A few months ago, I started a D&D Club for seven of my students. After three session zeros, and three sessions of actual game play, the stay at home order was given. The order meant putting their adventure on pause until after spring break when we were supposed to return to school. Now it seems that we will not be returning to school this year, so I have decided to take the campaign digital so they will not be disappointed by not being able to finish. I figured I will share how I am running my digital campaign for any other teachers in a similar position. This is my first time DMing a digital campaign, so if you have any other suggestions, please let me know!
One of the main resources I will be using is D&D Beyond. Luckily, I had already entered each of the students’ character sheets into D&D Beyond. I like using D&D Beyond for students, because they can easily access information about their characters and descriptions of abilities and spells. All of my students are inexperienced, so the search feature makes things go much smoother. Before throwing students into this though, I walked them through the website and how to find the different pieces on their character sheets. I was able to do this in person, but I highly suggest using Zoom to share your screen if you need to do this digitally.
This can be an expensive option if you do not already have access to the materials, so keep this in mind if you aren’t planning on using a digital platform for an extended amount of time. We already have an account that we use for our home games with all content unlocked. This allowed me to easily share that content with my students, and does not require them to each have a copy of the Player’s Handbook.
My students are very visual by nature. They need to be able to see what is happening on a map to have a good grasp of how to act. While some older students may be able to skip Roll20 and do a theater of the mind game, I find that my middle schoolers do not do well with abstract descriptions. This ends up making things take longers. I will be relying on Roll20 to share maps and combat scenarios with my students. I am hoping to commission artwork for their characters soon to make their tokens to help them connect. They loved picking their minis, and I think it would be a great gift to them for their first campaign.
While I like Roll20 for the visual aspects of game play, I don’t like using the voice chat feature. It tends to drop out suddenly and be somewhat finicky about working all the time.
While there has been some debate recently about the security of Zoom, it is the only voice chat program that my district supports. I will be using Zoom concurrently with Roll20 to do voice chat.
I do like Zoom for a variety of reasons though. It allows me to have all seven of my students in a single chat, and gives me to the ability to mute and unmute students as needed to control the noise level of the party. Additionally, I like that I can show my screen or create a wipe board that can be shared with my students. This allows me a lot of flexibility to help students when they get confused.
One downfall to Zoom is the time limit on the free version. While my district pays for our use, the free version only allows users to be live for forty minutes. This may be a fair length for a student game, but we tend to play for around a hour.
Wizards’ Dice Roller
While most of my students have access to their own set of dice, some of my students had been borrowing my dice in person. This meant that I had to find a digital dice roller for those students. I have had them use the Dungeons & Dragons Dice Roller from Wizards of the Coast. I like this app because it allows students to easily roll multiple dice at once and also allows them to input the modifier of their roll. It helps speed up the game and for students who struggle with math, this can be extremely helpful for them.