Taking Offline RPGs Online

Some dice used in traditional roleplaying games
Image: lydiashiningbrightly via flickr
When I say RPG, in this age of advanced video gaming many peoples’ thoughts immediately turn to massively multiplayer online games such as World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic, or single player epic adventures like Skyrim or Fallout 3.

But these games are the descendants of a far nobler gaming tradition and one which, despite competition from its electronic offspring, is still alive and well today – the beloved table-top RPG.



All in the mind

There’s no disc, no graphics, no reloading, no controllers. Everything is processed in your mind as you, the player, are led through the game by a Games Master.

Now, unless you’re a level 1 goblin living in a cave at the far side of the Barbarian Wastes, you’ll have heard of paper ‘n’ dice, table-top role playing games. If you haven’t, then get down to your local Games Emporium and have the shopkeep smite you with his enchanted warhammer of enlightenment!

Classic RPGs

Dungeons & Dragons is probably the most famous RPG to begin life offline. It was so popular that it spawned a cartoon series of the same name which ran for 28 episodes from 1982-1985, and featured two of the scariest baddies ever to grace our TV screens – the evil wizard Venger, and Tiamat the 5 headed dragon.

There are other classics; Warhammer, Skyrealms of Jorune, Shadowrun to name just a few.

Offline RPGs, online

If you want to get involved in traditional roleplaying it has never been easier. Rather than slide into obsolescence in the face of an exploding video games market the paper and dice hobby is taking back technology, using the internet to allow dungeon delvers to play together from all over the world. Thanks to a combination of video chat, IM, and a couple of web based tools, adventurers can play together without having to live within public transport range of one another.

Here’s our top tips for getting started with traditional roleplaying over the internet:

  1. You’ll need everyone to have an account with a chat client with group functionality. Voice chat is a bare minimum requirement, group video chat makes it even better! Make sure you can bind a Push to Talk function to your keyboard, to keep background noise to a minimum.
  2. Make sure everyone has a copy of everyone else’s character sheet for reference. This can be done simply by scanning the sheet and sharing it with the group. Cloud storage tools like Dropbox allow you to set up shared folders, giving you one online space where everyone can access images or character sheets, and the GM can put copies of whatever players need in once place without sending multiple emails.
  3. Plan ahead! If you’re playing with people in other time-zones they may need to make arrangements to accomodate you, and vice versa. It may be 3pm in Seattle, but that’s 11pm London. For fairness, rotate the start time of your sessions.
  4. Find an online dice roller that you like. The one at catchyourhare.com is very straight forward and works a treat. The players all log in with the same password and can see everybody else’s dice rolls.

There’s a thriving community of online roleplayers out there who have created pages and pages of tips, tricks and anecdotes. Once our tips have got you started, you can develop your sessions using their advice.

Now, go forth bold warrior, and may you always make your saving roll!{jcomments on}



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