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crazybob
2014-02-25, 12:48 PM
Hey guys,

I DM with a group and one player is remote and we use google hangout on my comp. There's usually between 2 and 6 players in house plus him so it can get hectic at times. Usually the biggest problem comes when we are in a battle as he can't really see the board, and he sometimes will have problems following room to room layout. Has anyone had an issue like this before? If so, how did you adjust for it?

Alejandro
2014-02-25, 12:55 PM
We have the same situation. One member of the group lives 2000 miles away and games with us via Skype. Honestly, the easiest solution we found was, the remote player allows and trusts the physically present players to give best advice as to where to move, which square to target, etc, while they still control what their PC does and says and roleplays.

Skype Player: I attack the ogre

Player at Table: *moves Skype player's mini to the best place to attack ogre. Skype player rolls dice, is resolved, play continues.*

cosmicAstrogazr
2014-02-25, 01:00 PM
I was the remote player in a game for a while, and the group just tipped the camera toward the table during combat.

KillianHawkeye
2014-02-25, 03:00 PM
We had a player via Skype after he moved away for a while in my group. We used a little tripod to move and adjust the angle of the webcam so he could see better, but there were still times where we had to talk him through more complex positioning or re-explain some facet of the maps that he wasn't seeing. Sound was also an issue at times. It's definitely more hassle than playing with somebody in person, so I was a little relieved when this person had a falling out with other group members.

crazybob
2014-02-25, 03:29 PM
Cool, thanks for the help everyone. That is kind of what we have been doing. Perhaps I'll build a little stand that's quickly adjustable for "battle mode"

mikeejimbo
2014-02-25, 03:50 PM
You could potentially try a digital map, too. If you're really ambitious, a digital map updated along with the physical.

Adam...?
2014-02-25, 04:13 PM
I worked with a similar situation, and used a similar solution to Alejandro's. I always made sure to verbally describe the layout while drawing the map. During combat, I would quickly sum up the most tactically relevant distances on his turn ("you could take a five foot step and full attack the injured orc, or you're in move distance of a flanking position against that group of goblins. Also, you have a clear line to charge the shaman, but you'd provoke an attack of opportunity.").

On the tech side of things, generally the higher up the camera is, the better view you can take of the battle map. We just use the built-in laptop camera, so our solution was to sit the laptop on a stack of all our unused books. Not pretty, but it helped a lot.

Ravens_cry
2014-02-25, 04:41 PM
Since our DM is now working up north, he is going to be DM'ing via Skype for the foreseeable future. This is going to be interesting. As long as he doesn't start the sessions with "Good morning, Angels" I am all for it.

Fabletop
2014-02-25, 05:55 PM
I'll add on here to the great responses;

Desciption.

I try, with every scene, to convey the sensory-bubble of each player;

What do they see?
What do they hear?
What do they smell?
What do they feel?


Describe everything from a GM perspective, leaving room for the players' comprehension. No matter what you describe, if you are complete on your end, the players will have their own understanding that feeds the scene. Done properly.

It's 'Cat & Mouse'.

mucat
2014-02-25, 08:22 PM
Since our DM is now working up north, he is going to be DM'ing via Skype for the foreseeable future. This is going to be interesting. As long as he doesn't start the sessions with "Good morning, Angels" I am all for it.
If I were in such a situation, I think I would insist he open the sessions that way. :smallsmile:

Averis Vol
2014-02-25, 09:00 PM
I think making a digital copy of the map (Which I always do before hand anyways) and labeling it like a battleship grid, should work, so he can just not that the rogue is at C3, and if he moved around the orc at B2 he would have enough movement to get into flanking at C5. Maybe put the same grid on your battle map and have your players call out where they're moving to so he can keep a better image up.

Mutazoia
2014-02-26, 08:26 AM
There are a couple of easy fixes for this. In the past I've used KloogeWerks (http://www.kloogeinc.com/) software. (I used it to drive my digital projector that I built into my gaming table.) It lets you host an entire RPG with the server and client software. You can put a map up, move tokens (provided) around the map (the players with the client software can move their own token), the server side can hide/reveal map sections as the party explores... They use to give you the server and one copy of the client software for free but I think you have to purchase them now...

There is also Roll20.net (http://roll20.net/) which works a lot like KloogeWerks but is entirely web based and doesn't require any purchase so for most people it's the better choice.

Joe the Rat
2014-02-26, 12:18 PM
We've got two on remote for our D4 group. For the most part we just keep the camera suspended above the battle map, with a slightly isomorphic view. The mobile tripod is a good idea as well - you will want to be able to provide some elevation.


Since our DM is now working up north, he is going to be DM'ing via Skype for the foreseeable future. This is going to be interesting. As long as he doesn't start the sessions with "Good morning, Angels" I am all for it. "Good morning, Charlie!"

Do you do mostly descriptive narrative, or is there a plan for doing combat maps?

Ravens_cry
2014-02-26, 12:55 PM
Do you do mostly descriptive narrative, or is there a plan for doing combat maps?
Maps mostly, and I am not sure. Like I said, interesting.:smalltongue:

Alejandro
2014-02-26, 01:03 PM
We have one place at our table permanently set up for the remote player. There is a stand for the laptop upon which Skype is run, along with speakers to enhance said laptop's audio for the player speaking, and books that raise its angle so the builtin camera can see the table and room, depending on how we adjust it.

illyahr
2014-02-26, 01:08 PM
Does the remote player really need to see the other players? I'd just have the webcam positioned above the table and pointing down at the map. Player can now see positions, movements, and dice rolls, as well as easily direct how they want their character to move.

