The games we make are inherently social. For The Queen is a GM-less game where the players build and discover the story together. Blades In The Dark stars a crew of flawed scoundrels chasing their fortunes on the grimy streets of a haunted metropolis. In Monster of the Week, the players work as a team to track down cryptids and other supernatural threats. These are all games about imagination, drama, suspense, and connecting through a shared story.
But for many people, the pandemic took a hobby they enjoyed around a shared table with friends and sent them scrambling for ways to find that same rich, engaging experience online. Up to that point, we mostly published hardcopy books and PDFs. We needed a new and better way to reach our fans.
Roll20 offers an established user base, strong Marketplace, and browser-based platform which makes it easy to access. But most of all, we’ve been able to do some things on Roll20 which, frankly, we’re not sure we could do on other platforms.
For starters, we’ve dramatically enhanced the Fate character sheet to offer a high degree of customization, with swappable stats for shapeshifting characters, rollable aspects, advanced extras, and much more. These features are available to anyone, no matter what their subscription level or budget. There’s a lot of power there, and it’s free.
Similarly, we’ve improved the Monster of the Week character sheet so it allows you to pick any Move from any character Playbook, hide the Moves you’re not using, and quickly reference rules without having to click between a bunch of handouts.
We’ve been able to leverage our terrific art assets to make sure everything we release has a complete set of high quality tokens for both the GM and players. It really makes a game like Tachyon Squadron - where tokens are key to maneuvering through dogfights - both easy to run and more immersive.
For games with an epic scope, like Fate of Cthulhu or Band of Blades, we’ve created campaign-wide tracking playmats to help you nail down the details across sessions of play. In Scum and Villainy, we’ve set up a handy quick-reference page which allows you to track your crew’s Heat and Wanted status for every system in the Procyon Sector.
Depending on what kind of trouble your crew gets into on the bloody, muddy streets of Doskvol, it can get tricky to track things like crew and faction status in Blades in the Dark. Roll20’s custom token markers provide an efficient visual flag, so you can tell at a glance how you’re faring against the Dimmer Sisters or the Red Sashes.
And in many modules such as the Monster of the Week mysteries, we’ve designed customizable clocks, trackers, and even page backdrops which the GM can swap in and out as the adventure unfolds.
When the pandemic started, we had just three offerings on Roll20. Now we have over 50. We wouldn’t have been able to do that without Roll20’s powerful engine and their ability to quickly review and deploy changes. By offering ready-made PCs, thoroughly linked handouts, and a set of flexible character sheets and tokens, we’re confident we’re not just offering a great “pick up and play” experience; we’re offering a way to game that, in many respects, is better than pushing paper.
We don’t know when we’ll all be able to gather around a kitchen table again and roll dice together. 2020 has a knack for being unpredictable. But one thing is for sure: We’re going to continue developing on this platform and help people connect, relax, inspire each other, and share the escape of imagination.
Follow the Evil Hat Crew on Twitter.
Sean Nitter, Director of Projects
Sophie Lagacé, Project Manager
Tom Lommel, Marketing Director
As a reminder, we’re matching donations to Code2040, “a nonprofit activating, connecting and mobilizing the largest racial equity community in tech to dismantle the structural barriers that prevent the full participation and leadership of Black and Latinx technologists in the innovation economy.” Learn more and donate through our Tiltify campaign here: https://tiltify.com/+roll20/roll20-community