I’ve always played tabletop role playing games (TTRPGs) face-to-face, ever since I was knee-high to a tadpole, a loooooooooong time ago. Yes, I have a background in information technology; yes, at one point I could program…stuff; yes, everyone always came to me at work to fix their computer issues (“Have you tried switching it on and off?”). I use computers every day in my current job. Heck, I’ve played Zelda and Skyrim. So, I guess it’s a little surprising that I’ve never played a TTRPG online.
All that is about to change, however. Social distancing and social isolation are the new buzzwords, Covid-19 is the new bad guy (um, bad it?) and Skype and Facetime are the new hugs. And that makes virtual tabletop platforms like Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds the new ‘face-to-face’ for TTRPGs.
Why have I avoided online TTRPG’ing for so long? Is it the torrid tales of low bandwidth voice and video dropouts, the loss of tactile dice rolling replaced by button pushing apps, the thought of avatars rather than real faces? Or maybe it’s just that I’ve invested so much money in physical gaming aids (maps, pawns, books, etc.) that I’m reluctant to give up the face-to-face experience.
Well, with nothing but a computer in my room at the moment (yep, even my girlfriend is socially isolated from me), I’ve decided to take the plunge and not only play a Roll20 game, but also DM one as well. I got on the Roll20 platform the other day, muddled around and watched a few videos, did a test run with some players and now I’m reasonably confident we can run a game online. My players may not be so gung ho, however. Fear of technology? I don’t think so. Fear of embarrassing gaffs? Certainly not. Fear of my DMing? Well, they ARE a new group. Maybe your players are a bit reticent as well.
I’ve put together a VERY basic task card to help alleviate a few of the initial fears some people may have about the platform. I can’t guarantee it’s going to fix everything, but it’s a start. Possibly for a conversation with your die-hard, face-to-face-only, gaming group.
You can download this A4-size Roll20 players task card by right clicking and selecting ‘save picture as’ on PC, or hold your finger on it on your phone or tablet until the device offers to save it.
So, here’s to the virtual near future. Not sure how long this pandemic is going to last, but at least I won’t get bored in the meantime. And here’s hoping you don’t either.
Steve, Laidback DM
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