Roll20

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Roll20
A purple 20-sided dice displaying the number 20 in the middle, and the words "Roll20" to the right
Type of site
Online virtual tabletop
Available inEnglisha
OwnerThe Orr Group, LLC
Created byRiley Dutton, Nolan Jones, Richard Zayas
URLwww.roll20.net
RegistrationYes
Users5,000,000+ (as of February 2020)[1]
LaunchedSeptember 17, 2012; 8 years ago (2012-09-17)
Written inHTML5[2]
  • a Supports 18 additional languages through community translations. [3]

Roll20 is a website consisting of a set of tools for playing tabletop role-playing games, also referred to as a virtual tabletop, which can be used as an aid to playing in person or remotely online. The site was launched in 2012 after a successful Kickstarter campaign. The platform's goal is to provide an authentic tabletop experience that does not try to turn the game into a video game, but instead aids the game master in providing immersive tools online. The blank slate nature of the platform makes integrating a multitude of tabletop role-playing games possible. During quarantine as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has allowed a variety of real life games to transition online, facilitating RPGs in an online space.[4]

Features[edit]

Roll20 is a browser-based suite of tools that allows users to create and play tabletop role playing games. It is organized into individual game sessions, which users can create or join. These game sessions include various features of typical tabletop RPGs, including dynamic character sheets, automated dice rolling, shared maps with basic character and enemy tokens, and triggered sound effects, as well as a character creation tool for certain licensed game systems.[5][6][7][8] The interface also includes integrated text chat, voice chat, and video chat, as well as Google Hangouts integration.[9]

Roll20 also contains a separate marketplace, where art assets and complete game modules are sold, and a reference compendium for several game systems. Compendiums and game modules published through the marketplace are only available to use on the Roll20 platform,[10] while some art assets and art packs can be transferred to other sites or downloaded and used for physical tabletop sessions.[11] In addition to the free content, Roll20 also has extra features available for paying subscriber accounts, including dynamic lighting and fog of war for maps.[6]

Besides the main browser version of Roll20, there are also iPad and Android versions. These mobile versions are more focused on the player experience, containing fewer features than the full browser site.[12] Roll20 is available in English, with moderate support for 17 other languages through community-contributed translations using Crowdin.[3]

Roll20 supports many tabletop systems, including the various editions of Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Shadowrun, Dungeon World, Gamma World, Traveller, Numenera, 13th Age, and others.[2][6][8] For many less known tabletop systems, Roll20 has an open source repository where the community can contribute character sheet templates.[13]

History[edit]

Roll20 was originally conceived as a personal project by three college roommates, Riley Dutton, Nolan Jones, and Richard Zayas, to help them continue to play Dungeons & Dragons after graduating and moving to different cities. After realizing that their personal app could help others as well, they started a Kickstarter campaign in the spring of 2012 with an initial goal of $5000; the campaign managed to raise almost $40,000.[14] After a short beta testing period following the end of the Kickstarter campaign, Roll20 was released to the public in September 2012.[15]

In July 2016, Roll20 announced that they had acquired a license from Wizards of the Coast for official Dungeons & Dragons material.[5][2] Along with the announcement, they released the first official module for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, The Lost Mine of Phandelver, on the Roll20 Marketplace, which was followed by other releases.[16]

Roll20 reached 1 million users in July 2015 and 2 million users in January 2017.[14][17]

In February 2019, TechCrunch reported that Roll20's databases had been hacked along with those of 8 other companies, with the information of over 4 million users of the site posted for sale on a dark web marketplace.[18]

In March 2020, when the COVID-19 Pandemic hit, many groups who played Dungeons & Dragons in person turned to Roll20 to keep their gaming parties alive.[19]

Roll20CON[edit]

Roll20 has held an online gaming convention named Roll20CON every year since 2016, consisting of an organized series of online games hosted on Roll20 and streamed on Twitch, along with other events. Roll20 has partnered with charitable organizations to run Roll20CON: The Cybersmile Foundation, an organization providing support for victims of cyberbullying, in 2016; and Take This, an organization focused on mental health in the gaming community, in 2019.[20][21]

Reddit controversy[edit]

In September 2018, one of the co-founders of Roll20, Nolan T. Jones, acting as head moderator of the Reddit Roll20 subreddit, banned Reddit user ApostleO, mistaking the account for another previously banned account whom Nolan believed to be circumventing the prior ban. After a failed attempt to get clarification and correction of the ban, ApostleO deleted his Roll20 account and posted a summary to Reddit of the hostile customer service.[22] Many users criticized the ban, Jones’ response, and the inclusion of Roll20 staff as moderators of the subreddit, leading Roll20 to apologize and turn over moderation of the subreddit to the community.[23]

Burn Bryte[edit]

In July 2020,[24] Roll20 released their own Science fantasy role-playing game[25][26] named Burn Bryte, with James Introcaso as lead designer. The game was first announced during Gen Con 2018,[27] and was mentioned to be designed from the bottom up to be played on Roll20's virtual tabletop platform.[24][26] Starting in August 2018,[28] a playtest was launched for Roll20's Pro-subscribers,[29]which was later expanded to their Plus-subscribers in November of the same year.[30] With the games launch, multiple Actual Play campaigns were started on Twitch.