Alejandro
2014-02-26, 01:10 PM
Our remote player can see some of us, depending on who sits where. Honestly, if they are a good player, and have a little help from the players physically at the table (especially when it comes to precise physical placement of a mini or a spell effect, etc) they can function perfectly well.

Dawgmoah
2014-02-26, 03:41 PM
There is also Roll20.net (http://roll20.net/) which works a lot like KloogeWerks but is entirely web based and doesn't require any purchase so for most people it's the better choice.

Been using Roll20.net now for a few months and find it works very well for our needs. I used to use OpenRPG and then swapped to D20Pro. I missed the macros and quick whiteboarding OpenRPG gave me so was pleasantly surprised to see it in Roll20.

The main problem (I either have a mixture of players at the table and remote, or all of them remote) is people giving each other a chance to speak. Another problem would be the body language lost since the players cannot see each other.

Using the layers and maps functions on Roll20 I can load up a 30 room dungeon, the traps, treasure, monsters, etc, as well as some of the surrounding terrain for any action encountered on the way to or from the dungeon, all in under an hour.

Now to just work on getting people to not all try to talk at once...

Thrysierius
2014-02-26, 06:30 PM
Our remote player can see some of us, depending on who sits where. Honestly, if they are a good player, and have a little help from the players physically at the table (especially when it comes to precise physical placement of a mini or a spell effect, etc) they can function perfectly well.

As the remote player in question, it has worked rather well so far but I am going to provide some observations purely based on my experience. Staring at a screen into a world I can no longer touch (:smallfrown:) gives you a unique perspective.

1. Web Cam
GET AN HD WEB CAM! They're honestly not terribly expensive anymore. You don't need a full 1080p model, but a 720p Web cam with a built in mic/mic array is not going to be terribly expensive. A lot of higher end laptops have good quality web cams built in but the majority are very low quality. For people it's fine, for things like "Is that my mini or is that a monster?" it's damn near impossible to tell.

Web cams with a good quality mic or mic array also help tremendously. I can always tell the difference between the high quality laptop one player brings and the generic machine used in sessions. The better the mic, the less of a problem it becomes when more than one person talks and to understand what they're saying.

2. Face Time > Skype > Hangouts
Sorry if I upset the fan boys out there but it's the honest truth. The video quality between them, even on the same internet connection and devices, is staggering. If you have to have more than 1 remote person at a time, Hangouts is your only free option. For 1 remote person though. Skype video quality is better.

3. Network connection speed/load
This is probably a given but still bears mention. The better the network connection, the better the quality of the video. Skype especially will dynamically adjust. If a lot of people at the table are surfing around, playing games, etc. the video and audio are going to be unbearably bad. Keep the auxilary streaming/surfing/game playing to a minimum and for Gods's sake, USE A WIRED NETWORK CONNECTION. I don't care if you have 802.11ac wireless, it still has more latency than a good old 8-pin ethernet cable.

Akodo Makama
2014-02-26, 07:55 PM
A digital tabletop (Maptool, Roll20, et al) plus a projector would allow remote players to see a local map on their monitor, and the local players would see the same map (on a wall, table, or TV). This, plus a skype session, can make integrating 'players not appearing at this session' easier to include.

Gabe the Bard
2014-02-26, 09:31 PM
Having tried this myself, I think certain classes are better suited to remote play than others. Casters that use a lot of buffs and area spells are a bit easier to deal with than melee fighters, since their position doesnít matter as much and a lot of their spells donít require them to roll any dice personally. I played a beguiler/mindbender with telepathy as a remote player, and one of the unexpected benefits was that I could send text messages that only the DM could see. At one point, I sent a telepathic message to one of the other players, brought the webcam really close my mouth, and announced that the voice of his patron diety was speaking to him.

crazybob
2014-02-27, 03:26 PM
Thanks for all the input everyone. I just got a magna-map battle grid and some round magnets which are brightly colored. I'm hoping to angle the webcam which is HD to allow my player better visual of the grid. Right now we are using my old warhammer 40k pieces which were all dark, and fairly similar to each other. I think the magnets will help to differentiate.

We tried using roll 20 but given the TV is in the living room, no one could really get into like when we are all facing each other at a table so I abandoned that for the time being. I have a net book that I may be able to use at the table for the remote player ashelp as well.

Erasmas
2014-02-27, 03:36 PM
I'm not sure about this but I think some of these webchat programs may support multiple callers at once (conference call style). If so, perhaps you could set up two different cameras... one for him to see/hear the players and the DM and the other pointed at the Battle Map (and muted, to avoid feedback)... from two different callers?

I know that seems complicated, but it sounds like it could be a complicated situation to begin with.

Akodo Makama
2014-02-27, 09:31 PM
Thanks for all the input everyone. I just got a magna-map battle grid and some round magnets which are brightly colored. I'm hoping to angle the webcam which is HD to allow my player better visual of the grid. Right now we are using my old warhammer 40k pieces which were all dark, and fairly similar to each other. I think the magnets will help to differentiate.

We tried using roll 20 but given the TV is in the living room, no one could really get into like when we are all facing each other at a table so I abandoned that for the time being. I have a net book that I may be able to use at the table for the remote player ashelp as well.

My solution to that was to hang a projector from the ceiling, so the local map was still on the table.