|(In-person/remote gaming accouterments circa 2006)|
Our home gaming group has been running exclusively online since April 2020. That has been a boon to eliminate traveling for our friends who live long distances from a game's location (we rotate around) or have moved out of the SF Bay Area.
Now that everyone is getting or anticipates being vaxxed vs Covid we're planning to resume in-person D&D for our June game.
That presents a question: How do we best accommodate during an in-person game the online presence of our gamer friends residing in distant lands?
We last tackled this issue in 2006 about 15 years ago when my pal Kevin from Seattle ran the half drow, half Markab sorcerer "Artaban" in our v3.5 Wilderlands of High Fantasy game. I used a Logitech web cam maybe over I think some Yahoo! application(?) for Kevin to view the game table. Unfortunately the digital voice over the interweb would get garbled if more than one person spoke at a time, so we cannibalized a Motorola speaker phone system connected to a land-line. (Remember when nights and weekends long-distance was free?)
Our old setup is in the photo above. (The web cam is missing. Along the subsequent way Logitech stopped making drivers for it on whatever version of windows I upgraded later.)(Oh snap! That cam is probably still in my XP laptop bag.) Our system worked sporadically for a year or so, I was in the midst of was in the midst of hacking the Panasonic speakerphone to plug into an amplified sound system, when Kevin dropped out of the main game. (While he and I still ran Artaban as side adventures from the main campaign, Kevin could not quite get over his resentment of when Shade Structure's gnome druid assassinated the evil sorcerer. Intra-party violence is never pretty...)
So here we are in 2021 facing similar issue of striving for a workable hybrid in-person/remote game. Except we'll likely have at least 3 PC's remote and about a half-dozen in-person players plus the game ref.
Good news: The tech is way better and the interweb/computers way faster. Also J.A.S. hosts our June "Father's Day" game every year, and he is a LAN tech by trade.
Bad news: Well dang, everyone still talks all at once upon occasion (and typically during really critical game situations).
Plan thus far: J.A.S. is running an online feed through his smart TV and a room mic (using Discord I guess?) and says everyone should be heard. Dr. John PhD suggested having at least one member of the party in-person on a laptop also connected to the remote partiers just to make sure our friends online don't get drowned out.
To be determined: Are we going to web cam the table or is J.A.S. going to run "Theatre of the Mind"-style? Multiple cameras???
We'll see how it goes, at least we know the game will be Saturday June 19th (hey Juneteenth) because that is the Saturday before Father's Day. Probably many more tabletop RPG groups are going to face this type of issue. I will update this post with any dastardly technical plans we come up with and, of course, post a post-mortem after the game itself.