WIKI Resources for Playing D&D Online

Azzy

Cyclone Ranger
A list and information on various ways to play online.

Virtual Tabletops
  • Roll20: One of the more popular VTT available. It is a hosted/SaaS service that is browser based so people can play from many different devices. It start out with a free level service and has two higher level subscriptions that add additional storage space and features such as macro and API access.
  • Fantasy Grounds: Another very popular VTT. It is a installed application with a server-client architecture so all the data and control is done through the host (GMs) computer. It has both one-time and subscription licensing of two different levels; Standard (all people must have Standard or higher license) and Ultimate (only the GM needs a license).
  • Tabletop Simulator: This program isn't specific to RPGs, and approaches VTT in fairly literal manner (there's even a VR option). The cost is $19.99 (but it is frequently on sale for less), and requires each member of your group to purchase the program. After the initial purchase, there are many free options and assets to customize your gaming space for your particular game of choice. There are many free prepackaged sets for playing D&D and other specific RPGs if you don't want to do all the work yourself. Includes its own of VoIP, but can be used in combination with others, like Teamspeak, Discord, etc.
  • Astral: Appears to be endorsed by DriveThruRPG. Doesn't seem to natively support D&D, but does list a bunch of other well known RPGs. Free.
  • D20PRO. A multi-platform VTT specialized in D&D, Pathfinder, and Starfinder.
Video Chat
  • Discord: Private video chat with up to 9 friends.
Voice-Over-Internet Protocol
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Just had our first Discord based video-chat session last night and it mostly went well. 4 players + me, only a couple of sporadic issues (short bursts of lost audio/video for individuals). The UI was nice and clean and has the option of a text chat when needed.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
Call me a grognard if you like. I'm setting up a Discord server for my group and I'm having a hell of a time actually gettin a dice bot installed.

Researching Sidekick lead me to a link that said it would install. Took me to the Discord site, did a validation song and dance and announced that I was authorized. Which is all well and good I suppose, but it didn't actually download or install anything. Discord still doesn't recognize any of the Sidekick commands.

Could someone walk me through this? I'm not in love with Sidekick, Rollistream looked good as have several others. Rollistream seemed very well documented, but nothing in there had any link to how to obtain or install such a bot.

Advice, please?
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
Well, I got two of the group to check in with my Discord server. I can video chat with them, but I have to keep switching back and forth. There doesn't seem to be any easy way to merge the calls.

And we're still struggling to add a dice bot, any dice bot.

That part where everybody says, "Quick and easy"... Yeah, about that...

But I can't really complain. Just as likely this is me being thick. It's odd becasue I'm a programmer/analyst by trade, and tech is my business. But when it comes to this particular challenge I seem to be extrordinarily clueless. Ah well...
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
I can video chat with them, but I have to keep switching back and forth. There doesn't seem to be any easy way to merge the calls.
You can make a Group DM and then start a video chat. Not sure if you can add people to an individual video chat. But I agree that Discord UI is not super intuitive.
 

Celebrim

Legend
What would be most useful if online Keepers described the setups that are working for them, for example what they purchased, what they installed, what value different things are adding, etc.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
What would be most useful if online Keepers described the setups that are working for them, for example what they purchased, what they installed, what value different things are adding, etc.
I use Fantasy Grounds with an ultimate license. With either Discord or Teamspeak for audio. I have most of the D&D 5E product as FG products (and none in dead tree).

I've had the FG license for ~5 years and have played at least weekly, if not a few times more so the value their is pretty good. Don't remember if I paid full price or not, but if I did that about... $0.60 per week or 10 cents per hour. Discord is free and someone else hosts the Teamspeak server so I have no costs for either of those. Hard to say the value of the 5E books, most I bought on sale or as part of a bundle so probably average half MSRP(?).

Is that what you were looking for?
 

Celebrim

Legend
@LordEntrails: Yes, something like that.

What does having an Ultimate license get you that you feel is worth the extra $6 a month?

When you buy a D&D 5e product as a FG product, what is that getting you that say a book or a pdf doesn't get you?

Could you like describe the experience of using your favorite FG product?
 

Hussar

Legend
@LordEntrails: Yes, something like that.

What does having an Ultimate license get you that you feel is worth the extra $6 a month?

When you buy a D&D 5e product as a FG product, what is that getting you that say a book or a pdf doesn't get you?

Could you like describe the experience of using your favorite FG product?
I'm not @LordEntrails, but, my experience is very similar to his - been using Fantasy Grounds for 5 years or so with an Ultimate License. I've been buying books sporadically over the years and I'm currently using Ghosts of Saltmarsh.

