Getting Started with Playing Tabletop RPGs over Google Hangouts

I prefer playing face to face. But sometimes it’s not possible. Or you want to play in a campaign where your GM is in Pennsylvania, and you live in Oregon.

Google Hangouts is simple. Players have their printed character sheets, a computer, video and audio, and off you go.

Edit June 29th, 2017: Dice Stream doesn’t work on Google Hangouts anymore, because Google dropped all support for the Hangouts API. 😦 You’ll need to roll dice by hand or use a second window with a dice rolling app. I use

dicestream-icon-2_256_256I’m talking Google Hangouts with the DiceStream App. This is one of my favorite ways to play online. You see everyone’s smiling faces, and whoever is talking gets their video feed plastered on the big screen, while everyone else is down in little windows at the bottom. It’s almost like being together, though you can’t share drinks and snacks.

The GM can switch windows to show maps and other handouts. Use the green Screenshare button on the left side of hangout.

Running a game over Hangouts with DiceStream works well for theater of the mind type games, where you run without minis and just describe everything. DiceStream is perfect for games with fairly simple dice rolling mechanics. For example, Numenera, Trail of Cthulhu, Fate Accelerated, or Basic Roleplaying all work well in this setup.

Click on the Dice Stream icon on the left of the Hangout and start rolling dice. If you roll the same numbers of dice often, I like to go into Dice Stream’s Settings tab and uncheck Clear Dice Selection After Roll. I usually check Clear Dice Before New Roll, so my screen doesn’t get filled up with old dice rolls.

You can add the Hangout to a Google Calendar event, which will send reminders to your players.

Google Hangouts is free and can be found here ->

DiceStream is also free and can be found here ->

Click on the Start a Hangout with Dicestream link. From now on, you’ll have DiceStream in Hangouts.

Here’s how to create a Hangout for your game in a Google Calendar event ->

Here’s a great Tutorial Video from Starwalker Studios ->

Next I’ll talk about using the Roll20 virtual tabletop. This is great when you want more powerful dice rolling and/or a virtual tabletop.

And don’t miss -> Getting Started with Fantasy Grounds

9 thoughts on “Getting Started with Playing Tabletop RPGs over Google Hangouts

  1. I’m not familiar with the Google Hangouts way of gaming. I’ve been using Fantasy Grounds for about six years now. Tell me, is there a hub, a “looking for group” forum where people wanting to join a google hangouts session meet? If I wanted to start gaming that way how would I go about this?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The one I know about is in Google Plus, the “Hangouts RPG’s” community.

    Honestly, I mostly play with friends, so I haven’t used LFG forums much. It’s just I have friends all over the world… 🙂

    I’m no expert on Fantasy Grounds. After 6 years, I bet you are! There is no virtual tabletop in just Hangouts + DiceStream, which is fine for a lot of games. DiceStream is OK, but not as advanced as the Fantasy Grounds dice roller. The big advantage is you get voice and video chat and can see all your friends. Plus, it’s all free.


    1. I just realized who you are and that I follow you on G+. You and James August Walls belong to the same blogger network, right?
      Thanks for the links!
      I agree with you. A vtt isn’t always needed. I ran a Trail of Cthulhu one-shot recently and the powerful Fantasy Grounds wasn’t needed beyond sharing props (images) and a few die rolls.
      I was just curious as to where one gets involved in a Hangouts game since I rarely see them advertised and when I do, they’re already on-going.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great things with Hangouts is dicestream’s additional functions such as adding text (great for Fate aspects/Cortex distinctions). You can add a character image and footer bars all in many colours. If you are using you can also launch your game in hangouts so you have the best of both worlds; the Roll20 tabletop and the hangout


    1. Great comment.
      I do find my screen real estate crowded when I launch in Hangouts. I used to do that all the time, but only because Roll20 used to have serious problems with their audio and video chats. Now it seems those work fine for the most part, and I run roll20 by itself. But as you say, it works find within Roll20.

      Liked by 1 person

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