30 October 2019

A thing that went surprisingly well

For once in my life something went more smoothly than I expected it to...

Last Sunday I finally got my Greyhawk campaign going with a couple of old friends. One of the players was in Toronto, the other in Montreal, and I was DMing from Milwaukee. We used 'google hangouts' for the session. The few handouts I used were emailed to them at the appropriate times. We all rolled our own physical dice (rather than use some online dice-roller), etc., and generally relied on the 'theatre of the mind' to follow what was happening.

I was surprised how well it worked. Indeed, I regret having bothered with 'Roll20' years ago (for a short-lived AD&D campaign), which was far more trouble than it was worth. I also regret not trying this much earlier. While I prefer meeting in person (who doesn't?), this was pretty close to that experience.

We all had a great time and plan to continue with regular sessions in the future. However, I suspect that things would not run as smoothly if we were a larger group. Three or four participants probably is optimal for online gaming (at least using a video conference tool).

Anyhow, I hope to write more about this campaign -- and Greyhawk in general -- in the near-ish future.

12 comments:

  1. Always great to hear about more new Greyhawk campaigns starting up! :D

    FWIW, in the Monday night 1e Greyhawk game I play in run by thedungeondelver, we usually have 8-ish players and we use Roll20 for the maps and PCs sheets (and I map too, on graph paper of course!), but we use Discord for the audio (and for video when Bill decides to break out the Dwarven Forge too). So, in my experience it's still pretty smooth with a larger group.

    Allan.

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    1. Thanks Allan. I plan to write a few things on Greyhawk in the near-ish future. I've spent the past 8 months or so reacquainting myself with the setting (mainly the original Gygaxian version, of course). I was surprised how much I remembered from my youth. I guess reading the folio and box set at a young age imprinted the core elements into my brain.

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  2. Congrats! May you and your players have a fun campaign!

    I've been doing an AD&D Discord/Roll20 game since January, every other Tuesday. It has been a great deal of theater of the mind. I use Roll20 mostly as a whiteboard, to either show pictures to get the point across, or to act as a temporary sketch to make things clear. I do not have enough time in the day to create all those battle maps and use the icons!

    One thing I've done is to steal an idea from an online convention (GauntletCon). They use "character keepers" which are smaller, more brief versions of character sheets with the main stats that need to be at fingertips and that are more dynamic/changing during a game. I find them very useful! Sharing in case you like the idea - it's a Google Drive Sheet. Feel free to copy if you like! https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1pMfsmBWskFoLvtKWaNpv5ZoA3CV-uBSdToGB9vlXBMc/edit?usp=sharing

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    1. Thanks! The idea of using "character keepers" looks helpful. I may try to use something along those lines.

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  3. I still use roll20, but I only use it as a chat log, die roller and whiteboard to doodle on and upload the occasional image. We mostly play in the theatre of the mind. We even use Google Hangouts for the sound because it makes for better performance for larger groups. We play all sort sof differnet systems.

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    1. Thanks! Based on your comment and the ones above I think that I may have been a bit hasty in dismissing Roll20. Perhaps I should give it another shot, for the purposes you indicate.

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  4. P.S. Some of use Google Docs for our character sheets so that the player and dungeon master can both keep the sheets constantly updated.

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    1. Yeah, a google doc of the character sheets (or a simplified version of them for gaming purposes) strikes me as a good idea.

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    2. One of my players made a heavily automated character sheet for AS&SH with extensive data sheets (it recognises every weapon, armour, and other piece of equipment in the book, calculates passive class abilities, etc.) - and I've been making my own for every other game I run since then.

      What I especially like about it is how I was able to go back to coin- or pound-based encumbrance. Before that I was inclined to use some abstract slot-based method, because I found recalculating encumbrance on the fly to be a chore. With automated character sheets, however, there's no need to compromise - I get to use all the fiddly bits of a system.

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    3. That sounds most impressive, Ynas Midgard! Alas, far beyond the capabilities of anyone in my group...

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  5. I’ve been using a similar deal for about 2 yrs: google hangouts with a shared Dropbox folder for the character sheets. Recently I’ve been printing out the pc sheets and making notes on them them, then updating the online sheet after session (my players can’t even be bothered to use the online sheet because they play from their phone etc). For a recent big combat however I added roll20 because using tokens and drawing simple maps is very good way to track HP and made life easier for me than constantly holding up a piece of paper. I simply share my screen rather than fiddle with making the players log on which is unwieldy. In short, hangouts and share screen is the easiest way.

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    1. I just set up a dropbox for the group. The combats so far have been simple enough to conduct through description and a general map (sent by e-mail). When things start to get more complicated, though, I may need to consider trying Roll20 again...

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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who divides his time between Milwaukee and Toronto.