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tried playing d&d ("5th edition") last weekend. it was a lot of fun! but ran into some of the same problems as the last time i tried to play a book-based RPG ("shadowrun") with friends.

we used a website called "roll 20" to do fair dice rolls remotely. for a site that mostly just invokes a random number generator, it was laughably slow... but workable.

i mean, any child could make a faster site for sharing dice. but maybe they're just overwhelmed lately!

however, for character sheets, the obvious solution (web forms on the same site) was not implemented.

nor were any of the other first few solutions you'll think of. instead, we used "editable" PDF files -- a concept i had never heard of until that day.

linux's "document viewer" was able to deal with the first batch.

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then we received versions in a totally different format, edited by the GM, which "document viewer" didn't see as editable.

"just use chrome" they said, so (sighhhh) i launched chrome just to edit my character and provide stats and backstory.

today i found out that chrome failed to save them correctly so my changes are all gone.

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it's bizarre to me that book-based RPGs are often played by *very* tech-savvy people... yet they're fine with using a bunch of broken shit that looks vastly more complex to write/maintain than a basic website.

that previous RPG literally required a custom app (which crashed frequently, natch) running under a windows VM -- why???

i have too many side projects already, but honestly... the D&D character sheet is so simple, a web monkey could turn it into an editable html page in probably one day.

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... which would have saved my character and let me continue playing. instead, everything is lost and all i have is the memory of the start of what might have been a fun campaign.

oh well. onward.

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@robey there's also roll20 . net , which has the D&D 5th ed rules coded in, its all web driven, helps you build your character sheet, etc. there's a learning curve, but it works. it's not free for the GM if one wants the players to have access to the 5th ed rules & character sheets online. the maps are cool; also a learning curve to build. we use another app for voice, mostly out of habit. I could go on. it's not perfect but gaming woo!

@robey I use firefox to access the site. what ever this roll20 . net is using for the animations conflicts horribly with other web pages also using video, so I need to remember to try my "no one needs me I'm gonna surf" surfing on a different browser. the website completely crapped out for 2 hours during the first weekend after the lockdown started, but what ever they did to get more bandwidth, it worked and we were back up.

@ischade i think that's the site we were using! the maps were really cool, but it didn't have character sheet integration, so we got 2 different kinds of "editable PDF" which turned out to be a fatal flaw in the whole system

@robey the character sheet integration is totally worth it. I wonder if it costs a lot more to use? anyway you roll by clicking on the character sheet stat/skill/etc. there's even a setting for advantage/normal/disadvantage, so it automatically rolls 2x if needed. it can also be set to pause if you want to add a buff before rolling damage. (bardic buffs can be added at weird times.)
*sigh* I'll try to stop gushing. :D

@robey You could each run a dice rolling program that uses a shared random seed.

@robey I wrote a Shadowrun character generator for my Pascal class 27(!) years ago. Why does everything need to be so bloody difficult?

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