Advice for setting up a Discord server for running TTRPGs

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Work has blown up my gaming planes for at least the next few months. But I'm using that time to prep for a Warhammer Fantasy campaign I will eventually run. It also gives me some time to dive into Discord and make better use of it. My players convinced me to move to Discord for my last campaign and I've been using it for over a year to run games. But I've always used it just as a replacement for Google Meet or the audio-video features of the Foundry VTT.

In prepping my Warhammer game, I currently have set up the following:
  1. VOICE Channels: I have one main channel and a "dm-private-side-session" voice channel. This is something I'd used in my prior campaign when I have to have a conversation with a player outside of the main channel. I'm just wondering if there would be any reason to have a separate private voice channel for each player. It seems overkill to me. I've never had an issue with another player accidently or on purpose joining a private side conversation. The only reason I could see needing multiple private channels is if the party is split up. But this is something I would likely try to avoid as moving between multiple private channels would mean players would be spending most of the time on "hold."

  2. TEXT Channels.
    1. #General - the main channel for general conversation, chats, updates, etc. Doesn't get a lot of use during the game. Mainly used for goofing around among those who join the session early. We use e-mail mostly for between-session communications. Mostly because I don't have Discord always running. I only use it during games or if I want to ask a question in another game or software-support server. I would miss most between-session posts.

    2. Private channel for each character. I started this in my last campaign. While I can whisper to players using the Foundry chat, I find that they get alerted better when I use discord. This is mostly to give information privately to a specific player or if they want to pass me a private note. Again, it duplicates what I can do in the VTT, but there are so many things going on in the VTT that I find this works more smoothly in Discord.

    3. #Handouts. This will be new for the new campaign. Generally I give handouts using Foundry journals. But to use foundry I need to create the journal and then share it with only that player and then let them know it is there. It isn't very convenient in-game. So I plan to use Discord for this. I'll still use Foundry to show players images and even some handout when they first find them, but will copy paste letters, etc. they have in the Discord channel. It is easier for players to reference handouts between sessions in Discord than in Foundry, especially as some of them always have Discord running where they would have to log into the Foundry game separately. I'm still working out a system and expect some redundancy until I find what works best for me and my players.

    4. #bots. I created this to be the default channel for some puts to post their announcements, etc. so that it doesn't clutter the general text channel. I also use this as a test channel with configuring or testing bot functionality.

    5. #foundry-vtt. Just a place to provide the invite and game links to the Foundry server for players who don't bookmark them. Just avoids having to constantly reshare the links every session. I also post information and links to resources for using Foundry.

    6. wfrp-resources. Links to game resources and between-session rules conversations.
  3. Events. I've never created events in Discord before. I'm not sure if I'll use it in Discord or not. My main issue with Discord events is that, as far as I know, I can't create or send out calendar invites. I'm useless without my calendar and if something is not on my calendar, I'm not going to remember it. So if I have to create calendar invite in Google Calendar anyway, I don't see much value in Discord events. I'm wondering whether anyone uses Discord events in their games and, if so, why? Maybe I'm missing some value they offer. They just don't seem very useful to me.
BOTS
I've played around with bots but didn't make much use of them for my D&D games. For WFRP, most of the game stuff is handled in Foundry. But I'm still exploring where I can use Discord to enhance my game. Currently I've added and configured the following bots:
  • Jodri. This is a bot for supporting running Warhammer Fantasy games with support for both 2e and 4e. It duplicates a lot of what is available in Foundry with the Warhammer game system and some community mods and macros. But Jodri has so many great QoL features that it is worth having. When functionality is duplicated in Jodri and in Foundry, I use foundry. But I find Jodri especially helpful for generating shops, prices lists, looking of the availability and cost of items based on settlement size. It seems like it will make running shopping in the game more easier. Quick NPC generation where I don't need to have prepped for combat is nice. Weather generation based on location and time of the year is handy for determining weather on a given day. The vote and ask options are nice to make group decisions. But most of the app features, such as all the character creation stuff, rules look up, etc. I don't expect to use. All that stuff is better done in Foundry.

  • FlaviBot. I spent some time looking for bots to manage music and sound effects and found most hampered by IP issues. Also all of the popular gaming sound management platforms I looked into have poor integrations. Also, in Foundry, I find managing play lists rather cumbersome. The only thing I use Foundry for in terms of audio is for sounds that play when certain maps are loaded or for when PC tokens enter certain areas of maps. But I am really liking FlaviBot for Discord and went ahead and paid for a month-to-month subscription and, unless I find something better, will probably get an annual subscription. What I like about Flavibot is that I can connect it to my Spotify account. I also find it much easier to manage volume. I've played in games where background music was very distracting and having to adjust it as a player in Discord's settings was annoying. I like that I can easily decrease the volume for everyone, while players still have the option to control their volume in Discord if they want.

    This is only for ambience. It does not have features for one-off sound effects.

