebar are a number of useful buttons and popus. Next to the world name is the world menu. From here you can access the world's cameras, wiki, forums. Game masters can also access the world's units, maps, and players, and change the map they are viewing. At the bottom are a list of other game worlds you have access to.
Next is a profile popup. From here you can access your profile page, change some option, and logout. Next to the profile menu is a button with your unit's name on it. Clicking it will center the map on your unit and cause it to "bounce". The 'Clear Paths' button will remove various markup from the map. Finally on the right side of the titlebar are some round counter controls.
On the top of the sidebar is the units popup, which lists the active units of the current map. Next is the toolbox popup, for adding and removing terrain features. The toolbox is only visible to Gamemasters. Next is a wiki page popup, useful for viewing character pages or notes stored in the wiki. The navigation popup has some additiona pan/zoom controls and a restore button. The restore button resets the pan/zoom to the default for the current map. Finally at the bottom is the chat popup, where you can text chat with the other players.
In the upper left corner there is a icon for Patreon, where you can become a Premuim member with a larger world and more players. Next to that are links to our social media page. There is a menu for our help pages.
In the navigation popup, there are a couple Gamemaster options for managing the default view of a Map. The first, 'Save View', sets the current view as the default for the current map. Whenever someone switches to this map, this will be their starting view. The second 'Save & Set View', saves the view as above, then changes the view of everyone connected to the new view.
Virtua Rasa has several ways for players to communicate during a game. First, there is is a standard text chat, accessed in a popup on the lower right hand side of the map. Players will chat as their default unit (see below) if they have one, otherwise as their username. Gamemasters default to the same as players, but they can change to chat as any unit. Changing the 'Chat As' field at the bottom of the chat popup will change who the Gamemaster is chatting as.
A user may point to a place on the map with a shift-click, double-click, or a long-press. An arrow colored as their default unit and labeled with their name will be placed on the map. It can be removed by pressing the ESC key.
A user may draw on the map with a shift-click-drag, or a long-press-drag. While drawing a dashed curve will be drawn. The dashed curve indicates it is only visible to the player drawing. Once the mouse button is released or the touch lifted, the curve is submitted to the server and redrawn as solid. Once solid it should be visible to all players. This drawing can be thought of as a transparent whiteboard over the map. All drawing can be erased with the 'Clear Paths' button in the titlebar.
Each Virtua Rasa world includes a wiki for game notes, world design, image uploads, and anything else you'd like to write about your world. Both Gamemasters and players can read and edit the wiki, while watchers can only read it. In the future we will add finer control so Gamemasters may have pages they hide from the players.
To view the wiki, chose Profile->Wiki, which will open the wiki's main page in a
new window. To edit a wiki page, choose the 'Edit' link at the bottom of the
page. The wiki use CommonMark (basically a standardized version of Markdown) for
markup. There is a link to the CommonMark documentation on the left side. To
create a new page, create a link to it, using the CommonMark format, for example
[newPage](newPage). When you navigate to a page that does not yet exist, you
will be prompted to edit it.
To upload an image to your wiki, chose the 'Upload Image' link on the left side of a wiki page. Use the browse button to choose a file to upload (only GIF, JPG, and PNG are currently supported). Once you've chosen a file, the 'Upload To' field will be set to its name. You can edit that if you wish it to have a different name in your wiki. Click the Save button to complete your upload.
To use your uploaded file in your wiki, CommonMark's format is
![My Image](myImage.png). Use the
:wiki/ prefix to have wiki images as unit icons
or map backgrounds, for example
You can see a list of all of your wiki pages in the 'Manage Wiki' link on the left side of any wiki page.
Creating a world
Each account comes with a free Basic world, which supports a small number of players and maps. To create your world, got to your profile page and there will be a message at the top. Enter a world name and click the create button. World names can contain only letters, numbers, and spaces. If the world already exists, you will be given a message and prompted to choose another. Otherwise your world will be created and you can begin building.
If you already have a Basic world, it will be listed in your worlds with note that you are the owner.
Virtua Rasa users can have one of three roles in a world (four if you count no access at all). They are:
Gamemaster: Gamemasters have full read/write access and can add/remove users, create/edit units and maps, and edit the world's wiki. They can chat as any unit or other name they wish, although their default chat is the same as a Player's.
Player: Players have limited read/write access. They can view the world and edit/move units a Gamemaster has given them access to. They have edit permission to the wiki. They chat as either their username, or their default unit if they have been assigned one.
Watcher: Watchers are strictly read only. They can see map changes and chat messages, and read the wiki, but cannot move units, chat, or edit the wiki.
Adding players to a World
To grant a user access to a world, or to change their existing access, follow 'Profile->All Users' to go to the user management page. There will be some information about how many users of each role the world supports, and a table listing the current users in the world.
