Thursday, August 1, 2013

Roll 20 And Playing In A Virtual Environment Part 2

Part 2 of my experiences with running a session, from an old school perspective, in a Virtual TableTop (VTT), specifically Roll 20.

You can go through your own research, walk-throughs and toying around with Roll20 if you haven't already. I think you'll find it pretty robust.

You can also catch up on Part 1 here.

Preparing the Session Part 2

With the VTT maps completed I began to populate the dungeons with our familiar denizens.

Now the standard VTT maps, when created, tend to have a video game quality to them;  an overhead view of a semi-realistic portrayal of the dungeon environment displayed upon the virtual table.  My main concern was that this display would pull players out of their imagination and stick them within the computer screen.  Don't know if that was good or bad but, instinctively I felt that was something I would try to avoid.  So when it came to adding the monster tokens I was faced with another decision.

Since the maps are top-down views, the tokens for monsters and players tend to also be from a top down view.  This also pushed the visual experience of a VTT into a realm of a video game.
VTT monster tokens
Overhead, I don't know what monsters are going to kill the party!

It also made it hard to tell what monster you were actually facing.

I decided to go with using token rounds that I customized and created from old-school art.

VTT monster tokens
More representative monster tokens.  Ah, goblins are going to kill the party!
I think these had a better feel to them, at least for me.  But what I also felt was that the more realism I pulled out of the graphic represented on the screen, the more my imagination fill that space in.  This lead me to the conclusion that I can probably pull out all 'realism' from the map as well and that would let player's imagination participate more.

Since I had already created the maps, I left them as is as I wanted to experiment with using the VTT in this visual extreme.  So I ended with detailed maps and hand-drawn tokens.

Gathering Players

I posted my campaign session out there on the Roll20 Boards to gather players.  I was running Swords & Wizardry Complete with my updated house-rules.  I was hoping an old school set of rules would bring in some curious players. I decided I would take the first 5 players that responded.  I was open to playing with veterans or players new to RPGs alike.  Basically I just wanted to see who would show up.

It only took a day or two to get six interested parties, one over what I had planned.  I thought, why not challenge my first time running a VTT session.  Six players at my real table, though rowdy is quite fun.  I also figured that by game time I would loose one or two players for whatever reasons would come up - and that was indeed the case.  One player took himself out of the mix while the other just never responded or replied after their initial poke of interest.

So I ended up with four virtual players, all of whom were pretty decent role-players.

Since Roll20 VTT's game sessions, once activated, can be used by the invited players whether the GM is present or not.  So we worked out character creation where they would make their attribute rolls in game, which records all the dice rolls and used the message board for CharGen and rule questions.

With everything in place, I was finally ready to begin playing...

Part 3


  1. Intriguing. I'm interested to see how this progresses.

  2. When are you running your AD&D campaign (Tower of Zenopus) again? I like reading the play reports.

    1. Hopefully soon. One of the other players in our group has been running us through a Robotech campaign and a couple of other folks were not available for the summer. I'm hoping to bring it back sometime later this month with the Battle for Caladan! (if the players end up choosing to go that direction!)

    2. Battle for Caladan.... will House Atreides and Harkonnen be duking it out? LOL.

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  4. I just found this blog. Love the custom tokens you made for the VTT software. I've been doing the same thing with Photoshop and some custom tokens I want to use in FantasyGrounds.

    I do have a question. How did you get that wooden token look in the image with the three heroes and five goblins above? I really like that effect and would love to use it when I make custom tokens for my wild west game.

    1. Hi John and sorry for the long delay. I haven't really been blogging too much. The answer to your question about the texture on the custom gaming tokens can be found here:
      I used this method for the tokens as well. good luck!