GenCon Quickstart Guide: A Handbook for Players

TK Johnson

TK Johnson

Customer Lifecycle Specialist

Roll20 is the all-in-one solution for organizing and playing tabletop games online, whether you play RPGs, board games, or party games - you can get connected with friends immediately, and start playing for free.

There are many ways to join a game for online events like Gen Con, but today we’ll focus on those who are signed up for events and have received an invite to a previously created game.

Make sure that you’ve created a free account first and foremost. Being logged into your account is a necessary first step!

If you’re looking to lead a game instead, check out our GM Quickstart guide!

The Landing Page

If you’ve joined via an invite, you’ll be on the Landing Page! Go ahead and click Launch Game to enter the virtual tabletop!

Inside Your Game

Now is the time to create character sheets PCs - your GM will have created a new, blank character sheet or spun up a pre-gen for you.

  • Navigate to the Journal, an icon on the right Sidebar that resembles a folded newspaper.
  • If you don’t see a blank or pre-gen character sheet, get in touch with your GM. They’ll just need to assign it to you, which they can do once you’ve entered the game for the first time.
  • Go ahead and go to the Art Library, as well - its icon looks like a photograph. From here, you can upload character art into the game or navigate to Premium Assets and select purchased tokens.
  • Many adventures and modules include a token pack with the purchase. These will also be available in the Art Library. Tokens placed on the virtual tabletop can be moved by dragging with the mouse or using the arrow keys.

The Journal also holds specific information for any adventures or modules that you’ve added to the game. All of this is available in handouts, character sheets, and notes specifically designed for the GM’s eyes only - as a player, you can’t see any of it until your GM permits you.

Once the character sheets are created and you’ve checked out the Journal, you may wish to add a few things from the game system that aren’t readily available in the Journal, such as spells, items, or monsters.

  • Select the Compendium from the right side of the screen. It resembles an “information” icon: a lowercase ‘i’ inside a gray circle.
  • The Compendium contains all of the information from the assigned game system that you have purchased and enabled on the Game Settings page.
  • All items in the Compendium have drag-and-drop capability. Need to add a healing spell or a shiny new shield? They’re only a click and drag away.
  • Monsters added from the Compendium to the Journal are only visible to the GM until made visible to the players. Think of it as a lovely surprise.

Maps and the Tabletop Toolbar

After determining who and what will be in the game, it’s time to set the scene. GMs will have access to a 10-icon left-hand Toolbar and a button that resembles a page with a folded corner on a blue background. Select this button to navigate between maps on the Page Toolbar.

If you’re a player, congratulations! You get to sit back and admire your GM’s handiwork! The left-hand toolbar will only display six icons, none of which have long-term effect on the game: Select, Draw Shape, Zoom, Ruler, Roll Dice, and Help. Similarly, you do not see or control the Page toolbar: that’s for the GM!

Audio, Video, and Jukebox

One of the most immersive parts of Roll20 is the ability to see and hear both your fellow players and the world around you.

  • WebRTC video/audio settings are located in the Settings - navigate to the right side gear icon and scroll down. From here you can modify size, settings or otherwise disable Roll20 WebRTC.
  • The Jukebox has a playlist icon and from there GMs can add music and sound effects to their games, audible for all players with volume sliders for easy listening. You can create playlists here and even include automatic play on your Page Settings to ensure that every scene comes alive.

Rolling Dice

Here it is: the moment you’ve been waiting for! Rolling dice in Roll20 is as easy as the push of a key, click of a button, or swipe of a mouse or finger.

  • The left-hand toolbar includes a dice rolling tool. Click it to roll dice on the fly or save your favorite rolls.
  • The chat has dice-rolling functionality! Simply type /roll and the type of dice you’d like to use, as well as any numerical bonuses you need with a + sign (ex: /roll d20+5). If you’re a GM and want it to be a secret from the players? /gmroll will trigger a roll that only the GM can see.
  • Many character sheets, including Dungeons & Dragons 5E, have rolls that can be triggered directly from the character sheet! Click the name of an ability or attack that lights up under your mouse and it will automatically roll in the chat for you - no math required!
  • If you have a Macro Quick Bar active (accessible from the Collections menu, with a bulleted list icon), you can drag your favorite rolls for abilities and attack to the bottom of the character sheet, which will turn them into persistent buttons on your virtual tabletop. These buttons can be renamed and color-coded for ease of use.

That’s all you need to begin playing on Roll20! However, if you’re eager to create an immersive experience for your table, you can’t go wrong with the Plus and Pro perks, such as our line-of-sight Dynamic Lighting, Compendium Sharing, or API, which can be used to modify your games to your every whim.

Looking for more in-depth guides? Be sure to check out our Roll20 Beginner Overview, video tutorials, and Learning Roll20 series! We’re excited to roll dice with you at Gen Con!

PS - It’s never too early to sign up for an event. Gen Con Online will take place on September 16-19, 2021. Last year over we had over 200,000 playing simultaneously during Gen Con in over 2,000 of Gen Con’s more than 7,000 events. Join us as we celebrate one of the biggest RPG parties in the world right here on Roll20.

TK Johnson Customer Lifecycle Specialist

TK Johnson is a speculative fiction author, narrative designer, editor, and eldritch horror. They are also a cast member of the Roll20-sponsored comedy stream team, Indoor Recess, on the official Dungeons & Dragons Twitch channel.