3 Rules for Gaming on a Virtual Tabletop
Over a year in and the pandemic is still going on. The current strain is even more virulent and half the country is refusing to get vaccinated. So if you haven’t been gaming over a Virtual Tabletop, now is a good time to start. If you are, here are three rules for gaming over a VTT.
Before I start, I want to say that my specific examples are from Fantasy Grounds since that is the platform I am most familiar with, but these principles apply to every VTT platform.
1) Patience, Patience, Patience
Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, Foundry, even just a dice roller on a Discord server is more difficult than picking up some dice and rolling. People have different learning curves and different levels of comfort with technology in general. Be patient. How patient? Quite a bit more than you think you will need.
2) Prepping for a Game is the Same, Yet Different
When I prep for a game at the table, I read (again) the adventure, make notes on how to adjust it, post post-it notes on pages for all the monsters with minis selected, and draw my maps on my wet-erase battle map. When I prep for a game over Fantasy Grounds, I read the adventure (again) but this time in Fantasy Grounds, make the changes to the adventure, make sure the monster encounters are set with tokens, and have maps set and noted for easy access. So it’s the same, but completely different.
3) Be Prepared for Low Rolls
I have only known one player that rolled worse than the dice roller of any VTT. Every single VTT dice roller I’ve used produces poor results. So I am much more lenient when I choose skills I make the players roll on, handing out bonuses or advantage or otherwise giving the players some help. Every player always gets inspiration at the start of every game session. When I can set the DC low, I do so. I help the players do well. Gaming over a VTT is not for the killer DM unless they want new characters every single session.
Bonus) Remind Your Gamers About Game
Reminding my players about game has produced my gamers showing up more consistently on time. I do a “T Minus 4 hours until game. Be there or be square,” to keep my light and fun while still saying, “Show up on time.” Even then, I pretty much consider the first 15-30 minutes chat time. This is the only time for some to socialize. Let them socialize.