Social Distancing and Dragons

Celebrim

Legend
So, recommendations on how to set up a functional online RPG?

Never even considered it until the fate of the world was on the line.

Details would be welcome.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
At the low end of how much time it would take to learn and cost, you could have everyone download a chat program (like Discord), set up your own chat room, link it up with a dice roller bot, email your DM a copy of your character sheet (or use something like D&D beyond), then do TotM.

But seeing as how many people have a lot of time on their hands recently, you could also learn to use a VTT like Fantasy Grounds or Roll 20. Which would best be learned by watching an online video, because there is a lot of things they can do.
 

Celebrim

Legend
So the Discord theater of the mind based approach is the first thing I've hit on.

Can someone with experience review Fantasy Grounds and/or Roll 20 and talk about what it takes to make it work, and work better than just a chat room?
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
So the Discord theater of the mind based approach is the first thing I've hit on.

Can someone with experience review Fantasy Grounds and/or Roll 20 and talk about what it takes to make it work, and work better than just a chat room?
There are multiple recebt threads already on this topic asking your questions. Look for tgreads with VTT in the title or with online play or with similar titles to your own pithy one.
 

pogre

Hero
For a low, low learning curve you can use the Zoom video conferencing. I dm using my laptop camera and have my phone on a tripod pointing at the miniatures and terrain. Almost as good as face-to-face for us.
 

Imaculata

Adventurer
Last sunday my group used Roll20 for the very first time. I took me a few hours to familiarize myself with the program. Fortunately it comes with a very good tutorial. We still used Discord for voice chat, but everything went smooth. Although roleplaying isn't the same without being able to see each other's faces (we don't use webcams), playing online offers the advantage that battles are a lot easier to follow for the players. Players can scroll the map around as they please and zoom in and out when needed. Roll20 also makes it very easy to use fog of war, to reveal or hide various things from the sight of the players.

Lessons learned: Use Chrome for Roll20. It is a little bit buggy on Firefox.
 

cmad1977

Adventurer
Last sunday my group used Roll20 for the very first time. I took me a few hours to familiarize myself with the program. Fortunately it comes with a very good tutorial. We still used Discord for voice chat, but everything went smooth. Although roleplaying isn't the same without being able to see each other's faces (we don't use webcams), playing online offers the advantage that battles are a lot easier to follow for the players. Players can scroll the map around as they please and zoom in and out when needed. Roll20 also makes it very easy to use fog of war, to reveal or hide various things from the sight of the players.

Lessons learned: Use Chrome for Roll20. It is a little bit buggy on Firefox.
I found that the basic/free version worked fine when I used it that way(for over a year).
You are correct about Chrome. That was an issue with us at the beginning too. Forgot about that.
 

innerdude

Adventurer
I personally have never understood the appeal of Roll20. I've never used Fantasy Grounds, so I don't have that as a comparison, but I find Roll20's user interface / user experience to be clunky at best, and nigh infuriating at worst.

When I discovered Tabletop Simulator on Steam, it was exactly what I was looking for. I don't need my virtual tabletop to be an information manager, character builder, knowledge repository, or combat tracker.

I just need it to clearly define a map space / battle mat, with easy-to-interact-with components that can be quickly updated and manipulated on the fly, in a way that most closely resembles a "real world" battle mat, but without having to drag around hundreds of mini-figures or standups.

I'm guessing the reason it's not mentioned more frequently around these parts is because it's not free. But Tabletop Simulator's $20-per-participant price point provides a 100x return on investment over Roll20's "free." And there's enough free models, mods, textures, map images, pre-built scenarios, and more, that I can't imagine anyone needing to spend more than the initial $20, ever. Need a new battle map? A 60-second pinterest search is about all it takes to find something usable in TTS.

Like anything, there's a few things to get used to in doing basic battle mat setup, but once you grasp the basics, it's simple and takes only 5-10% more time (if that) than setting up a physical battle mat scenario.
 

DrunkonDuty

Adventurer
I've used Roll20 twice now.

It's actually pretty good. The free version allows you to do a lot of stuff. Roll20 are also currently giving away a number of art assets for free.

Fog of war is good and was a revelation to my players who had been used to seeing the whole map and playing accordingly. Suddenly darkened rooms are scary.

Dice rollers are very handy too. One thing I noticed in my game was that I will have to get the players to write in chat what the dice rolls are for before rolling the dice. Not that anyone cheated. It will just make it easier for me when I have to scroll back up the chat and see what was rolled and by whom.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
So the Discord theater of the mind based approach is the first thing I've hit on.

Can someone with experience review Fantasy Grounds and/or Roll 20 and talk about what it takes to make it work, and work better than just a chat room?
My group has just transitioned to Roll20. We use Discord for the voice chat, because Roll20 seems to really lag with that on. We use D&DBeyond for character gen, and a Chrome extension called Beyond 20 to link them to Roll20. Its a bit of a bear for the GM, if you don't want to spend a bunch of money. Luckily, one of our guys had a bunch of stuff on D&DBeyond already, so he could share it with us. Tonight was only our second session, and it went fairly well, once we got everybody on the same page.

Edit: the Fog of War/Dynamic Lighting is totally worth it. Players were griping a bit, but it was totally engrossing for the effect that it had on limiting their information.
 

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