I’ve been running a Dungeons & Dragons 5e game at work during lunch on Fridays, which has been quite fun, but also has a few challenges, one of which has been the participation of a player who frequently works offsite. Since we usually play in a conference room with a beautiful, big screen TV, I thought that using a virtual tabletop might help with that and some other issues. I decided to give Roll20.net a try, and after using it for two sessions, I’d say it’s working reasonably well.
To get started, I purchased the Mike Schley’s player maps from the D&D Starter Set adventure, so I wouldn’t have to recreate them. I scaled them down a bit before uploading to my account in Roll20, so that they would use less of my free storage, but still look good even when the map is zoomed in.
I prefer the pog-style portrait tokens to the overhead style that is used by most of the art available in the Roll20 marketplace. I invited my players to select character portait images. Then I used GIMP to create token images for the PCs, NPCs and monster. I’m pretty happy with the result. Even though the recommended size for token images is 70×70 pixels, I used 110×110 to keep some detail when zoomed in.
Here’s the GIMP file I used to create them.
At the table, we use Jamie’s laptop to connect to the display for everyone to see, and I use my own laptop to control the game. I have granted the remote player control over his character, and Jame has control over the other characters, so he can move them around and adjust their HP. I chose not to use the full character sheets, which Roll20 does support, in favor of a reduced set of stats that would be relevant to the way we’re using the virtual tabletop. Specifically, I’ve added HP, AC, Passive Perception, and Initiative.
Players at the table and I are using our physical dice, while the remote player has been using the built-in dice roller. Jamie and I have explored macros, but I haven’t used them during the game, yet. The next feature I’m looking at using is the turn tracker, which I think could be helpful. I’m also giving some thought to other ways to speed-up play so that we can get more done in the hour-ish time we have each week.
As I mentioned in the intro, I think this hybrid physical/virtual table has been working reasonably well. I’m looking forward to using it more, and maybe even getting a fully virtual game going with some friends that I haven’t gamed with in a long time.
I’d love to hear from folks who use Roll20 or other virtual tabletop. What tips or tricks have you found most helpful to make your games run smoothly.