Important: as you make changes, the rows in the table will get a yellow background and be changed to italics. That indicates the changes are pending but have not been submitted yet. Click the 'Update' button to submit the changes. Click the 'Cancel' button to drop the changes.
To add a player you will need to know their username. Enter their username in the 'Add Username' text field, select the desired role, and click the 'Add' button. This will add a row to the table as a pending change (see above). To change a user's role, select the new role from the menu next to their name. If you assign them a role of 'None', they will be removed from the world. Remember to click 'Update' to confirm your changes.
Assigning Units to Players
Players may have units assigned to them in two ways:
Default Unit: A player may have one default unit, which will be used to determine the name and colors they interact with in the map. If a new default unit is assigned, the previous one will be overwritten. Multiple players may have the same default unit, but that will most likely be rather confusing. A player cannot move or change their default unit unless they are also granted edit access.
Edit Access: If a player has edit access to a unit, they have full read/write access to the unit. They can change name, colors, icons, etc. Importantly, they can move the unit on the map. A player may edit access to multiple units, and multiple players may have edit access to the same unit.
To change unit assignments, follow Profile->Manage->Units to get to the manage units page. Select the unit you desire to change. (There is an interactive search field that may be useful if you have a lot of units). At the bottom will be a table of the users in the world along with checkboxes indicating current assignments. Change the checkboxes as you desire, and click 'Update'.
Units are the basic 'thing' in a world. Animate units are expected to move. They would represent people, animals, vehicles, etc. Inanimate units are not expected to move, and would represent things such as furnture, trees, a section of road, etc. Inanimate units do not support the movement that animate units do, but their position can be changed in the 'Unit Editor'. The 'Unit Editor' can also switch a unit between animate and inanimate.
By default, units can only be edited or moved by a Gamemaster. The Gamemaster may flag a unit as editable by some or all of the players in the game. They will then be able to change or move that unit.
A player may have a unit assigned as their default unit. This unit will be used to determine the name they chat as and the colors used when they point and draw on the map. If they do not have a default unit assigned, they will chat as their username, and draw in black and white. A player must get edit permission separately to change their default unit's characteristics.
Key Unit Features
Name: The name of the unit. This will be displayed on the map and in various lists, so it shouldn't be too long.
Description: A long description. This will show up in mouse hovers on the map.
Background: The background color for the icon, and chat/gestures for default units.
Foreground: The foreground color for the icon, and chat/gestures for default units.
Icon: The icon to use on the map. The Shapes will be colored according to the unit's background and foreground. The Camera special is discussed in the camera section below. URL allows you to set a url for the image. Wiki enables you to choose an image file uploaded to your world's wiki.
Size: The size of the unit. The default of 'medium' takes up one square. The smaller sizes will be centered in their square. The larger sizes take up more than one square. Custom sizes are of the form 'WxH', where 'W' is the width and 'H' is the height. For example 1x2 would be one square wide and two high.
X/Y/Z: The coordinates of the unit, in squares. Normally you will move units on the map, but this can be useful when creating units or moving inanimate units.
Facing: The facing of the unit.
Map: The map the unit is on. Change this to move units to another map.
Movement: How much movement the unit has. This and the map's grid scale is used to calculate range shadows when moving a unit.
Hidden: Indicates the unit is hidden in some sense. The icon will be fainter and partially transparent.
Inactive: The unit is inactive, and will not be shown to players. Gamemasters will only see the unit if they have checked the 'Show Inactive' checkbox in the unit list. This is useful for pre-staging units before revealing them to players.
Inanimate: Unit is inanimate, and cannot be moved on the map, although their position can be changed in the 'Unit Editor'. They will also be below animate units. This is useful for terrain.
Create a Unit: To create a unit, select the create button at the top of the unit list. Edit the fields to your desire, and select the save button at the middle bottom of the unit list.
Editing: to edit a unit, select the crossed swords button in the specs column of the unit list. Make changes and save as with creating a unit.
Cloning: When editing a unit, you can clone it by selecting the bottom right button. The unit name will have a number added or incremented to keep the units distinct. You can also clone units by CTRL-dragging them. A cloned unit will appear at your destination.
Removing: When editing a unit, the remove button will delete the unit from the world.
Terrain is indicated on the map by a combination of a map background, and inanimate units.
Map Backgrounds: Map Backgrounds are discussed in detail in the Adding Maps section below.
Toolbox: The Toolbox is a quick way to add some standard one square inanimate units. The Toolbox can be accessed by the popup below the unit list. There are a number of tiles to choose from. The color selectors at the top of the toolbox will recolor many of the tiles. The Toolbox takes over the pointing and drawing controls to edit terrain, so while the toolbox is open, pointing and drawing are disabled. The toolbox will ignore inanimate units larger than one square.
