D&D General I Prefer Playing in Person, but Love Having Remote Play as an Option

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I prefer in person play and think a VTT would be way too much work for my style of play/prep and also make all my minis and terrain useless, but when the pandemic hit in 2020 two sessions into our new campaign, we moved the game to zoom, used a table camera, and had a lot of success. I have also used Owlbear Rodeo a little bit when slowly revealing a map is more convenient without having to draw it all out on the table - and then we move to the table/minis when an encounter happens.

Finally in May of 2021 after we were all vaccinated we moved back to in-person play without a hitch. Once, in January of this year, one player got Covid, but was not feeling too bad, so we zoomed him to the in-person game, putting a laptop at his place at the table, so we could see him and he could see both us and the view from above of the table - and it worked pretty well.

We have a session scheduled today, one of my players woke up feeling crappy - and while she awaits the results of her PCR test (which won't be back til late today or tomorrow), she and her husband (another player) are going to Zoom in for the game in order to be safe and avoid potential exposure. Heck, one of the other players is even gonna drop off a pizza at their doorstep on the way to the game so they can partake in our usual custom of trying pizza from different places on game day.

Anyway, I don't have any big point, except that I really appreciate the option and it has really helped keeping a group going that can only meet every 3 to 5 weeks at most, and I think - whether you use a VTT or just discord, use minis or tokens or just play Theatre of the Mind style or some hybrid - having access to these mix/match options for how to play allows use to maintain momentum and maintain the bonds of our little community when other stuff interferes with actually getting together in person.
 
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Before the pandemic, it was in-person for every session. I run a table for my friends at work, and at the time we all lived in the same city. With the pandemic we started with Google hangouts but eventually ended up using Zoom. I tried Roll20, but found it too finicky and not worth the hassle. The interesting thing though is that, although everyone prefers to play in person, it is so much more convenient and less of a commitment to play online (family stuff, cost of gas, etc), that we’ve stayed online.

I just started using Dungeon Scrawl with the “share screen” option, to give my players a visual for the layout of the environment. We don’t do grid combat so I don’t need tokens and such. It’s worked really well.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I've been playing online since 2011, mostly using Roll20. I would go so far to say that I greatly prefer online play to in-person play. Generally, if I'm getting together with friends in person, I'd rather go out to a restaurant or bar or, if staying in, barbecue, drink, and maybe play a card or board game since there's not as much commitment.

As well, I find in-person play to be limiting in building the ideal group of players. With online play, my player pool is practically limitless, so I can easily screen players with one-shots, then invite the best of the best to play in regular campaigns. Scheduling issues are also mitigated since I can build a player pool larger than the seats in the game so that we almost always have quorum for the set game time.

I will occasionally run an in-person game, but because online play is so much more efficient in my experience, I will use a VTT at the table.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Supporter
Pre-pandemic, 80%+ of my games were in-person and I never thought I would be a serious devotee of online play. Obviously COVID changed that, but even though conditions have improved, 90% of my games are still online and that ratio is likely to be a permanent one.

The reasons:

-People in the games have relocated far & wide during the pandemic. Were it not for online play, those groups would largely have ceased to exist.

- I can play with people from all over the world instead of just my immediate area

- Online games are much easier logistically (can be done after young kids are asleep, on weeknights, without having to leave home, etc) and for that reason they are far more likely to actually take place as scheduled than in-person games. While I enjoy the IDEA of in-person games, I value the reality of weekly online ones. My in-person ones would not happen weekly.

- Easier to DM. Just less stuff to haul around - books, minis, maps, etc. It’s all just digital on one laptop with a little notepad and pencil to occasionally jot quick things. And the searchabilty and hot links on DNDBEYOND are literally game-changing time-savers for me.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I tried online play (hybrid - some together, some remote) a decade ago and it sucked. But it was the only option for keeping a good friend who moved across the country in the game.

I tried online play on FG before the pandemic, and it was good-ish. But not as good as in-person play. We do a lot of RP, and there is a whole lot of bandwidth that is missing in a so-so voice chat.

During the pandemic we moved completely on-line. Zoom (and later Discord but not as good) was the magic component. Good voice and video, including when multiple people were talking at once. We used various other tools, the biggest being Roll20 for some games and Google Draw (with everyone having the Edit link) for others. Let me tell you, Zoom + Google Draw with people rolling physical dice was enough. The VTT can be a very nice to have but is ultimately superfluous to having great video chat and something to display on. And even after years we still have technical problems with Roll20, like light sources or being able to move tokens after changing maps.

Now we still play online mostly - we prefer in-person, but every gaming group but one has grown such that geographically we couldn't get together after work like we do now. And we don't want to throw out good friends&players because they live farther away. That one exception was an occasionally-scheduled weekend game with extended family (my kids, niece and nephew) that were inside our pandemic pod anyway so has stayed in-person the entire time.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
My table has done online only since the pandemic began. We do it on Discord, theater of the mind only, no VTT.

We do prefer in-person, but we have enough health issues between us that we're loathe to go back to in-person. Plus, one player and his wife now have two kids and doesn't want to leave her to deal with them alone even for the few hours of game-time.
 

I think playing online aiding my sanity during lockdown, but I started back face to face as soon as was allowed and I now really don't like playing online anymore.

It just misses out so much of that interaction
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
BTW, yesterday's session went great. In fact one of the players who was there in the flesh said at the end, "I nearly forgot two players were only here over zoom, because I could see their faces at the usual end of the table where they sit."
 

I moved to online in 2015 because I was travelling for work and it was pretty much the only way I could keep playing. Weekends were family time.

I find preparation (using FG) much easier and re-usable than when I used to prep for in person play. I can setup NPC or tavern generators that fully detail out what I need with a single click. I can draw from millions of online maps to use at a moments notice. I can search thousands of NPC by keyword, type, CR etc. I can do te same for magic items or spells. I can prep tables that generate random encounters of whatever difficulty I want. And I can use these over and over again campaign after campaign. I can do something like my random dungeon room generator that creates over 44 million unique dungeon room descriptions.

Online play allows us to play short weekly sessions (2 hours) because we have no travel time, everyone plays after dinner and before bed, or what ever time fits into their schedule. The player pool is huge, and allows for you to play with existing friends or build new friends. And anyone can live anywhere.

There are certainly advantages to in-person play, but those are generally social, and as said, social in-person time can be used in a thousand ways, not just playing RPGs. The advantages of online play far outweigh in person play, for me.
 

At this point, I feel like online is for gaming for the sake of gaming: it's all about the DnD. In-person games are fun too, but feel more like an excuse to meet up with friends and something to do while we hang out.

Kinda like boardgame meetups vs meeting with friends who also like boardgames.
 

Retreater

Legend
It's not just the pandemic keeping my groups mostly online. It's players in different states, players with small children who can't get time away easily, and easier to work around work schedules during the week.
There's still one group that meets in person - about once a month for a couple hours.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
At this point, I feel like online is for gaming for the sake of gaming: it's all about the DnD. In-person games are fun too, but feel more like an excuse to meet up with friends and something to do while we hang out.

Kinda like boardgame meetups vs meeting with friends who also like boardgames.

I am blessed with a group of friends I do many non-D&D things with (including board game nights) but who are (probably because of that) super focused at the table.
 

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