I’ve been roleplaying since the late 1970’s, starting with “Dungeons & Dragons” and playing literally dozens upon dozens of other games over the years. And while it is always fun to gather a group together around a table to play a classic pencil-&-paper RPG, I’m starting to think it might be better to leverage modern technology to make this sort of thing easier. I have a couple of Discord servers already set up, which support video chat in addition to regular audio or just plain ol’ text chat. Everyone I know has a computer they can use, or a phone, or a tablet, all of which can access Discord, so why I aren’t we playing this way?
I know, I know… I can already hear the old-school players now…
“That’s not how real Roleplayers play!”
“Why do you have to change everything?”
“I don’t like talking into my computer/phone/tablet!”
“IT’S NOT THE SAME, SO IT’S BAD!”
… and in many ways, they aren’t wrong. Tabletop roleplaying games have always been about social interaction in a group setting, whether it be at the kitchen table, around a folding table at the local game store, etc. But keep in mind that this style of game predates what we know of as the Internet, and we have had “Play by Post” style games over IRC and the like since the 80’s. There is literally no reason not to use Discord or some other online communication service to facilitate roleplaying sessions.
So my thought is this: To set up a test game, with a few players in a “Shadowrun” one-off session. These players could use video chat if they wanted, although audio would be necessary, in my opinion. Those who don’t want to use video could just have a placeholder image up, or maybe a character picture instead? Regardless, rolls would be on the Honor system, because they usually are, anyway (at least in my groups… if you can’t trust your fellow roleplayers, why are you playing with them?).
Yes, there are software programs that are specifically designed for this purpose, but they are also rather expensive. Discord is free. Google Hangouts is free. So why go with the pricey option, when a free one is perfectly acceptable? So, yeah, this is something I want to try out, sometime in the next few months. And yes, I would like this to be Livestreamed on my Twitch channel, if I can get everyone to agree. Along the same lines, I might start Livestreaming my podcast’s recording sessions in due time.
Anyway, what are your thoughts on this idea?