The Virtual Table and Your Home Game

Tonight I had my regular Monday night group over to play some D&D. Instead of playing I decided to surprise them with a bit of work and some Munchkin Bites. We were a player short so I took the opportunity to have each of my players who were present enter their characters into the new DDI (Dungeons and Dragons Insider) Virtual Table.

I know what many people are thinking, the virtual table is an online tool which can allow players from all over play together with out being in the same room. If you are already in the same room why use the virtual table? To those of you asking that question or similar questions I say: “Shut up”. No really though, I think the virtual table might be a great option for those DMs and players who do not have hundreds of dollars to spend on dungeon tiles, battle mats, and minis. Or for those of us who live in a small apartment and don’t like having to rearrange the furniture every game night. Anyone with a decent sized television can make the virtual table their regular gaming table.

If your T.V. is from the present era, HD flat screen and what not, there is a good chance that it has an RGB input. This means with a spare RGB cable you can connect your computer to your T.V. Mine does and I used to use all 42″ of it to play WoW on raid nights. I already know it can function as one hell of a high def monitor.

I’m excited to incorporate the virtual table into my home game, the following list of reasons is in no way complete:

  1. It will allow me to build multiple maps and save them for future use on the fly.
  2. It has a very easy to use initiative tracker and everyone at my table hates tracking init.
  3. Some of my players spend time out of town and can now play with the group Via the table.
  4. I can keep copies of their characters in the program and use the for references as I am designing encounters.
  5. The table allows me to save the combat exactly where we leave off every week, no worries about finishing up a fight late into the night so we don’t have to avoid setting it up next week.
  6. I can use my couch and not sit at the table on the less comfortable chairs.
  7. I can hide things on the DMs map that they can’t see; surprise might actually be a bit more surprising.
  8. I suck at keeping track of my monsters and the virtual table really helps with that.
  9. As I said before no more moving all my furniture around every Monday night.

As I gave my players a tour of the new system they had a few misconceptions about what it would mean for the game. I tried to make note of as many of them as I could. Some of you out in reader land might also have ideas out what the table can and can’t do, it might be a good idea to read the following:

  1. It dose not keep track of your hit points for you. If you are damages you need to keep track of that on your virtual character sheet.
  2. It does not calculate and keep track of damage you do to monsters. It is still the DMs job to keep track of how healthy the monsters are.
  3. While the system does allow you to add things such as Marks to creatures it does not automatically add the penalties, you still have to keep track of that your self.
  4. Healing powers really don’t need to be entered into the character sheet.
  5. Racial powers like the dwarfs resistance to forced movement are not calculated by the program, you still track that your self.
  6. Bonuses from feats and powers are not automatically added to your attacks. If you have a power that grants +2 to your next attack the virtual table will not add that in for you.
  7. The line of sight tool is only a tool to help you establish if you have line of sight. It will not show you what penalties or bonuses you may or may not have due to line of sight.
  8. The line of site tool will not calculate cover for you.

I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things, and I’m sure more people have more thoughts about what the virtual table does that it actually won’t do. I think many people think it makes D&D more like a video game, but it really just acts as a table in lieu of the real thing.  It’s not like playing the old TSR Pool of Radiance games, your character tokens don’t move or attack on their own. Players still have to roll dice, real or virtual, calculate their attacks, damage and defenses while in battle, and role play as they always have before.

If you have a small apartment, a tech savvy group, players who are spread across time zones, or just hate buying tiles and drawing maps perhaps you should think about giving the virtual table a try in your home game. It might be the combat tracking system you have been waiting for.  It’s not going to replace all my maps and tiles, but it is going to be a regular supplement for them. If our trial next week works out the virtual table will be another tool for me to enhance my game and destroy some PCs.

I plan of making a video of next weeks game. I’ll edit it to keep it short and enjoyable, so expect that in the next month or so. If you have any questions about how I plan to implement the virtual table in my home game, or if you have thoughts you would like to share please feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.

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About Thadeousc

Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.
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