Cody Lewis has a YouTube channel called, Taking 20. He is a big proponent of Roll20, and has what he calls the “Roll20 Master Series” where he discusses getting the most out of Roll20. Roll20 is a Virtual Table Top (VTT) used to help people in different locations play around the same virtual table. For example, I play in a weekly Advanced D&D 1st Edition game every Wednesday with players across the U.S.A, one from Canada, and one from England.
While Cody focuses on D&D 5th Edition, he gives general tips that will work with any game system. Our mission here at Multiverse is to cover Analog Gaming in a Digital World. Virtual Table Tops are one way to get together and game when you can’t find or coordinate with a local group. One can learn a lot about Roll20 from this video series. Cody takes things several steps further than it had occurred to me. His suggestions will work for any system, even those that don’t have the fancy character sheets with their additional options. One can learn a lot from this series from the basic to advanced. I find it a big time saver and have used what I learned to add macros in games I play, and those I run.
LH: When did you get your start in gaming?
CL: Hmmmm, well I always played TCGs (Pokemon, DBZ, Magic) but the first time I ever really played D&D was in 7th grade. I played a Wizard, and I was a Magic Missile fiend!
My dad was furious when he found out though, he apparently thought I was going to start worshiping the devil or something. He even threw away a set of books I bought off a friend. Hahaha
LH: Do you only play D&D? What version of D&D did you start?
CL: At the moment, yes I pretty much only play D&D 5e. I have recently picked up EotE, and would like to explore that game a bit, and I am also tracking Starfinder, which looks very interesting. What version did I start? Does THACO ring any bells?
LH: How long have you been on Roll20? Did you back the Kickstarter? Are you a free or paying user? If you pay, do you feel you get good value for the money.
CL: 3 years now. No, I didn’t even know about it back then. I have been a $5 (Plus) subscriber for a very long time and just 3 months ago I jumped to the $10/month sub (Pro). As far as value goes, I think the sweet spot is the Plus subscription at $5/month. I think this offers tremendous value and I may even go back to it soon.
LH: Have you used/do you use any other online tabletop emulators?
CL: I’ve tried to. I’ve downloaded Fantasy Grounds like 6 times. I like the idea of what they offer, I just have struggled with the UI. Many moons ago I also looked into using Maptools, but Roll20 has been a great product.
LH: Did you start out on Roll20 as a player or GM?
CL: A player for about 2 sessions. After that I left the site and didn’t come back until a year had passed. I jumped right into GMing though when I finally did.
LH: How long have you been doing RPG related videos on YouTube?
CL: Not long. I put one video up back in May without the intention of really creating a channel. I took a more serious interest in Taking20 in mid July and I’ve had an absolute blast so far.
LH: What was your inspiration for the Roll20 Master Series?
CL: The culmination of learning about Roll20’s capabilities, my appreciation for how VTTs have allowed me to engage in this hobby as a professional with a family, and my natural affinity for teaching.
LH: You’re up to episode# 15, how long do you think you will keep this series going?
CL: Not long. Though I have been toying around with the idea of a new series designed to be more introductory. There are so many out there now, but I do get asked a ton of questions about Roll20’s more basic functions, so maybe people could still use the help. I’m not sure yet.
LH: Is this channel your first attempt at doing YouTube videos? What’s your setup like? Any advice to someone looking to do their own thing on YouTube?
CL: Yes. Setup? Logitech C920 webcam, Presonus Audiobox with a condenser mic I borrowed from a buddy, and more recently I’ve added in Neewer CN-160 lights so I can shoot at night. As far as advice goes, there are a ton of things. Make a gameplan, look at what successful channels are doing and learn from them, and be entertaining! There are channels even in this niche that offer great great advice– but that put me to sleep when I try and learn from them. A channel who I’ve only recently discovered and that I really really like is Web DM. Those guys get it. The flow of their videos is upbeat and really grabs me when I watch. And I think that it shows with how fast their channel has been growing. So be entertaining– not monotone!
LH: What is your number one piece of advice for anyone new to Roll20 as a player and as a GM?
CL: Just go for it! Most people quit trying to find games on Roll20 because they don’t find games at the times they want to play, or with the system etc. Put yourself out there on the forums and you’ll get a response. I promise!
LH: I’ve learned a lot of cool macros and made some of my own from seeing what you’ve done in your videos. Did you spend a lot of time figuring those out, or did you find them easy? I don’t do 5th edition, or others that have so many customized macros, so I find I have to do a lot more fiddling to get things to do what I want. You do have several cool suggestions I didn’t think of, so I really appreciate showing me that my vision was too limited. I’m not currently running any games, but have in the past, and will be starting something new with a special project. [Sorry no spoilers, still in the works.]
CL: At the beginning yes! Fortunately though there are some amazing people on the forums who enjoy helping people write and find macros. Ok Larry, let me help you out. I was going to save this for the next video in the Master Series but here’s a Pro Tip just for you and your readers. If you want to find any Macro, including the template stuff just roll it from the character sheet like you normally would. Then, click on the chat box and press the up arrow. It should show you the exact formula for what you just did. Copy and paste into a new macro or a token action macro. Profit! [I already knew this one, and use it all the time in play to re-use one of the last few macros I’ve ran.]
LH: Have you ever been in games with women players, or a woman for a GM?
CL: Not as many as I would have liked to, and I mean that with the best of intent. I have only been in two campaigns with women players and both were great experiences. I have tried to get the wife interested, to no avail.
LH: Have you ever been to a gaming convention? Which ones? Any coming up?
CL: No. And it bums me out. I have been talking to my wife about possibly going to Gen Con this year since it is usually on my birthday. Or maybe PAX South since it is here in Texas.
LH: Your son’s presence in the outro is adorable. How old is he?
CL: Thank you. He’ll be four in a few months. Which as I type this, blows my mind…
LH: It’s great that you’re getting him involved. Have you tried any streamlined RPG’s with him yet?
CL: No not yet. But he’s already a ringer at Jenga! And I’m sure I’ll be looking into more age appropriate games he can play with dad very soon. So if you have any suggestions, be sure to let me know.
Thanks for giving me an opportunity to do this Larry!
As always… May your games be filled with awesome memories– and even better friends! hahaha
Here is the first video in Cody’s Roll20 Master Series: