Dungeons & Dragons vs Pandemic: FIGHT!

Written by on 23rd October 2022

Dungeons & Dragons players are split between in-person and hybrid methods to play games in a post-pandemic world.

Speaking to a group of D&D players from across the North East who either started playing or had groups who moved online during the pandemic, there is a mix of preferred opinions on whether their groups should stay online or go back to being in-person.

One of the players had only ever played online and are happy for it to stay there, the rest of the players were closely split between a hybrid of mixing online and in-person sessions and purely in-person.

Pixel art knight and fire breathing dragon on lava dungeon RPG game location. 8 bit adventure fantasy roleplaying game boss scene with hero and dragon fight.

Asking why Bob, who prefers in-person sessions, reasoned “I want to be in the same room as someone” while Rich thinks the “ease of assembling a group as not everyone has transport options” makes hybrid sessions the better option.

“I enjoy both” is how The Party Unicorn started, “but in person is better as the overall feel is greater, things flow better, and you have a great laugh.”

The Party Unicorn’s sentiment for ‘in person is better’ is shared amongst all the other players who voted for the in-person as their preferred session. With Mica saying, “it’s more sociable”, Jack agreed “Nothing beats the social interaction of playing in person” and Wes simply said, “Better atmosphere in person”.

The reasons the in-person crowd gave for preferring in-person over an online or hybrid were all similar and based on the limitations of technology. Mica covers this issue well by saying “It’s easier to hear people talking more or less at the same time because it’s not all being filtered through one set of speakers”. I will agree with this, it’s easier to focus on one voice in person than it is over speakers.

Sean’s preference for in-person sessions is based on wanting to keep the mood and attention of the player. It is important that “being able to keep the energy going at a table is a high priority when I play”.

Whereas there are technical limitations that make in-person better, some technical options make playing easier. Cade finds it “easiest to use D&D Beyond character sheet” and “Roll20 has proved to be a great platform”.

D&D Beyond is an excellent resource for character sheets and information for newer players, but I find Roll20 leaves something to be desired. Between Roll20 and D&D Beyond, they do provide what is needed to run a game session for free.

To cover all the options, the response to prefer Online comes from Dawn “I’ve only ever really played online.” This may change in time, but time will tell.

Detail of two miniatures fighting on the battlefield of the role-playing game of dungeons and dragons. Game dices next to the figures.

There are pros and cons for both online and in-person and I am in the hybrid category, I enjoy the advantage of online but do enjoy the social element of in-person. Other members of my group are trying out other options to Roll20 such as Foundry and Tabletop Simulator (both have an entry cost) but while these may make the experience more visually interesting, they will never replace sitting around a table with people to play.

The pandemic has changed how people meet and play but has also allowed more options to appear for online play so you can play with anyone from anywhere. If you have friends across the world, you can play online with more options, but I cannot see in person ever being truly beaten.

If you want to know more about online plays of D&D the services mentioned in this article are below, these are not affiliate links.

Beyond D&D: https://www.dndbeyond.com
Roll20: https://roll20.net
Foundry Virtual Tabletop: https://foundryvtt.com
Tabletop Simulator: https://www.tabletopsimulator.com

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