Play Dungeons & Dragons Online with Gametable

Even in this age of massively multiplayer videogame RPGs, I have a lot of friends who enjoy traditional roleplaying games online in some form. I’ve seen play-by-email, message board games and real-time games on internet chat - in fact I’ve written a free dice handler to aid real-time text-based Dungeons & Dragons games.

As the game further develops the use of miniatures, however, you’re going to increasingly benefit from an online miniatures simulator, and WotC’s official table software isn’t here yet. That’s where Gametable comes in.

Gametable is a free application you can use to simulate a tabletop grid online. It supports square grids, hex grids, and grid-free. You can draw on the ‘board’ like a dry-erase whiteboard, and place round graphic miniatures (called ‘pogs’) which players can move around the map.

The program has some features which impress me over other software of its kind. Gametable allows you to do a “colour erase”, rubbing out one colour of drawing without damaging the others. This is useful for drawing annotations such as spell areas, then erasing these quickly without rubbing out part of the map. You can also annotate pogs with names and attributes, signifying status effects or hit points.

Gametable also handles dice and text-based chat, although you’ll need to install a third-party program like Ventrilo for voice chat. The program doesn’t try to do everything, and won’t adjudicate game rules, which task is left to the DM as usual. You’ll also need a separate character sheet, which is something you can handle on paper as usual or a digital character sheet like my text-based character sheet, Yeoz’s text-based character sheet or Yeoz’s Excel character sheet.

Gametable’s not the only virtual tabletop software, but it’s certainly a good start. Other readers have recommended OpenRPG, MapTools, GlitterComm and Fantasy Grounds.

You can download Gametable here.

Update (26th July 2012): There’s a new tabletop tool in the works that looks interesting. It’s called Tabletop Forge and it runs over Google+.


Comments (36)

Mike Brady (October 22nd, 2008)

Thanks Jonathan! I always enjoy your blog posts. I think I’ll stick to MapTool though; it’s truly a fantastic piece of software and I have a tough time believing Gametable will beat its features. For one, Maptool handles light and vision - two things that I can never remember to think about as a DM.

For a fantastic character sheet, can I recommend these excellent sheets at dnd4.com? I find myself using them all the time to double-check my players’ work (usually to their benefit). The only caveat (based on feedback from my players) is that you seem to need Microsoft Excel - not OpenOffice or any other clone - to get the full benefit.

Wil K. (October 22nd, 2008)

That’s a pretty nice mapper! Good UI design.

Bhoritz (October 22nd, 2008)

Gametable can do much more than that:
http://www.gwindel.eu/GT.html

Bhoritz (October 22nd, 2008)

Oh! And you can have nice character sheets in Gametable:
http://gametable.wikia.com/wiki/Tutorial:_Character_sheets

Micah (October 23rd, 2008)

Meh, I’ll stick to the analog paper and pencil. I can see the allure of digital gaming for people who don’t have a regular group, but for me, nothing beats friends around a table.

Eric Maziade (October 23rd, 2008)

Yeah, GameTable is pretty nice. Looks like it has a lot of potential, though I never ended up trying it in a real situation…

The community was rather active as well… but their forums died a few months ago and never came back. I was trying to lend a hand to the developers (I submitted a code modification that allows to save the map to jpg).

Hopefully it’ll keep on progressing - it has lots of potential and its a somewhat well structured project (which seems like a rarity in the case of small, free open-source projects…)

James (October 28th, 2008)

RPGLife.com is now offering a free copy of Screen Monkey table top as well as a schedular and player finder as well as 3000 maps and 1500 miniatures to use.

http://www.rpglife.com/screenmonkey

James

pubertfaggons (November 5th, 2008)

Hi, I am absolutely new to DnD but want desperately to learn. But I have no one around even remotely interested, so to my digital friends I turn!

How do I start playing online? What communities/sites are there for me to visit?

Thanks.

Clyde (December 10th, 2008)

Hey, I actually play in RL, afew friends and I ae a clan called, Silent Rush. Were quite new to ths game, but our main DM is teaching us. I’d like to know if anyone out there wants to play with me because we can rarley get togethe.

j (November 11th, 2009)

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Danny (January 6th, 2010)

Clyde,

I’d like to get a game going online as well. Shoot me an email and let me know what online game table service you use (I am new to the online playing, and am still learning the old fashioned method as well). My email is jgeorge06@gmail.com.

