3 at the Table, 1 on the Screen ... Advice?


Hello all,

I just started running an AP with four players. Three of them are able to join me in meatspace, which is our preferred approach to gaming. The fourth player lives in another country, but he's an old, dear friend and I really want him in the game.

For the first session, he Skyped in, and it wasn't bad...but it could be a lot better. The two main problems:

1) Audio loss -- we both had to repeat ourselves often because Skype cut in and out;

2) Camera position -- even with a plug-in webcam, we found it hard to find camera positions that are useful for my online player. It was especially hard for him to see the battlemat.

I'm investigating other audio options (so far, Discord seems promising). But I'm not sure what to do about video. I'd prefer not to go the rolld20 route, because uploading and modifying maps online can slow a game down even more.

Has anyone faced a similar challenge, in trying to graft tabletop and online gaming? Any suggestions for programs or tricks to try?

One of our players, who fortunately lives in the same state but over 2 hours away, Skypes in regularly. Our biggest problem with it is her internet provider is a piece of crap and we often have to pause the game to call her again and reconnect.

(Dotting because a couple of my players have moved away, or will be moving soon, so I have to consider the same logistical questions if I'm going to keep them in my campaign when we resume play in a few months.)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In the past I've run games with a mix of local and online players.
Here's some tips:

- Basically before their initiative each turn I'd take a picture of the battlemat, and message it to them.

- Invest in a decent omnidirectional microphone so the online player can pick up everything at the table.

- Specifically ask for the online player's actions even in non-combat situations. Be ready to recap, and repeat often even the most attentive player might zone out or miss something. Active listening is easier in person than on a phone call.

- Be patient with technology, yes there will be hiccups, drop outs and the like. But the alternative is that you don't get to play with your friend.

Wherever possible I prefer to have all my players at the table, but life is tricky and living in the future does have some benefits.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

We have an out of state player. Our host uses a small iPad or something she can hang from the chandelier over the gaming table and battlemat. Several wire hangers are useful for this. I think they either Skype or Facetime. When a player can't make it, the iPad is wired to a chair. It seems to work pretty well.

We don't use a battlemat, but "theater of the mind" like we have since the olden days. But I'm pretty proud of my ability to describe the action and locations of players so that no one, especially our Skype player, has any trouble with what's going on.

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I run a 5 man game with only 2 players physically present, the others skyping in (and sometimes one of the first two if he has to stay at home to watch the kids). Here is what I do:

Hardline the living room TV as a dual monitor. Put skype up there, nice and big so faces can be seen.

Position Webcam on top of TV, looking at couch where physical players sit. I specifically bought a webcam with high audio quality and pickup. I did need to use a USB extension cord as webcam cords are rather short.

Use my android phone as a second skype webcam for the battlemat (make sure to use wifi, you can easily drain your data in an evening!), using a second account. I made a "phone spider" out of some insulated wire, basically a multilegged holder than can be bent to either point down from above (for drawn battlemats) or looking from an elevated side position (for three dimensional terrain)

Just invite to a group call everyone including the battlemat camera. Never as good as everyone in the same room, but otherwise works pretty darn well.

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