Hi all

Hi all

Hi all,

Me and my old gamer group, are finding it exceedingly more and more cumbersome to find time to get together and play.

I’m therefore looking into setting up a virtual game either here in a hangout or roll20 or some other system?

As I’m a total noob at playing RPG online, I would like to here some good advice like:

What system do you use and why?

What do you think is the hardest part, about transitioning from face-to-face gaming to virtual gaming?

What’s the main obstacles when playing online?

Do’s and don’ts when playing online?

What else do I need to know to run a successful online campaign?  

13 thoughts on “Hi all”

  1. I find Roll20 to be the easiest interface to deal with.  I recommend that.  

    I used BASH with Roll20, but I’ve used FATE with an older interface that was much more difficult to get running… as I had two players on Macs, two players on PCs.  Roll20 is a browser platform, so that issue is neatly sidestepped.  

    The hardest part is if you have never played face to face with someone.  Getting to know them just by their voice and in game actions takes some getting used to.  But if you know them, it is awesome.  The 2nd hardest part is getting players to commit.  It seems easier to blow off an online game.  

    There are some real advantages though.  I have had great sessions, folks imaginations seem to really soar when only voice and the shared map is the medium.  We have also used a ton a combo of written notes, especially between players who are not speaking.  Along with all the voice stuff going on.   Images are really easy to share and get folks on the same page in the imaginary space.  

  2. I play 95% of my stuff online. I’ve run indie games with just dice stream and hangouts, and other games, like DW, with Roll20.

    If you need to share character sheets and images and maps, Roll20 is what you want

  3. You can sort of combine your ‘platform’ options a bit as well, since you can create the game space on Roll20, then get everyone connected via Hangouts, and then open the roll20 app within hangouts and access your prep (the dice rolling, image sharing, map stuff if that’s a thing, et cetera).

    When you create a new game on roll20, it asks if you want to use one of the existing character sheets already created, and it can be nice to have some of that stuff already built in and handled for you – less prep work for you. The quality on the pre-created sheets is a little uneven, but the ones for Fate Core and Fate Accelerated are very good. (FAE is a bit nicer, with buttons for rolling various approaches built right into the sheet. Fate’s sheet, on the other hand, is a bit more flexible, so you can use whatever skill list you like, for example.) The Dungeon World sheet is also pretty good, and lets you roll right from the sheet by clicking buttons next to STR, CON, DEX, et cetera.

    I’ve also created setups for Don’t Rest Your Head (the dice mechanics are tricky, online, but with a little macro kung-fu, can be handled), Mountain Witch, Fiasco, The Strange. Some of them (like The Strange) have modules available for purchase at the cost of the dead-tree edition, so if you like the system, that’s a way to offload some prep, I suppose.

    I mean, the most commonly run game on Roll20 is DnD5e, and the second most common is Pathfinder, so complexity of the game system really isn’t going to be a major stumbling block – roll20 can probably handle it.

    I tend toward systems like Fate, PtbA stuff, Mountain Witch, DRYH, Fiasco, Risus, mostly because I don’t want to screw with setting up battlemats and fog of war/line of sight stuff as part of the prep.

    What do you think is the hardest part, about transitioning from face-to-face gaming to virtual gaming?

    I don’t have a good excuse to buy new dice.

    Not that this stops me, I just don’t have a good excuse anymore.

    What’s the main obstacles when playing online?

    Technical difficulties. If you have someone who can’t get their sound to work (video is nice, but sound is critical), everything grinds to a halt while you try to get that working.

    Ideally, you want to get everyone into Hangouts (or Roll20 – you can do video/voice straight from their website, though the support for it isn’t as robust as in Hangouts, obviously) before the scheduled game session to make sure everyone’s stuff is sorted out.

    You will always have at least one person kvetching about technical problems, even just perceived ones. Either it’s someone grousing about having to create a Google+ ID “just to play a game,” or someone complaining about using Roll20’s version ‘when Hangouts works just fine’, or someone who theoretically wants to play, but who is basically on a hair trigger and will instantaneously disconnect with a “I don’t think this is going to work for me guys” at the first hint of a technical challenge.

    So as much as you can iron out those bugs beforehand, the better off you are.

    Do’s and don’ts when playing online?

