Voices in the (Virtual) Wilderness

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I’ve been quiet the last few weeks as behind the scenes I’ve been prepping to run my first Witch Hunter: Revelations game over Roll20.  This is something that’s been rolling around in my head for a while, and then an old online acquaintance from my Greyhawk days gave me the perfect excuse.

Witch Hunter: Revelations (WHR) is the organized play (OP) program for Witch Hunter organized by Paradigm Concepts.  It started out strong with the first edition of the game.  Then something happened — I’m not sure what; I was on the sidelines using the material for my Solomon Kane campaign — that led to the whole thing disappearing.  The second edition gave them a chance to start fresh.  The first year of the campaign has wrapped, and I expect everyone is hard at work on year 2 as we speak.  The original campaign, Dark Providence, had a decidable “monster of the week” vibe.  I think WHR is striving to copy Paradigm’s flagship campaign, Arcanis, with a mix of plot arc adventures and one shots.  A good plan, and I’m really hoping they deliver.

While I have no evidence to back it up, I’m willing to bet that 90% of Paradigm’s (and Witch Hunters’s) audience is tied into these OP games.  Or maybe those are just the most vocal folks.  So the OP is crucial to the success and development of the Witch Hunter game line.  And that’s where this whole Roll20 game plan comes in.

I’ve lived in Texas all my life.  There is NO WHR presence here at any of the cons, game days or events.  Zero.  Zip.  Nada.  There never has been.  If I want to play a WHR round, I’ve got to fly to a midwest con, or the northeast, or any of the big cons (GenCon or Origins).  So I suspect I’m not alone when I look around for other people playing the game and get nothing in return.  I’m pretty sure my Greyhawk friend felt the same way.

Now, ten years ago, I would have hit the local con circuit.  But now, married with two young’uns, that’s about as practical as a Corvette.  But Roll20.  That’s virtual.  It’s everywhere.  As long as someone is running a game, they are looking for players, and you are comfortable with the timezone, you’re gold!  But wait, look at that.  A year in and I could very well be the ONLY person running Witch Hunter on Roll20.  And that’s my home game.  I’ve seen a trickle of curiosity about online play when I’ve tossed around the topic on various forums, but nothing that had ever materialized into anything.

So when my old school Canonfire buddy started talking about running a game on Roll20, I got involved.  I got excited.  I got invested.  And we came up with a plan.  A plan, we hope, will eventually build a larger presence for the game and open up new avenues of play for people like me who can’t play even if we wanted to.

Running an OP game at a con is actually pretty simple.  The publisher generally has all the materials you need to play available.  You just have to find some players and show up ready to run.  But Roll20 is a different kettle of fish.  You have an entirely new tackle box of toys available at your figure tips.  That presents a learning curve, but also a time investment beyond learning the rules and reading the adventure.  If you are playing something 100 other people are playing, chances are, someone has done the work for you.  When you try to play something that maybe only a handful of people are doing anything with, you don’t have nearly as many options.

And that is a BIG reason that I decided, when I committed to running a couple of these WHR rounds (I really want someone else to GM so I can play and get a better feel for that side of the game), I wanted to make as much of the materials I develop to run it available to ANYONE else who wants to do the same.  I don’t expect everyone to share my sense of aesthetics, but I do think having the option to take or leave something at least gives people options.  And when options are in short supply, any options will do.

As of now, I’ve made my player tokens (about 40 in all, including all the pre-generated characters for the campaign) available for download.  I’ve also made all my graphic and reference files for The Lost Child (WHR 1-02) available, including backdrops, maps, handouts and tokens.  I’m going to do the same after we run through Bedlam and The Crossing.  Beyond that, I’m leaving myself open depending on how much interest and demand we generate.

Expect to hear more about running convention adventures and events on Roll20 in the future.  In the meantime, if you are the only one within 100-miles with a love affair for a certain under appreciated game (too many here to list), going Virtual is a great option.

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