Awards[edit]

Roll20 was named the Gold Winner in the "Best Software" category of the ENnie Awards in 2013,[31] 2014,[32] 2015,[33] and 2016.[34]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "5 Million Users: Roll20 Finds Critical Success!". Roll20 Blog. March 4, 2020. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Jeffrey, Cal (August 1, 2016). "Roll20 brings official 'Dungeons & Dragons' content to the virtual table". Inquisitr. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Supported Languages". Roll20 Helpdesk. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  4. ^ "Google Trends". Google Trends. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Murphy, David (July 28, 2016). "Dungeons and Dragons Debuts on Virtual Tabletop 'Roll20'". PC Magazine. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c Brogan, Jacob (August 9, 2016). "Welcome to the Virtual Tabletop". Slate. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  7. ^ Senior, Tom (March 17, 2016). "How Roll 20 brings the spirit of D&D to PC". PC Gamer. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  8. ^ a b Bolding, Jonathan (June 12, 2018). "Roll20 is getting a built-in character creator". PC Gamer. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  9. ^ Hall, Charlie (July 28, 2016). "D&D on your tablet and in your browser, complete with dice and a Dungeon Master". Polygon. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  10. ^ Jones, Brad. "Roll20 adds official 'Dungeons and Dragons' fifth-edition support". Digital Trends.
  11. ^ "Accessing and Managing Marketplace Content". Roll20 Helpdesk. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  12. ^ Bolding, Jonathan (March 31, 2015). "Virtual Tabletop Program Roll20 Comes to Mobile Devices". The Escapist. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  13. ^ "Roll20 Character Sheet Repository". GitHub. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  14. ^ a b Mongilio, Heather (July 27, 2015). "Roll20 Creates Digital Game Table". ARLnow.com. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  15. ^ Dutton, Riley (September 17, 2012). "Roll20 Goes 'Live'". Roll20 Blog. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  16. ^ Powell, Stephanie (September 1, 2016). "Early Launch Achieved - Storm King's Thunder is Available Today in Roll20!". Roll20 Blog. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  17. ^ Wallace, Suzanne (January 17, 2017). "Over 2 Million Gamers!". Roll20 Blog. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  18. ^ Hoffer, Christian (February 15, 2019). "Popular RPG Site 'Roll20' Allegedly Had 4 Million Users' Information Stolen". Comic Book. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  19. ^ Grebey, James (March 25, 2020). "Dungeons & Dragons players turn to virtual tabletops in record numbers due to coronavirus". SYFY WIRE. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  20. ^ Shearer, Stew (February 19, 2016). "Roll20 Will Host 'Online-Only Tabletop Gaming Convention' This June". The Escapist. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  21. ^ Girdwood, Andrew (October 4, 2019). "Here's how to get free dynamic lighting on Roll20 this weekend". Geek Native. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  22. ^ Asarch, Steven (September 27, 2018). "Reddit Rallies Around User Banned For Criticizing Roll20 App". Newsweek. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
  23. ^ Gita Jackson (September 27, 2018). "One Fan's Criticism Of D&D App Roll20 Sends Its Subreddit Into A Meltdown". Kotaku. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  24. ^ a b Hoffer, Christian (June 26, 2020). "Burn Bryte, an Original Roll20 RPG, Launches on July 20th". Comicbook. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  25. ^ "Burn Bryte Story Paths". Blog. November 1, 2018. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  26. ^ a b Wilson, Jason (August 25, 2020). "The D20 Beat: Designing Burn Bryte as a digital-first tabletop RPG". Venture Beat. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  27. ^ "Everything is Burning". Roll20. August 8, 2018. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  28. ^ Girdwood, Andrew (August 31, 2018). "A first look at Roll20's sci-fi RPG Burn Bryte". Geek Native. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  29. ^ "Burn Bryte Playtest Begins!". Roll20. August 31, 2018. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  30. ^ "Burn Bryte Now Available for Plus Subscribers!". Roll20. November 19, 2018. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  31. ^ "2013 Noms and Winners". ENnie Awards. August 21, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  32. ^ "2014 ENnie Awards Winners". ENnie Awards. July 14, 2014. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  33. ^ "2015 ENnie Award Winners". ENnie Awards. August 12, 2015. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  34. ^ "2016 ENnie Award Winners". ENnie Awards. August 6, 2016. Retrieved October 23, 2019.

External links[edit]