Oh, one thing to be aware of - if your router does not port forward, it can be a trick to run Fantasy Grounds. You have to use Hamachi - it's not terribly difficult, but, it can be a PITA. Google the Fantasy Grounds forums and they have an excellent how to guide for setting that up. OTOH, if your router supports port forwarding, then don't worry about it. FG is rock solid in terms of connectivity. We might drop a user once every couple of sessions, and, frankly, that's probably on their end rather than a server issue. Some of us are using pretty old PC's.

Frankly, someone in the group is going to need that Ultimate License since that's probably the best way to run the game. Otherwise, everyone has to buy a regular license. It just makes a lot more economic sense for the group to collectively buy an ultimate license and then just play. But, it does depend on your group. And how often you play. If you DM in two groups, for example, then an Ultimate License makes sense.

The biggest thing you get with buying FG material is automation. And, as much as I bitch about FG (and I do have some very large issues with FG - mostly on the UI side) the automation is FANTASTIC. You want to add a level to a character, drag and drop the level, everything is automatically calculated, right down to the DC's for spells. You want to make an adventure? Everything is drag and drop. And, that automation continues during play as well - your PC has a concentration spell up and gets hit? The game automatically rolls your concentration check for you and removes the spell if you fail. Stuff like that.

So, yeah, if you buy, say, Ghosts of Saltmarsh, you could literally boot up your computer, get everyone to join and start running without any prep.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
@LordEntrails: Yes, something like that.

What does having an Ultimate license get you that you feel is worth the extra $6 a month?

When you buy a D&D 5e product as a FG product, what is that getting you that say a book or a pdf doesn't get you?

Could you like describe the experience of using your favorite FG product?
Well, I bought the one-time license not the subscription, but the only thing an ultimate license gets me is the ability to host free players. For me this really just means that I haven't had to worry about if a player had a license or not. With my regular group not a big deal. Originally I was the only one that had a license, now they have all picked up a license when they were on sale at some time or another. It also means I can run games at cons and teach free FGCollege classes where the users might be new and not yet have a license.

One thing people often say, is if you only have a standard license (or require your players to have at least a standard license), then you tend to have players who are more "bought in" to the game. I've never had that problem, but can understand how some might.

An FG version of a book gets you;
  • Character Building; drag and drop for races, classes, feats, items, etc. This means that I can build a character by dragging from a list the various things and FG will then add those to the character sheet. There are a bunch of videos here that show what I mean; fantasy grounds character creation 5e - YouTube
  • Searchable; much like a pdf (which their are no legal versions of for 5E) one can type a word or phrase and get search results. So if you can remember where "swimming" is, just search for it.
  • Linking; Want to make a cheat sheet for quick reference? Say you are running Dragon Heist and you want to make your own notes that have links to a bunch of Xanathar references? Just create a story and drag links to it so you can quickly access those things. Have a story board or adventure flow chart image? Just drop pins for each part of the story onto the image and now you can quickly reference those parts. i.e. you know the Adventure Chart in Dragon Heist? It's already linked.
  • Sharing; When you are sitting around your table, ever have more than one player want to look something up in the PHB? With FG, You can share simultaneously any resources you have with as many people in your game. So all of your players can look up stuff in the PHB at the same time.
  • Magic Item Forge; If you have the DMG, then you have a magic item forge that lets you create custom magic items by adding multiple items to the forge at the same time. So say you want a "flaming battleaxe of wounding", just add a flaming sword and a wounding sword to battleaxe template and you item is created.
My favorite FG product is FG itself. I like to create my own content. And FG is really powerful at doing that. That linking I mentioned before is great for dungeon delves, or pining locations to a regional map. No flipping through pages to find what you want. Stuff can be organized much more visually.

Or, here's something I built, Dungeon Room Descriptions. That is a FG module that with a single click creates a story template for describing a dungeon room. It was amazingly quick to put this together, and I ended up with it creating over 44 trillion (yes, with a T) combinations. And it can be customized by someone who buys it so if you don't like the door materials I used, just change it to your own. Want to add some unique floor descriptors or change the odds of something occurring, You can. If you don't want to include the door handles, or the type of ceiling or whatever, you can (and I actually have some templates setup to do that type of thing). There is a pdf/xlsx version of it up there too, but one click that one can then have in FG and share the room description to the players with a second single click is so much more powerful than a pdf with a whole bunch of rollable tables one has to put together.
 

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