Roll20 Optimal Series – Game setup

First in a series.

I’ve previously written a little bit about the idea of “going optimal” on Roll20: the idea of using the basic functions that you can’t really do well with other tools (sharing maps, handouts, and tokens), but sticking with what works on the things you can (your existing dice and character sheets).

This series will cover the basics of using Roll20 for folks who aren’t engaging in highly tactical play and don’t want to use it for the actual game mechanics (the aforementioned dice rolling and character sheets, etc). For example, many groups still like rolling physical dice even if they play online, or even have Roll20 up on a screen in the room where they are all present.

Note that sometimes my screenshots will have options you might not have, due to subscription levels and other things. None of those things matter significantly to what I’m covering in this series, though I will point out where there are upgrade options you might find helpful if you choose to do so.

Game Creation

Let’s get started! Create a game with the basic options: choose a name and hit “I’m Ready, Create Game” without anything else changed.

At the campaign page, let’s change some default settings.

Let’s turn off the grid, since this series specifically focuses on avoiding the use detailed maps and such. You can always turn it back on for specific pages if you want! This option only sets the default for new pages.

The Player Permissions box will let you set the default for any tokens they can see. If you want them to see the name or bars for tokens (including each other’s), then you can do that here, or you can always set it on a per-token basis. Save your choices when you’re done here.

Basic Settings

Back at the campaign screen, launch the game and look at the upper right. Click on the gear for “My Settings”.

I personally turn on the advanced keyboard shortcuts, but that’s completely an individual preference. The main thing here is to cut down the size of the player labels at the bottom of the screen. Change the avatar size and turn off the crummy Roll20 video/audio; almost anything else is better, including Discord or FaceTime or whatever. And if you’re streaming, you probably already have your own choice.

Feel free to explore here. Maybe you actually do like the 3D dice, or want to turn on chat timestamps (I usually do!). Poke around and explore and you might find something that interests you. The Roll20 Wiki has lots of information on each of these pages if you want to drill further into it.

Now that we have the initial setup out of the way, the next post will focus specifically on scenes and backgrounds.

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