This week I got back to Dm’ing 4e. No, I haven’t dropped Dragon Age, in fact that’s going quite well, but rather I added a game to my schedule. I’m running this game online, and I made it Essentials only, so it’s an experiment of sorts.
One, I wanted to see what Essentials brought to the table on the DM side of things, and two I wanted to see if I could actually keep an online game going for longer than two or three sessions. To start, right off the bat I had problems on the first session of play. My computer was not cooperating with my Skype/Gametable setup. I ended up using Skype off the iPad, which helped tremendously. After the session, I tried to figure out what the problem was and I narrowed it down to Dropbox, which is apparently a big resource hog.
For the second session, I decided to switch from Gametable to Maptool. I like Gametable, but it was doing somethings I couldn’t find a solution for. Some players saw the map while others didn’t for example. We got around it, but it was an unneeded distraction. There were a few other reasons for the switch to Maptool, but the primary one was the amount of people telling me to try it. I avoided it like the plague for a long time because I found it to be too complicated, but later realized that it’s only as complex as you make it, or need it to be.
So yeah, so far I’m two sessions in, and the only issue I’m having is to disconnect a bit from the technology aspect of it and concentrate on the game. I’m finding it hard to not be so concerned with everything working, and I can tell my DM’ing is hurting a bit from it. I imagine that with time it’ll be second nature, like playing at a real table, but I’d be lying if I said that it’s as smooth as a real tabletop experience for me just yet.
As far as the game is concerned, I’m running Logan Bonner’s “The Slaying Stone” adventure. It’s a first level adventure, relatively easy, and sandboxy enough that it’s not a railroady experience. I’ve taken the time to create macros in Maptool to simulate the attacks of each monster in the adventure, so combat isn’t as slow as I thought it would be. In fact, I’m pretty happy with the pace of it.
So we’ll see how it goes, as another issue that will come up is that I’m DMing 4e without being a DDI subscriber, and I want to see to what extent I can keep that up. With a prepublished adventure it’s easy enough, but what happens when I branch out and design my own stuff? So I’m looking forward to seeing how that turns out.
The takeaway for me here is that DM’ing online with Maptool isn’t the technological nightmare I thought it would be, and that 4e is still fun for me. Who knows, I may have to run a Dragon Age game online as well. We’ll see.
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