  • Bard (Avrae Sound Effects). Avrae is a Discord bot for 5e. I had it installed on my server when I ran D&D but it got very little use. I've uninstalled it for my Warhammer game. Even without Avrae, Bard allows you to make sound effects for spells etc. But I don't think I'll use it and will likely remove it. It would work better to use come of the community mods for Foundry for this, but I've found that I prefer to handle this with theater of the mind. It gets too much like a video game otherwise. Also, in Warhammer it makes less sense because the rules highly encourage players to describe what their spells and look and sound like based on their school of magic and character.
One more comment on sound. Whether using Foundry or Discord, I find one thing I would like to do is have background ambience that is not music. E.g., the sounds of bustling city, tavern sounds, etc. This is the type of thing that Syrinscape is good with. But I don't want to deal with yet another sound system. I just need audio files that I can use in Foundry or in Discord. I'm not finding anything like this in Spotify unfortunately. I'm wondering if anyone has found something that works for them.

Regarding dice rollers. I don't want people rolling dice in Discord, we only do that in Foundry. So all the Discord dice rolling bots are not of any interest to me. Similarly, character generation and management is all done in Foundry. Really no value to me doing that in Discord. Which makes most of Jodri useless to me, but it still has enough cool functionality to use it.

Anyway, anything I'm missing? I'd be interested in reading your experiences, tips, and suggestions.
 

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MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Thought I would give this one more bump. Really would be interested in knowing how others are making the most out of Discord for their TTRPGs.
 

I've inherited the Administration of the Discord server we use. I'm not the owner and didn't set it up originally. I have been contemplating remodeling it.

Currently we have 5 text channels, a General Discussion, Off-Topic, Game-Info, Painting-Jam (Because when it was set up some of us were really into tabletop mini games like 40k, AoS, and others), and the Current-Game channel.

The Current-Game channel houses most of our traffic, with Off-topic a close second.

We have two 5 voice channels, which is too many for our small user group for sure. We really only use two of them. Gaming, which we use for voice and video over Discord, and a Side channel for private communication between the GM and a player, which I think has been used twice in three years.

Because our Discord is only used by those of us in the group, and we all play together regularly I can skip some things I might set up things I would probably use in a situation where we were open to strangers, or invited random people from the internet into.

If I were to remodel the Discord I'd open an text channel to house documents and communications restrict it to read only. I'd add one for for between session in-character chat.
 

skelekon

Explorer
One more comment on sound. Whether using Foundry or Discord, I find one thing I would like to do is have background ambience that is not music. E.g., the sounds of bustling city, tavern sounds, etc. This is the type of thing that Syrinscape is good with. But I don't want to deal with yet another sound system. I just need audio files that I can use in Foundry or in Discord. I'm not finding anything like this in Spotify unfortunately. I'm wondering if anyone has found something that works for them.
TableTop Audio have nearly 400 10 minutes ambient sound files you can download as mp3s.

I use Kenku FM to play them through a Discord bot, but you could use anything that can play local sound files.
 

jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
I've used Disord to run D&D 5e, though not recently. I created separate channels for:

  • House Rules
  • General Discussion
  • Dice Rolls
  • Imagery

When running a game, I also use a channel for in-character discussion. I further have two voice channels for:

  • General Discussion
  • NAME OF GAME BEING PLAYED

We used Avrae for dice rolls and Owlbear Rodeo for maps. Finally, I categorized participants as:

  • Game Master (me)
  • Observers
  • Players
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Thanks to everyone for sharing how you've set up your servers. Regarding audio, I've seen Tabletop Audio before and it is a great resource. I didn't know about Kenku, so thanks for sharing that. I'm often running games while abroad for work with mediocre internet connections, however, so I'd be concerned about how well streaming from local audio files would work, especially in conjuction with streaming voice and connected to a VTT. I'll probably just stick to Spotify with Favibot for now and just have some background ambiance music.

I'll also try enabling local file support on Spotify and upload files downloaded from Tabletop Audio to my Spotify account. That might be a way to bring non-music background ambience sound into the game. Though it may make more sense to just due this with Foundry.

I've not made any of my channels read only. Since it is only used for my group of players it hasn't been an issue and it can be helpful to allow them to upload or post to channels. I can always pin the important posts.
 


aramis erak

Legend
I wrote (and keep rewriting) my own discord bot. My current version handles arbitrary numerical dice with some sanity limits, and handles initiative. Currently, it's tweaked for BECMI/Cyclopedia individual initiative.
I run it locally during session.

We use discord for voice, and for rolls, and occasionally, for map snaps for the player who can't seem to get his machine to display the vtt.

my one bit of advice? if you have distractable and/snarky players, have an off-topic text channel for memes and snark, and side conversation.
 

I use the stock system audio for sessions, coupled with Roll20.

My current campaign text channels: * = Only the GM posts.
General: for BS'ing in general, memes, life commentary, pointless discussions etc
Art Pack*: I post artwork from the setting to help visualization.
Setting Information*: The players entered the campaign without knowing the setting, so I posted campaign lore here as it is revealed.
Handouts*: Handouts are posted here.
Loot*: Description of loot items are posted here.
Immediate Planning: Here players discuss what is should be done in the next couple sessions. My campaigns usually have a lot of politics and intrigue.
Metagame Discussion: In the current campaign the PCs have chosen to get deeply involved in a long-term goal, so discussion of the various issues take place here.
IC Chat: The players can chat in-character here, often with NPCs. This allows a full range of role-play without bogging down a session and consuming table time. Plus it is worth extra XP.
Links: To shared folder (contains items too large to share on Discord), the campaign site, and things the players feel are important.
Dreams: For the first 18 sessions PCs were having inexplicable dreams. Here they can discuss them. Hasn't seen much use after around 25 sessions in.
 


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