What would you use to RPG online?

I have a couple of friends who live in interesting places far, far away from civilisation (i.e. London) and manage to get less gaming in then their taste would like.

I’ve been looking around for software to run an online game, mostly focusing on video conferencing software. My efforts haven’t been all that fruitful though, every time I find something that looks suitable, it turns out to need a monthly fee to unlock essential features (such as supporting more then three people in the call).

So, since I think a few people are actually reading this blog now (thanks to RPG Bloggers), I thought I’d ask the community.

I think voice support is essential, as is support for at least five people. Video would be nice. A whiteboard, file sharing and dice rolling would be bonuses. I’d like to avoid paying money, but would be less annoyed by a one-off fee then something recurring. That said, if something is good and has a monthly fee, don’t be afraid to mention it.

What can you recommend? (Comments below please!). Thanks!

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11 Responses to What would you use to RPG online?

  1. Viriatha says:

    We’re using Fantasy Grounds and Ventrilo. You could substitute Teamspeak for Vent. We’ve our own vent server but I think TS is free. If the GM is behind a router, you’ll also want Hamachi for networking with FG.

  2. Tony Law says:

    For voice/video, I recommend Skype. PC-to-PC calls are free and I know people who use it monthly to game with a handful of people in different locations.

  3. Hammer says:

    I could be wrong (because I use a third party Mac client), but do MSN and GoogleTalk not support multi user voice chat these days?

    You could always use something like Obsidian Portal (http://www.obsidianportal.com/), or a self-hoested wiki or forum on your webspace (which I what I’m looking at doing and what others already do). Down side to that is that you will always have a few seconds of refreshing after people post/edit before you see the changes, but if your using voice chat that should be less of a problem anyway.

  4. greywulf says:

    I’ve used GoogleTalk + Gametable to good effect. If you don’t need a battlemat to play though, straight old-school IRC is as good as it comes.

  5. Ravyn says:

    Why does it need video/voice support? I’ve been gaming by text for three years now, in groups ranging from four to six players; it seems to be working, it ensures that people who have to run to the bathroom or get called away for quick chores don’t miss anything even if you keep going, and having logs means you can actually check who it was who offended whom in a certain session.

    My run-over-internet setup is AIM for the game (one chatroom OOC, at least one chatroom IC depending on whether the group’s split up, private windows with all players), Ventrilo for soundtrack but we could also use it for table-talk if we felt like it. It hasn’t failed me yet, and the color-coding on the NPCs means I don’t have to worry too much about voices.

  6. @Viriatha – Fantasy Grounds looks very nice, but it has a price tag, so possibly isn’t right for us. Teamspeak looks like the way forward for sound, it turns out that one of the group already has experience with it, which is a bonus.

    @Tony Law – Skype would be my first choice, but I can’t see a way to have a non-text call involving more than one person.

    @Hammer – I haven’t used Google Talk, but I’ll take a look at it and MSN. Thanks.

    @greywulf – Gametable looks promising. The dice roller looks a bit limited (not up to complicated dice rolling like WEG d6 and Exalted call for), but for most games it looks ideal.

    @Ravyn – a lot of information is carried in tone and inflection that just gets lost in text.

  7. Toe Knee says:

    I love skype for my online gaming. For those who don’t have the bandwidth to do their VoIP or Video, their chat client is the absolute best for gaming. They do unlimited room sizes, keep history forever, even if you aren’t online, so if a player misses a session he can catch up with what happened the next time he logs on. The post sizes are unlimited as well which is really handy if you’re typing up long descriptions.

    And the layout is surprisingly readable.

    For dice rolls there are HTML webpages available if you look that provide dice rollers to most every system, a little searching will find one that works to your taste.

  8. People keep mentioning using Skype, but how do you get it to do voice with more than one other person?

    … ooooh, there’s a “Start Conference Call” menu item lurking around. I’ll have to try that.

  9. DistantGames says:

    Funny, we are developing a web based video conferencing service exclusively for gamers, right now. We are in alpha, but would be happy to consider requests for “testers” so you and your friend in London and elsewhere could help us work the kinks out!

    We are also in the process of developing web apps for the essentials such as dice and maps.

    Social networking, forums, blogs, retail.. all of that, but the kinks are epic.

    Oh, and in alpha/beta, there wouldn’t be a fee of course. We aren’t even sure if the market would sustain a premium fee for conferencing, that is up to the marketing guys.

    Thanx for the timely and thoughtful posts!

    -Matt
    contact@distantgames.com

  10. wolf_king_aka says:

    I love the game table link. I wont get to use it untill tomorrow, but it looks awsome so far. Ive figured out almost everthing about it so far. Lol, i even have a 100 sided die on it. Skype, once again, is deffinentally the best. If you ever want to record your session(i know hasnt been asked for) you should look up call graph. This is free, and if you configure it to stereo, it works very well.

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