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I have a few friends in my party that will be heading out once summer break is over for them. One lives in Tucson and the other lives far enough away that he may not want to make the trek to my house to play.

What are some of the ways you guys and gals do to make the long distance play easier for the whole group?

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8 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I submit for your consideration http://infrno.net

Infrno is an online community for role playing enthusiasts, providing a virtual game table with video conferencing and shared whiteboard, along with all the tools you need to find players of your caliber, connect with them, and get your game on from any place, at any time.

Think Facebook for the table-top rpg crowd, minus Farmville, plus a virtual table-top.

Full discloser: It's my handiwork. You can hit me up with questions/comments/bugs/etc.

If you'd like to try it out, check out InfrnoCon 2, our second virtual gaming convention. http://infrno.net/events/5-InfrnoCon-2

Come kill some zombies!

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Game tables are associated with games, so you need to create a game. Which means log in, click on 'profile' on the top nav, find the box titled 'Games I am running' under your avatar photo, and click 'New game'. After you save your new game, you will be shown the game profile page. To access the game table, click the first link under the game profile photo, 'Game table'. –  Mike Muldoon Jun 11 '11 at 21:21
There is no hard limit for how many people can be at the table, but we recommend 4 seats. 6 works well when everybody's connection and hardware is up to snuff, and 8 gets dicey. Headsets are pretty much required. –  Mike Muldoon Jun 11 '11 at 21:28
re: Does everybody have to sign up? No. Check 'allow spectators/guests' on the edit game profile page, and the whole world can jump in your table at any time. If you don't allow spectators/guests, each player must log in to Infrno, and register for the game via the game's registration desk. –  Mike Muldoon Jun 11 '11 at 21:30
The FAQ is a good place to start –  Mike Muldoon Jun 11 '11 at 21:31
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I've found that having everyone on voice chat together (I've used skype) along with having a Google Spreadsheet open as a "map" for combat works for a couple online sessions.

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That sounds like it could be useful. Now how do you use the Google Spreadsheet? Does the DM make changes throughout and the players refresh to see any changes? Or how does that work? And welcome to the site :) –  Curtis Miller Jun 9 '11 at 16:42
@Curtis - you can't lock a cell, but you can lock a sheet so that only listed people can edit it. –  Dave DuPlantis Jun 9 '11 at 20:54
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Our group scattered all over a couple years ago, but we've kept playing through free tools such as Gametable and VirtualDaivve (very similar but the latter is more geared towards 4.0) with a simple wiki for group visible documents.

Some sort of voice chat (Vent, Skype, ...etc) is a must, as it allows you to still have those moments of random tangents/rules clarifications without cluttering the actual game log with them.


Here's the requested link for VirtualDaivve. The site design isn't pretty but the tool works well. You can even do fog of war.

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+1. Our group uses Gametable and Skype. I've been trying to introduce the group to Google Docs; but, people have been slow to get on board with docs. –  RMorrisey Jun 10 '11 at 1:06
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Google hangouts with the tabletop forge app has been a tremendous boon to the group that is playing here on the stack.

  • Hangouts is great in that those that want to use video can, and it works with even the worst internet connections (I have about the worst broadband speed possible and the connection quality is pretty solid)

  • Tabletop forge allows you to add character tokens and a dungeon map and share it with everyone in the group

  • Hangouts has integration with things like google docs and other useful tools so that campaign documents are readily available right in the hangout.

  • Tabletop forge has an integrated dice roller that can be set up with macros so you can roll right in chat for all to see.

We've been using it for several weeks with up to 6 players and it works quite well.

The Tabletop Forge project has been taken down and the creators of that plugin have thrown their support behind Roll20. I don't have experience with Roll20 so I cannot offer a proper review. However, my impression is that it is similar to the functionality of TTF and my answer still provides a basis for how to run a game on hangouts

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I had a similar question some time back. One of my players was at a distance for some time, but he is back now. While he was away we still wanted to play, so I asked what tools were available to run a virtual table top game. The answers from this group there might help you.

Software VTT question

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Lunin referred me to this since he wanted to get the download link and I told him it was down at the moment. I'm one of the people that help with feedback for the beta version of Virtual Daivve, but I'm not directly in charge of it.
I would refer you though to this link here for the VT wiki. It lists almost all the VTs available, differences, etc so you can decide what you think is best for your needs depending on game and whatever.
Also on my site here I mention a few tools useful for such things. I try to update it as much as I can.
I hope these will help enough!

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Wax Eagle mentioned this- I do have experience with roll20 (http://roll20.net) and tend to think it's fantastic.

Tabletop grid, initiative tracking, and you can let certain players control certain figures on the board. You even have a ping tool, allowing a player to ping the square he wants to slide a monster to or to draw everyone's attention to a spot. It allows music to be piped in that all players will hear (finally! An easy solution to background music!) and has a voicechat feature. You can even store multiple maps (in case you want to run through three or four encounters in one night) character sheets, notes, and other cool stuff. Add in a decent dice roller built into the chat function, (the dice roller recognizes not just the regular set of dice, but allows for custom macros (say, attack roll and damage for your favourite at-will, with modifiers) and you're good to go!

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I do almost all of my gaming through MapTool, which is a fairly detailed open-source virtual tabletop.

MapTool consists of a map, which is pretty high-functionality – light sources and shadows, ability to block line of sight, it uses fog of war, etc. Can create colored overlays in the appropriate shapes for area effects, and it automatically indicates the size of these as you draw them. Moving tokens indicates the distance moved, and you can make “waypoints” to indicate turns.

On the DM’s side, the map consists of four layers that you can manipulate independently, and the system is reasonably good at keeping hidden items in reserve, ready to use, and stuff like that. You can have multiple maps, and you can open and close maps from the players at will, even force them to do transitions between them, and so on.

Character tokens have their own stats, including bars that can be used for HP or whatever, and there are status-effect icons that can overlay these. The DM can determine exactly which stats each token keeps track of, which status effects have icons, supply custom icons, etc. etc.

In addition to the map, there’s a chat interface, which oddly enough accepts HTML as input, so you can do things like <b>bold</b> and <a href="www.google.com">why are you linking Google in a game?</a>. I’ve occasionally seen that put to use in interesting ways (tables to replicate 4e-style power blocks?).

It also has a rather thorough (though slow and annoying) macro language, which is useful in games where you have a lot of powers that have slightly different rules (D&D 3.x, particularly spellcasting, and 4e in general come to mind), though they do take a bit of setting up and my like of them may just be the programmer in me talking. Also helps with things like formatting those 4e-style power block tables.

Finally, there are details like an initiative tracker, a list of the various objects on the map (tokens hidden from the players on the map are also hidden from players on the list), and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting.

I will say that for all it has a lot of features, it is not exactly the most stable or efficient program I’ve ever used. Particularly the line-of-sight/light/shadows/vision-blocking stuff, that frequently seems to cause problems. The macro language is (I think) fairly counter-intuitive, has kind of random restrictions, and you have to be rather careful about performance if you’re doing anything complicated.

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