Tabletop RPGs in 2020

There were 2017 and 2018 “Tabletop RPGs in” threads, but we’re having a bit of a pestilence stalking the land since then.

Our table is getting more reluctant to meet face-to-face. We’re starting to look into VTTs. As a player, I’ve used Fantasy Grounds and Roll20. I just saw an ad for one called Astral. Do you have a favorite? How are your tabletop groups altering your gaming habits, if at all?

I’ve only really used Roll20, but I liked it quite a bit, even as a free experience. The stuff I was playing, they didn’t have much support for other than customized character sheets (and I didn’t run into that until maybe midway through my time with the site), but if you want to play D&D, the rabbit hole goes deep (they’ve even got a partnership with Wizards so they have official products fully integrated).

Honestly, I haven’t played RPGs face to face to speak of since…college? Even though online has a number of ways it’s not really ideal and adjustments tend to need to be made since the design assumptions are that you’re at the same table in nearly all cases, it’s just so much easier to arrange.

I either play on Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds. Roll20 when there is no ruleset and I have to finagle my own macros for rolling and Fantasy Grounds when they have the ruleset available as their integration is usually fantastic. Astral is a mess personally but YMMV. There is also Foundry in development an Let’s Roll and many others but Roll20 and FG are the 2 biggest. And since I only play online since a few years anyways not much of a change for me.

World Anvil is cool:

It’s not a platform to play on though. It’s cool but too much for me, overwhelmed by all the questions. I prefer Notion for my campaign book keeping.

Just a heads-up, Onyx Path Publishing is giving aways the .pdfs for the 20th Anniversary Classic World Of Darkness rulebook all this week, a different one each day. Monday was Vampire: Dark Ages, Tuesday was Werewolf: The Apocalypse, so those are gone. Today (Wed) is Mage: The Ascension, tomorrow is Wraith, and Friday is Changeling: The Dreaming.

I had it backwards- Thursday is Changeling, Friday is Wraith. Downloading C:tD now!

My local pals are big WoD/CoD nuts and are super happy about this. I never quite got the appeal, but I’m trying to remember to snag all the freebies. . .

Mostly I’m happy about this since I’ve been trying to migrate all my old TTRPGs to digital. Having them be the 20a editions is gravy. I don’t actually imagine I’ll play any of them ever again, but they were a big part of my youth back in the '90s.

I just started a D&D 5th edition Forgotten Realms campaign on Wed mornings (~10-2 Eastern), which will likely be using Roll20 while we all ride out the coronapocolypse. I’m thinking of running a second parallel campaign on either Sat or Sun afternoons (~4-7 Eastern), same setting with different players and characters.

Got a couple folks interested already, anyone else? There’s room for 3-4 more people in either time slot.

World of Darkness were the games that Gen Xers like myself got deep into in the late 90s. You young 'uns wouldn’t understand how our angst at the indifferent world created intense self-loathing… and also made us horny? But detached. But intense.

Hahaha. Too true. I found Vampire at the age of 17, in 1991, shortly after its release. I’d been hanging out at the local all-ages-ish punk/goth/industrial club for a few years, but was still a huge geek- mostly playing Shadowrun at that point, I think. I was basically their target market. Never really got into the LARP side of things, though, even though it was known as a good place to get laid all through the '90s (as you alluded to), heh.

I went to grab C20 and…I already owned it. Apparently the only one of these freebies I didn’t own was Vampire: The Dark Ages 20th and that was days ago.

I knew I’d picked up regular Vampire, Werewolf and Mage because there was some sale where they were $5 each, but Wraith wasn’t out at that point and I don’t remember how I ended up with that. And I could swear Changeling wasn’t either. IDK.

I will of course never play White Wolf ever again because their rules are terrible. But I did really love the fluff once upon a time. Especially Mage and Wraith. Man.

Also, of course Onyx Path has their own totally unnecessary branded version of DriveThruRPG. Sheesh.

Yeah. I’d hoped they were offered as downloads via DTRPG like bundleofholding. Seems like everyone has their own storefront now. Annoying.

Is this where I’m supposed to threaten to boycott, etc, etc.?

No, it literally is DriveThruRPG (you can use the same login and it’s the same library). it’s just got their branding. It’s super dumb.

Hahaha. I didn’t realize that. I chose to use FB login. When I go back tomorrow for Wraith, I’ll switch that. Thanks for the heads-up!

It’s like how for years you could go to or and it was functionally identical, shared the same account and products, shared your personal library of purchases…but they were still separate sites that tracked your login separately. For no goddamn reason.

(I mean, I assume at some point in the dark depths of the internet past RPGNow was a separate business that DTRPG bought out, but usually you would either just keep operating that separate business as it was, or consolidate it entirely into your own, not turn it into a weird clone.)

They did finally fold RPGNow into DTRPG and now it just redirects. But I have no conception of why it took that long.

I got into White Wolf in college, learning Changeling and Mage from the outgoing seniors (Gen X.) We younger students played Mage a lot but we dropped all the goth, technocrat, and weird horny stuff, played a bit loosely with the dice rules (no multiple hours of combat, but we were sticklers for the difficulty rules for rituals) and went deeply into sphere-tradition theory. We used the traditions for the different approaches to magic they represented, not the lifestyles or aesthetic, and we hardly used any of the suggested ways to portray the greater organization of the traditions.

We ran campaigns based on trying to accomplish ambitious, world-altering magic and exploring what the consensus could be persuaded to accept. We probably spent as much time talking about the game as playing the game (and a lot of playing was just us talking about possibilities.)

It was a particular time in our lives, but I still think Mage can be pretty good when played as a sandbox that pushes back at your ambitions and not as a grim desperate struggle. I don’t know how I would find like-minded players, though. Really thankful to have maintained the friendships with my college game group.

That’s cool, cornchip. Now I wish I had taken a stab at epic-level Mage.

Fantasy Grounds standard is $10 at the moment and the Ultimate version is $75 or so. (Most of the over $16000 in DLC is not discounted, but the idea is you buy a few specific things for the game you’re trying to run and may not need that much since many of the most popular systems are already included in some form.) FWIW.

I’ve never used Fantasy Grounds because it seemed clunky to me and it’s usually very expensive given that there are free alternatives like Roll20. But maybe it justifies that somehow?