Author Topic: Tips for Running Chatroom Games?  (Read 1264 times)

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Pan-Fried Hamster

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Tips for Running Chatroom Games?
« on: May 26, 2008, 02:39:05 AM »
Hello, everyone.  My gf's off at school in NY and she's been lamenting the lack of good online hangouts (she'd prefer to avoid pay to play MMOs, and the others boil down to grindfests that I can't stick to longer than a few weeks).  I thought I might introduce her to D&D via a chat game, since she said play-by-post sounded too slow.

With that in mind, there are really two options: either I can DM a solo adventure for her, or we could look through the forums for a game to join.  Either way though, I've never done a chat game, and I was wondering what dice rollers and battlegrid programs people tend to use for them.

My girlfriend has never played, though she's well acquainted with the game due to my inability to keep my character's latest exploits to myself.  For my part, I've never DM'd, but I want to try (partly due to "I'll bet I can do it better than my current DM" syndrome).  I have a pretty solid grasp on the rules, and generally refer to the DnD Wiki or for clarification.  I've also read Oakspar777's legendary thread on the subject of DMing a solo campaign under similar circumstances (though in his case, face-to-face).

I'm not sure where to set point-buy, but I'd like to lean towards something a bit more high-powered.  Sources are open, though I have a hunch I'll be doing a lot of the fine-tuning once she gets going with a concept.  For setting, I'm looking at Greyhawk or something similarly "classic fantasy," without the glut of FR epicness that makes PC's feel like Commoners.  She should feel heroic.

For the game itself, I really don't know; I was leaning towards setting up a general starting town/village, and then cooking up some fun conflicts, aside from the cliche'd "trouble with bandits."  I'm sort of curious how to see how she'd deal with moral shades of gray, and where she would side:

- Perhaps kobold miners are undermining the lake, threatening both the humans and the kobolds?

- A wyrmling green dragon has set about terrorizing trade caravans in an effort to start building a reputation, but he's biting off more than he can chew.  Help the rich merchants?  Help the greedy but inexperienced dragon?  Bonus potential for a recurring archenemy, or even cordial rival, depending how far towards Neutral I play him and how much her own actions might affect his outlook.

I'd probably be doing a lot of the combats by the seat of my pants, using appropriate tactics (or lack thereof) to make them challenging without being cakewalks (unless that's the point).

Any technical advice?  General tips for introducing a newbie to the game?  Tips for DMing effectively and with direction, without turning everything into a railroad?  It's going to be a learning experience for both of us, that's for sure.


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Re: Tips for Running Chatroom Games?
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2008, 05:13:43 PM »
For online rollers, I love  If you are using an actual chatroom, some have built in rollers. I know AOL Instant Messenger has one. If you are in an AIM chatroom, the auto roll code is //roll-dice1-sides20 and you can change how many and how many sides, etc. I'm not sure about other programs, but you can look into them.

Point buy... I'd recommend a 32 or 36 for a heroic feeling character.  If you start her off at a low level, 1-3ish, you'll be able to adapt as things change and keep it interesting.  Good luck :D
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Re: Tips for Running Chatroom Games?
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2008, 07:37:08 PM »
Personally, I'm a HUGE fan of maptool for that kind of thing. It has chatting, dice-rolling, and an interactive map that you can set up ahead of time, provide tokens for, and let players move their own tokens and whatnot. If you're really prepared, you can have it handle things like lighting and line-of-sight, but I'm usually too lazy.

Either way, it's great. It runs in java, and it's free and pretty easy to get started on, even if you just use the chat/dice functionality.

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Re: Tips for Running Chatroom Games?
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2008, 02:36:02 PM »
Hamster, did you ever get to run this game? I'm new to this board, but I've been running a chat-based v.3.5 Planescape game for the last nine months, so I'm curious what your experience was like, and I may have some suggestions if you're still looking for any. I've gathered most of my ramblings on the subject to date here.
Cold Blood - my chat-based D&D v.3.5 Planescape campaign.

Read my diatribe about chat-based gaming here.