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Tools we use

These are the tools we’re using to play Dungeons & Dragons 5e online, and some brief setup instructions.

Wanna War Galley?

Character Builder and Campaign Tracker – D&D Beyond

D&D Beyond is one of the very best online tools created for building characters, keeping track of campaigns, and more. It has compendiums of all the source books, as well as adventures, Wizards of the Coast sage advice, and more. All characters will be created on D&D Beyond and join the group campaign.

Virtual Table Top – Roll20

For our “virtual table top” (VTT) we’re going to use roll20. It’s been around for nearly 8 years, it has a solid feature set, great support for Dungeons & Dragons 5e, is generally considered to be less complicated to learn than other VTTs, and with 5 million users, if we have questions or problems, there’s a robust online community to ask for help.

This means we each need our own account on roll20:

  1. In your web browser, go to https://roll20.net
  2. Select “Create an Account” (there are numerous links on the landing page). You can create a free account (paid accounts give you access to more stuff, and are necessary to DM, but they aren’t required).
  3. Let the group know what your user name is; this will be necessary for you to accept invitations to join a game.
  4. When you get the invite to join our game, join it!
  5. When the game appears in your list of games, click the name of the game, and then “Launch Game.” Let’s Play!

Some useful settings in game

When you’re in a game, you’ll want to adjust a few settings:

  1. Click the gear icon in the top right (My Settings).
  2. Change the “Display Name” to the name of your character and click “Save Name.”
  3. Under Game Settings, change “Player video/avatar size” to “Names Only.”
  4. Further down the same list, change “I want to broadcast to others” to “Nothing (disable)”
  5. Change “I want to receive from others” to “Nothing (Disable)”
  6. Click Reconnect

If you want to change your profile picture (the picture that appears next to you on the home page and when you click on my account):

  1. In the top right of the home page, click the downward triangle under your username and select “My Account.”
  2. Scroll down to “Photo” (it’s on the left side)
  3. Hover over the image and select “Change Image” in the top right of the image.
  4. Select a new image from your hard drive.

In Game Audio – Discord

Yes, roll20 has built in chat and video. We’re not using it for a couple of reasons:

  • Roll20’s built in video/chat is generally considered sub-par. Our own playtesting experience corroborates that.
  • Roll20’s built in support takes up way too much screen real estate. It’s better to use another setup that you can log into and leave in the background.

Here’s how to get Discord:

  1. On your phone, download Discord from the app store (if you want to use your phone).
  2. On your computer, go to https://discordapp.com and download Discord for your computer.
  3. Follow the instructions to install the app (if you installed it on your computer).
  4. Follow the instructions to create an account.
  5. Follow the link I’ll email you to join my Discord channel

While it’s possible to use the speaker and microphone on your device, you will get much better performance out of a headset with headphones and a mic. Depending on the device you are using, it should have USB, bluetooth, or a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. Be sure to get one that will work with your device.

Why no video?

Personally, I love video. But the problem is that video takes up too much room on the screen, and not everyone has a video camera. If at some point we decide to use video, Discord does video chatting too, so we’re covered.

Integrating D&D Beyond with roll20

This isn’t necessary, but if you use D&D Beyond, it can be a lot of fun. It’s not perfect–we’ve run into some glitches that seem to come and go, but nothing serious.

If you are using Chrome or Firefox, there is an extension/addon called “Beyond20.” Install it into your browser, then have one tab/window open with your D&D Beyond character sheet, another tab/window open with roll20, and you’ll be able to roll dice and cast spells, etc. from your D&D Beyond character sheet. Last year I made a short tutorial video here:

Some of it is out of date now—you don’t need your character name to be exact anymore. But the basic procedures still are the same.

Why can’t I import my D&D Beyond character sheet to the roll20 character sheet?

A user did make an importer using the application programming interfaces (APIs) built into roll20, but they’re not going to help us. First of all, you must have a PRO account to access roll20 APIs, so we can’t access the importer. But even if we could, the importer is 3 years old and “abandonware,” so it’s no longer an exact match and would require us to manually tweak the data to fit. At that point, it would mean constantly maintaining two character sheets, which seems more trouble than it’s worth even if we did have access to the API.

If you have any questions, just ask us, and let’s all have fun!