Playing D&D Remotely: Virtual Tabletop Software

Showcasing the best learning resources to help you get the most out of Fantasy Grounds and Roll20.

Maintaining safe social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t still gather your party before venturing forth—taverns can take many forms! Programs such as Discord, Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom, which are free to download, are great for both voice and video chat.

You can also utilize virtual tabletop platforms such as Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds if you still want to use battle maps and minis despite not hanging out around a table. To help players get started with these systems we’ve tracked down useful resources that teach everything you need to know about the tools and options they provide for better remote play. Stay safe everyone.


Virtual tabletop system Fantasy Grounds is currently completing an upgrade and its new tools make it easier for Dungeon Masters to connect with their players. Fantasy Grounds Classic is still in operation, with Fantasy Grounds Unity now available to download. In order to run Fantasy Grounds, users need a Windows or Mac PC (a Linux version of the software is in the works and will be rolling out soon).

Doug Davison, President of SmiteWorks, recommends that new Fantasy Grounds users choose Unity as it’s the easiest way for them to get started with the virtual tabletop. Users can find instructions and basic guides on the Fantasy Grounds website to help them get to grips with the software and Davison himself has added a number of video tutorials to that teaching process. His quick tips include how to host a campaign as a DM and join a campaign as a player, as well basic skills such as importing a map or image, loading modules, creating a character and starting combat.

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New community manager on the D&D Team, Brandy Camel, has also been showing users how to get the best out of the software. She’s joined in her videos by Davison and Marketing Specialist Jen Page as they play a D&D campaign designed to teach people the basics—watch as they create characters and play through Dragon of Icespire Peak from the D&D Essentials Kit:

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Davison also suggests heading to Fantasy Grounds College for an interactive learning experience. This fan-run organization has its own Discord channel and runs free classes to train people how to DM and handle everything within the software.


Dragon+ readers can download the ENnie-nominated Legendary Beginnings—A Feast of Flavor to play on Fantasy Grounds. Legendary Games has made the module free for the life of this issue and you can find more details in our Best of the DMs Guild section.


The Roll20 virtual tabletop brings pen-and-paper gaming to the web. Its platform of tools enhances what makes tabletop gaming great: storytelling and camaraderie. And the team at Roll20 have worked hard to lessen the technical burden for all participants on its platform.

The Crash Course section of its “Getting Started” material is a great place for new players to learn the ropes. Its series of videos take players step-by-step through some of our most popular features and you can start off the series and watch them in order by clicking here.

Carlos Luna and Victoria Rogers have also started a weekly video series that walks new users through their first steps using Roll20. Their informative but informal discussions so far include subjects as diverse as rolling up characters, using tokens and handouts, and getting the best out of the system’s innovative dynamic lighting tools (which calculate line of sight as tokens are moved across the tabletop and only show players what they can actually see). You can access the full series here or begin with episode one below:

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Roll20 suggests new users start out by playing its Lost Mine of Phandelver conversion, as the module has been designed to walk new players through the system and act as a ‘how to play on Roll20’ guide. You can watch Roll20’s live-play crew tackle Lost Mine of Phandelver to get a feel for what the system brings to remote play:

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The Wizards of the Coast may have retreated to their respective towers for the time being but the Stay at Home. Play at Home. program is helping provide safe play without the need to break out your ten-foot poles. As always, the Basic Rules for Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition are available for free. Download the 180-page PDF, which includes everything you need to play the game: from character creation to tips for Dungeon Masters. D&D Adventurer’s League content can also be played and logged from the comfort of your own home. Learn more about how to organize an official Adventurer’s League game here.