Monday, December 31, 2012

How I do Google+ RPG Hangouts

I've tried many things with G+ RPGing, trying to get just the right mix of interaction and utility around the virtual "table." A friend recently asked me what I'd settled on.

Some people swear by 3rd party add-ons, including the excellent folks at .  (UPDATE: Since I wrote that last bit, I'm afraid Tabletop Forge is no longer your best bet, as they've gone away.)

However, I discovered that for my needs, less is more.  

Here's what works best for me:

Ahead of time, I gather art references, as available for a particular dungeon or session for the adventure in question, and put them in SkyDrive (Microsoft's free cloud stoarge service), which allows you to link individual pics via a public URL. (Dropbox and other services offer similar public links.)

I don't use minis, virtual or otherwise, but I do rely on sketching while describing settings and RPG battles; as a DM, I use pseudo Theatre of the Mind, with sketches as an aid.

I make such sketches on white board at my back while I play. Sometimes I cheat and use one at the office where I work, but I bought one at the store for around $18 for my home. I use the whiteboard to sketch the adventurer's progress in a dungeon (or other) setting, careful to make it large enough that A) it's visible through the g+ interace, and B) I can easily add general monster and PC placement if it becomes necessary to understand how a fight is progressing.

During play, everyone rolls their own dice, which requires trust  I suppose, but allows people to use the dice they love, and doesn't require me to force everyone to go through a dice emulator.

As play proceeds, I drop URLs of interesting pics (that I've uploaded to Skydrive, which creates public links), poems, or other pieces of text into the chat window.

I do use the Lower Third add-on, which some of my players also use, which is a great place to add the character's name and class, and even a picture.

This all seems to work like a charm! Even for casual gaming with my old high school friends who aren't game professionals.

I've gotten fancy in the past by logging in with a second computer/phone so that I could display a map on that, but frankly, the amount of juggling that required was a pain--the white board solution is, like Russian pencils in space, more robust.

I hope this inspires you to try a few g+ hangout games if you've been thinking about doing so. Good luck!


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