I’ve been on something of a retro-RPG kick lately. On a whim, I signed up for a session of Virtuacon, the virtual roleplaying convention run in October by volunteer GMs at RPGGeek.com (the Roleplaying brother site to Boardgamegeek). There were several games and session to choose from. I initially wanted to try FIASCO, but decided to go with LABYRINTH LORD instead. My reasoning was that much as I like Fiasco’s core concept, it is a storytelling RPG game at heart, and I have very little experience in that kind of RPG. Labyrinth Lord, by contrast, was as familiar as putting my foot into an old boot. Created under D&D’s open license, it is about as old-school D&D as it comes. There was literally nothing about the game I didn’t get or had some previous experience with in another form. We played on October 19, from about 6PM to 10PM. Considering that we were launching a new campaign, incorporating new characters and doing the scenario preamble roleplaying, we were surprisingly productive.
Virtual roleplaying was accomplished using Google Hangouts for video and audio chat, and Roll20 mapping app for the maps and die rolls– really all the “gamey bits”. My computer doesn’t have a camera built in (or microphone) but I managed to plug in my snowball microphone for audio input and everything went splendidly. I didn’t really look at the live video feed much– it’s not required for playing a game anyway. Sound, however, is crucial. I had a hard time with the driver set for the Snowball, and that hung me up for a bit– until I rebooted my machine, and then it went well. I notice that nobody pays much attention to typed chat in a virtual game, so a microphone is the very least amount of equipment I would call essential for playing.
How did it go?
I think we all had a blast. I ran a pre-generated character call Bronn the Sell-Sword. A plain vanilla fighter with not much in the way of kit. Here’s the rather succinct summary posted by the GM:
“A recent party of adventurers returned from the Barrowmaze with many gems and gold only losing one valiant cleric that sacrificed his life to save the party.
They took with them a strange man by the name of Tronnan from a far off land looking for what he said was a river that supposedly runs through some part of the Barrowmaze. The party returned without finding it in the first delve after running from a pack of 4 ghouls and rescuing a former adventurer hurt in a pit.
Creatures defeated: 5 giant rats(alas no 2000 coppers!), 2 zombies (turned), 1 giant snake, 1 zombie, 2 giant carnivorous flies, 1 heucuva
6 rot grubs(2 killed). ”
1 Deela Danderfluff (884)
2 Kevlar Windbreaker (884)
3 Bross the Sellsword (844)
4 Pardue the Holy Man (844)
5 Mikos Zanzibash (0) (died from ghoul attacks)
I did manage to kill a few things but my luck was pretty bad much of the night– the dice weren’t on my side. So it goes. I redeemed myself by leaping into the last room full of ghouls and dragging the unconscious hobbit out by the hair, before the ghouls finished feasting on the cleric and turned their attentions towards the thief.
I liked the virtual RPGing experience quite a bit. Technology has advanced a lot since I tried something like this the last time and this time I felt like I was in the same room with the crowd of gamers. Everyone was polite, not greedy and very easygoing and funny. We are going to meet again to play another round in November.