You’re stuck at home but you want to play Traveller RPG online with your friends. In this video series, I’ll explain how my friends and I play Traveller online by remote using a virtual tabletop program called Roll20.
How to Play Traveller Online
I am lucky. I have met many very cool people through gaming online.
Over the years, these folks have become my friends. Some of the best friends I never met LOL.
Playing Mechwarrior Online, or EVE Online, Left 4 Dead or even backgammon is easy to do with multiplayer features and live voice chat, and we've had many hours of awesome videogame play over the years. But we wanted to play traditional tabletop pen and paper RPG games together.
We needed a way to share dice rolls, maps, miniatures, and character sheets between friends all over the world. We had players in the United States, Canada, England, Germany, Austria, and Australia.
Sure, you could use something like Skype or Google Hangouts to have a multi-person video chat, but it just wasn’t ideal. Spotty internet connections meant low-res, herky-jerky video in a tiny window.
Thankfully, some companies saw the demand for a virtual tabletop product and came out with various solutions.
One of the first companies to do this is Roll20.
Their program ran in your browser, so any platform that could run Firefox could run Roll20.
There was a player-matching service that allowed GMs and players to find each other.
The program featured a way to roll dice in a shared table, share maps and miniatures, and store character sheets and handouts online.
I began developing my own modules for Traveller back then and hosting games for my friends all over the world.
That was back in 2012.
Fast forward to 2020 and you will find Roll20 is a much more mature virtual tabletop program, sporting many features, a huge user base, and requiring no software to purchase or download.
My friends and I are still playing Traveller online using Roll20 and I want to share how we do that so other people can enjoy themselves with friends around the world as I do.
Whether you don’t know any local players, live in an isolated area, or are practicing social distancing due to the Covid 19 threat, Roll20 and programs like it can give you hours of fun virtually socializing with your friends… from a distance.
Throughout the series, I will cover a range of topics from the very basic to the advanced.
I will try to deliver information in digestible chunks using plain language and easy-to-follow instructions.
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please post them in the comments area under this article or in the comments area of the video itself.
Creating A New Game
How To Create A New Game And Invite Players To Join
Every game needs a place to start.
The GM needs to create a new game to produce a new self-contained virtual tabletop along with all the components needed to support a game online.
The Game Details Page
How To Access The Chat Logs, The Game Forum, And The Game Calendar
Each game comes with its own private chat log, discussion forum, and game calendar that the players and GM can access without logging into the game. This is also where you would delete a game from if you need to clear space or just set up a temporary game to try things out before making them permanent in your main game.
These functions and more will be discussed in this video.
Learn About The General Layout Of The Roll20 Virtual Tabletop
“OK, what am I looking at?”
That’s a common and very good question.
In this Roll20 tutorial, we cover the major areas of the virtual tabletop and get a brief orientation of the major areas of the screen.
How To Roll Dice, Do Private Rolls, Chat And Whisper With The GM
This video will show you how to roll dice, turn on the virtual 3D dice, chat with other players, and whisper chat and private roll with the GM.
Roll20 isn’t limited to the normal 6-sided or even dungeon dice, you can roll pretty much whatever kind of roll you can think of, even a 5- or 17- sided die.
How To Enter Your Character Into A Sheet And How To Access The Character Sheet Automated Functions
This video will show you how to use the automated character sheets to roll characteristic checks, skills checks, and combat rolls.
You’ll also see how to record your character bio, gear, and more.
How To Create Handouts And How To Give Players Access To Them
You’re going to want to give players maps, cryptic notes, and other types of handouts for their reference in the game. Great for distributing clues, creating player notebooks, creating a bestiary, contact lists, patrons, galactic encyclopedia, and more.
How To Use The Roll20 Maps Feature To Share Maps
Of course, maps are a great way to liven up a game, give players a visual idea of the scale of their environment, along with the position and placement of objects and entities in the game world.
Roll20 maps and miniatures (tokens), provide a way to visualize combats, scenes, and even as just a way to show a still image that represents the a person or place of relevance in the game.
In this video, we will cover how to configure a new map screen, create your maps, import existing maps, match grids on generic maps.
We will also cover how to use the map layers, how to set up encounters, and how to move players between maps.
How To Use The Roll20 Tabletop Toolbox And Sidebar Tabs
There are quite a few tools for the player and GM to use. It may seem overwhelming at first, but everything is pretty much logically grouped by function.
In this video, we’ll cover all the toolbox tools and sidebar tabs.
Fog Of War
How To Setup And Control The Fog Of War
It’s fun to play on a map where the unexplored areas are covered in a “fog of war”. You can’t really be sure what’s going on in these areas because they are not directly observable by the characters.
This is a great feature that facilitates the exploration of the map. The GM is able to manually uncover areas as the players explore the game environment.
How To Set Up Dynamic Lighting, Block Token Movement, And Line-Of-Sight
This is a feature available to GMs who are on the Plus or Pro plans.
Dynamic Lighting is a feature that allows the tokens to cast light and for light and token movement to be blocked by walls or large objects.
Each token’s path is recorded individually, so each player gets her own view of the map.
The fog is also automatically removed by the computer; no need for management by the GM.
How To Set Up A Player Token And Link It To A Character Sheet
In Roll20, tokens are the virtual miniatures that represent players, monsters, NPCs, and other entities you want to keep track of.
You can also use tokens as a way to create movable objects that your characters can place on the map.
For example, you could have a starship map and allow the players to decorate their own rooms to give the ship their personal flair.
In this video, we will cover how to set up player light sources and night vision, how to use token markers, and more.
How To Set Up Tokens For Monsters, Bosses, And Henchmen
In this video, we cover monster tokens.
You’ll need a Big Bad Boss and all his henchmen and I’ll show you how to set this up for epic battles.
How To Setup Planned Encounters And Random Encounters
In this video, we will cover the GM map layer and how to use it to place pre-set encounters and how to use the random tables tool to create your own random encounter tables.
How To Conduct Traveller Combat Using Roll20
You try to be diplomatic and avoid conflict, but sometimes violence is beyond your control.
Fights are going to break out in RPG games and in this video, we cover ways to run Traveller RPG combat scenarios.
Playing Traveller With Roll20
Actual Play Session
In this video, you will see one way you can play Traveller online using Roll20.
My group of merry space adventurers lets you take a peek behind the scenes to see how we run our weekly Traveller online game.
Roll20 and other virtual tabletop programs are a great way to connect with distant friends and get that tabletop feel.
VIrtual tabletop sci-fi RPG is a totally meta way to hang out with your friends and enjoy a virtual session of telegaming.
I hope you will find something useful in this series of videos and I hope you will join me Travelling the cosmos on Roll20.
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to post them in the video comments.
Until next time, my friends… happy travelling!
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