Moving your in-person game online

  • 07.07.2020
  • Nathan

In recent months, it has simply not been possible for most to run their usual table-top game in person. So your left with a couple of options, wither wait in out until you can next play again or switch to remote play online.

This transition can be tricky for some, swapping miniatures and boards for virtual ones, or going to a voice chat only game, there are many ways to get the next best thing. In this post, we’ll discuss a few different options.


Roll 20

One of the most popular ways to play tabletop games online is through Roll20, but especially D&d, not only does it already have published adventures you may already own the books for, but you can also create pretty much any other type of game within the system.

It’s not without faults however. Prepping this kind of game without paying for modules can be very time consuming and in many ways takes longer than prepping an in-person game. There is also a fair amount of time during the game spend fiddling with positioning NPC tokens and marking HP, conditions and all of the other things you would usually just jot down on a piece of paper.

What you do get is a great way for players to visualize the space their characters are exploring, allowing for interaction not possible at a real table. For example, the dynamic lighting system allows players to only see what their characters would see in situ and there’s no monetary investment to adding more monsters to the board (unless you buy custom token images).

Discord (voice/video chat)


You may opt to forgo the board and visual representation altogether and simply describe everything with your voice. Not only do you cut out at least 60% of your prep time, but you also have an infinite special effects budget! Your only limitation is your own ability to adequately describe each scenario.

Some players are likely to struggle to visualize your descriptions, but this is something you will get better at over time and you can always post supplemental images in your chat, whether it be a particularly gruesome-looking monster or a picturesque landscape.

Your players might miss the tactical element of positioning their character perfectly on a grid for a spell they’ve been saving, but along as you give them some leeway when trying to let them pull off a cool move, you may discover an element of freedom running this type of game. When they ask, “am I withing 30ft of the goblin”, you can just say “sure” instead of counting squares.

D&D Beyond

D&D Beyond Character Sheet

D&d beyond and similar sites are supplemental to your game as opposed to a game system itself but can be really useful for running a virtual game nonetheless. If you’re playing D&d 5th edition and need a way to keep your character sheet and abilities organised, it doesn’t get much better. It’s especially useful if you don’t all own your own copies of each book as you can share official gamebooks for a monthly fee. Of course, you do have to pay for the content you would find in the books, but if you know you will be using them allot it may be worth the investment, even when you do get back to the table.

They now have other useful tools such as digital dice and encounter trackers, but of course, I’d prefer you to use the tools on ...

DM Tools

DM Tools Initiative Tracker

As mentioned above you will find supplemental tools to your games here on the site. We have a 3d and 2d dice roller for desktop or mobile. The initiative tracker is great for the DM that wants a simple interface with layers of complexity. Eventually, these features will all tie into Dungeons, a 3d virtual tabletop environment, where you can play your game with a real sense of the space your exploring. More details on that coming soon.


There are many ways to get an experience similar to your in-person game. You’ll need to try some different options out before deciding what works best for you and your group. It may not be the same as your in-person experience, but hopefully, these tools will help you get by.