Tech stack

Mad Jay’s Online Roleplaying Tech Stack

By MadJay 13 April 2020
Mad Jay’s Online Roleplaying Tech Stack

There are plenty of options to run your roleplaying sessions online. You’ll run across free options and some paid options. Some live-stream friendly and others are down right hostile. Going in knowing what you want to do, ie; live streaming vs just playing with friends in private, along with how much effort you want to put into setting up sessions will help you narrow down options. Here’s how I do it. Maybe it’ll help you find your method. YMMV.

Right now I’m running The Spire RPG for 3 players, B/X D&D,[ Forbidden Lands ](https://frialigan.se/en/games/forbidden-lands/for 40+ players, Champions Now and Liminal online for 4 players. I have run games like Tenra Bansho Zero to Urban Shadows also.

I like using images, maps, and face claims in my games. I like crunchy games and theatre of the mind combat, or combat with abstract area and movement mechanics akin to Fate RPG, or Edge of the Empire RPG.

Your grind and my grind ain’t the same dog — Mos Def

For getting players together and communicating I use Streamyard, and Zoom is my backup plan — it could easily go the other way. I want a solid, reliable video/audio experience first. Both these options have free plans. I pay for Streamyard. My two options also set up nicely for streaming sessions or just saving them off someplace for extracting audio for podcasting.

Next, the play space I use is RollForYourParty for every game I can. It’s web-based dice roller with cards, tokens and the ability to load in images and a background. You can drag-and-drop everything. It’s ugly. It’s free. It has never failed or fought me. It gets out of the way of playing.

I put together a background image in Photoshop, sometimes it includes some reference notes. Players can load up face claims or whatever.

Liminal using RollForYourParty.com

I use Roll20 for my Forbidden Lands RPG games. I have 40+ players in that shared world game. The interactive character sheets and dice promises good things. Sadly for me the game experience is rough and I don’t care about many of the map based features, and I don’t care for the effort of setup. There’s a lot of ‘fiddling’ with the app vs playing the game — for me. Did I mention I’m a cranky veteran? Roll20 does A LOT. You might have a better experience out of it. Many groups do. I’m cranky and I know what I want.

Remember the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. — Z.Ziglar

For character sheets, player handouts and one-sheets I use Google Docs. I just started getting into using Trello to organize my GM prep. For my 40+ player Mad Lands game it has become indispensable. If I could get a dice roller in that app it could EASILY be my new play space.

Trello and my Into The Mad Lands prep.

I’m trying to run a great roleplaying game session. I’m not happy with the software available thus far. I’m still searching for the Holy Grail of setups. Until then I like to keep it simple, easy, low impact. Close to the tools I use at a table.

Play games — fearlessly!

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