Lately, trying to play in a D&D game for John has been more than problematic due to the evil overload known as Life. Sorry no storming the castle for you John, until you turn in your TPK reports to the boss, and make sure that they are properly formatted, or else you have to come in on a Saturday. Yet again, he can’t make it to the game today because his four year old has no sitter and last time John brought her with him to Bob’s basement game she ate all the pencil erasers while they were killing dragons. Not only did He have to sleep on the couch a whole week for that, but he missed so much gaming that his friends have out leveled him into the next tier.
So just like that, Life has taken away John’s best hobby and he can’t seem to get out of the house to be able to play. When John can finally set aside time to play, it’s often with such late notice that the group cannot be assembled due to the complications of their own lives. Life is a vicious and unforgiving CR 20 Monster with a ton of immunities, but alas heroes, the secret weapon to fighting this beast has been around for some time, yet lurking in the shadows, that is Online Play!!
You might be asking yourself “what is this Online Play, and why is it relevant in defeating the evil CR 20 Life monster? and more importantly how does it work?” That is what this article is all about. None of us have to be like John anymore. Technology allows us to game with friends, over the interwebs, across many states, or even in other countries.
To make it even all the more special the good folks within the D&D Adventurers League have established Online Play as a legal form of play within the D&D Adventurers League. So, if you’re stuck in a spot where the only Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS) is a Dan’s Block n’ Tackle that only runs Magic tournaments. The D&D Adventurers League has your back. If you’re stationed in service of the military and your local store is no longer local, once again the League has your back. If your spouse says you have toddler duty because tonight they have an appointment, well i think you know where i am going with this. The ability to play anywhere and everywhere via the internet and a device is a revitalizing breakthrough for us busy gamers. What do I mean by that? well lets have a look at a few ways online gaming can benefit the average busy gamer specifically.
Homeplay or D&D Encounters
Playing D&D Adventurers League can be difficult if you do not live close to a FLGS to participate in the League without needing to drive an extreme amount of miles each week. Online Play solves this by allowing you to play D&D right from your very own home. Its important to note that while the stores do offer the D&D Encounters program, at the end of the day D&D Encounters is a weekly in store gathering to play the current season’s published module, one that you as an online player can also participate in at home. How is that you ask? well homeplay has been offered as a valid format for League compatible play since the new edition started. Homeplay is the personal use and play of any 5th edition League approved store purchased materials, this includes The Starter Set, Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Rise of Tiamat, Princes of the Apocalypse, and even the upcoming Out of the Abyss. You can play these adventures in any format, as long as you keep to the D&D Adventurers League Players Guide (ALPG) then you’re doing it right. No special permission, or organization need be sought out to Play any of these Homeplay adventures online within the League. You need nothing special other than willing players and a few hours to try and introduce their characters to their makers.
D&D Expeditions is a different beast. Yes it can be played online, but that doesn’t change the fact that these adventures are designed and presented in a format that is intended to be public play. Once again D&D The Adventurers League has stepped up with a way for us FLGS deprived players with a way to play publicly. By live streaming. What is live streaming you ask? Live streaming is a method of transmitting, or receiving data (especially video and audio material) over a computer network as a steady, continuous flow, allowing playback to proceed while subsequent data is being received.
The D&D Adventurers League Players Guide says that:
“Online streaming play is considered public play as well. While the actual play group might be small, as long as the public is able to easily access the streaming content through a website or application, the benefits for public play apply to the group participating in the adventure. Organizers with a streaming account should specify it in their request for adventure access if they’re not able to partner with a store.” (pg14).
What this means is that as long an online game is openly streaming to an online Public source (like Google Hangouts On-Air, or TwitchTV) then it is legal to play a D&D Expeditions game. The precise manner in which the game is run and streamed is not defined, which leaves a lot of online options for play. You want to use a virtual table program Like Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, or Revolution? Throw that game into Twitch, Hangouts On Air, or some other streaming site and you’ve got a legal game, You want to just use Skype and play using your voice and maybe just the camera, stream it, and you can do it. Any format in which you can stream the game video and audio, is now legal for D&D Expedition play.
Getting D&D Expeditions to Live Stream
Getting D&D Expeditions to live stream is easy. First you must have a streaming channel, whether that’s a Twitch channel, a YouTube channel or any other video streaming platform is up to you. Once you have your channel play D&D and live stream it, making sure to record it and have it online and available for others to watch. You can download Harried in Hillsfar, a great starter adventure. Once you’ve streamed about 3 hours of the adventure, send an email to our online Regional Coordinator at online(at)dndadventurersleague(dot)org with a link to your streamed games and they will provide you with the password for this season’s adventures.
Catching Up Online
Another great aspect of online play is catching up when your friends out level your character. It’s no fun to go to a convention with your friends and find that your absences have left you behind, or that your DM experience isn’t enough to keep your character in the running with your group. This can be remedied by finding online games during the off time when away from your group. Many people use online play as a way to keep feeding experience points to their D&D Adventurers League characters so that they can stay in the same level range as their friends. Its just a matter of finding an Online Dungeon Master who is willing to throw together an adventure for you to log your game time. In addition, the D&D Adventurers League Online Region has developed a way for players looking to find games are able to do so. There is the Adventurers League Online Tools site ALonlineTools.net , This site was designed by the coordinators to allow people to find games, whether it is a DM who posts a game publicly to find players to join, or if a player is trying to see if there happens to be an availability within any of the games taking place. To take the website a step further, The Online Region has put together a dedicated DM team to run specific D&D Expeditions and tutorials to keep the community active and participating in online gaming. One way they do this is through a program called Expedition of the Week. Each participating DM agrees to run a single module over the course of a week. During that week all of the DM members schedule various times and days of the week to run the module. the intent is to make sure that as many people as possible among as many timezones as possible have an opportunity to play in the featured D&D Expedition. So now not only is searching for online games easier, but the League practically guarantee’s gaming activity to find at almost any time that can be arranged.
Making Connections, New and Old
This brings me to the last perk of Online Play, and the final situation for which online play really shines in its ability to overcome, and that is disconnected community. John grew up with Sam and played D&D until Sam took that job in the other state. Now John and Sam only play D&D when Sam visits, or when they are able to make it to a convention. With online play the community is world wide, so what used to be a neighborhood game at the library, can still live on as the world wide game from device to device. Whether its using skype over tablets, or playing Fantasy Grounds with others on a computer. Sam and John’s game lives on. Once again the D&D Adventurers League has stepped up to the plate to make the community of online play even better. Unlike your local store, online play lacked a certain social level of community that a physical location can bring to the experience. After all what good is defeating a dragon with a steak knife if there is no one around to hear you tell the story? Who wants to join an online game if there is no pre or post game interaction? After all it is a social game right? its hard to be social if your playing an online game and you don’t even see who your playing with. For this reason, The Online Region has created a place to go for these interactions. and that place is the Moonsea Pub Facebook group. This is a group where the community is encouraged to tell the tales of what adventurers heroes have partaken and to post announcements to others when looking for a group. or perhaps give a shout out to a Dungeon Master who ran a particularly enjoyable adventure. All of those things that get talked about before and after in the FLGS takes place in the Moonsea Pub.
So now that you know the benefits of online play, you can continue your games and proceed to adventure with your friends across the globe. You’re able to keep your character’s in sync with the group you are the Dungeon Master for, and more importantly, you don’t need to sweat having to commute for hours to get to a local game store that is no longer local to you. All of this from the D&D Adventurers League Online Play.