Running Games Over Skype
If you are choosing to run games over Skype (or other online tools allowing voice chat) you might need to follow a couple of protocols to make it easier to play games with more than two people online.
Since I have starting running skype games, I thought it would be timely to write a post covering skype etiquette and things that players should be aware of when they are participating in an online game.
Have your character sheet and dice ready, as well as any game references.
Know your character, not every GM will have memorised your character, I run six games, I am lucky to remember your characters name, let alone race, so don’t be surprised if I miss background elements, what spells your have, and how they all work.
In my games each player should have the following:
- Their character with a copy of it being sent to the GM via email.
- something to take notes with
- something to roll dice with
- have contacted the GM to confirm they are playing by Skype and not attending in person.
When not talking, mute your microphone, Un-mute before talking, announce who you are, wait for current speaker to give you a chance (GM will interrupt if required).
This is important as the last thing you want is to talk over other people or have them talk over you. Or worse, miss out on information because you have talked over the GM giving you an important plot point.
Note: Two checks to make, is there a phone near your microphone, is your tool picking up the microphone. Both of these have had issues with my online games.
Update: when online please use push to talk functionality. When it is not your turn and your not speaking please turn off your mic so we get less interference.
Joining a Group Chat (Skype)
When joining a group chat, don’t start a call with the GM (they might already have started) message them that your are ready to be included. If they don’t respond to a message in the tool (some tools hide the messages) then contact them via their phone or messenger (if they use it) with a reminder that your ready. Sometime we do get caught up in conversation and miss the prompts.
If you have dropped out of an existing chat, you can reconnect without having to be invited.
Once you have joined the game, don’t message the chat, or the person while they are running it, they are not looking for chat message, and they can be disruptive to game being played, instead message one of the other players to bring it to the GM’s attention.
Set appropriate reminders for when the game will start, if your in different time-zones you have the internet available to check and confirm times.
Use video only where required, as too many video’s streaming into each location can overwhelm connections.
Update: Remember, contact GM or other players in game if GM does not respond. Don’t start a call with the GM as they are hosting the game.
First Time Connections
When using a Virtual Table Top (VTT), application make sure you have tested the connection before the game.
When using skype or other Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) make sure you have connected with the GM before the game day if its your first time connecting.
Note: if your system does not work on the day, it is not the GM’s fault. If you have not tested, updated, or made changes, the responsibility of having a working connection is on your end as the player, not on the GM’s end to troubleshoot your technical issues. If your having technical issues, you will be dropped from the session to avoid disruption to the game.
Playing online is a privilege, not a right. As is playing in any campaign. issues taking more than 5 minutes to fix should be addressed out of game play time.
Things to Try and Avoid
Don’t leave a mobile phone within a metre of the microphone, this can cause distortion over the connection that everyone else hears.
When eating or drinking, it is good to mute the microphone.
Not everyone is perfect, so be aware that tools will normally show when your broadcasting noise, even if your not talking. As the GM is generally involved in 50% or more of the conversation, they tend to leave their microphone on, and that can unintentionally introduce background noise.
A good checklist for keeping in mind while you are playing online:
- Keep Mobile devices are away from microphones.
- Keep Speaker away from microphone.
- Don’t streaming video (or camera) to the game (GM’s connection may not handle it, and can vary from game to game). This might be okay in some games, but not others.
- Don’t share your screen with the game if your the player unless asked to do so by the game master.
- Don’t leave your microphone on while your not talking. Use push to talk functionality.
- Don’t initiate a new connection to the game if you get dropped, you need to join the existing session. This is part of don’t start a connection unless your the GM, you should be accepting a connection or re-joining a session.
- Don’t have a fan blowing into your microphone. This has been a common occurrence in games during summer.
- Don’t talk over others, and if interrupted by the Games Master, give them a chance to interrupt as there may be a good reason for it. They are hosting and running the session after all.
- Sending content to a chat window during the game is okay, only if the Games Master has agreed for that communication. So chat messages in my games are not meant for during play as I use this method for personal emergency communication.
- Some of us have disabilities and may need things repeated, and sometimes static, other noises or life interferes and we can’t here it. So when online be prepared to repeat yourself, especially if you forget to push to talk.
- 2021-08-05 – Updating the layout and content.
Concluding a Campaign: Star Wars
This site is constantly under revision, no blog posts are final as this is a work in progress place for me to develop my game settings and rules. Some posts might be placeholders for future content, so feel free to check back later for updated information.