Hunter (February 25th, 2010)

Clyde, Im up for anything. I havn’t played D&D for the longest time, and i forget everything. Maybe we can play together?

Liono (April 24th, 2010)

Hello every one, i used to play D&D all the time but me and my friends have been splittin up and forced to stop playing. However im very intrested in learning how to play it online and if any could emial me and kinda tell me how to get started on this “Game Table” thing every one is talkin about and perhaps even play with me, that would be great.

My Email = liono6959@yahoo.com

Majicor (May 29th, 2010)

I, haven’t played in a long time. i use to play with a group of around 12 people but life catchs up and people decreased until it was no more. I would love to start playing again but dont know how it will work online. if anyone has a game set up send me a email with information on how to join your group.

Majicor (May 29th, 2010)

oh btw my E-mail address is…

Blackgristle@hotmail.com

Pinky (October 24th, 2010)

I have tried and tried to download gametable. Every time that I go to the download link, I get an error that says that the web page does not exists. Did the link change or was the download taken down?

sorry for any misspelled words

Jonathan Drain (October 24th, 2010)

Gametable can be downloaded at http://sourceforge.net/projects/gametable/.

Pinky (October 24th, 2010)

Thank you Jonathan Drain

Shawn (October 25th, 2010)

So this would work if a group of friends wanted to get together and play DnD and such yes??

Shawn (October 25th, 2010)

Get together via ventrillo or Skype BTW : /

Kev (March 1st, 2011)

I am a tabletop fan myself, as opposed to online. The problem with online and video games is that too much is done for you at too quick a pace. There is something about the slow-paced, round by round action of tabletop play that other formats lack. Off the table it all becomes a bit to samey for me. Go from A to B, kill the monster, get the treasure and rank up, repeat steps 1-4. Tabletop puts the game and its mechanics into full zoom. With the game now closer you can see it’s finer points, allowing for a more varied and colourful game. Yes, its slower, but thats the good part. Adventuring will always win over merely accumulating points and then ranking up. To me, these gametables seem to be a healthy alternative to miniatures and makes it easy to play tabletop over the internet.

Nerian (March 12th, 2011)

Hi everyone i have two games set up one on a website with play by post and another on a program called fantasy grounds….if you would like to play on either send me an email

Mystickipad@gmail.com

Te website I play on is www.myth-weavers.com

Erik (March 15th, 2011)

I am starting an online Paper and dice RPG Board. Go to my site. diavida.com it doesn’t look like much now but just log in and give it a try. I would like to know what you think of it.

XXXX (January 6th, 2012)

what age groups usually play online?

XXXX (January 6th, 2012)

and wow no one posted a comment for a long time…

That guy (January 27th, 2012)

ikr? xxxx, think its usually younger ppl like us, still have yet to do it tho.

Zhenxiao (January 30th, 2012)

XXXX and That guy: All age groups play. My game groups have consisted of a mixture of teens and older adults.

thanous (July 26th, 2012)

none of these links work they all bring me to pages with broken links or no files so please put WORKING links next time thank u

Jonathan Drain (July 26th, 2012)

The links did work when I posted them… in 2008. Thanks for bringing it to my attention! I’ve updated the links and they should work fine now.

Tristan (September 19th, 2012)

I’m completely new to D&D (no experience whatsoever) but i really want to learn. Anyone want to play?

mellisa (September 23rd, 2012)

This website sucks your a loser!!!!

Mike (January 17th, 2013)

Great stuff. I’m a US development worker in Ghana and this is the perfect way to stay in touch with my friends in the States.

The future is awesome.

Dave (March 25th, 2013)

If any one can tell me how to play dungens and dragons I can help you Danny I’m at daveyevans@southbendschools.org

Jake (June 1st, 2013)

I’m looking to learn how to play D&D so if anyone is out there i’m at ridgl8183@googlemail.com

justin (November 9th, 2013)

i want to be able to learn and play d&d if someone would be willing to help me learn hit me up on facebook email addres blankenshipj666@gmail.com

justin (November 9th, 2013)

i would rather play while with a group

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