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5 Ways to Play RPGs During the Pandemic Lockdown

My wife and I live in Chicago, and since our city has been heavily impacted by the Covid-19 epidemic, we've been practicing social distancing for over a month and a half now. Typically this time of year, we're starting to hit the yearly convention circuit, which has been seriously cut back this year, and may be cancelled entirely for the rest of the year. We've already missed out on gaming at Gary Con and Adepticon, and we're likely to see more cancellations. Yet, somehow, I've managed to do more tabletop gaming than I have in years--mostly, and mostly role-playing games at that.

I'm actually writing this article after playing through an amazing session of Call of Cthulhu, and a day after running a D&D scenario. In fact, I also ran both of those games last weekend--and I even played Traveler! All of it has been online through video conferencing apps, or even just Facebook messenger. The games are out there, players are looking, and if you want to get into doing some role-playing games online, it's very doable. If you haven't had a chance to jump into on-line role-playing yet, here are some tips on how to do so:

Online gaming conventions

Lots of gaming conventions have been either postponed or cancelled. Kobold Con is one that I've been meaning to get to for years, and this year, I'll actually be attending their virtual convention. Origins Game Fair (where my wife is slated to be the cosplay special guest this year), is going virtual in June, even though the event has been postponed until October. My wife Monica is even planning some virtual cosplay events for the convention. There are other conventions, too--nearly every weekend it seems, as show runners have moved quickly to get their events online. You can spend just about every weekend gaming and it will only cost you a few bucks in badges and game session tickets.

Join Some Online Groups

If you're not on Discord, sign up for a free account. Hop on Facebook, and look around for groups. If you haven't signed up for Roll20 yet, do that and then search around for the game you want to play Also sign up for a Warhorn, which is a forum for organizing games that has lots of online events. There are tons of people out there like you looking for people to game with and lots of them have organized groups online so that they can find other players. If you're shy about playing with new people, stop worrying and just jump in and try it. There are a ton of groups out there of fellow gamers who are are all in the same boat as you--stuck at home, bored, and wanting to do some gaming.

Organize an Online Game

Did you previously have a game that fell apart due to the pandemic? I haven't seen my in-person gaming group in 2 months. I haven't seen most of my gaming convention buddies since Gamehole con back in November! But many of them have been proactive about playing online and invited me to game with them over Zoom, Roll 20, and Discord. I got in on it and I've organized a few games as well. It's pretty simple to create an event on Facebook or Google Calendar and send out an invitation to your gaming buddies. There's a lot of gamers out there looking for something to do, and if you already know some people, go and organize a game. If you're not ready to run your own game, talk to someone who is and offer to organize and schedule events for them so that they have more time to prepare. If you haven't played online before, be sure to check out some of our tips for easing into online tabletop gaming with your smartphone.

Go Ask Around

If none of the above are doable, it's okay to go to a forum and just ask people if there is a game

that you can join. There are a lot of people running games who are eager to find players that can make it to the table. Many online forums are okay with you putting up a post asking if you can join a game. This is more and more common these days, so go out and look around on RPG forums or social media and see if other people want to meet up online and do some gaming. If you are a game master who needs players, it should be easy to find some. If you're a player, just ask nicely to join a game and be respectful to anyone who lets you join.

Playing Alone is an Option

If all else fails, you can always play a solo adventure. There are a lot of products out there that let you play through an RPG scenario on your own. In fact, there are several on sale right now on DriveThru RPG, whom we partner with to do game reviews. There's a ton of titles on sale for the next five days!

So, while most of us can't leave the house even for the next few weeks across the United States and in many other parts of the world, just make the best of it. This can be a great time to build some fun gaming memories and strengthen friendships--or even to make new friends with people who have common interests. Put yourself out there (online of course) and find a way to spend your time in lockdown doing what you love.

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