Last night, I ran a Pathfinder game using the Roll20.net virtual tabletop. While I don’t think it quite compares to having everyone present in the same room, I think it went pretty well overall. Since Roll20 has opened up so many possibilities for me to game with people, I thought I would talk about some of the pros and cons of playing tabletop games on the internet.
1.) The tools are versatile enough to use with a wide variety of games.
Want to play a tabletop wargame? An RPG? Wanna just play some board games? Roll20 can handle it. It has a built in dice-rolling system, and you can import maps/terrain/boards to cover just about any kind of game you want to play. During play, I had no problems importing maps on the fly. My only complaint is that moving the PCs tokens (the virtual tabletop equivalent of miniatures) from map to map was a ponderous task that slowed the game down. Being able to mass select tokens would really help in that regard.
2.) Like any Internet-based video chat, there can be problems.
That annoying pinging sound from microphone feedback can happen quite a bit during a game, and that can really make the experience difficult for everyone. Cross chatter can also be a problem. As well as mic problems, video problems, internet connection problems… basically anything that can normally mess up your technology could be a potential problem while playing an internet-based tabletop game. It’s not Roll20’s fault, but it is something that has to be overcome.
3.) It brings people together:
I played a game with people from five states and two time zones. Most of us are people that wanted to play Tabletop games but couldn’t find groups. Some of us were beginners, some of us were veteran gamers, but we all were able to play thanks to Roll20 and the Internet.
This is really what I imagined doing when I first discovered the Internet back in Jr. High and was playing MUDs and primitive MMOs. Finally, I can play a game on the Internet where my only limit is my imagination. Sure, somethings from the rulebooks have to be streamlined, but that’s okay. I can’t wait to play again.