Everything you need to start playing D&D online.
TTRPGs are, of course, magical when played around a table, but the onset of COVID-19 and nationwide quarantines has made it much harder to gather your party around a traditional tabletop. Luckily, the TTRPG space is flush with ways to take your game digital—you can even roll dice digitally (though it’s definitely not quite as fun). We’ve answered a few of your questions with regard to what tools you need to start playing.
How do I see and hear my party?
Depending on whether or not you consider seeing your party an essential part of playing D&D remotely, you might simply need a computer with microphone capabilities to connect with your friends. Discord is a great space for coming together to play a game over audio, as it allows you to have a chat feed, separate audio channels, and more. It’s free to download, and even has a mobile app.
Video chat lends itself very well to playing D&D online, but not every video chat software is equally suited for online tabletop gaming. Zoom, the most ubiquitous of video softwares, is great for meetings but isn’t necessarily the best option for prolonged video feeds, as you may run into a paywall or other snags. Google Hangouts is similar in capability to Zoom and is getting a bit of a revamp this fall that will actually lend itself very well to playing D&D remotely, so be on the lookout for that. If you’re a Discord devotee you can take advantage of their video capability, hidden within the Direct Messages area of their matrix.
If you’re looking to improve your sound quality, buying a separate microphone can help improve your game by leaps and bounds (and could also help you start the inevitable D&D podcast you’ve been thinking about). Podcast-quality microphones vary greatly in terms of quality and price, so check out this list of great podcast microphones to see what will work best for you.
Can I make a character sheet online?
Short answer—yes. There are several options available if you’re looking to create and store character sheets, and many are free. D&D Beyond is a convenient option if you’re playing with 5e, as they have a Character Builder that’s very comprehensive and incorporates not only Player’s Handbook content, but any content you or your Dungeon Master decide to purchase on the site. D&D Beyond also uses playtest content and assorted outside content, so if you’re trying to run Eberron or Tal’Dorei campaigns you’ll be in the right spot.
Roll20 is a nice catchall for all things D&D, and features D&D and Pathfinder content as well as Call of Cthulhu and several other game systems. The site allows you to do pretty much anything you can think of in terms of playing D&D, from building character sheets, to creating maps, to keeping track of your notes. Their character creator is a bit more hands-on, but they do offer the ability to upload character sheets from other games.
If you’re looking for a more no-frills option, DiceCloud has a fairly scaled back character sheet builder that’s very stats-focused.
What about combat and worldbuilding?
D&D is very much a game of strategy, and as such there is a huge market for tools to help players bring their games to life. Virtual tabletops allow you to visualize and even expand on your gameplay by keeping track of combat as you might in a real-world game. Roll20 offers a virtual tabletop that incorporates tools like dice tracking, drawing implements, artwork from collaborators, and more. Their website goes into the tools you can use in more detail.
Want more options? Check out our roundup of virtual tabletops here.
If worldbuilding is your thing, there are several digital options for creating and tracking your campaigns. World Anvil is a worldbuilding toolkit that has tons of beautiful, intuitive options for map creation, note-taking, and content organization, as well as novel-writing software to help you dive deep into your world. Obsidian Portal is another great option that focuses on campaign management, with character trackers, event logs and more.
Much like DndBeyond, Roll20, World Anvil, and Obsidian Portal offer free account setup with options to purchase additional content within the site.
What if I need to find a game?
The opportunity to stroll into your local hobby shop and drop in on a D&D session is unlikely to reemerge anytime soon, but we’re here to help. Our website is devoted to connecting players with Dungeon Masters, and depending on your level of interest and experience there should be a game out there that’s right for you. Check out our list of available games to get started!