March 7

#RPGaDAY2015 – Day 22: Perfect Gaming Environment

For some reason this post was scheduled to appear last year but it appears to have been stuck in my queue after it missed the publishing date.

When I started gaming, I always wanted a gaming room of my own with; dice, miniatures and a library of gaming books all within easy reach of me and the players.

As technology progressed and after seeing the gaming room with an overhead LCD projector I wanted one so I could display maps and combats in much better 3d environment.

I have also done some gaming with Roll 20 and this is getting close to my idea of a perfect gaming environment.  I have my battlemaps, books and custom macros to make things run that much smoother 🙂


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February 3

Virtual Tabletop gaming

After seeing a projector combined with a virtual tabletop on a friend’s FaceBook timeline it got me thinking if I could do something like that.  The projector is going to be expensive so I thought perhaps going for a cheaper alternative and playing in the same room with tablets; each one becoming a miniature map showing each player what their character can see.

I’m sure something like that could work.  Android tablets are very cheap these days and Roll20 can be used for free so that’s two of the major stumbling blocks out of the way, the only worry I have is that perhaps playing this way you would lose the atmosphere around the gaming table.  While I have had success using a virtual tabletop like Roll20 online you can make allowances for the fallibility of the technology in play, having you lose connection to the server when sitting around the gaming table could be potentially much worse as people scrabble around to find the dice and characters sheets which can normally be found to hand.

Perhaps I’ll give it a try and see what comes of it, after all nothing ventured, nothing gained right?

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May 3

Roll20 macros

Better automation through macros

So I’ve spent the best part of a day unlearning some bad habits when I set up the Roll20 sheets for my players.  I wish I’d spent some more time getting to grips with the documentation before I set down to create but I realise the campaign was based upon one of my first fumbling attempts at getting Roll20 to behave how I wanted.

Why Macros?

A macro is a statement that tells Roll20 to execute a string and in my case I had defined attack macros, dodge macros and damage macros.  What I forgot is that you can create a central pool of macros for all to use rather than creating them individually in each characters journal.  When I set the journals up I used the former method rather then the latter.  The downside was that as I read the documentation I learned more about how to write an effective macro and I was faced with the realisation that I would have to change it for each character that had a journal entry.

Why Change?

I changed because my players deserved better than me saying “Ah, I haven’t set that macro up yet on that character” and since I had some free time this weekend I did just that.  I scrapped the individual macros and harnessing the power of the language I re-wrote the macros while taking the time to improve them into something more functional.


So I present to you an example macro from the library that my players have access to, a simple ranged combat macro:

/em @{selected|token_name} fires my handgun!
/roll 1d10 +@{selected|Dexterity} + @{selected|Guns (Handgun)}  
+ ?{Additional Attack Bonus/Penalty?|0}
!ammo Pistol ammo

I also created them as token specific which means that you have to have a token highlighted before it will correctly execute.

The first line has the token announce the name of the token and what its doing.  The second line rolls a d10, adds the values of Dexterity and the handgun skill together before popping up a dialogue box asking if there are any other miscellaneous modifiers to add to the roll; say a situational modifier for someone that has been aiming long enough to obtain a bonus or if they are using a scope.

The final line calls a script which decreases the value of an attribute called Pistol ammo by one.  This way the player can see how much ammo they are going through as I used one of Roll20s radial buttons for this task.

There are more things to be done, but I hope that my players will see the benefits of a well written macro.


April 3

Roll20 the virtual table-top

I know this may seem somewhat of a redundant post doing two in one evening but this doesn’t really belong there and it should be separate and distinct.  Rather than being a story related article, its more of a nuts and bolts piece; a glimpse behind the curtain.

When I started gaming miniatures were not exactly the norm, you could quite happily get away without using them but they did add another dimension to the game.  You could see where people were in relation to the things that were trying to eat them and it was a good thing.

The problem lay with trying to find the perfect miniature for your character or the monster for the evening.  You could get common miniatures like giant rats or goblins for the games but some of the more esoteric creatures were harder to come by.  Plus you also had to be a dab hand with a brush to bring them to like; anyone who ever saw my undercoated space marines knows what I’m talking about 🙂

So while the added dimension was worth it the many complications weren’t and slowly I gave up trying to use them.

When D&D 3 was released like many other gamers I picked up a wipe clean ChessexTM battlemat and wondered how I was going to portray the action to the players.  That’s when I discovered the joy of map tiles, pre-printed tiles you could purchase on-line and print them out to assemble a map.  I bought a few, printed several out, cut them and laminated them to great effect but there was also the added work of trying to assemble a dungeon that resembled the one in the module that you had.

It was about this time that I discovered Fiery Dragon Press, a company producing 25mm tokens in packs that you could buy and cut out, so if you needed a few goblins you were covered.  The quality was certainly a step up in the counter market and I got a lot of use out of them.  They later sold CD-ROMs packed with the images and you could easily print one or two or even a whole host of these tokens for you game.  Since they were paper you could abuse them knowing that more could be printed out for another day.

Anyway, moving the clock on a bit further I came across Roll 20 the Virtual Table Top, a browser based service that lets you play virtual games with your friends almost as though you are sitting around the same dining room table.

A system like this calls out for quality maps and tokens and this is what I wanted to draw your attention to; several manufacturers who produce high quality products for you to use.


DramaScape produce some excellent maps both in pdf and have taken to including a file for use with your virtual table-top.  I have purchased quite a lot of their product and have been impressed by it.  The only downside is that the files for Roll20 are bigger than the maximum upload size and I have been using an image program called RIOT to shrink them.  You can find DramaScape here:

Fabled Environments also produce some excellent blueprints and they are pretty good, I just wish they would provide a file that can be used in Roll20 rather than a straight pdf.  There homepage is here:

Stoneworker Cartography have some very good looking maps and some interesting designs.  I am quite taken with the modern ones and hope to use one or two of them in an upcoming game.  Website:


Arion Games have created some great looking paper miniatures and I hope that they will branch out into the marketplace for Roll20 tokens.  Website:

Devin Night recently saved my backside with his free zombie token and I have since purchased some more to use later on.  Website:

Studio Wyldfurr produce top down tokens with a variety of poses for each character with distinctive features that make them stand out from other companies.  Website:

I’ll add more posts as I discover and use more content.

The Roll20 Website: