Looking for an online D&D client.
December 16, 2007 2:23 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a program that will simulate the experience of playing pen and paper Dungeons and Dragons, but allow online play. More inside.

It seems like such a simple, obvious idea: A program that would take the experience of D&D off the table and onto the internet. You'd be able to script a scenario, have some friends connect and then play some D&D. Someone would be DM and moderate the goings-ons, combat would be turn based. The program would handle all the dice rolls and so forth. Text-based, maybe an ASCII map

It seems so obvious. And yet I can't seem to find any program even close to what I'm looking for. My friends are I are scattered all over the world and it would be great to "get together" and play some D&D once in a while.

Am I missing it? Is my Google Fu suddenly weak? Any suggestions for anything like this would be nice. I know there's a D&D MMO and that's not what I'm looking for.
posted by GilloD to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (22 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2.
posted by porpoise at 2:25 PM on December 16, 2007

Arg! Porpoise beat me to it!
posted by EatTheWeek at 2:35 PM on December 16, 2007

There's also an interesting program that I've not played with myself called Fantasy Grounds, which seems a pretty complete virtual game - my favorite of the many features I've read about is the 3D-modeled dice that are "rolled" in the game.
posted by EatTheWeek at 2:37 PM on December 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

D&D 4th Edition, coming next year, will include an online play component. You'll be able to set up maps and 'miniatures', roll dice automatically, the whole shebang.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 2:50 PM on December 16, 2007

Yes, echoing the previous post, what you're describing is pretty much exactly what they're trying to do with the next version of D&D.
posted by dixie flatline at 2:56 PM on December 16, 2007

If you don't mind spending the time to script a scenario, NWN sounds like it might fit the bill (IIRC, you can switch to turn-based).
Have you thought about MUDs?
If you haven't, check out mudconnect.com and stay away from anything that even remotely mentions money.
posted by Ctrl_Alt_ep at 2:57 PM on December 16, 2007

Fantasy Grounds is in fact what you are looking for. Don't miss it.
posted by The Bellman at 3:02 PM on December 16, 2007

Response by poster: MUDs are great, but we're really looking to script something ourselves. It's a nice excuse to be creative. I saw that D&D stuff, but it won't be out for a couple of months. So far, FG is the best option, but we're an even split between OSX/Windows users. This is a nightmare.

Thanks for the suggestions! I'm struggling with Openrpg at the moment.
posted by GilloD at 3:26 PM on December 16, 2007

My freshman year of college I did this with my old D&D high school friends via AIM. But that seems a little less than what you are looking for.

And kudos for everyone for not mentioning mountain dew.
posted by munchingzombie at 3:33 PM on December 16, 2007

If you're creative enough, you could simply play over a chat window using some instant messenger app or IRC ;).
posted by nickerbocker at 3:39 PM on December 16, 2007

AIM really does work well for this. You can use AIM's file transfer to send map images and it has a built in dice rolling feature (a hold out from the old days of AOL chat).

//roll-dice #-sides #
posted by ahughey at 3:53 PM on December 16, 2007

The comments in this thread, from BoingBoing's article about D&D 4th edition, has several promising suggestions. The list includes the already mentioned Fantasy Grounds, but also OpenRPG and Kloogeworks, as well as a few homebrew system suggestions.
posted by IvyMike at 3:54 PM on December 16, 2007

You also should check out the forums at ENWorld:

">ENWorld: D&D Utilities

posted by ahughey at 4:10 PM on December 16, 2007

Sigh. It worked in preview.

EN World: D&D Utilities
posted by ahughey at 4:11 PM on December 16, 2007

How about a comparison chart of the major online RPG tools?
posted by ahughey at 4:17 PM on December 16, 2007

I'm about to start an online campaign in a couple of weeks, and so far my friends and I have decided that MapTool is what we're going to use. Check out the forums for tips on die rolling macros, aliases, impersonating NPCs, and much more. It's also free and open source. You can't really go wrong with this coupled with a VoIP service like Ventrillo for voice chatting. Find a decent Excel character sheet for everyone to share through email.
posted by erpava at 4:18 PM on December 16, 2007

Beat me to it Erpava. Another vote for maptool, especially because you mentioned earlier that you have people playing with different operating systems. Maptool is created in Java so it should run fine on both windows and osx.
posted by dujoducom at 5:28 PM on December 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

There are two such programs that I know that allow you to play pen and paper RPGs via virtual internet tabletops - OpenRPG and GrIP.

OpenRPG is free to download and install but you'll need to install python to run some of the components.

GrIP ranges from $35 for the electronic delivery option to $55 for a version already set up for Traveller.
posted by Kioki-Silver at 7:34 PM on December 16, 2007

(Long term AD&D computer game player here going back to Pool of Radiance on my C64...) All of the Never Winter Nights games are a frustrating mixture of poor game mechanics and opaque rules. Play them if you're thirsting for a D&D (in this case Forgotten Realms) style setting, but don't expect to get your pen & paper fix from them. At the end of the day the 3rd edition rules do not translate well into computer play. The NWN games are unbalanced and poorly paced from both a storyline and leveling standpoint. The recent sequel (NWN2) and its expansions are among the worst RPG games I've played (and I've played a lot, let me tell you...) Horrible, buggy, poorly designed, did I mention horrible?

The Baldur's Gate style games probably represent the better adaptation of pen and paper rules to a computer game setting. But you may have issues getting them to run on a modern system. Christ, they are almost 10-years-old!

I'm excited for 4th edition, but I've been so pissed these past few years that it wouldn't surprise me if it's some spectacular cluster fuck.
posted by wfrgms at 7:51 PM on December 16, 2007

Thirding FantasyGrounds.... it's a great program. I can take or leave the chat window in it, but combined with a VOIP program like Ventrilo or Mumble, it pretty accurately simulates the feel of tabletop.
posted by kaseijin at 6:54 AM on December 17, 2007

I have Neverwinter Nights 2, and though it implements all the D&D rules, i'm not sure it's really the digital version of table-top D&D. It's really just a video game that uses the D&D rules.
posted by chunking express at 7:54 AM on December 17, 2007

Also, Neverwinter Nights 2 is pretty buggy/slow even on pretty fast computer hardware. I've heard with the latest expansion they've ironed out a lot of the kinks mind you (and the expansion is supposed to be a very good game, unlike the original story).
posted by chunking express at 7:55 AM on December 17, 2007

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