Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Coronavirus and TTRPG


"It's been a helluva year"....I know a lot of us can say that as we now venture into 2021 fresh, full of hope that will undoubtedly be crushed soon enough. My full-time job has now fully transitioned to working from home as I spend part of time helping my 1st grade daughter with her virtual school lessons. It has been a big adjustment and one that I still struggle with daily at times, and these times have also spilled over into my hobbies as well, namely table-top RPG's or as you folks may know of it as Dungeons and Dragons.

Prior to the events of 2020 my play group had already made the transition over to virtual tabletop play, mostly through the application of Roll20, which has I've become more familiar with the system have grown to enjoy for it's ease of use and accessibility for my players to enjoy as well. There are a couple of drawbacks, but I'll touch on those in a bit. This move to virtual tabletop was mostly spurred by a couple of the members moving further away, but now we can much more easily schedule our game sessions and play in our pajamas if we want to. I do miss the beer and pizza though.

As the lockdowns were set in place, along with travel and just leaving the house in general discouraged. I found my free time open up bit by bit, what was a rotating schedule of my Rappan Athuk game one week followed by Rise of the Runelords (where I'm a player) the next week. Over the last half of the year, I began running a second group through Tomb of Annihilation (5E) along with adding another game where I'm a player in a homebrew 5E campaign. Despite my wife's complaints my TTRPG gaming doubled over the past year. 

Another change was in how I engaged with the RPG content. I have always been a "read the book in my hands" person, but I now strive to pick PDF's of anything I'm using or running in my games as well. For one it makes conversion and setup in Roll20 that much easier and with a multiple monitor setup I can easily reference material as I'm running it using the virtual tabletop. I still love the physical books and my collection is extensive, but pretty soon I'm going to need a bigger hard drive for all of the virtual content now.

As much I love Roll20 and some of the cool features: dynamic lighting, auto math / macro's and the customization with the art and tokens; it is a lot more work for a DM. With my in-person games, most of the times I would think over the session while walking the dog that afternoon and just show it up and run it. Now my setup is fairly intense if the module isn't preset as some of the WoTC modules are in Roll20. For Rappan Athuk, I have to source or purchase copies of the virtual maps, load them, draw the dynamic lighting if needed, custom monsters setup if not accounted for in the SRD, custom part added to tokens and then I start to add in my creative juices. It is quite a bit more work, but when it works, it is certainly great and easy to use in session.

All of that said, the hobby, at least for me is still going great. My friends and I are still having some great game sessions making memories and stories to live on forever. I hope the same is true for many others out there as well.

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