Nothing beats sitting around the table with your friends and playing games. It’s great to be face to face and riff off of each other, planning out rounds on a grid board and playing off of each others jokes. Share a drink or two and you have a nice low key evening full of adventure with, hopefully, some of your favorite people.
Sometimes your people aren’t in the same town, however.
A lot of you have likely already had experience with this, but every so often I do get a question about how to play online. Thankfully, there are tons of awesome resources out there. Many of them are handy to use during your in person games, even if its just between sessions. Just because people move away doesn’t mean your game needs to be cancelled.
While there are a number of virtual table tops out there at this point, I’m a fan of Roll20. I’ve been using it for years and I really appreciate the way its set up. Because of Roll20, the Crumbling Keep crew has been able to keep seeing each other every week to roll some dice for the past five years. I love that its possible.
Roll20 has a good number of features. At its most basic, it gives you a virtual table top. You can load any image and use it as a map or use any of their numerous preloaded ones. They make it really easy to set up an encounter in almost any terrain with images that look a lot better than anything I would have drawn. Players get little tokens to represent their characters that they can move around the board. It’s really the next best thing to minis.
It also gives you a dice roller capable of rolling any dice. Sure, it can roll a 1d100 or 1d20, but it can also roll a 1d57. Why would you need to do that? Who knows, but it’s nice to know you can. You can also create rollable tables for random encounters or treasure. It gives a nice degree of customization.
This is all well and good, but you need a way to communicate, right? It has integrated voices and video chat, as well as a place to text chat as well. They recently introduced the ability to whisper directly to other players instead of broadcasting it to everyone. Admittedly, I haven’t used that yet, but its cool to know it exists. You can also always just send a private message through chat as well.
Those are the basics, but Roll20 does a lot more. One of my favorite features is their dynamic lighting. You choose where the light comes from and how far it goes. You can set up walls that block it. It’s great if you have PCs moving through a dungeon and you don’t want them to see too much at one time.
It keeps all your character info on nicely formated sheets. You can have any number of handouts in it’s little journal area and decide who gets to see them. Its a great way to keep campaign information organized and accessible. Our Samsarras campaign is full of maps, notes, calendars, items, information about gods, people, and creatures. It’s like it’s own little wiki.
If you can’t get together in the same room, give Roll20 a try. It’s kept us rolling dice together for a long time now and we look forward to rolling many more. Oh, and don’t worry. You’ll curse their dice every bit as much as you curse your own.