Dear Readers, I have told you about several of my games: My Tuesday Ingrates, my Sunday Adventurers League (currently running Spelljammer; lots of fun there!), my Monthly in-person game (this Wednesday, actually), my monthly Roll20 game, and lastly, my weekly Discord game. Whew!
With all of those games, two are online and the rest are in-person. Someone once asked me which I prefer. Here’s the breakdown:
There’s a lot to be said for in-person gaming as most of us found out during the pandemic. To put it into perspective, I had 9 tables at adventurers league, including my own. Now, we’re at 5 and we might end up with a 6th. I’m not sure. In any case, as we all know, the pandemic hit the gaming world hard. The alternatives became much more prevalent, but we’ll get to that later.
In-person gaming has some serious perks.
First is the face-to-face interactions. Nothing can really beat this. Being with friends, sharing adventures, eating food that’s not good for you, drinking copious amounts of your favorite beverages, are all things that are better when everyone is together.
Then there is the use of battlemats, terrain, and miniatures. As you all well know, I love painting and using miniatures. Nothing beats using them on a battlemat or some terrain. I mean, do you remember my post about using the Spelljammer ship? Yeah, not much beats that.
Lastly, it’s the synergy of everything above that makes in-person gaming such a big draw to folks.
Although there are some real benefits to playing in-person, playing online has it’s perks too.
Firstly, distance is no barrier. I mean, my monthly Roll20 game is with one of my best friends, his brother, an old friend from where I used to live and game with, and others. And the best part? Most of them are not from the same areas. This means that we can get on Roll20 once a month and start gaming. Now, due to issues we’ve had with Roll20’s video and voice chat features, we use Discord to do our voice chatting. I’ve even used Zoom to play a time or two (or used it to bring in a remote player to an in-person game!).
Sites like Fantasy Ground, Roll20, and others still let you have cool maps/terrain-ish things to play on. This works especially with pre-written/published adventures you purchase on those platforms. For example, I own Rime of the Frostmaiden, Curse of Strahd, and some other adventures on Roll20, all of which come preloaded with monster tokens, maps, etc… For Roll20 (as I’m a Pro User), I also get the use of Dynamic Lighting, which allows my players to see only what their characters can see. A major benefit over even tabletop gaming.
Next, it’s relatively easy to use. When the pandemic hit, I was easily able to pick up my games and move them online. Some when to Roll20, while others went to/stayed on Discord. I can copy/paste maps into Discord, I can import or even draw maps in Roll20, and with software like dndbeyond.com, the Beyond20 browser extension, Avrae (in Discord), and others, I can get the same functionality as if I was playing in person.
Lastly, with sites like Roll20 (and other similar programs/sites), you can easily find players or DMs who want to play. I ran a pickup game of The Haunt last year. I even charged players to play ($5 per person) as I saw so many other DMs doing that, but wanted to make it affordable so more people could sign up to play. And that was a blast.
The only real disadvantage is, again, that lack of person-to-person interaction that gamers crave so much and that was so missed during the pandemic, and that benefit cannot be overstated.
There are benefits and drawbacks to playing in-person as well as online. The pandemic showed us that, even though we are apart, we can still be “together” to play our favorite RPG games, whatever they may be. In-person gaming is considered the pinnacle of gaming, but online gaming keeps us connected where we don’t have that option.
Let me know what your favorite method of gaming is and why in the comments section below.
Until next time, Dear Readers…
P.S. – I know I had a post that I took down that said there’d be no post today, but I had some time to knock this out while waiting in the doctor’s office, so here you go! I guess there is something to be said for smart-phone access.