I have two young kids, a house that’s too small and I don’t drive. Most of my gaming friends are steadily moving away. I am suffering from geek withdrawal, and my video games don’t provide the same fix.
Whilst discussing a friends upcoming Hunter: the Vigil game via email, I was reminded that some people have managed to successfully play games using the internet – chat, IM, video conferences, stuff like that. I’d even looked into it myself a couple of years ago.

Could it work? Maybe…

So i’ve been poking around the internet (with moderate safe search on – i’m not a prude, but i’m not specifically looking for naked lady chat) and have found that the cool looking multi user white board featuring file uploading video conference site i’d used two years ago, Palbee, doesn’t seem to exist anymore.
However, a site called Bigmarker does, and seems to do exactly the same thing, but with nicer graphics.

I’m thinking of inviting some friends to a test, but I do have some reservations:

  • Awkwardness – Will the heady thrill of genuine human contact be missed? Will we just look shyly at our hands like teenagers on a first date?
  • Dice rolling – So, how do we monitor this? I’m not explicitly accusing anybody of cheating here, more that I take an interest in my players rolls, which allows me to a) help translate roll results into action, and b) fudge stuff if the roll generally unsatisfactory. So, how do I see the dice? Should we use a dice roller program, or everybody have a second webcam pointed at a designated rolling space, or should I just unclench?
  • Character sheets – similar question to dice. I like to collect them in and keep hold of the character sheets at the end of each session. This prevents players turning up to sessions without their sheets. Players, it must be remembered, are prone to forgetting dice, pencils, books, character sheets, miniatures and their own names, so i feel this is an understandable precaution. 
  • Character creation & book reference – this usually involves sitting down the player(s) and the relevant books. Seeing as most gamers I know don’t actually buy the books, it’s down to the GM to bring them along. Not really possible over the net. Not unless I get creative with a web cam or scanner.

I’m hoping the benefits will out weigh the costs, though, namely that I can game with my buddies, and not actually leave my living room. Result.


10 thoughts on “Long Distance Gaming / How to video conference for success and XP

  1. It evokes a lot of fear !!

    Use the force young master, let go of the padawans and let them live free .. and you in turn will receive the same freedom !


    Let them roll the dice at home !
    you can cheat in a room of 7 people so this is no different and given the opportunity most decent gamers like to see what happens should we fail a roll ..

    as for Books, try and keep it CORE and use online resources.. until you can get them to get .pdfs of the books you need them to use

    as for Char creation .. let em rip and then upload char sheets for you to keep and monitor for cheating ..

    mostly I think you'll find it a liberating experience.

    did it with a 2nd ed D&D once online … 1st level cleric ..

    Folks feel a lot free-er typing RP chat than they do in front of you in the same room


  2. Free range gaming? This kind of suggests that the normal Gamers is battery farmed: kept in a darkened room in cramped conditions and fed low quality food…
    I can see that.

    I think I am going to go for it. I think pdfs, Google Docs and on-line resources will be my friend here.

    The challenge will be convincing people to give it a go, but I think I'll focus on the fact that players can be naked from the waist down, fart at will, hell, they could soil themselves for all I care, I wouldn't know! All in the privacy of their own home.
    They will have all the conveniences of their own home, not have to travel. It could be sweet.


  3. I Literally LOL'ed at Gamers described as Battery Farmed ..

    kept in a darkened room in cramped conditions and fed low quality food…

    Come on .. 'fess up .. where is the webcam in my Mom's basement !!!!


  4. Seeing as some of my friends turn lobster red on an overcast autumn afternoon, then I think its probably dangerously close to the truth.

    Your mom's basement? Luxury! We have to find quite, poorly lit corners in bars to get our dice on.


  5. We tried bars once .. but for some reason the locals decided we were pagans or Satanists or Both .. and turfed us out !

    You know, thinking about it .. if my group hadn't all been there I'd be tempted to run that as the start of a game session..

    “Your characters are banned from the pub in the wee hours..
    Like the pub scene from American werewolf ! .. the middle of nowhere with only books and dice for protection in the middle of the night …
    The Full moon beats down upon you and nervous sweat drips from your pores … you smell the fear in your geeky friends …

    “You get in your cars and go home ??”

    A Grue pops out of the glove box and eats you .. you are dead roll a new character…


  6. Yeah, our local bar wasn't too friendly at first, until they realised we were spending money and not causing trouble.

    The Slaughtered Lamb is a great setting. I used it in a Hunter: the Reckoning game a few years back as the Hunters local.
    Good times.

    Your car has broken down. The local pub won't put you up for the night, so you have to huddle together in the busted rental piece of Shit parked a couple of miles up on the mores.
    You can see pretty well, though, its a full moon…


  7. Seems like a fine plan to me. The best bit is probably not having other people violate your toilet.
    Did D&D 4th Ed ever get its viryual gaming table working?


  8. Sam, there's nothing anybody could do to your toilet that you haven't done already… apart from possibly clean it.

    I believe the D&D online table didn't get off the ground, and is no longer referred to on their website.
    I could be wrong. It's been a couple of years since I last looked.

    So, if I actually get off my arse and try it, should I give you a call?


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