Roll20Con 2016

I had a really fun day at Roll20Con, followed by a real frustrating evening.


I’ll start with the evening, and then get to the good stuff. I should be GMing as I write this, but my second game never started. We had constant audio/video crashes. 2 players showed up, 3 were no shows. I really needed 3 players, plus the sound went out every 2 minutes. The video with it.

My advice to the Roll20 folk, work on stability, not new features. It’s very hard to sit on top of the (flaky) internet, and with the increased usage of the con, things were failing.

OK, let it go. Deep breath. I really did have a good day. I got to watch 3 great twitch shows.


I watched Marketplace Creator, Publishing in the Digital Age, and the 13th Age game. All were great fun. Then at 1:30, I ran my game: ColdSnap for 13th Age. We had a blast! I even sneaked in some content from Gods and Icons.

The final battle ended with the cleric turning crits from double damage to triple damage and the swashbuckling rogue jumping on the back of the white dragon and critting. Epic end to a 1st level adventure!

8041-White Dragon Facing East

I made a few macros for the official 13th Age character sheets. In case anyone cares, here are a few:

Attack Macros: Attacks are special. You don’t tell it to roll a d20 or put it in [[]], so here is the dex-based rogue attack:


Just change DEX  to WIS, STR, or whatever for the attack.

Barbarian Rage Attack: I couldn’t get it to work in the attack place, so I put it in a custom action:

[[1d20cs>11 + @{STR-mod} + @{level} + ?{Modifiers:|0}]], 
[[1d20cs>11 + @{STR-mod} + @{level} + ?{Modifiers:|0}]]

This flags both d20 rolls to crit (put a green box around the result) if they get 11+. I added some text saying “If both rolls crit, you crit.”

Hit Damage. Here’s the sorcerer’s Breath of the White Damage:

[[3d6 + @{CHA-mod}]] cold damage

Miss Damage: Pretty much all the time it’s either a hard coded 0 or:


I know, all this seems like crazy talk. And it is. But this explains it best.

Most of the rest is entering (copying and pasting) text. The lack of word wrap is annoying, but you get used to it.




Roll20Con is upon us! June 3rd, 24 hours of non-stop gaming. 5E, 13th Age, Numenera, and more!

The first game convention held on Roll20. Watch, game, and help support Cybersmile, the international non-profit supporting victims of cyberbullying.


I’m running ColdSnap a 13th Age adventure at 1:30 (after the 13th Age WolfSamurai Twitch Actual Play). Join in!


More information from Darcy Ross on Roll20Con can be found on GnomeStew.

Roll 20 Curious? Check out our 2 part intro.

Getting Started with Playing Tabletop RPGs over, Part II

Roll20whiteOnBlacklogoLast time, in Part I, we talked about setting up an account, creating a campaign, and creating character sheets. This time we’ll talk about creatures, maps, and running a game.


To start, we’ll create a page not to use in play, but just to park all our creatures on. From there we can copy and paste creatures into encounter maps.

Roll20 Player RibbonLaunch your campaign (if needed), click the Page Toolbar, and click Create New Page. Rename the page Creatures and click on that page to go to it. Another blank map. Yay!

If you have way more time than I do, you can create NPC character sheets for all your creatures and attach them to a token. That way madness lies. I just use a token and hit points. I have the book or SRD open to the creature when gaming.

You can upload a token from your own fantasy art (Pinterest and DeviantArt are great sources) or search the Roll20 art library. If you use your own art, you’ll want to crop the image in an art program to be square. I’ll use the art library and search for gargoyle and grab the first free one I find and drag it onto the map.

GargoyleTo set hit points, I click on the token, then click on the gear icon and up pops the Edit Token dialog window. Red for blood, red for hit points. I set it to 60 / 60. (13th Age gargolyles have 60 hp). To make the red hit point bar visible to the players, I click the Advanced tab and click See for Bar 3.

Put “Gargoyle” in the Name box and click Save Changes.


Now let’s create an encounter map to put our gargoyle on. Make a new map and call it Gargoyle Lair. On the Page Toolbar, click the gear for this map and change the size to 50 x 50. Go there. Gargoyles might be found in ruins, so let’s pick a ruins map. Switch to the Map & Background layer by clicking on the second icon in the toolbar on the top left of your map. It switches from a block to a pushin.

On the right, click on the Art Library and choose Maps, Tiles, Textures. I’ll type ruin and scroll down, pick a nice one, and drag it onto the map. Oh great, a 1 square map. I’ll drag a corner out until it looks like it almost matches Roll20’s grid.

Right click on the map, click Advanced->Align to Grid. Hold down the alt key and with the mouse move the map so that the grid is aligned. There’s a great video on the Roll20 wiki explaining aligning your map. Making an exact match isn’t that important for range band systems like 13th Age or Numenera, but people like to use the measure tool and create auras, so it’s worth some effort.

Now, switch back to the Objects and Tokens lair, go back to your Creatures map, select and copy the gargoyle, and return to the gargoyle lair map and paste a few onto the map.

Gargoyle LairThen go back to the start map. Be sure to let the players control their tokens. Click on each icon, and use Represents Character to link it to the character sheet. Go to Bar 3 and associate it with hit points if you can. If the hit points are 30, you want it to say 30/30. Click the Advanced tab and click See for Bar 3 so all the players can see the bar. Save and Copy the PCs and paste them on to the Gargoyle Lair map as well.

Time to Play

Invite your players, have them join in. They will see their characters on the Start map. Later you can replace this with a friendly inn or lava pit, but for now blank is fine.

Drag the red Player ribbon over to the Gargoyle Lair map, and everyone will see that. Ready for action!

If your game uses a character sheet with an initiative button, have each player first select their token, then click the button. That will put them in the Turn Order. Otherwise, open the Turn Order window (the clock icon in the left toolbar) and follow the instructions to add everyone to the initiative list. Give everyone a number, then click the gear and Sort Descending.

Better yet, create an initiative macro if your character sheet doesn’t have them. All about macros ->

You roll dice by using the d20 icon in the left toolbar. Results show up in the Chat (speech bubbles on top right toolbar) window on the right. Many character sheets have buttons that do rolls and apply modifiers. The player clicks, and sees the results in the Chat Window.

Take 10 Ten TookClick the arrow to move to the next initiative. When someone takes damage, select their token, click in the red circle, and type -10 if they took 10 points of damage. Notice how the red bar shows they have taken damage. +10 (or whatever) will heal the selected character.

More information can be found on the wiki ->

Play around and have fun!

Next -> Getting Started with Fantasy Grounds

Getting Started with Playing Tabletop RPGs over, Part I

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

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. 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 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 ->

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

And -> Getting Started with Fantasy Grounds

Fun in Phandalin

I’m still in boxes from my recent home move, but took the time to play in a roll20 5E game. Like pretty much every rpg game I’ve played, we had the most fun roleplaying. The combat had tactical interest, but the banter and imagination of the roleplay segments were great.

Fun In PhandalinI’m the idiot on the right.

It’s one thing to play a D&D Cleric. It’s another to have 2 heal spells and then have to rest for 8 hours. First level is a bit too old school for me.

If you want to see the unedited* recordings from Starwalker Studio, go here: It’s D&D Lost Mine of Phandelver. Part I starts at 13:15.

If watching someone else play doesn’t do it for you, I understand. It’s way more fun to play than watch. For those who like to watch, enjoy!

*Not picking on Starwalker Studios here, just setting expectations. Almost all Actual Play recordings are unedited. Editing is a ton of work, and no one is paying for these.