Playing roleplaying games online can feel a bit arcane and strange, but once you try it, it's an excelent experience!
The majority of any RPG takes places in the theatre of the mind. So long as you can hear the voices of (and ideally see) your fellow players, you’ll be able to share your imagination and continue to craft your story together.
What makes our modern age so wonderful is the myriad of tools available to us that allows us to play RPG’s remotely. In these uncertain times, being able to jump online with your friends and pretend to be an elf for a few hours really does make a world of difference.
So, how do you get online and continue your adventure?
Step 1: Create a free account on Roll20 – and invite your friends!
There are quite a few options for playing RPG’s online, from Discord, to Fantasy Grounds, and if your game isn’t too fussed about maps or dicerolling, there really isn’t any reason you can’t play over Zoom or Facetime
By the far the most accessible option is Roll20. It launches in your browser. It’s easy to use. It’s free, and you can set up a game in just a few minutes!
Roll20 supports a whole bunch of games, too, so if you’ve been putting off trying something new, now is the time!
I tried Roll20 last week, and was blown away- it has inbuilt voice and video, and as a player, it’s super easy to access your sheet, roll dice and move your tokens around the map.
It’s a little strange at first, but once you start playing it feels like any other RPG session.
Step 2: Make sure everyone has the books they need!
Playing online while self-isolating does mean that you can’t reach across the table to double-check on of your abilities in your friend’s copy of Xanathar’s.
Also, if you want to use this as an opportunity to start a new campaign, you want to make sure you’re ready to go with the hardback you want to run.
Making sure everyone has what they need is important to keep the flow of the game. The Good Games Online store is open now, with delivery Australia wide, so you can stock up on that Player’s Handbook or copy of Tyranny of Dragons you’ve been saving for a rainy day.
Step 3: Choose a time to play.
At first glance, this step isn’t so different from playing in person.
There are two things you need to consider here: Firstly, allow a little extra time to work out any technical errors that may come up (maybe someone’s webcam or mic doesn’t work, or their internet needs to be reset).
Secondly, once you no longer have to factor in a commute for the majority of players (after all, everyone is playing in their own home!), you’ll find your sessions can go longer than normal! If I have to be in bed by 10pm, I no longer have to call it a night at 9 so I can head home- I’m already there!
Step 4: Raid the dungeon! (Or equivalent).
Most of us will be drawing swords, bows and magical wands and striding out in search of adventure, but there are a number of games that are really well suited to playing online – and what better time to try something new?
Here are just a few:
Call of Cthulhu: Classic horror roleplaying. Call of Cthulhu is very easy to learn, and doesn’t require miniatures to play (so you won’t need to worry about uploading maps and moving tokens online).
It’s supported by Roll20, and is one of the best games every written for one-shots, so if you want an excuse to get a few people together to try something new, give Call of Cthulu a try – the core rulebook has two scenarios ready to go!
Vampire: The Masquerade: Like Call of Cthulhu, Vampire is a game with streamlined mechanics, meaning that you’ll be spending most of the time explaining what your character does and says. It’s roleplay-heavy, and to play you just need a handful of D10’s.
MORK BORG: A new game fresh from our friends at Free League, MORK BORG is an OSR title (Old School Revival), and is ‘Rules light, heavy everything else.’ This game is truly amazing, takes (literally) minutes to learn, and the world is like a mixture of those bleak medieval settings in Dark Souls and Bloodborne that only hint at what is really going on.
That game is super simple to run, and with some ambient music, you’ll be ready to explore the doomed apocalypse.
Numenera: If you fancy some science-fantasy that lets your imagination run wild, you can’t go past the Numenera Starter Set. It’s got everything you need to play, including a ready-to-go adventure. This is one for the sci-fi fans who love exploring lost civilisations, and discovering forgotten technology.
Kids on Bikes: If you want something a little more low-key and different (perhaps even… wholesome?), then Kids on Bikes is the game for you. Very reminiscent of Stranger Things, players take on the role of kids in a small town in the 80’s, who meet a person with supernatural powers – but how will the kids (and the town) react?