There are plenty of reasons why in person Dungeons and Dragons groups fall apart; somebody moves far away from the rest of the group; everyone’s work schedules are incompatible and you can rarely find a time to meet; you and your friends all live in tiny apartments that can’t accommodate a whole group. Whatever your personal struggle is, playing D&D online can help!
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, a lot of people have become more adept at using technology to stay in touch without ever leaving their homes. Discord, Skype, Zoom, Hangout, whatever you and your friends use to hang out online are the same platforms you can use to communicate while playing D&D.
Of course, convenience isn’t the only reason you should play D&D online instead of in person. There are a lot of other advantages that you might not even realize, and I’m going to run through some of them right now.
1. Jump Right Into Games
There is a lot of set up that is involved with playing D&D analog style. The DM needs to create dungeon maps, players need to print out their character sheets, there are rulebooks that need to be consulted, and so on.
Online platforms like D&D Beyond, Roll20, and Fantasy Grounds can really cut down on these time wasting aspects of playing in person. They keep all of the resources for the games stored, so all the players and the DM have to do is log on and jump right back in where they left off.
Certain platforms also allow you to purchase official maps, sourcebooks, and campaigns directly from Wizards of the Coast and other RPG publishers. This means no more frantically flipping through books when your players make a choice you weren’t expecting, you can just easily search up the resource you need and it is right there at your fingertips.
2. A Mini for Every Moment
Immersion is key to any Dungeons and Dragons game, and nothing breaks it quicker than having no idea what you’re supposed to be seeing. Many of the monsters in D&D are strange, even by traditional fantasy standards, and can be hard to picture for players.
Instead of spending five minutes trying to explain what a Flumph looks like, online platforms give you access to visual aids that you can use to represent the characters and monsters in the game.
TaleSpire and Tabletop Simulator allow you to use 3D models and maps to truly drop your players into the game setting. Roll20 has illustrated 2D tokens, and allows you to import any of your own images for unlimited customization.
When you’re playing online, you don’t have to worry about being prepared for every eventuality as a DM, and as a player you will no longer be confused about what it is you’re fighting.
3. Automated Spells and Abilities
For newer players, keeping track of what your character can do at any given time can be tricky as you reach higher levels. Your character is gaining new abilities and spells all the time, and it can be hard to remember all of the resources at your disposal. For DMs this problem is even worse, as every new opponent the party faces has its own unique traits.
Luckily, most online platforms automate much of this process. Once your character sheet is filled out, it will automatically calculate your ability score modifiers, proficiency bonuses, and adjust any stats that your class specific abilities affect.
There are also great spell resources that can give you a quick explanation of the spell, or automate the process of casting it. This can save you a ton of time, and also ensure you’re playing your character to their full potential.
4. Roleplay Safe Environment
New players, especially those without experience with improv or acting, can feel very uncomfortable about roleplaying a character for the first time. Doing so for the first time in person can be intimidating, and might leave that person with a bad impression of the game or thinking it’s not for them.
By allowing players to join in from the comfort of their own home, and with the separation of the screen, playing online can help lessen some of the anxiety around roleplay. This can be especially helpful when playing games with new friends who you might not be as comfortable around yet.
5. Music, Sound Effects, and More!
Also related to players’ immersion in the game, playing online can allow you to incorporate technology into the game in a way that enhances the experience.
Are you describing the creepy cave that your party is exploring? Maybe have some echoing water droplets playing in the background to give a sense of the size and emptiness of the space. You can also play some low creepy music in the background to build the tension as players make their way through the map.
This also allows players to get creative and share their own creative works to enhance the game. In character journals, illustrations, or even custom songs for bard characters are all ways your players can express themselves and make the game that much more personal.