My group played our first remote D&D 5e session last night. As it happened, my notes (written before I knew this would be online) called for them waking in the middle of a cavalry battle between centaurs and horsemen. It was certainly a lot easier to manage with a virtual tabletop!
We had problems with the Roll 20 app’s audio and switched to JoinMe halfway through: that went much better. We will do that going forward. Unfortunately, virtual D&D brings all of the fun of conference calls to your gaming experience. People talking but not being heard, people talking over one another, and calls dropping. In the future, I need to do a better job making sure everyone gets their turn to speak, as it is easy to speak over another and miss cues that others want to talk.
I didn’t always realize that what players saw was different than what I saw. For instance, I didn’t realize people couldn’t see my initiative order, which I did by dragging the text of player names into a new order. So I need to figure out how Roll 20 handles that.
I loved being able to, on the fly, add art that related to the story (like the giant hand above, summoned by a spell). I need to research simple terrain backgrounds for next week.
Overall, virtual D&D is better than no D&D. In fact, now I know that I’d love a digital table for playing in person together in the future.
But the last thing I want in my life for the long term is another reason to sit alone in my office at my computer.
For strong tips, and a well-structured way of considering the technology stack needed, see: How To Move Your RPG Campaign Online.