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Author Topic: Being a Dungeon Master... on line.  (Read 2328 times)

The Doctor Alt 8

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Being a Dungeon Master... on line.
« on: 12 February, 2021, 09:50:22 PM »

Because no one else would do it and some acquaintances and Adrian wanted to play D & D I have somehow found myself it the position of Dungeon Master.

(Quee evil laugh and panto villain style calls of "Ultimate Power" )

It seems to be going OK. (At least no one is complaining and Adrian who has been a DM before thinks that I am coping well)

Because of the you-know-what we have been playing via Zoom.

Because this is me we are talking about I have been having some technical problems... such as Zoom failing to start up... and constantly crashing during initial start up. I travel to Adrian's to do this as I don't think that the BT wi-Fi hot spot can cope with more than one other person and Mother considers my required gaming conversation deeply annoying...

Of course I have had the usual not everyone can attend the meetings at the same time... I have only 4 players and out of the 3 sessions I have yet to have all players present... we have agreed to just carry on with me filling in for missing players...
(yes I know that I shouldn't really do that but we'd rather carry on than not play at all)

I think that I can mitigate some of these problems by restarting my laptop and thus closing down most of my web pages... however because my laptop is over 4 years old it seems to take a good 10 mins at least to stare up...

I wanted to add a filter so I didn't appear as... well myself... for that added touch of fantasy. I downloaded the Snap camera app (The one that had the excellent kitten filter that hit the news a couple of days ago) in the hopes of perhaps finding a Dragon head filter but... guess what? Yep it's downloaded but doesn't seem to work... no options show up (I'd love to add a voice changer filter to but those are expensive and oddly none of them seen to have a demo so you can't hear and judge the options before you invest in the programme)

 So have any of you folks played/DM'd 5e Dungeons & Dragons? Do you have any tips? I still have no real idea how to run combat... but I just made up a plot that avoided combat. But clearly I can't keep that up for long.


Barrington Boots

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Re: Being a Dungeon Master... on line.
« Reply #1 on: 13 February, 2021, 06:24:05 AM »
I am DM-ing two weekly online games currently. One I've been running for several years and it took a bit of adjustment moving from playing face to face to online, but I got used to it (and frustrated enough, during lockdowns) to be able to start another with people I wouldn't normally be able to play with due to distance.

It's been a learning process all round and I'm still fine-tuning my online act, so to speak, but the best tips I can give are to try and go to town with the descriptions, and make sure you give everyone time to speak: in a tabletop setting interaction is different and PCs can chat amongst themselves, but online only one person can really talk at once and it's easier for a bombastic player or character to dominate a session. I find Discord better than Zoom - it's nice to see my friends faces but it can also be a distraction. I'd also recommend a site like Roll20 for you to post maps, images etc and it has a built in diceroller, but it's not good for old or slow PCs.

It sounds like you're fairly new to being a DM though? 5e is a nice straightforward system, even the combat. It's like D&D on easy mode. You've nothing to worry about on the combat front. Just don't let the rules get in the way of telling the story.
You're a dark horse, Boots.

The Doctor Alt 8

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Re: Being a Dungeon Master... on line.
« Reply #2 on: 13 February, 2021, 11:24:13 AM »

Hmm. I thought Patreon was for those who wanted to raise money.... (not that I couldn't use some... like everybody else) I will have to do some more research on that.

Thanks for the help.

Adrian LOATHS 5e... but it is the system I am most .. comfortable with because I have watched a lot of Dimension 20 and Oxventrue videos... as well as lore vids from The Mighty Glue Stick, Dungeon Dudes, XP to level 3, Mr Rhexx, How to be a Great DM...

wedgeski

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Re: Being a Dungeon Master... on line.
« Reply #3 on: 13 February, 2021, 02:28:20 PM »
I run a weekly online 5E game with 4 players using the following tools:

* A big table
* Battlemat with offset camera and ring light
* Discord for voice and video
* OBS studio for mixing between battlemat and DM face

DND Beyond serves to automate skill checks, combat rolls, resource tracking, and so-on. We used to rely on AVRAE for dice rolling and other features, but DND Beyond now has shared dice rolling in the browser so it's the one-stop shop for that.

