27 July 2020

Role-Playing Online

My recent birthday weekend marks my first time role-playing via Zoom. Previously, I had tried Google Hangouts and Tabletop Simulator, but this latest experience was the most successful. Not everyone has the same needs for online gaming, but mine is simple: I want real-time audiovisual communication. That's it. Players can have their own character sheets as long as I have a copy (or at least the information they contain). Players can roll their own dice. (I trust them. If I didn't, I wouldn't invite them to my games.) If players want maps, they can make them the old-fashioned way with graph paper and a pencil using my descriptions. Yes, my role-playing is very much of the "theatre of the mind" sort, and although I occasionally make use of battlemats and miniatures (primarily to show marching order), I can easily dispense with them. I miss being able to distribute actual handouts, tokens, cards, and possibly even props, but it's a luxury I can live without as long as everyone at my virtual table can see and hear one another.

What did we play? The Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG adventure, Frozen in Time, the third adventure for Billie the Once Risen (formerly known as Billie the Squire), George the Witness, and Francis the Creep. It was a three hour session, and I think there will be one or two more before they complete it. I look forward to many more (and of other role-playing games, too).

I was apprehensive about online gaming, but now that I've found something that works for my players and me, the gaming future looks brighter.


  1. I have never understood the online hate for Hangouts. I have been using Hangouts + Roll20 for about eight years now, with very few issues. I am always coming across people that have had problems using it for a game. What issues did you have with Hangouts?

    Like you, I really want the realtime communication and visible aspect of seeing each of the players and Hangouts (or lately Meet as I have been using it) has worked perfect. I only use Roll20 for maps and tokens.

    1. My problem with Google Hangouts was really a problem with my Internet connection at the time, to be honest. The lag at my end was severe, and it made me reluctant to participate because every time I said something there would be a delay and it made it seem as if I were interrupting people. It was also my first time role-playing online, so it was discouraging. Now that I have a somewhat better Internet connection (and a more up-to-date computer), I'd have no reservations about using Google Hangouts again.