It’s been over a year since I wrote How Mad Jay runs games online and today there are even more options for running your games online. Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds have made investments in improving their VTT. Newcomers Astral and the PlayRole app are strong upstarts.
My advice stands: Go in knowing what you what to do and what your effort levels are for prep.
Here’s how I do it.
I’m a harsh critic of virtual tabletop software for RPGs. I run a software company IRL and sling code in multiple programming languages (from C/C++ to React.js). I also run a GM-for-hire hustle. I know what is possible and I know what I need. I feel like we are settling for software nowhere close to what is possible for user-friendly, prep-friendly VTT software. The focus is all wrong, IMHO —but that’s another rant.
I’ve been using PlayRole as my main VTT. They are still in alpha, but approachable via Slack. I like that tokens and images can be loaded by everyone in the session, public by default, and useable by everyone at the table. It has the best character sheet maker thus far, but not yet great. Character sheets can also be shared or private and you can have multiple and different sheets in a session as a player or a GM. All dice and stat widgets are good —though I’d like some changes, such is life. Some of the startup “workflow” is different, not intuitive- but not a dealbreaker.
I’ve run Vampire the Masquerade, Twilight: 2000, Nibiru RPG, The One Ring, Champions Now using just Role as my VTT. I don’t have a secondary VTT. Last year I’d fall back to Roll For Your Party.
I still use Streamyard for live-streaming a game to Twitch.tv. I’ll use Zoom for just hanging out and chatting or recording podcasts.
I’m using Slack for offline, game talk, and planning. Channels are locked and game-specific with only the folks in the game in the channel. There are a couple of all-purpose channels. I link Google calendar to Slack.
Remember the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. — Z.Ziglar
Google Docs is still a great place to share docs, I also use Dropbox depends on what I’m sharing. Canva for creating quick logos, and player handouts -it’s fantastic. My game notes go in Bear in a format Ron Edwards calls the Now sheets in his game Champions Now. This method has replaced relationship maps for me, forever. I should probably talk about that soon.
For online games, I have found that 2-3 hours with 1-3 people is the sweet spot for most games I run. I have discovered 2 hours with 2 people in a game everyone is onboard about is delectable!
That’s my stack. What’s been working for you?