Recent events have driven us all to our homes. Luckily social isolation doesn’t mean our games have to come to a screeching halt. We have the technology. Thanks to apps like Roll20 and Discord, I am able to continue my games right from the comfort of my home. The only problem? I haven’t played any role playing games online before. So let me share the experience of running my first few games online with you.
The first game I ran turned out to be my biggest. My local game shop had just started hosting D&D nights, so everyone was disappointed that the games were cancelled. So I set myself to the task of learning Roll20. I found a few good tutorials on Youtube that helped me get started. Taking20 has a series of tutorials that are particularly helpful. I messed around with the program a bit before starting the game. Then once we got everyone gathered in Discord to talk, we began.
The first thing I learned was that teaching new players proved a little difficult. Without a way to point things out on their character sheets, I had to run players through their whole sheet to find something. It made the game pace slower at times, but ultimately we got through it. The other thing I learned very quickly was to have all the pieces prepared. Roll20 has a nice feature where you can search for tokens online and drop them into the game whenever you like. However, this feature didn’t work while we were in game. This was probably due to the stress put on the servers by everyone moving their games online. You can load in your own tokens ahead of time though, so this was just an adjustment I made for future games. Other than that the game went fairly smoothly. There were some issues getting audio set up, but that was probably due to my group being mostly people who were new to the online space. I would suggest starting your game a little early to allow time to fix any of these issues without cutting into game time.
The second game ran much more smoothly. With the knowledge I gained from the first game, I corrected my mistakes and pushed forward. I set up the maps with tokens and such ahead of time. I also learned more about the different layers that really helped up my game. The map layer is very nice for putting a battle map that isn’t just a square grid. If you’re looking for maps to use in Roll20, the Roll20 subreddit has an awesome creative community that makes maps specifically for the app. The DM layer is an absolute game changer. You can note the rooms and hidden enemies without giving your players information. You can even leave notes for yourself!
All things considered, the swap to online wasn’t all too arduous. I could definitely see myself still running games online once this whole saga has ended. Until then, I am perfectly content with running games online from the comfort of my home. Have you played online? Let me know how your first game went. And I hope you’re all staying safe out there!
Vaughn Romero says
Did you run a prebuilt adventure or your own custom adventure? How much adventure preparation did you have to do? Did you use the dynamic lighting and if yes, did you have any issues with it?
Drew Latham says
I ran a prebuilt adventure, the Hupperdook one from the new Wildemount book. Along with the normal prep that I’d do for a game, the online setup took about a half hour. That was with setting up maps, making tokens and placing them, and for about two scenes. So it does add a bit of time, moreso if you want to go real in depth with the setup. I only made the battle scenes, but I imagine dungeons and larger explorations will take up more time. Roll20 does offer adventures to play that are already set up for you, but I haven’t tried that out yet.
I haven’t tried out dynamic lighting, though it seems excellent for players who are more visually minded. There are built in tools that can accomplish the same effect without paying, though you’ll have to jump through some hoops. I might give it a go in the future if I find it helps players immerse themselves better.