How To Play Dungeons & Dragons Online, Board Game Online

It can be intimidating enough learning how to play Dungeons & Dragons and other roleplaying games in of itself, let alone working out how to play tabletop RPGs online and the tech setup involved – whether you’re interested in storytelling tabletop RPGs for beginners or more mechanics-heavy fantasy tabletop RPGs.

Fear not, because there are loads of options out there for playing Dungeons & Dragons online, as well as other tabletop RPGs – and plenty are free to boot. You’ll be playing Dungeons & Dragons online in no time and, depending on what level of presentation and feature set you’re after, without paying a penny.

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When playing Dungeons & Dragons online – or whatever tabletop RPG your group prefers – you can use virtual chat rooms such as Discord and Google Hangouts to meet up with folks and play tabletop RPGs online as a group. Although these video and voice chat apps lack the interactive maps and unique tabletop gubbins found in dedicated virtual tabletop tools, they’re relatively simple to get going with and are often the easiest way of taking your roleplaying group online.

A little more complex to wrangle than playing RPGs online through chat, virtual tabletop RPG tools like Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds grant access to a treasure trove of guidebooks, maps, digital dice and player tokens, as well as loads of official supplements and assets from a host of the best tabletop RPGs out right now. If you want a more in-depth experience when playing Dungeons & Dragons online, these are the way to go.

Last but not least, PC apps used to play board games online with friends such as Tabletop Simulator can be used to create your own virtual tabletop space – complete with miniatures, terrain and the ability to flick dice off the table – but is by far the most complex way to play tabletop RPGs online.

How to play Dungeons & Dragons online

For the most part, all you need to play Dungeons & Dragons online is a half-decent microphone (or solid headset), webcam and standard PC or mobile device, such as a tablet.

Below you’ll find our guide to the best tools for playing Dungeons & Dragons online with voice and video chat, the finest virtual tabletops and the best free tabletop RPG games to play over the internet – so you can keep your campaign going, wherever in the world you might be.

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Without further adieu, here’s how to play Dungeons & Dragons online, along with other tabletop RPGs.

Voice and video chat

Ultimately, as long as you have a means of communicating with other players, you can play a tabletop RPG online without all the fancy integration.

To play Dungeons & Dragons online you”ll need at minimum a chat platform and your own dice, microphone and a webcam (if you want to see your companions). Essentially, you’ll be playing Dungeons & Dragons online through audio and/or video chat – with some text chat support if required.

Video chat is one of the best ways to play Dungeons & Dragons online, as you get face time with the other players. However, playing tabletop RPGs over just audio is also compelling – and likely the best option for anyone struggling with a slower internet connection or lack of gear.

This works best for ‘theatre of the mind’ tabletop RPGs – in other words, tabletop RPGs that don’t require miniatures, terrain or anything more complicated than some dice and a couple of sheets of paper to play. This means that you can play Dungeons & Dragons online with voice and video chat, as long as you’re not hoping to recreate battles with anything other than your imagination.

Among the most popular platforms for virtual chat in tabletop RPGs are Discord, Google Hangouts, Slack and Skype.

Google Hangouts

Simple voice and video chatting

Cost: FreeComplexity: LowBest for: Video, audio and text chat, plus Google Drive integration for the sharing of maps and overall tabletop RPG assets/format/jpg/quality/80/PlayRpgsonline_googleHangoutsDungeonsandDragons.jpg” target=”_blank”>

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It’s less complex than Discord, but lacks more advanced features like music integration. However, it’s perfect for straight-up, simple online tabletop RPG sessions with its easy setup.

Additionally, you can share documents as you play on Google Hangouts through Google Drive, without leaving the chat window. As such, Google Hangouts lends itself well to adding documents such as character sheets, maps and player handouts.

Those who do not have physical dice can roll digital with the official Dungeons & Dragons and Google dice rollers.

Discord

Group chat with added featuresCost: FreeComplexity: LowBest for: Text, audio and music integration/format/jpg/quality/80/Discord_tabletopRPG_playonline.jpg” target=”_blank”>

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Virtual tabletops

If you’re looking for a more immersive experience when playing Dungeons & Dragons online, a virtual tabletop is the way to go. These online apps can provide battle maps – areas that represent the imaginary space you’re in – along with tokens that represent your characters and other features that up the level of presentation.

Several of these virtual tabletops feature official support for certain tabletop RPGs, meaning that you can play Dungeons & Dragons online using the RPG’s full selection of books, accessories, scenarios and more, as well as other tabletop RPGs such as Call of Cthulhu and Pathfinder. You can build your own game with customised maps, tokens and handouts, or use a paid pre-built module to get playing straight from the off.

Roll20

Fast, free, customisable and full of free modules

Cost: Free with advertising, plus premium options from $6/£4.50 a monthComplexity: MediumBest for: Games with official support, such as Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder and Call of Cthulhu, but any tabletop RPG can be played/format/jpg/quality/80/PlaytabletopRPGSonline_Pathfinder.jpg” target=”_blank”>

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Players, non-player-characters and monsters are all represented by tokens – small, movable avatar-like pictures – that can be moved about the map by player and game master alike. Other Roll20 features include character sheet support (with plenty of unofficial community builds for independent tabletop RPGs like Blades in the Dark) and dice rollers.

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