Roleplaying Online Under Lockdown, Part 3

Date : June 21, 2020

By and large, Malaysians are still roleplaying online, even as movement restrictions begin to lift. The sun rises and goes back down, the rains come and go, and shoppers can be seen in greater numbers. But for almost all of us, it’s not yet time to roleplay together at the same table.

These are the continuing stories of Malaysians and their roleplaying adventures, under lockdown.

Roll20 screenshot with undergorund map
One of Alyssa’s game sessions.

I spoke with two local gamemasters, Alyssa Tan (an online community leader) and Douglas Larke (previously interviewed here) to find our how they have fared during this time.

Alyssa Tan

What games have you played or run during the MCO? Are you gaming more or less now?

I’m running Green Ronin’s Dragon Age RPG campaign with homebrew elements, I play in a Dungeons and Dragons 5th Ed Forge of Fury module, Fantasy Flight Games’ Star Wars Edge of the Empire, and Blades in the Dark. I am gaming a lot more since the MCO started, like 3 games more.

I run Dragon Age once every two weeks, used to be once a week until my player CK wanted to run Star Wars, and we take turns to run on Saturdays. And the other two are once a week.

Are any of these paid games?

None of these are paid. XD We all broke.

What platforms and tools do you use for your games? Do you use webcams?

We use Roll20, and Discords. No webcams — it feels a little awkward. :/

How has the experience been for you and the players? Are any of the players new to playing online?

My players and I really miss sit down games as we started in October 2019 as a sit-down group playing at one of my player’s house. Basically, I see it as survival mode at the moment. I know groups will die out if they don’t keep playing — seen it happen twice, not gonna let it happen to this one.

With the exception of me and one other player, the rest (four) are all new to playing online. Luckily most of them have and know how to use Discord.

So you really want to keep that Dragon Age going.

Definitely – I put a lot of effort into writing characters, coming up with plots, and even doing artwork. I ain’t gonna let Covid stop me.

Covid can suck it.

A walled city map with surrounding land and sea features
One of Alysssa’s hand-drawn maps.

Yeah! Were there any other interesting challenges or situations that came up doing your MCO games that you want to mention?

Having to learn how to use Roll20 – that site really needs a tutorial mode on how to use it better because it’s not the best, but it’s free so eh.

Is there anything else you want to mention, or anything that you want to promote or recommend?

Well, as you know my graduation has been delayed – and that was depressing, so I made a bit of an impulse buy from Wyrmwood’s online store (which made some of the Critical Role players, and Matthew Mercer’s DM screen). Essentially I bought a RM530 Black Poisonwood Master Vault from them as a sort of half graduation, half cheer up present for myself. It’s probably the first handmade wooden item I’ve ever bought — all fall before me with envy when I return to the physical tables.

Also, the wood grain is so nice. :3

The Black Poisonwood Master Vault, lying open on a computer desk.
The Black Poisonwood Master Vault

As for recommendations, I guess keep yourself as busy as possible because who knows how long and what else this MCO’s gonna throw at us, because at least you can escape to a different world — even for a little while when you’re playing with friends that you trust. And hey, this is the perfect time to go finish playing catch up with Critical Role Season 2.

Douglas Larke

What games have you played or run during the MCO?

I’ve been playing D&D 5th Ed, Pathfinder 2, Blades in the Dark and Warbirds. There were a few other opportunities, but due to other things, I needed to opt out on them, sadly.

I’ve run the following: D&D 5th Ed and Wraith the Oblivion.

Are you gaming more or less now? How often?

I think I’m actually gaming more often, but it depends on the week. Sometimes, I game 4 times a week…sometimes only 1 or 2.

Are any of these paid games?

No, never felt the need to ask to be paid. Having players enjoy it is enough for me. Not that I slag others for doing paid ones. I am in one game I DO pay to be in, and that guy puts a TON of work into it! He deserves every ringgit he gets! 

What platforms and tools do you use for your games? Do you use webcams?

I like to use a combination of Discord, Google Hangouts and Roll20 (which I’ve gotten better at using of late). Sometimes we use webcams, but often, they’re turned off in our games. 

How has the gaming experience been for you and the players? Are any of the players new to roleplaying online?

The experience has been interesting to say the least, but I think — like many things — we were quick to adapt. While I miss the face-to-face interaction, I’ve found that if you learn the right tools, you can have just as much fun online as off.  To answer your second question, yes…many were new to playing online, but they too adapted quickly.

Were there any other interesting challenges or situations that came up doing your MCO games that you want to mention?

I’m not sure of which ones to mention, although I would say learning Roll20 has made my D&D games better and more fun… As a DM, I am terrible at drawing out maps on the roll out mats I have, but Roll20 makes the whole thing so simple that I am able to run the tactical part of combat so much easier. Learning it slowly but surely by a) playing in games with DMs who knew their stuff and b) getting some lessons from a good friend on it, was a very mind opening experience!

I was already doing online rping before the pandemic, but I have learned that physical distance should never limit your ability to run/play in a good RPG, it can be JUST as good online! And tbh, I LOVE automatic dice rollers…for reasons that should be self-explanatory! 😀

Screenshot of Discord chat in Kai's Blades int he Dark game. Topic: YEETING THE FOX
From Kai’s Blades in the Dark campaign, featuring Douglas and Alyssa.

Is there anything else you want to mention, or anything that you want to promote or recommend?

Nothing much other than this: If you’re missing RPGing, work up the courage to find groups online and try it out! It’s not as difficult as it first seems, and actually, you can still form strong bonds with other players via it. I’ve made some new friends over the last few months that I feel like I’ve known for years! 

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