For yourself as a new DM, FG or Roll20 might be an essential tool when the fighting starts. It does everything DNDB does, with the advantage that you can share maps and have your players and opponents appear as tokens.

You *can* play a lot of 5E combat in the mind--and we do, where terrain isn't relevant or the quarters are tight; ultimately, as the players grow in power and the spells start flying, miniatures combat, or its digital equivalent, becomes useful and then IMO mandatory to get the most out of the combat rules.

We avoid digital tools in that area and instead set up a battlemat with actual mini's and an overhead camera. For us, the battlemat and camera are essential to that tabletop feeling. I have run online games in FantasyGrounds and Roll20, and for me, there's just something missing that I can't live without.

Have fun and good luck!

The Doctor Alt 8

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Re: Being a Dungeon Master... on line.
« Reply #4 on: 13 February, 2021, 05:48:49 PM »
Thanks for the advice...   :)

Barrington Boots

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Re: Being a Dungeon Master... on line.
« Reply #5 on: 15 February, 2021, 11:12:24 AM »

Wedgeski, that is a seriously good setup. I'm not a huge fan of Roll20: it's a bit clunky, but I find it invaluable for displaying maps and running combat when PCs need to know about flanking or how many of them are getting fireballed etc. I've thought about using a battlemap & streaming it but I feel like I'm unsure on the investment for setting it up vs the time we'll be using it for. Any chance you could share a pic of your table setup? I'm really interested especially with regard my second game where I'll never be able to play a face to face session with the guys involved, so it'd potentially be worth stepping it up.

One thing I used to use a lot in the before-times was Syrinscape for sound effects - sadly I've just cancelled that as it didn't work with our online setup.
You're a dark horse, Boots.

wedgeski

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Re: Being a Dungeon Master... on line.
« Reply #6 on: 15 February, 2021, 11:24:20 AM »

Wedgeski, that is a seriously good setup. I'm not a huge fan of Roll20: it's a bit clunky, but I find it invaluable for displaying maps and running combat when PCs need to know about flanking or how many of them are getting fireballed etc. I've thought about using a battlemap & streaming it but I feel like I'm unsure on the investment for setting it up vs the time we'll be using it for. Any chance you could share a pic of your table setup? I'm really interested especially with regard my second game where I'll never be able to play a face to face session with the guys involved, so it'd potentially be worth stepping it up.

One thing I used to use a lot in the before-times was Syrinscape for sound effects - sadly I've just cancelled that as it didn't work with our online setup.
I'll take a snap after Thursday night's game, np.

About Syrinscape, I also cannot get that to work down an audio stream. I fear the only way to achieve it would be to add a hardware mixer into the setup, but I can't justify that money right now; plus I have to ask myself how complicated I want to make things.

We considered streaming to Twitch but some of our players aren't happy with the idea, so it got shelved. Probably for the best. However good we think our game is, it would just be one more amateur stream amongst thousands these days.

Barrington Boots

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Re: Being a Dungeon Master... on line.
« Reply #7 on: 15 February, 2021, 11:47:58 AM »
Cheers Wedge!

You're right about Syrinscape, you'd need an audio mixer or just turn it up really loud in the background :) I tried running it through R20 but it just slowed the game down to a crawl.

One of my guys also asked about streaming our games but we prefer to keep it just for us. The game is written with specific people in mind and I'm not sure others would 'get it'. Tbh I've watched a couple of sessions over Twitch etc. and the popular ones seem obviously scripted to me.

It's been an interesting challenge adapting to running online. Some cool stuf has come out of it, but I can't wait to revert back.
You're a dark horse, Boots.

paddykafka

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Re: Being a Dungeon Master... on line.
« Reply #8 on: 15 February, 2021, 01:02:22 PM »
As a Player and luddite, I feel your pain, Doctor Alt.

