Online tabletop services

Hi Everyone,

I’m new here and new to tabletop gaming generally. I was always interested in AD&D, Vampire, Shadowrun, Werewolf, etc. as a kid (since I was 13 or 14 years old), but it wasn’t until this year, when I turned 37 (!!) that I finally found a group to play RPGs with, and I got lucky in that my first game was Blades in the Dark.

We continue to play a campaign every couple of weeks, but having as much fun as I am, I’m interested in seeking out other games too, especially some of the more “classic” RPGs that everyone knows, like D&D 5E, Vampire, Call of Cthulhu, maybe even Numenera. After talking to my friends in the Blades in the Dark campaign, I got the impression that online tabletop gaming is the easiest way to find new games. Getting busy people together at an actual table can be hard.

But none of them mentioned a service or website that they use and there appears to be a handful of options with varying degrees of functionality (and pricing?).

Is there one that users here prefer? Could you share why?

Looking forward to more social gaming in the future. Thanks in advance for any replies.

Roll 20 has a number of games looking for players. Some of the more obscure systems won’t have many choices, unfortunately.

I suggest looking for discords specific to the game you’re interested in. Nearly all of them will have a LFG section (looking for Group) where you can look for games that pertain to your specific wants for time and game type.

This may take a while. A lot of games, I’ve noticed, like doing their time like in the morning in the middle of the week.

I’m signed up to a Star Wars FFG discord where I am looking for a game that works for me right now.

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Seconding everything GoldenJoel says in that post, because roll20 has been the only accessible one I’d been able to use (especially for free!). YMMV for Discord servers when it comes to certain games. D&D probably has more than one that I wouldn’t be able to speak for, while similar games like 13th Age have a way smaller server but a much bigger Facebook group. Lancer on the other hand has an amazing Discord server and I think always has people looking for games.

There’s also the LFG subreddit, who have tags for certain games for you to search for, and probably isn’t too full of sketchy people: https://www.reddit.com/r/lfg/

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thank you both! looks like I need to jump into a couple of different places and see what’s on offer. in addition to the classics, i’m really hoping to find some Burning Wheel players - would love to sample it before i buy the book and take a deep dive.

I should note Roll20 has its own LFG section but I have heard… Stories and so your mileage may vary there. I can’t remember if Burning Wheel has a dedicated Discord/community anywhere online.

That being said if you want to dip your toes into BW, I would actually recommend looking at MouseGuard! You can purchase a PDF on DriveThruRPG (unlike Burning Wheel itself) and it’s a much lighter version systems-wise, whereas for BW not reading the book could put you at a mechanical disadvantage.

I haven’t played BW myself but played a 3-shot of MouseGuard and absolutely loved it.

ETA: itch.io forums recently added a tabletop section that has some LFG and folks looking for playtesters, I know the mods personally and while the community is small, folks seem to be generally chill there? https://itch.io/community

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I ran a 3.5e Eberron campaign for a couple years using FantasyGrounds (www.fantasygrounds.com). It was a little clunky sometimes, but combined with Ventrilo it did everything we needed. However, that was, like, 10 years ago… so some of these other options might be better, or FG might have improved since then.

FG is less than ideal I think because you can’t get a game started for free AFAIK; I think the GM has to purchase the app/service and host for the other players. It also supports very few games out of the box.

Roll20 basic is free for all players and does pretty much anything you’d need for most campaigns, minus a few bells and whistles (dynamic lighting and fog of war, for instance)

I’ve looked at various VTTs after seeing how clunky some of Roll20’s tools are, but I stick with them because ultimately they cater to indie games/designers as much as they do the big games and it’s super nice to have something that does everything fairly well, even with some occasional jank.

in roll20 you can kinda work out a fog of war substitute using big 2d objects over the map layer if you’re playing something that absolutely needs the FoW. roll20 is the best one i’ve come across for £0.

I’m thinking about MouseGuard! I see I can get the boxed set for $50 and that seems like a pretty great deal too, though not as cheap a trial run as the PDF would be. Do you need all the cards included in the boxed set to run MG? Or can you get by without them? I want to play something I can introduce my friends to and maybe GM myself, even with limited experience. BW looks like it could be amazing but it’s clearly not as straightforward as MG (as best as I can tell from reading reviews anyway).

Dungeon World also looks pretty great and I know FatT ran that for awhile, so I could always listen there for experience.

Thanks for the tips about Itch.Io and DriveThruRPG - I use the former plenty, but didn’t know they had a tabletop community… and DriveThru is brand new to me!

I didn’t have any of the cards when I played it and it worked out just fine, though if you’re playing in person they might be helpful!

Also of course; tabletop can be intimidating so I try to provide resources whenever possible :blush: if you have any other questions feel free to ask and I’ll answer if I can!

thanks! I’m looking into Play-by-Post now too, if only because I want to find as many alternatives for play as possible. The Blades group I meet with is only once every other week. I’d love to find a weekly game, or a continuous game-by-post if possible. Have any luck with that kind of gameplay? I imagine it’s less fulfilling, but considering how my DM has been moving around the table with Blades, it might also work better than I expect.

This might sound like a strange suggestion, but I actually had luck finding both Roll20 and play-by-post games on Something Awful’s tabletop lfg section. It was a few years ago, but was very active. But I totally understand if anyone wouldn’t want to use that site.

I will say that most play-by-post games tend to fizzle out unfortunately, so don’t be distressed if that happens. You’ll probably have to have a few before something lasts.

I actually haven’t engaged much with PBP, so that’s the one place I don’t have a lot of advice for! Sorry