Virtual gaming (especially virtual wargaming) has been a learning curve for most of us trying to continue rolling dice despite the quarantine. While it will never replace face to face gaming, the wide variety of tools and software now available allows us to share some adventures over a virtual tabletop.
Tips for Players
If you've been working from home, you may already have the software and hardware needed to participate in this year's Scrum Con Online. Please check each game's description for the specific tools and materials you'll need to prepare. We ask that you test your mic, camera, and connection at least 24 hours before your game starts to avoid technical headaches on the day of the convention.
All Scrum Con Online games assume you have access to the following:
- A computer with a webcam, speakers and microphone (or a headset with a mic)
- An internet connection
- An account (free or paid) with Zoom
Your game may also require you to provide game materials on your end. Please check your game description to see if you should prepare:
- Printed material (character sheets, army lists, etc. that need to be downloaded and printed before the game begins).
- Accounts or software preferred by the game master including Tabletop Simulator (paid), Roll20 (free), or Discord (free).
Tips for Game Masters
It may seem daunting, but game mastering via virtual tools CAN be done. RPGs have found a natural fit with online tools like Roll20. Tabletop wargames require a bit more ingenuity, but the Second Saturday Scrum Club has run numerous wargames via webcam or Tabletop Simulator.
RPG Virtual Game Mastering
As an RPG game master you have tons of advice from those GMs who have come before you. YouTube hosts numerous tutorial and actual play videos with insight on gaming online, and a robust suite of software and online tools allow you to flex your game running skills in a virtual environment.
- Decide if you'll run a pure "theater of the mind" game over Zoom by itself, or if you'd like to employ a virtual system like Roll20, Tabletop Simulator or Fantasy Grounds. If you use a virtual system, give yourself at least a week to get up to speed on how it works and to prepare your game within it.
- Confirm that you have accounts with the services you plan on using (Zoom, Roll20, etc.) before volunteering to run a game.
- Running games virtually can be tricky. Be realistic about the amount of time your session will take. We find most games that would take 3 hours face-to-face take about 4 hours when playing virtually.
- Game masters will receive a list of their players along with their email addresses as early as the Scrum Con team can provide them. Be sure to email any required materials 48 hours ahead of your scheduled game start time so players have time to gather and print them.
- Begin hosting your game 15 minutes before its scheduled start time to ensure everything is running smoothly from a technical stand point and to welcome early arrivals who may need some coaching on how to get up to speed playing virtually.
Wargame Virtual Game Mastering
While RPGs take place largely in the player's mind, wargames are a more tactile experience that relies on accurate positioning of models and terrain in a physical space. Transferring that experience to a virtual environment is tricky, but it can be done.
- Many of the tools suggested for RPG game mastering can be deployed for wargaming as well. Numerous wargames have already been ported to Tabletop Simulator including Battletech, Star Wars Legion, Warhammer 40K, Star Schlock and more. Tabletop Simulator requires a license to play, so requiring it may limit the number of players you attract to your game. If you haven't used TTS before, give yourself at least a week to get your game set up within it and familiarize yourself with the controls.
- If you forgo a digital tabletop you can stream a game directly via Zoom. Your players will instruct you how to move their troops, and you'll carry out their orders. We've found it helpful to have at least two cameras running: one providing an overall view of the battlefield and a second camera that can be moved to provide a "soldier's eye view" of the game.
- Be sure to have tripods and adequate lighting if hosting a tabletop wargame. Test your set up at least a week ahead of time and try streaming it with friends (or contact the Scrum Club and we'll pop in for a technical check to make sure your set up is working correctly)