Day 372 of Isolation

What is days? What is space? Oh wait – hang on, I can go outside – ah, nope. Okay, so instead, while in between sorting a few odds and ends out with emails and remote access to some things, I’ve been experimenting a bit with some of the map pack options in Roll20 to make some maps for “just in case” – because if I’ve learned anything over the years, its that players are distracted by the slightest thing faster than you can yell “Squirrel!”

With a roleplay-heavy group like the current DDC, this may not necessarily be a bad thing. I plopped them down in a generic inn map while assembling things and it turned into at least two sessions of them making breakfast for each other, singing, and trying to teach a tiefling to catch apples with their tail. All the derailments so far have been purely character-chat – aside from the sudden desire to go find a training ground to practice combat.

Fortunately there are a great number of free map graphics made up. They’re searchable through the assets menu, but these all take time and I couldn’t find anything generic enough.

In the end I used a semi-random map for that particular moment. It did prompt me though to have a look at the various map pack options available to purchase through the Roll20 marketplace – rather than so many of the pre-made pretty options.

I ended up with three that look fairly flexible in that they are modular graphics with connectors – I can use the layers to blend the rough edges and the intended size and proportions so far have been quite user-friendly. I

‘ve been practicing with the Stone Building set to make some sort of generic mansion layout. Its not for a particular planned encounter, but is the sort of thing I plan to archive and keep to hand the next time they try something felonious or otherwise random.

Longtime gamers won’t even blink at the option of felonious in the above paragraph – and as this group has designated the rogue as their financier, I feel entirely justified in making up places that may suffer security lapses in the weeks to come.

Now my only concern is going to be what effect having lots of small graphics for the map will be like as opposed to having a single graphic that I’ve made elsewhere and imported. I’m using .png format graphics, so they should be reasonably swift but I’ll report when I start using them in anger. The other difference is that the group is currently five players plus myself, as opposed to the eight or so that the previous Wartorn Campaign had – I’m hoping this imposes a much lower hit on bandwidth and loading times.

Roll20 Experiment – Week One

A group of us have bodged together some AD&D first edition characters, dug out headphones and webcams and gathered around our respective laptops, PCs and fondleslabs (tablets for those who have never read The Register) to see if the old gamer chaos still lives and thrives within us. To this end we’re using the Roll20 website, which allows us to share maps and images in a virtual tabletop. You can employ scripting and all manner of upgrades, but we’re taking a fairly low-tech approach.

The Book That Started Many A Quest
The Players Handbook – First Edition

Our first attempt at a session, last week, didn’t really get off the ground, due to the GM having been taken unexpectedly into hospital. Not knowing this at the time however, we assumed that we had been rather spectacularly pranked, especially as phone calls, texts and instant messaging attempts were all met with stony silence… We weren’t put off however, and used the time to work out who was generating the most outrageous echoes and feedback loops so that we could name and shame them.

So our week one dawned in our second session this week – GM duly released back into the wild and five players (with another two AWOL due to work demands) assembled around the virtual table.

We’re running a group of eighth level characters, tasked with recovering artifacts from a temple complex recently overrun by an invading army of Orcs and other unpleasant entities. With our own small army of hirelings, henchmen and acolytes to hand, we have (so far), a mix of clerics, monks, rangers, wizards, and warriors – though no one who is admitting to being a thief – so the potential for mayhem is rather large.

The Important Book - The Dungeon Masters Guide
All The Nasty Surprises Hidden Here

Stats blocks and automation are being kept to a minimum, with scraps of paper all over the place, and an additional complication caused by rule books being split between several of us and our GM relying on a mix of memory and selective questions of the couple of people who managed to remember where their Dungeon Master Guides had been lying, covered in dust.

And… it was rather fun once we got going. There were some technical issues around microphone levels and some people had more spare bandwidth than others, but there was a certain free-wheeling approach that let us bulldoze straight through and overlook the fact that we were pretty much making it up as we went along. As is also traditional, beverages were drunk and junk food consumed, and yet a certain level of adult common sense somehow crept in, so that we didn’t go on too late, instead stopping at a dramatically appropriate point with one battle in thick forest complete, and an even greater one to come.

I think I might document the campaign’s progress on this site as we go along…