Post submitted by Jayde Lynch
Pencil-and-paper fantasy games are one of the oldest and most venerated forms of gaming. Increasingly, they are finding their way onto the computer, though many popular tabletop games are currently experiencing huge purchase growth, according to Polygon. Between Dungeons and Dragons (DnD), Pathfinder, Call of Cthulhu and all of the smaller home-brew games being played among friends, pen and paper is making a serious comeback in digital forms. A few notable platforms are leading the way and giving a whole new generation of gamers the opportunity to experience the joy of games once consigned to the spare room or the basement.
DnD 5e and Roll20
Leading the charge towards tabletop fandom is Dungeons and Dragons and it’s enormously popular fifth edition (5e). DnD is the classic tabletop game — a combat-focused role playing adventure across a huge variety of settings, usually within the fictional world of Abeir-Toril. DnD uses richly detailed world that inspires the imagination. Actions and combat are taken through the attributes your character possesses and the luck of a dice roll, where dice sets are prized and often a very idiosyncratic part of any player’s gaming kit. Budding dungeon masters will often gift dice sets for players when bedded in. Online, this level of customization continues, and a huge player base has been generated; the Wall Street Journal note that premier DnD platform Roll20 have seen signups triple over the last year. Pencil and paper can make tabletop settings a little daunting; through digitizing the process and making the math easy, the appeal has clearly found a broader set of fans.
What about for less popular formats? Whereas anything can be played on Roll20, other platforms have provided a completely blank template for users to either plug-in game guides or write their own. One such example is Fantasy Grounds, which benefits from being purchased and used through the popular Steam gaming platform.
According to Fast Company, Fantasy Grounds has benefited from it’s blank canvas and relatively stripped back approach. By pairing it with video conferencing services like Zoom and Skype, players can have a real community approach to their games and learn together. It’s for this reason that Fantasy Grounds has been lauded for bringing people who aren’t necessarily game enthusiasts into the tabletop fold – by leaving a lot up to the imagination, but not making the game more complicated than it needs to be, it is bringing in a whole host of new people to enjoy the tabletop tradition.
Mini functions across work apps
As well as bespoke gaming programs, many day-to-day services have started to put in little services that are helping to bring tabletop to the masses. HowToGeek highlight the dice roller in Slack and the TTRPG services that can be brought into any Electron app – such as Discord and Slack. Typically a workspace, this is giving employers and employees the valuable chance to explore a fantasy world during the downtime in work and keep in touch in the process. By merging together work and play spaces in this manner, and in a game that can be picked up and put back down as easily as tabletop fantasy can be, this section of this game industry really is benefiting and continuing to expand – which can only be good news for new content.
Tabletop gaming has made its way onto the web and that’s good news for enthusiasts. Interestingly, it may be good news for those who’ve never played, too. By blending together classic settings with imagination-inspiring words and backgrounds, a whole new generation of tabletop players is being created.