Virtual and physical rpg gaming

Recently we had that rare opportunity to sit down and do some tabletop roleplaying in person. Such events vary greatly in frequency but, with my longest running D&D (3.5) campaign that started back in 2006, it’s never that frequent. 2018 proved to be the year we have made more of virtual tabletop gaming. We’ve grown pretty accustomed to playing D&D and now Starfinder via Fantasy Grounds.

This has the odd side-effect that playing Starfinder in person requires all the equipment of virtual gaming but in the same room. The campaign, the character sheets and even the manual are all digital products either in Fantasy Grounds or PDF form. Such a setup is ideal for virtual tabletop gaming of course, but for in-room sessions there is something missing. I’m not so far removed from the older standard way of playing after all. As a friend commented during this most recent play session: “it’d be nice to have a manual to look the spells up in”. So I think a Starfinder Rulebook needs to go on my Christmas list this year!

The trappings of virtual gaming will certainly be needed over the holidays. I hope I’ll be able to run at least one session of D&D 5E with family, and some Starfinder as well during the week we’re back in my home town. That means taking my laptop to run Fantasy Grounds as a bare minimum. For travelling tabletop sessions the “all digital” aspect is a major improvement – running games away in the past meant difficult decisions over how many and which manuals to take with me. For the venerable 3.5 campaign I have a slightly crazy number of hardback setting and rules books to choose from – taking anything beyond the basics was never practical. So having PDFs and virtual tabletop rulesets is a real boost to the portability of my roleplaying gaming!

A fraction of my RPG book collection

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2 Responses to Virtual and physical rpg gaming

  1. Nogamara says:

    I’ve not tried playing with online friends, so it’s been real life tables and paper manuals all the way. While I originally thought this might be neat to have some companion app on a laptop that eases some things.. Now coming back to playing on a table with pens and paper after a few years of not doing roleplaying.. I have to say I’m kinda happy we’re 100% analog and the only digital thing is ordering the food 😛 I’ve heard this many times when people said this about reading books.. I’m undecided here. Sometimes I like paperbacks, sometimes my kindle – but roleplaying games.. I’m really happy no one is distracted by anything digital and it’s just like 20 years ago. The only downside I can think of is sometimes missing the ctrl-f search in a book with a bad index. But someone will find it, we’re still using the same source books and have multiple copies.

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