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Saturday, January 14, 2017

This is How I Roll... Online

Well, I had a comment to the previous post which I figured needed a follow up answer and a post of its own:
Hey, barkeep. Remind us how you do your online play. I seem to recall Hangouts, but do you mix in any other apps? 
Right now I'm targeting Rolz, plus Skype. (Roll20 is just too ... much.) I don't know if I want to trust Hangouts when they are sunsetting app support. 
Bob P
Historically I used Google Hangouts with the Roll 20 app inside the hangout. Yeah, couldn't figure out how to get ANY apps open in Google Hangouts. Google, the only company that can make great applications basically useless. Alright, maybe not the only company...

So, this is what we did:

We used Google Hangout for voice and video. I actually like seeing my players expressions and I'm sure they enjoy seeing my cat's ass in HD ;)

Then I loaded up the Roll 20 app which I had set up earlier in less that 15 minutes, sent out invite and used that on my main screen. On my vertical side screen I had the Hangout and various PDFs open.

The map is a +Dyson Logos . Its a perfect dungeon for what I needed. Support his Patreon for more awesome maps for the RPG community. Find his maps at his blog.

I use Fog of War to show may players what they can see and where they have been. I reveal new parts as the party progresses. Sure, part of the fun and challenge from my teen and college years was the mapping. Well, not really. No one ever wanted to be the mapper. Now, its not an issue.

Notice something missing? Tokens. I never use them. I could. Maybe I should. I have access to hundreds, if not thousands of them. Instead, I go more theatre of the mind. Maybe at some point in the future I'll find a nice middle ground between not using them and using all the bells and whistles.

I do use character sheets now. They actually have ones coded for Swords & Wizardry. I'm impressed.

The thing with Roll 20 is use what you need, not what sounds cool. Dynamic lighting would be a blast to use but the time needed to set it up could be better spent making blog posts like this, or writing more SWL content, or drinking more beer, or...

I roll all attack rolls, damage rolls and 99% of adversary saves in the open. I think players trust the DM to do what is right behind the screen when the rolls of chance are all in front of the screen.

As a DM, I want the players to think out of the box. You want your halfing fighter to make a running leap into the half dozen skeletons coming at you, trying to knock some over and block the doorway at the same time? Sure, make an attack roll with a penalty of 2 to the roll.

Oh, in case you missed it, here's Tim's blog post of last night's session.

Peter just put up his post. Read it. Please comment on the possible motto for The Tavern. It came up organically in play ;)


  1. Thanks for the update on your process, and on taking the time to write it out. I appreciate it.

    Back in '02 or so, the first time i tried to do online play, we used Skype for audio (no video; insufficient bandwidth for some) and Gametable (co-developed by Andy Weir, yes the same Andy Weir who...) for dice and map. Gametable is still around, but like you I don't really need figure mapping, just a place to put visuals.

    But it was a little hassle getting everybody running with Gametable and keeping up with updates. I was a paying member of Roll20 for a while, but some of my candidate players have already told me the mapping and drawing tools are too much distraction. (That's the thing I've found about "use what you need" -- the reality around me is "if it's there, use it." Which extends to rules ... the instant a player becomes aware of an "optional" rule, they wants it, precious.)

    Meanwhile, really liking Rolz, so much that I'm in on his Patreon. It's straightforward, simple enough (except the more esoteric dice roll codes), and does many things I like and nothing I hate.

    Thanks, again,
    Bob P.

  2. On the motto, I'd flip it to "Not Profitable, But Good." :-)

    Bob P