    Do have set start and end times. Online play makes things much more flexible, because people don’t have to factor in travel times, getting gussied up, stopping to buy snacks, or whatever, but lots of us have tight schedules, so we need to know when it’ll start and end, and those times have to be accurate because players are probably squeezing this stuff in between other stuff.

    Do schedule play on a regular and frequent basis. If I can’t schedule a game at least weekly, for 2 and a half hour time slot, I simply don’t start that game.  The reason is simple: conflicts come up, and will mean that some sessions don’t happen, and what is scheduled as a Weekly game will more likely be a “three weeks out of every four or five” game, especially during busy parts of the year.

    If your starting schedule is biweekly, then you’re down to actually playing once a month, and if it’s a monthly game, you’ll be lucky to get in seven sessions in a year.

    Do Expect things to take a little bit longer than face to face, but not horribly so (50% longer?), and related to that…

    Don’t Set up huge campaigns that take 20 sessions to get to the good stuff. Work out a meaty situation that would take a face to face group three or four sessions to get through, figure it’ll take six or more sessions online, and then see what people want to do when that storyline concludes. I ran the fate scenario The Demolished Ones last year (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmMUHokaTac&index=1&list=PLfpTPTXP0TzMUfdRs3-fDwzl_MoXpfbMZ), and it took nine sessions, played on a “weekly” schedule for about three months, with several weeks leading up to the first game to line up players and figure out a workable game night.

    What else do I need to know to run a successful online campaign?

    I think I’ve rambled on enough.

  4. As above, plus: assertive people will talk more, so it’s a good idea to pick an order ( like left to right across bottom of screen) and ask players what they’re doing, so that everyone gets to act.

    Get to the action quickly, at a table folks will have more patience, online people will start checking email or surfing the web if they feel antsy or uninterested. Keep descriptions to a minimum.

    DO use webcams. I hate feeling like I’m talking into a conference phone while staring at a map. It’s a lot better if you can see faces, expressions, even hand gestures.

  5. Yeah; If there is one thing that I think is crucial beyond what has already been said about Roll20 etc, it’s Brian Wille’s comment – GET WEBCAMS. They cost like $15 on Amazon for perfectly fine ones. Oh, and also if none has said it, get HEADSETS. Webcams remove the “disembodied voice” problem, and headsets are pretty much crucial for not picking up every stupid bit of background noise.

  6. I prefer Roll20 as well.  Decent system for background music that is not too hard to find if you know what you are looking for.  If you aren’t getting webcams, then the transition to more “voice acting” and explaining your subtle actions (hand gestures, shrugs, etc.) in voice chat is not too bad, just takes some getting used to.  

    Having the drawings and ability to post art and such in the system is nice, and it is pretty user friendly over older systems.  I’m not very artsy and drawing out maps and dungeons is pretty basic for what I do, but others get really creative with drawing programs and then just transfer the file over to Roll20.  

    Using a voice chat system other than what is on Roll20 though is pretty key.  Most I’ve heard from say that it is not great, so a third party program such as TS3, Mumble, or Ventrillo is almost a must have.  

  7. I did another session tonight (still uploading) and realized one of the things that makes Roll20 work well with video/voice is using Chrome. I’m normally a firefox guy, and I tried to run roll20 on it tonight, and it did NOT work well.

    Switched to Chrome and everything was hunky dory, running straight roll20 and recording with OBS.

  8. When we were trying to get Roll20 video chat to work reliably, we tried ALL the permutations; People were switching browsers and doing all kinds of stuff and it never seemed to run stably, whereas as soon as we switched over to running it in a Google Hangouts session, everything went smoothly.

    YMMV, and this was a while ago, so maybe they’ve buffed up their tech by now, but I honestly wouldn’t expect good results just using Roll20 video.

  9. Thanks all, for the fantastic feedback, it has been wonderful to read.

    I can’t wait to try and set a real game up.

    I have heard the point, regarding Chrome being the most stable  browser before, so I think we are going to start in roll20 and then move to hangoutd if we run into trouble.

    I think that the first sesion will focus on technical stuff, characters, world and maybe resolve a single dangerous situation. 

  10. I will freely admit that Hangouts is going to have a better video support, so don’t be reluctant to abort to that, if you try roll20 and things still aren’t working. The main reason I’m doing straight roll20 is because I liking having more space in the roll20 window, having roll20 running ‘inside’ a hangouts window reduces that space.  That doesn’t in any way make it unplayable. 🙂

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