Roll20 Crash Course

New to Roll20? This 101 tutorial course helps Game Masters bring their games online with the Roll20 virtual tabletop. Players and GMs alike will find this overview helpful in their transition to online gaming and navigating the Roll20 interface. You’ll also learn more about the features available in our digital toolset, and how to use them.

Each video guides you through campaign setup, accompanied by relevant links and resources to the subjects covered. Once you’re feeling brave, you can search our Help Center to dive even deeper into the possibilities of Roll20.

Whether you’re playing Call of Cthulhu, Dungeons & Dragons, Starfinder, Kids on Bikes, Dungeon World, FATE, or one of many, many other official and homebrewed systems, Roll20 is an easy-to-use system-agnostic virtual tabletop. It's flexible enough to handle your Tabletop RPGs as well as simulate popular board and card games. Don't let our product name confuse you. Roll20 can run a lot more than just d20 game systems!

Related Resources:

  • Introduction to Tabletop RPGs [Text] Get familiar with the basics of how a roleplaying game is played, how to go about picking a game, and find a group to play with.
  • Getting Started for Players [Video + Text] How to use the basic functions you’ll need to get the most from Roll20 as a player.

Your Virtual Tabletop

Roll20 has a number of features to make your online gaming easier and more immersive. You can dive in as deep as you would like, or keep it minimal -- whatever suits you and your table best.

Features you can expect to see in this Roll20 Crash Course:


Course Overview

Note: In this video series, while Kristin will be building a basic Pathfinder First Edition campaign, this is not a system-specific tutorial. No matter what game you’re playing, you’ll learn the basics of Roll20 from watching her set-up. Some of the look and wording has changed since these videos were created, but the process remains the same.

 


Creating Your Game

Kristin plans her goals for this tutorial series. She creates a new game from her Roll20 home page, and goes over what she needs to do in order to get the game ready for players, including a list of campaign-specific prep work and adding her campaign theme tags.

Related Resources:

  • Module Creation [Text] How to create a game with free or purchased pre-made adventures.
  • Game Management [Text] How to manage game settings, invite players, create an LFG listing, include Game Addons, and more from the My Games and Game Settings pages.

Designing Your Tabletop

Kristin creates new pages for her maps and adjusts the dimensions and measurements to fit her campaign needs in page settings. She uploads her map by dragging the image onto the tabletop and decorates it by copy-pasting additional images like torches and tables. Because she’s using the Map & Background Layer, her players will be able to see what she creates, but only Kristin (as the game’s GM) can edit them.

Tip: When you have a grid active on your Page, images and objects will be forced to snap to the grid. You can prevent snapping at any time by holding down the ALT key while moving items around.

Roll20 Marketplace Content Used:

  1. Fantasy Structures Pack 1 - Sean Archer
  2. The Dungeon Delve I - Kevin Brown

Related Resources:


Managing Your Journal

Kristin has her four PCs set up in her Journal tab, as well as the NPCs she needs, and sets the PC journals to be seen by all players. She decides to include a Character Sheet template for her game, so she goes back out to her Game Settings to choose a template. Kristin creates a handout for her ransom note that players will find. 

Related Resources:

  • The Journal [Text] How to find and use everything in the Journal tab: Characters, Handouts, and Folders.
  • How to Use Character Sheets [Text] How Character Sheet templates and click-to-roll Character Sheets work.
  • Character Sheet forums [Community Forums] Where to find the latest updates and ask questions on both community and official by Roll20 Character Sheets.
  • Roll20 Charactermancer [Video] How to use the Roll20 Charactermancer for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition.

Creating Tokens

Kristin drags images onto the Objects & Tokens layer to create tokens. She decides to show the character’s HP on the token, and edits this in the token settings. She uses token markers to indicate status effects as well as mark enemies to differentiate them for her players. As GM, Kristin can edit, tint, and control every token on the tabletop - but her players can only control tokens that she assigns to them. Kristin links her player’s tokens to their Character Sheet in the Journal to allow each player to control their token.

Tip: For journal linking to work properly, you must first set up the representation on the token. Only then should you add the token to the desired character journal.

Roll20 Marketplace Content Used:

  1. Adventurer Avatars - by Phillip Wright

Related Resources:

  • Token Features [Text] How to edit tokens and an explanation of each part of the feature.
  • The Journal [Text] How to find and use everything in the Journal tab: Characters, Handouts, and Folders.
  • Linking Tokens to Journals [Text] How to set up your tokens and link them to content like character sheets in your Journal.
  • Custom Token Markers [Text] How to create your own Token Marker sets.
  • Roll20 Tips: Layers [Video] How to navigate layers and move objects.

Virtual Dice Rolling

Kristin starts by using the Dice GUI and rolling dice in chat for very basic rolls. To help with the more complicated “Roll for Initiative” action, she builds a macro (a custom command that can be used as a shortcut) that can be used by any player.

Tip: Roll20 uses a “true random” number generator called Quantum Roll to generate dice rolls and secure them from tampering. So you can be certain your dice are both true and random!

Related Resources:

  • Token Actions [Text] How to navigate using macros that are linked to your tokens.
  • Dice Rolling GUI [Text] How to roll directly from the in-app Tool Bar.
  • Dice Reference [Text] How to roll virtual dice in every possible way.
  • How to Use Character Sheets [Text] How Character Sheet templates and click-to-roll Character Sheets work.
  • Macros [Text] How to create and use macros.
  • API [Text] Learn more about this Roll20 Pro Subscriber feature.

Campaign Extras

Now the basics for Kristin’s game are set. Since she has some time before her next game, she adds in music for her different pages. She blocks out areas of the maps for Fog of War to keep the players focused on the areas they’ve explored, and enables the subscription feature Dynamic Lighting on her sewer map. She also sets up an infinite Card Deck to give out as narrative currency.

Related Resources:

  • Jukebox [Text] How to manage and personalize your audio in-game.
  • Fog of War [Text] How to enable this feature and ways to use it.
  • Dynamic Lighting [Text] How to use the Plus and Pro Subscriber feature that makes your games even more immersive.
  • Collections [Text] How to create and use Card Decks and Rollable Tables.

Inviting Players

Kristin is ready to run her game! But first, she needs players. She shows where to locate the join game link, and then how to invite players whether you have a gaming group ready to go or would like to find a new one using the Looking for Group listings and forums.

Related Resources:

  • Game Management [Text] How to manage game settings, invite players, create an LFG listing, include Game Addons, and more from the My Games and Game Settings pages.
  • Looking for Group forums [Community Forums] Where to create your own LFG post or browse through the current posts.
  • GMing: You Can Do It! [Video] How to ease some of your GMing nerves.

Communication

Once you have your players invited and your session date set, you’re ready to play! 

Before that first session is the perfect time to coordinate as a group. While you wait patiently (or not), the Game Discussion Forum can be a great place to lay out expectations, such as whether your group will be using the built-in Video and Voice Chat, how you want to utilize our robust text chat, any safety tools you’d like to use, let your players speculate wildly about the campaign, or simply connect with each other. 

Welcome to your virtual tabletop. Now you’re ready to play on Roll20!

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