View Full Version : what experiences have you had with online tabletop rpg'ing?

07-27-2008, 05:44 PM
be it play-by-post, or real-time gaming, share with us your experiences with online play of tabletop games. share the good, the bad, the tools used to accomplish the gaming experience, and regal us with your stories!

as for myself, i typically use various methods.

one, a conference call. yes, a good old-fashioned conference call. i'll plug my phone into it's charger and make sure everything is in reach of it's cord. i'll use an extension cord if i have to. this usually works best with people you know and trust, as the dm does all the mapping and so forth.

two, we supplement this with a computer and internet access using a shared whiteboard program, so that eveyone can draw to it and everyone gets to see the updates simultaneously. as for myself, i typically use gametable-ease of use and simplicity carry the day. if someone is an artist, then it becomes easy to make it look really nice. or you can simply use the tiles cheaply purchased from skeleton key games. either works handily.

three, if we all have high-speed connections, then we can just use voice chat instead of the phone call. or in a pinch, texting works too. but beware, not everyone types at the same speed! ^^ we tend to use skype, ventrillo, or sometimes gizmo. some of those support video conferencing, which can be handy if you have a webcam, are decent when you play, and can reasonably expect anyone who might wander into the range of the webcam to be decent as well. ^^ best let your housemates know you have a live cam going, ne?

a bit of advice for the internet options... be sure you either know how to port forward, or know someone who does know how. very important. i've seen more online games hang up on this little exercise than any other reason, including scheduling. once you have managed it a few times, it's not so bad. the biggest problem is that there is no standardization among routers for user interface, or even naming... so trying to figure out how this particular router / computer does the port forwarding (if it is even called that on the routers ui!!!) can be a bit of a challenge. be prepared! read the manual, or get someone to do it for you.


07-27-2008, 06:45 PM
For a few years I played online with a group of really good role players/writers. They were all AOL people using chat rooms. When I joined the group they began to use AIM which was an AOL product along with the message board and web site.

This was really a pretty good way to play at the time, my regular group sort of dissolved and one of the better players invited me to the group. Was pretty hard to get into the clique as some tended to be rather standoffish. But they could rp and write like you would not believe.

One of the characters I had was perhaps my most favorite characters of all time. Most likely because of some of the people I got to play with.

Still, even as fun as it was the politics of dealing with people online was the seed of it's demise. I found that this group of people from around the world had no real ties to one another and they didn't have to be nice and sometimes they weren't. There were problems of immaturity and social dysfunction. You know what they say about genius being very close to the edge. Well some of these people were very good role players. Not your typical good, but very good. I was blessed and cursed to have been able to play with them. Still, I will remember how much I learned from them and hold them as the standard of excellence by which all other role-players will be measured.

07-27-2008, 08:54 PM
I set up and briefly used Fantasy Grounds and ventrilo to run when I first moved to TX from IL. Unfortunately, the scheduling issue only worsened with my old once a month group and it basically disintegrated.

I tried it a little while with some players from the FG site and was mostly impressed with those I found. It probably helped that I screened them a little and required a written background. Even with this I had two players give me 2-3 pages (far more than I expected) of well written histories then never show (perhaps they "borrowed" them somewhere or just had them in reserve). I only stopped because of moving pains on my end. Most players I encountered were quite good, roleplayed well and showed as scheduled. I do recommend a little "buffer" of players starting out (recruit a couple more than needed since some will inevitably not show).

I doubt FG will ever support 4e openly due to licensing, but for those with the skills I guess it is easy to tweek for what you want. Users have posted all types of mods for various games or systems and it comes set for d20. Some mods cannot be posted openly on the official site due to licensing. I am sure there are work arounds.

FG costs about $35 for a server copy these days ($20 I think for client) with deals for bundling. I got mine back when it was about $20/$10 before it shot up, but for the cost of a book it has very nice features that actually accelerate 3.x combat. The learning curve is not terrible but does exist. The product is well supported and the company gives all impressions of professionalism and stability. That is often not the case with the 3rd party guys.

I have not tried many other options, but I do recommend FG to anyone serious about running online over any length of time.