Tools for the Game Master: remote sessions

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Steven L. Ken
@stevenlken
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Live sessions are one of the funniest aspects of RPG, but they're not always possible

Distance, unexpected events or even a period of forced isolation (like the one these days) can come between you and your desire to roll. There are therefore a series of tools that allow you to replace the live session with an online one so as not to stop playing even in quarantine. Let's discover the best tools for this purpose in this third appointment with Game Master tools.



Game Master tools: voice chat

Role play is primarily a communication game. If we stop for a moment to reflect, in fact, all we do in the session is sit at a table and chat. For hours on end. The ability to communicate effectively is therefore essential if you want to continue your online campaign.

The application that we want to deepen in this article is Discord, a very famous voice chat used above all by gamers. Discord allows a whole series of functions useful for campaign management, thanks to the possibility of creating a dedicated server for your party. Within this server it will then be possible to create different text and voice channels in which to sort your discussions; very useful when the master has to communicate something secretly with the players and vice versa!

Discord then allows you to implement gods as well bot in your chats, some extremely useful for role play. For example, we can install one (available at this address) that allows us to implement virtual dice that we can "roll" through a simple command in chat.

Ultimately if you wanted to play role-playing games that are more narrative and less and with few dice rolls (such as Dungeon World); Discord may be more than enough for you and your group.



roll20

If, on the other hand, you want to play less narrative and more "structured" games, then it will be necessary to combine Discord with a virtual game table; and this is where Roll20 comes in.

Roll20 is a web-based program, you don't have to download anything, which allows you to have a real game board for your RPGs. The program is very simple to start using and you learn the basics after a few minutes of use. However, it must be specified that in order to fully exploit it, we will have to devote some time to it and some tutorials, to be able to deepen every aspect.

It will be possible to create your games linked to the account and invite other players who have an account to the platform. Roll20 integrates both voice and video chat, in case you decide not to combine the use of the program with an external voice chat.

Sul left side of your virtual game board we find a series of tools of immediate use, such as brushes for drawing on the grid and buttons for selecting the dice to be rolled. The right side instead it is dedicated to the more complex options, and allows the insertion of assets, such as counters or maps. Also in this section we also find the register, to insert cards and statistics of the characters and settings, where it will be possible to create macros for our actions in the game.


In its basic version Roll20 is Free subscription, but there is also a subscription version that includes a whole series of advantages; we advise you to take advantage of the free version in case you have to use Roll20 for a limited period of time and then return to play live.


There are also other alternatives to Roll20, such as for example Fantasy Ground. The program is certainly valid, but we advise you to buy it only if having an online session is your habit, rather than a temporary fallback.

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