It was only recently that I was introduced to the world of tabletop role-playing games when my friend suggested that we try out Dungeons & Dragons 3.5.
It took us only a short while to get completely invested in the game, and we were ready for multiple game-play sessions. Our biggest problem however, was the fact that our Dungeon Master studies in the Cape, while the rest of our crew lives up in Gauteng.
Being typical nerds, we looked online for solutions to our dilemma, and I will be talking below about the two most useful sites we found.
The site contains all sorts of useful information, rules and guidelines about the d20 game Dungeons & Dragons (specifically version 3.5, which seems to be the most popular), and also provides information not normally found even in the various Player’s Handbooks.
It even includes Epic level rules, which are normally very difficult to find; these are rules for gameplay extending beyond the standard 20-level cap.
All of this information is also laid out in a user-friendly manner to make looking for info take as short a time as possible, and keeping you in the game.
Finally, the site also includes various calculators Dungeon Masters might find useful to calculate monster encounters, XP gains, and loot drops.
The site also has a useful how-to guide to set up a proper tabletop experience using a projector and laptop.
With the reference material covered, our next obstacle was to find an online system that will allow our party to communicate with each other as well as the Dungeon Master, but also allow a graphical representation of the world we play in.
Initially we tried tools like IDroo and Skype, and while these worked, they didn’t give us the experience we wanted.
Our DM then discovered Roll20.net, and all of our problems were a thing of the past.
Roll20.net runs on HTML5 technology, which allows it to run in a browser without needing players to download or install anything. It is also versatile enough to run on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Initially funded through Kickstarter, using the site is completely free, with the option to donate if you are so inclined. Players are not forced to pay any money however, and you can access all features without paying a cent.
DMs can create campaign setups for a variety of table-top RPGs, create lush environments and populate the campaigns with all kinds of sound effects and music for immersion.
The site also allows players to create macros for often-used skills, and it features built-in dice rollers, recently modified with 3D effects to add to the immersion.
Inviting players to a campaign is as easy as sending them a short link, and if you are willing to meet strangers you can advertise your campaign for people around the world to see and join.
The site also includes voice and video chat to allow parties to bicker and chat as they would normally, without worrying about one player typing at a snail’s pace.
Making it even easier to get your d20 game going, the site also includes support for Google+ Hangouts, which might be useful for people already using that.
With these two tools at your disposal, it is very simple to set up a virtual tabletop gaming environment, which is perfect if you are interested in the genre, but don’t know any players in your area.