I had the same technical problems with online playing when I attempted to make the transition from normal gaming. Regular screen crashes or voice drop-offs, to the point where it became too frustrating to continue playing.

I had no option but to sign up for a more expensive broadband plan with a different company, as the former broadband speed just wasn't strong enough, or fast enough, or something like that...

But it did the job in fairness and I had no further problems after that. (Well, apart from not currently having a group to play with.) As some others have suggested, Roll20 and Discord are two possible options.

Hope things work out for you and I wouldn't worry too much about having a small group. Maybe add one or two more to the player numbers to field a working party. And as a DM you're going to have your hands full anyway, without the added hassle of running another character at the  same time.

(Just out of curiousity, I wonder how many other forum members are also D&D players as well?)

All the best - Paddy

wedgeski

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Re: Being a Dungeon Master... on line.
« Reply #9 on: 15 February, 2021, 04:23:31 PM »
It's been an interesting challenge adapting to running online. Some cool stuf has come out of it, but I can't wait to revert back.
OMG that glorious, glorious day. The time is fast approaching when it will have been a year since our last face-to-face session. I'm very proud of our group that we've stuck to a weekly schedule, and I have to say it's been the shining light of our lockdown experience.

The Doctor Alt 8

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Re: Being a Dungeon Master... on line.
« Reply #10 on: 18 February, 2021, 12:52:22 AM »
Hi there.... At the moment with such irregular players I am reluctant to make an investment in any equipment that honestly I can't afford. (although Adrian might already have a suitable camera)

Adrian has been trying to get Roll 20 to work but when he created his account it keeps telling him that he needs to enter a barcode in order to gain access to their tools... well we haven't got one of those yet!  How do we tell it that we are starting a campain... not trying to join an existing one?





Barrington Boots

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Re: Being a Dungeon Master... on line.
« Reply #11 on: 18 February, 2021, 09:53:17 AM »
If you're signed in, under 'Games' on the top menu there's an option to 'Create New Game'... like so:



You can then invite players and so on.
I have to say Roll20 isn't much of a platform for hand-holding and it assumes a certain amount of knowledge or willingness to experiment. I haven't used DND Beyond (I'm playing Pathfinder, which is essentially an older and much maths-ier version of D&D) but I understand it's a lot easier to handle and may be better suited.
You're a dark horse, Boots.

sheridan

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Re: Being a Dungeon Master... on line.
« Reply #12 on: 18 February, 2021, 10:49:12 AM »
D&D player here - in the sense that I haven't played D&D for the past year :-( (any offers appreciated).

Though I did participate in a D20-based Stargate game somebody was running in the first lockdown, but the GM got snowed under with work so it didn't last long.

sheridan

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Re: Being a Dungeon Master... on line.
« Reply #13 on: 18 February, 2021, 10:53:04 AM »
p.s. can't remember if it was one of the youtubers mentioned previously but there is a good vid about the difference between real rolelplaying sessions for 'normal' people and the ones you get on youtube - basically normal people play the game while the online ones perform the game for an audience - so don't get intimidated by all the acting, accents and the like (the most famous channel consists of a bunch of voice actors, for instance).

Anyway - for irregular groups, look up the Westmarch style of playing - the party has a base in a town where nothing happens (as in they can safely wander around without fear of combat encounters) and on any given session a group assembles and ventures out.  Though it sounds like you'd end up with really small groups who would have limited options - so another idea is to have each player run two PCs, and maybe have one stay at home if the party grows too big.

Barrington Boots

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Re: Being a Dungeon Master... on line.
« Reply #14 on: 18 February, 2021, 11:08:22 AM »
have each player run two PCs, and maybe have one stay at home if the party grows too big.

This can be such a good idea. We did this back when we used to play Shadowrun - players had a little pool of PCs and after the mission had been given they'd pick the right guys for the job, Mission Impossible-style.

Mild tangent but I tried to play Shadowrun about 8 years ago using the old rulebooks (they may be updated now) and it didn't work at all as all the players started asking why they couldn't look stuff up on the internet on their phones.
You're a dark horse, Boots.