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Gaming in Isolation

With much of the country in lock-down or self-isolation, tabletop gaming grinds to a halt. Right? Traditional board and card games may be difficult to manage without being isolated with your players. However, while you can't sit across the table with your chums, there are still many ways you can participate in "tabletop" role playing games. Please check out some of the following resources and keep your storytelling active in these trying times.

Keeping the "table" in tabletop
If you're considering moving your regular game to a virtual setting, you likely already have a communication tool in mind. There are a wide number of ways to communicate out there from voice only Discord channels to full video chats. We won't get into those options here as you likely already have your preference. Options for handling the table potion of the game are fewer, but alternatives do exist. A few popular ones are: Fantasy Grounds, Rolisteam, and Roll 20. These places allow you to share your maps and pictures to make the role playing game run smoother.These resources often have a significant amount of built in features such as dice rolling, fog of war, and music playing. You don't need to get too deep with the options, but they can help your game.

The fine folks of Critical Role have even teamed up with Roll20 to provide a free adventure to you. If all of that seems too burdensome for you, you can give theater of the mind a chance. While combat can be difficult, much of tabletop roleplay is left to theater of the mind to begin with. There is no reason you can't move your combat there as well, but be it known there can be challenges with distance, line of sight, and keeping track of your bad guys.

Can't get the gang together for a virtual session?

With so many working from home, you're likely working weird hours as well. Your regular crew may have children or other family members running about. These distractions can make a virtual session difficult. One solution is to let people play at their own pace. You can try having a Play by Post or Play by Email (PBeM) game.

In my limited experience, this can be very difficult if you have more than a few people. I suggest cutting it down to two or three players if you're going to do something like this. Just consider how long it can take for one player to complete their turn in a regular session. Now imagine the delay that email brings, and the responses of the other players. Repeat for each player. This slows play greatly, but it can still be an enjoyable experience. Moving forward with a single player is a fair option, but this can seem more like collaborative writing.

Solo Play

Those other options aren't for everyone. Chances are, someone in your regular group won't be interested in proceeding this way. It may be all of them. Solo play is a possible option in this case. Think of it like a Choose Your Own Adventure book that you're doing on the fly. You can even use a game master emulator if you feel up to it. One of the most popular options for this would be Mythic GME from Word Mill Games. If the book route scares you, there are some handy programs or Virtual Game Masters such as RPG Solo. Their site actually gives a number of good credits that you can check out as well.

If you are in more of a choose your own adventure mood, you might look into reading some gamebooks. I’m not referring to RPG system books, but those are a good choice too. Gamebooks are like a Choose Your Own Adventure with stats and dice. They were very popular in the 80s and early 90s, and have recently seen a small comeback. Fighting Fantasy started producing these again in 2017. There are even a few free ones out there for less traditional systems such as Risus: Ring of Thieves.


Please stay safe, stay healthy, and keep gaming. If you try any of these options, give us a shout and let us know how it goes.

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