Shift-Click, Double-Click, and Long-Press will toggle the square. If the square is empty of medium or smaller inanimate units, the selected toolbox tile will be used. If there are any there, the square will be cleared.
Shift-Click-Drag and Long-Press-Drag continue the operation. If the first square was cleared, move will clear additional squares. If a tile was set, that tile will be set over additional squares.
Inanimate Units: Larger inanimate units are useful for custom terrain using images uploaded to your world's wiki. It is generally easiest to create a unit, adjust its size and position to where you want it, and change it to inanimate to lock it into place. See the Units section for more details.
When a world is created, a map in the world is created with the name of the world. Additional maps may be created for cities, dungeons, and other regions in the world.
To add or edit your maps, follow Profile->Manage->Manage Maps to go to the Manage Maps page. Once there you can select a map to edit, or use the create button to add a new map (assuming you have not created the maximum allowed). There are several parameters of each map that may be changed.
Name: The name of the map, which will be displayed in the menu and other locations. Excessively long names may prove inconvenient.
Background: There are several options for map backgrounds.
None: No background will be used, just the browser default.
Inherit: The background of the map named after the world will be used.
Scaled Image: The URL field will be used as the background. The ':wiki' prefix (e.g. ':wiki/someimage.jpg`) may be used here to access images uploaded to your wiki. The image will be scaled to fill the map.
Centered Image: Same as Scaled Image, but the image is centered in the map without scaling.
Tiled Image: Same as Scaled Image, but the image is tiled over the map instead of scaled up.
Color: Sets the background to the solid color you provide.
Grid Scale: The size of each square on the map. This is used for movement and distance calculation.
Map Bounds: Sets the boundary of the map, in squares. Negative values are ok, but Left must be less than Right, and Top less than Bottom. Adjust these if you find you need to add some space to your map. Extremely large maps (thousands of squares wide) may have problems on some browsers.
Virtua Rasa supports a not quite live streamimg of images to help integrate table top games with remote players. It is not true video, updating at only one frame per second, but combined with perspective correction can allow remote players to more smoothly interact.
For Gamemasters who prefer to to lay out maps with tiles and minitures instead of graph paper or drawing software, another option is to use the camera and perspective correction to upload map images to the wiki for pure vitural games.
Setting Up A Camera Feed
Virtua Rasa's camera support uses your browser's multimedia support, so no special software installation is required. Choose the 'Cameras' link in the map titlebar to open a new window for camera control. This window will need to stay open to provide continuous updates. At the moment, each user may have only one camera feed per world.
Under the 'Local Cameras' section, there is a drop down of detected cameras, and a checkbox to enable one. Choose the desired camera and check the box to enable it. Depending on how your system is configured, you may be prompted to grant access to the camera. You should see a live feed from the camera appear.
Positioning a camera above a map so the squares in the raw image line up in Virtua Rasa appears to be almost impossible; we have never succeeded. That is why we added perspective correction. With perspective correction, camera position becomes quite forgiving. We have have gotten usable results at as much as a 45 degree angle (although minitures can start to look odd at that sharp of an angle).
To set up perspective correction, position the camera so the map is centered in the image and is as large as is feasible while not clipping the map. Set the control points by clicking on each of the four corners of the map. If the map is well centered, the software will be able to figure out which corner you have chosen. Near each corner of the image are text fields where you can fine tune the points if necessary. Enter the number of horizontal squares between the left and right control points, and vertical squares between the top and bottom. If you wish to include a bit of the surrounding table, check the option for a two square border. Finally, click the 'Set Correction' button. A corrected image will appear below, with a grid overlay so you can check alignment. If necessary adjust the control points and click 'Set Correction' again, unitl you are satisfied with the results.
There are two options to save camera images to your wiki. One for the uncorrected raw image, and the other for the perspective corrected image. The latter can be useful for bringing hand drawn maps into Virtua Rasa. Note that if there are already images of the name you enter, they will be overwritten.
Adding Feed to the map
In addition to uploading the camera images as ordinary images to the wiki, you can use our once per second update feature to provide a near live update of your map. Remote users will be able see the locations of minitures, and enter their desired moves in limited form of augmented reality.
The camera feed can be used directly as both the background for maps, and the icon for inanimate units. However, at the moment only inanimate units will be automatically updated. To use a camera feed, enter ':camera/username' as the background or custom icon, where 'username' is the username of the user who has turned on the camera. For inanimate units, you will want to set a custom size matching your camera. For example, if your map is 24 by 16 squares, enter a custom size of 24x16 (increase each number by four, to 28x20, if you have added the two square border).