Save Versus Distance

BY Heather Richtmyre  //  August 3, 2010

Roleplaying remotely.


t's much easier to run a tabletop roleplaying game in person. However, this becomes impractical at times, particularly when your players are scattered across the country and do not wish to buy plane tickets every week merely to play.

The first detail to attend to was voice communication. We tried Skype first, then went to Ventrilo after some sound issues cropped up. After this, there were concerns about dice rolls, which were addressed with both a dice utility from Wizards of the Coast, and dice functions in MMOs such as Dungeons and Dragons Online and World of Warcraft, depending on what the various players could access. The major advantage of in-game dice functions is to allow the other members of the party to see rolls, though various skill factors still need to be applied.

This method is still imperfect, as one of the most common questions during play is "How far am I from the monster?." An actual grid and miniatures would greatly alleviate this, though there are apparently resources to display this in some fashion. The distance issues also seem to be largely occurring during the Dungeons and Dragons campaign using version 3.5 rules, though concerns about positioning and combat have also occurred in the old World of Darkness game I am playing.

So far, most of the players seem to be enjoying my campaign, even with the limits of being scattered across the country.Another concern is that it seems easier for players to become distracted without physical proximity. Much of this may be attributable to some leaving various instant-messaging services running, though this would be less of an issue in person as a floor or table would be seeing more use than the computer. Because of this, I've put extra effort into describing some areas and items within the game, to aid in giving players information useful for interaction.

So far, most of the players seem to be enjoying the campaign, even with the limits related to location. There have even been such surprising incidents as a character summoning his sword and then leaping onto the back of the druid who had just transformed into a type of dinosaur, though the time where the cleric stunned himself after receiving an intelligence drain effect may have proved more amusing.

Given that major difficulties involved in such games that I am playing now relate to the quantity of players, a fondness among some for forgetting their spot checks, and a lack of ten-sided dice, the internet medium appears functional, if not ideal.

And I lack the money for Pathfinder books, Ed. Stop tempting me.

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