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When I run D&D online, I want to delegate to players the control of their tokens.

If one of my players tells me they cast flaming sphere, I want to be able to tell them to go find an image of a flaming sphere and put it on the map as a token.

If one of my players turns into a dire wolf, I want to be able to tell them to replace their token with a dire wolf token with the of their choice.

If one of my players uses summon nature's ally and summons a bunch of critters, I want to be able to tell them to put the critters on the map.

I believe that using the roll20 console I could do this work for the players, but I want to spend my time doing other things - for example, so that I can run the next player's turn while this player generates a moonbeam token.

When I've tried to use Roll20, I always had to create tokens for my players and then delegate them permission to use the tokens, and I frequently got it wrong and had to redo it.

Is there a way to configure Roll20 to let my players create and manipulate tokens of their own?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ A separate issue to keep in mind when replacing one token with another (e.g. casting a spell like polymorph on a player character, or using Wild Shape to turn into an animal) is that initiative is usually tied to specific tokens - so if you delete the original token, it'll remove the entity from the turn tracker. (The same problem occurs if you summon a bunch of creatures that share a single separate initiative and attach the initiative roll to one of them, but then that one is killed.) This can be avoided by just moving the original token off to the side, rather than deleting it entirely. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Aug 23 '20 at 23:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ (As a sidenote, there's no spell named summon nature's ally in D&D 5e. You may have been thinking of D&D 3.5e or Pathfinder. The corresponding 5e spell seems to be conjure animals.) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Aug 23 '20 at 23:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast I solved that issue for my druid player with a rollable token for their most common forms. Rollable tokens still count as the same physical token for initiative but you can change the displayed image. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Aug 24 '20 at 2:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @linksassin: Ah, smart! \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Aug 24 '20 at 6:49
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It appears that you already know how to generate tokens and assign them to player control.

As much as possible you can do this in advance - things that players have control of in their Journal, they can drag and drop onto the screen. For example, I have a player who frequently casts spiritual weapon. I make sure I have an appropriate token for her in the journal before the game starts, and she can drag it to the board when cast. You can similarly make sheets in advance for creatures they might summon with a conjuration spell, or transform into using the druid's Wild Shape feature or one of the polymorph-type spells.

However, for truly on the fly player-creation of tokens, I don't think there is Roll20 support. One possible workaround would be to enable the players as co-DMs on the game, but require them to sign in as players for play sessions. If you wanted them to create or modify a token, you could have them log out, log back in again as a DM, do the work, log out, and then log back in as a player. In one game I DM, I have a player who occasionally acts as my assistant. I ask him to follow that procedure when I need some tokens or terrain put on the board, or a macro written or edited, while I attend to something else. Provided he is not in the middle of his own turn, it is reasonably seamless.

Of course, this workaround assumes that you have players you can trust to not look at things they should not have player knowledge of (unrevealed areas of the map, NPC stats, GM text on handouts, etc.), since having DM powers means they can log in as a DM even when you are not present. In that case, a slightly different workaround is to give them GM powers in one game, so that they can create tokens / characters there, and when you have a chance you can move them to the game in which they are a player. Note that you can have two different games open at the same time. This way they can make the new token when it is not their turn, but you still have to move it over when you have a chance as a DM. Once it is in the game, they can drag it to the board.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Could you expand on how to add something to a player's Journal? I see no such option as GM and I have no entries beside handouts in games where I am a player and have control rights over my token. (Or should this be a separate question?) \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Aug 23 '20 at 9:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, I managed to find it, so nevermind :) \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Aug 23 '20 at 9:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's worth noting that as long as the DM/GM makes a player-editable sheet in advance, the player can themselves edit the image for the sheet and drag it onto the map themselves (and move it around) - so the DM/GM doesn't need to do all the work. (I believe the GM can set an image for the character token different from the player-uploaded/edited one - I think the player-editable one is associated with the character sheet, whereas the token image is associated only with the token - but if the GM doesn't set a specific token image, I think it defaults to the sheet image that the player can edit.) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Aug 23 '20 at 23:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Character Sheets (including NPC's) have two associated images, the "Avatar" and the "Default Token". ('Default' either because it is what will be displayed for the token when the character is dragged to the map, although once there it can be changed without changing the character, or because it copies the Avatar unless changed). If the player has control of the character sheet, they can absolutely change the Avatar, and this will affect how it appears in the Journal for all participants. \$\endgroup\$ – Kirt Aug 24 '20 at 2:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Unfortunately for the OP, changing the Avatar will NOT change the Default Token once it is established, and if a sheet with an altered Avatar is dragged to the map, the original Default Token will still be displayed. The Default Token is NOT under player control AFAICT, and does not even appear when a player edits the character. \$\endgroup\$ – Kirt Aug 24 '20 at 2:31

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