Getting Started with Playing Tabletop RPGs over Roll20.net, Part I

Last time we looked at Google Hangouts roleplaying. This time we’re looking at Roll20.net.

Roll20whiteOnBlacklogoThe big difference is Roll20 is a Virtual TableTop (VTT). You can put a map up, with an optional grid, and you and your players can move minis (tokens) around on the map. It has a very robust built in dice roller. You can build macros for rolls you do often. Roll20.net has character sheets for tons of rpgs, and you can roll dice right from your character sheet.

And, like Hangouts, you can use video and see your players. Unlike Hangouts,  the big screen is always the map and not your players. Which is why I prefer Hangouts for less complicated games, it feels more like being there.

However, when I play D&D (including 5E), 13th Age, or anything where I want to have minis on a map, I prefer Roll20. And, if you like, you can play Numenera or other less complex games in Roll20, lots of people do. It’s a matter of preference.

Creating a Campaign

To get started, go to Roll20.net and create a free account. Then log in and click Create New Campaign.

On the next page, give your campaign a name. I’ll name mine Demo 13. You could use tags for your rule system if you want to have strangers find your game. I’ll skip this as I tend to play with friends. I always choose a character sheet, based on the system I’m using. I’ll use the 13th Age character sheet. 13th Age comes first (it’s alphabetical) and I like 13th Age, so I’ll pick that. You pick the game you want to ref.

Then click-> I’m ready, Create Campaign!

Roll20 Player RibbonThis puts you on the Start Map. It’s blank. Click the little blue Page Toolbar toggle up top and you can create new maps. Players only see the map with the red Player’s ribbon. Once you create new maps, you can drag the ribbon around and the map you put the ribbon on is the one and only map your players can see.

When I first started using Roll20, I kept forgetting to drag the ribbon. I’d be describing things on the “Scary Cave Map” and my players would be staring at the “Safe Inn Map.” Confused everyone. When you change scene, drag the Players ribbon to the new map.

Before we get into running a game, a word of advice: having a safe neutral map to park your players in between games is a very good idea. Maybe an inn. Because your players can jump onto Roll20 when you aren’t there. They can futz with their character sheets, reread any handouts you’ve shown them, and lurk. If you don’t want them seeing stuff, park them in that safe map.

Inviting Players

Exit your session by clicking the My Settings (gear) icon in the upper right. Scroll down and click Exit Game.

Click View Details, then Invite Players.

Character Sheets

To get back into your campaign, click Launch Campaign.

Your players can’t make their own characters. You have to make one and share the editing permissions to the player. To do that, click on the Journal (newspaper) icon in the upper right. Click Add->Character. In the Can be edited and controlled by dropdown choose the player. Yes, the player will need to have created an account and joined your game first.

Token Search
Token Search

You, the GM, has to click Edit and give the character a token, which acts like a mini during the game. Players can email you images, or you can search for tokens by going to the Art Library (picture) in the upper right. Some are free, some cost money. I want a cleric, so I’ll choose Tokens and search on Cleric.

Scroll down for the free ones From the Web.  Drag the token to your Start map, select it, then click Edit on the character sheet. Then click Use Selected Token.

Once you’ve done that, they can log in and create their own character. It’s a good idea to check over the character sheet to see they made it properly.

That’s enough! Next time I’ll talk about creating creatures and maps. Then well talk about running a game.

In the meantime, here’s a great tutorial from Starwalker Studios -> https://youtu.be/5rH8bpRMTGs?list=PLUGTtv2RH-6G-mc55STfzEh06y1uD6NVR

Next -> Part II, Creatures, Maps, and Play

And -> Getting Started with Fantasy Grounds

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