I have been a gamer for over 30 years now. Yep, I’m one of those old farts from the 80s that worshiped Gygax; I guess I still do to some degree 😉
When I moved from my home town to establish myself as an “adult” in the world, I moved away from my gaming friends. It was a sad thing for me for sure.
But I didn’t set too idle. I found another gaming group as soon as I could. I have been fortunate to not be shy or self-conscious about being a tabletop gamer. So, I have freely talked about it when the chance has presented itself. That helped me to meet other gamers in my new town all those years ago, and I was able to continue my hobby for a while longer.
Things change, though, as they always do.
I played with different RPG groups for quite some time after I successfully started meeting gamers where I lived. We played a variety of games including Alternity, Vampire and Shadowrun. I established a couple of good friendships, too, making life in my new location something enjoyable. But changes and obligations in my life and other people’s lives helped reduce the amount of game nights to effectively zero after a while.
It happens. I wasn’t friends with all the people on my gaming groups. Sometimes we quit getting along. Others moved away. Others still, had to put gaming aside for a myriad of other reasons. So, the groups faded and others quit forming.
I went through a dry spell until my daughter got old enough to really be interested in the fact that dad “had been a gamer”. “Had been,” Bah!
I took advantage of her interest and taught her and her friends how to play D&D. We gamed on Friday nights for a little over a year. Then, as the kids evolved, they decided that they wanted to do it on their own – it’s not cool to keep hanging with the parents, apparently; heh, heh, heh. And I can’t say that I had a problem with it. I had taught them which was a very rewarding experience, and I understood their point of view.
Besides, I had other prospects floating around again with gamers closer to my own age. So, I transitioned into a another gaming group to play Shadowrun. They were a pretty good group, except for one. He refused to get along with me. I don’t know why. Maybe it was me, but I’ll never know. And that was my last group again for a bit.
Technology is a wonderful but sometimes scary thing. I make a living in the electronics industry, so I embrace tech to get a paycheck (hey, that rhymed… yay me). I’m so very glad that I don’t shun knew ways to do things with the help of new technology. That is especially the case now because it has gotten me gaming again with some old hometown gamers/friends and one that lives over an hour away from me.
I’ve discovered the “virtual tabletop”. My best friend (who lives 10 hours away) and I decided a while back that there had to be some way to get the gaming ball rolling again. So, he and I started looking around for the means to run a tabletop RPG long distance. We checked out a few sites and read a lot of forum threads trying to find what would work for us. We kept coming back to one that stood out… a piece of software called Fantasy Grounds.
My buddy bought it and decided to try and get a Shadowrun game going through it. The rest of our long distance group waited while he worked to make things happen. Then we would download Fantasy Grounds and give it a go. We were all pretty stoked.
But once again, that whole real life thing got in the way. My buddy just didn’t have time to bring things together enough to start a Shadowrun game. But he did sing the praises to the Fantasy Grounds software. So, things kind of died on the vine… until I got pissed off about not having an RPG group.
I decided that I would make the time to learn Fantasy Grounds and get something going. I announced a few months back that I was going to purchase Fantasy Grounds myself, along with a couple of the D&D 5E core rule-book modules for FG. I also announced that I was putting together a home-brew campaign and that my buddy and the rest of the long distance group had first crack at being a part of my new group. If not, I was going to find others – that’s how “angry” I was about not having a tabletop gaming group.
Needless to say, they all jumped on board. Apparently they knew me well enough to know that my agitation was going to drive me to make this happen. They let me know that they were looking forward to it. That made me feel pretty good. Thanks, guys.
Well, that ball did get rolling. I am now running a D&D 5E home-brew campaign in my own custom world. We are still learning Fantasy Grounds, but it’s going great. FG is a rather powerful tool that runs the 5E game mechanics quite well, and it’s customizable to the nines.
We use Discord for voice chat and FG for game mechanic resolution and character sheets, etc. All we had to do was be willing to learn, which for a gamer, is not hard at all 😉
It did not take long at all to adapt to sitting in front my computer and having only voice (we don’t all have webcams) and the FG interface to run/play a tabletop game. The others in the group have all said the same thing. Theater of the mind works quite well with our virtual tabletop. We are all having a good time, and all we had to do was learn how to use the technology already available to us.
The software does not need a high-end computer or super-fast internet connection. We need just enough bandwidth to handle voice and swap some data for the game.
Gaming once a week again – long distance – has been a nice restoration of my hobby. Don’t let miles separate you from your gaming friends. Don’t let yourself be deprived of something you enjoy.
I (WE) CAN BE TAUGHT…
If you have questions about long distance gaming, feel free to ask. I’ll be happy to tell you how my group handles different things. Fantasy Grounds is a little pricey, but I have decided it’s well worth it. AND… only the DM/GM has to actually purchase it. Players can download it and play for free. That’s not to say, though, that things like Roll 20 don’t work. We just decided the investment in FG was worth it. It has been…
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Type to you later…