Tag Archives: tabletop rpgs

Socially Distanced Gaming

 As cases rise and temperature get colder, it seems we are once again destined to be stuck inside without our friends and family. So how, as board game addicts, are we supposed to get our fix? Luckily, there are many ways to have a safe and socially distant board game night. 

 

  1. Play games with those already in your Covid bubble. 

Do you already have a group of friends, family, or coworkers you spend a lot of time with? Play games with them! This isn’t an option for everyone, but if you already have a group you eat with, live with, or spend a lot of time in close quarters with, that’s as close as you can get to safe in-person gaming. Mask up, respect everyone’s personal bubble, (maybe don’t play Twister) and have fun!

 

2. Use an app!

Some board games have apps that you can download on your phone and play with others. Games like Catan, Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, and Monopoly all have licensed apps- plus you can always find dozens of apps for games like Chess or Checkers. Get on a call with friends to bicker to your heart’s content over settlement or train placements. 

 

3. Play on your computer.

Steam has a slew of board games in its library- as well as Tabletop Simulator which allows you to, well, simulate playing your favorite board games. You can even flip the table when you’re done and with online games you don’t even have to worry about losing your pieces under the couch! Jump into Discord and play some tunes while you play some games.

Tabletopia is also a really cool resource too; it’s an online cornucopia of game demos that you can play with other users, including new releases and games you can’t find or purchase. It’s a really great resource to try new games before you buy them or get a group to play if your normal board game friends can’t get together. This is not a free option, but it is a cool way to play online if you can spare a few dollars. 

It’s a good way to get more space to play and gives you more options than a phone game would allow you to have. 

 

4. Video Call it!

 

Speaking of Discord, you can play board games over video calls too! Using Zoom, Skype, Discord, Google Hangouts, or another video call software one player or group of players can set up a game and stream it to the other players. The other players can dictate how they want their pieces to move and how they want to play. This one’s a little tricky to pull off, and often works best with a non-player acting as game master to make sure everything runs smoothly. 

This is a method that best serves RPG games like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, or Monster of the Week.

5. Use specialized game programs, like Roll20.

If you play an RPG, there are a ton of online resources  and downloadable content to help you game with your group remotely. In addition to interfaces like Discord, you may find game simulators more helpful for your gaming experience. Things like Roll20, RollGate, Fantasy Grounds, or Vassal have different capabilities, like built-in map features or a modular terrain map you can build for your adventure.

Vassal is also a popular option for remote miniature war games, especially skirmish-sized games like WarCry or Malifaux.

3 Benefits of Tabletop RPGs

Lucian Huang, at your service. I am but a humble servant of Deneir on my own quest from my late master. I found refuge in the city of Orm in this treacherous land of Agasteel.  Journeying with me are two rangers, a bard, and two druids.

A farmer to the north needed our help dispatching a giant wolf that made a meal of his flock. After getting our mission, we followed the tracks to a cave. Inside, a glowing pair of red eyes greeted us and out stepped a wolf twice the size of a cow. We knew this was not a normal wolf. And while he growled at us, we had to make a decision on what to do. Do we rush in an attack? Use the druid to talk to him? Look around for anything useful? Run away? These kinds of decisions make Dungeons and Dragons an exercise in creativity, problem-solving, and teamwork.

dungeons and dragons player handbook

1. Learning New Things Helps Your Brain

Studies have long been pointing to the benefits of continual learning through a person’s life. From delaying cognitive decline and improving memory, life-long learning keeps your brain active. Before the game even begins, it requires learning the game, reading about your characters, and a bit of research into the possible combinations of skills, abilities, armors, and weapons.

It may seem a bit overwhelming, but a good Dungeon Master, or game host, will guide you in your comfort level. You can settle with a pre-made character (drafted by your DM), pick the recommended configurations from the book, or create a combination all your own.

For those who love Dungeons and Dragons and want to dive deeper into the game, there are innumerable styles of play, lore, and nearly two-dozen official books to widen your horizon. Or you may go so far as learning to be a DM yourself.

dungeons and dragons minifigures
We used someone’s dice case for our cart.

2. Harnessing Your Creativity & Problem Solving

Creativity alone has many benefits which is good news for a game centered on designing your own story. To start with, creating your character involves much more than numbers on a page. What do they look like? What’s their backstory? What are the mannerisms that define them?

Everyone is capable of creativity. It’s freeing, stress relieving and promotes self-awareness and self-expression. When you play, get into character if you want to. Speak like them and make choices based on what they would choose, not you. I had a Cleric character named Laucian. He was very devout and saw all beings as innocent until otherwise proven. On behalf of Laucian, I refused to fight in instances involving animals and I ran headlong (stupidly) into battles against known enemies.

Creativity also boosts problem-solving capabilities. In D&D, you build your own story. How will you face obstacles? What’s the solution to the puzzle lock on the ancient temple? How will you get information from the barkeep?

A DM friend of mine played the same campaign for two different groups. In the campaign, we had to rescue captives in a large goblin and ogre camp. My group used a combination of spells between multiple people to project a symbol of their deity in the sky and use a thunderous voice to mimic him. Basically, we incited a goblin riot against the Ogres and snuck people out during the fighting. The other group made a giant construct to scare them out of the camp. Either way, we both succeeded in our objectives.

There are no multiple-choice questions in D&D, and as long as it’s within the rules, you can approach any task in whatever way you wish. Sometimes, the most creative solutions are the most fun and make for great stories long after the game is over.

dungeons and dragons arena
2v2 player versus player

3. Working Together & Improving Communication

Forget those Escape the Room games for your company Team Building days. The time limits and pressure to be puzzle wizards don’t exist in Dungeons & Dragons. What does exist is working together to dispatch foes or navigate an abandoned mine. As I mentioned from the example above, it took all of us to put on that light and sound show to free those captives.

And it will take your whole team to figure out how to cross a rickety bridge when half of you are wearing heavy plate armor. Have an idea? Speak up. Make decisions together. Lone wolves will get themselves killed. And for heaven-sake, never split the party!

Often a bad roll or a bad decision can make situations dire. I was in a group during that rickety bridge scenario. A plate-wearing dwarf tied herself to a team-mate. Neither expected the dwarf to fall and sink to the bottom like a stone. And as physics would dictate, the teammate was ripped from the bridge thanks to her tether. It took quick thinking and a lot of rope to get them to safety.

Final Thoughts

Table-top role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons promote creativity, learning, working together, problem-solving, and communication. These elements are great for the brain and important to life. Grab a group of co-workers, friends, or meet some new people and settle down for a game. Unlike other team building and “get to know you games,” you can drink coffee and eat delicious food while you bond over how you’re going in infiltrate the enemy base.

How did the wolf story end? The druid noticed that not only was he injured, but the wolf was actually a she. As he drew close to tend her wound, he discovered that she was a mom and her pups were missing. After some prodding, the wolf told us about the humans that kidnapped her puppies. If we struck first, we would have never discovered the real enemy3