Friday 21 - Sunday 23 Aug 2020
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How to Play RPG's online

Roleplaying Games (RPGs) at Virtually Expo can we played using several different pieces of techonology. The GM who submits their game will also need to specify how you will be able to join the game. The actual link to the game will be shared after you have bought a ticket to play but the event description should contain an outline of what technology is going to be used.

Typically the GM will have pregenerated characters ready for their game and will allocate these to you at the start of the game. If you need to bring your own character the description of the game should make this clear.

Basic setup

We advise players to all have investigated and used discord and zoom and to ensure they have a good headset (which are better than using speakers and microphone as you get less echo and reverb). If desired a webcam can enhance the experience were the game platform supports it. A quiet room to play in will also improve your game experience. A good broadband is needed and a wired connection may be more reliable than wireless. If using WIFI make sure the singnal strnegth is good. It is advisable to turn off cloud storage apps like Dropbox and Google Drive.

  • Zoom. This online meeting software is ideal for players joining by audion with optional webcams allowing the players to see each other. One limitation is that meetings of more than 3 players is limited to 40 minutes so the GM will need a zoom subscription allowing longer sessions. GMs and players can share screens and there is also a white board option for drawings and a chat window. You can add on various apps to expand the functions such as a DnD Dice which allow dice rolling in the chat window. A Zoom account is not required if you are just joining Zoom Meetings as a participant. If someone invites you to their meeting, you can join as a participant without creating an account. Find out more...

  • Discord. Designed to provide online chat for computer games players, this is also ideal for allowing audio connections of a group playing a RPG. It can be used on its own or whilst also of the Virtual RPG programmes (see more advanced setup). Screen sharing and live streaming is available allowing the Gm to show maps etc. Dice rolling apps exist for Discord such as Dice Parser . You will need a Discord account (free) to connect to anything via Discord. Find out more...

These solutions allow players to hear and maybe see each other and gives the GM a way to share maps on the screen share or via chat windows. A very enjoyable roleplaying game can be achieved without the need for more complex solutions. So to be ready for games using these solutions get setup with a Discord account (you don't need to setup a Zoom account). If there is a need for you to install any additional apps the Gm will tell you.

More advanced setups

Fantasy Grounds and Roll 20 are the two most widley used software apps which allow a more immersive and interactive experience in which players can move their characters around a map provided by the Gm and fight monsters. They contain many features such as virtual dice rolling. character sheets and maps with a grid system.The systems even manage the resolution of combat and spells. Each system supports the various RPG systems to a greater or a lesser extent. Sometimes a bit of work by Gm's or players is needed to make things like spells work in the platform but the Gm should have done this in advance. Dunegons and Dragons is the best supported on both platforms but it is possible to play Pathfinder, Call of Cthulu and many other systems.

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Fantasy Grounds

The user interface of Fantasy Grounds is different depending on which game system is selected for the session. Fantasy Grounds is often praised by reviewers for its features and toolsets which allow players to fully customize their games, however this feature is also the reason it is also criticized for its complexity and steep learning curve. At Virtually Expo the Gms who run the games should have become practised with the system so players can be taught the basics quickly.

There are two versions of Fantasy Grounds:

  1. Fantasy Grounds Classic which has been around for several years.
  2. Fantass Grounds Unity which is an Open Beta.

The details of which version will be shared with you before the game.

In both cases players need to:

  1. Setup an account on Fantasy Grounds.
  2. Download and install the free demo versions of Fantasy Grounds Classic or Fantasy Ground Unity
  3. Run the app and choose Join Game using any user name you wish, the server address and password the GM will issue.

For a walk through of how to join a Fantasy Grounds game watch this video:

This video is a walk through of basic game play:

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Roll 20

Roll 20 like Fantasy Grounds includes an integrated text chat but also supports voice and video chat as well as Google Hangout support. There is wide spread support for many systems but the most supported system is 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons.

To get setup to play in a Virtually Expo game via Roll 20 you need to:

  1. Setup a free account here
  2. Login to Roll 20 on your browser.
  3. Follow the link your Gm sends you.

For a walk through of the basics of Roll 20 watch this video: