Playing D&D virtually has obviously become more of a thing due to covid. I think the most useful tool out there so far has been Discord. It’s free, it’s easy to use, and cross platform compatibility. I ran a group for a couple of years on Discord, and am currently a player in that same group (with another person DM’ing) and we still use Discord. On top of the platform, we have become fond of three Discord Bots that have helped augment the overall experience. My hope is that this article will provide some guidance that will help you as well!
Let’s Start with Discord
Discord really is a wonderful tool, but it does take a little practice to navigate. However once you get use to it, I’m sure you’ll love it! If you’re new to Discord, I recommend watching the How to use Discord | Easy Discord tutorial for beginners video on Youtube. On my Discord server, I have taken a few extra steps and created a separate D&D Campaign voice chat as well as a text chat channel that we use for the bots. I’ve also set up some special permissions to restrict who can access those channels, because I do host other things on my Discord. If you haven’t already, download Discord and set up your account and share it with your D&D friends.
Get It: Discord | Your Place to Talk and Hang Out
D&D Beyond (Precursor to Avrae)
Before I get into the bots, I wanted to touch on D&D Beyond. If you’ve not heard of it, D&D Beyond is an online tool for Character Sheets, Encounters, Source Books, and much more. Basically all things D&D can be found there, but for the purpose of this article I just want to focus on the character sheet because that’s what Avrae ties into. Rather than turn this into a tutorial, I’ll just point you to a few resources that you might need as you set up Avrae.
- How to Create Your First Dungeons & Dragons Character With D&D Beyond
- Best D&D Adventures for New Dungeon Masters
Avrae Discord Bot
Here’s where the fun happens! The Avrae Discord Bot will allow the DM to link a campaign and each player can link his/her character sheet as well. Avrae can be used for rolling, saves, checks, and so much more. DM’s can opt to completely run their combat in Avrae, though we use MapTool for that. With the Aliases you can build scripts to make even more elaborate commands. We introduced Avrae into our group quite a while ago and it’s been a hit! It took us all a little time to really get to know the tool, but it has been pretty fantastic. You can watch the cooperative D&D Beyond/Avrae video D&D Discord Bot: Avrae – Getting Started to get thing going. Someone also took the time to create an Avrae Command Builder as well, which has been very helpful!
Bard Bot for Discord
For my gaming group, Bard Bot has become a new favorite because it adds sound effects based on rolls in Avrae. Some examples are a sling or club sound effect for attacks, or maybe an explosion when fireball is cast. There are sounds for critical failures and critical successes, and you can create custom sounds that can be played on demand. It’s added another dimension to our game, and has been a source of amusement for the group. It’s fairly simple to get started with the defaults, you can watch the Bard Bot Quickstart Guide which should get you going and for more detailed information visit Discord Dungeon Docs. Before you know it your whole gaming group will have fun and whimsical sounds for their characters!
FredBoat for Discord
The last bot I want to mention is FredBoat, which is a very well written music bot that we use to create ambient background noise or music to increase the engagement for the game. You can get started by visiting the FredBoat Website and inviting it to your server. They have some pretty great documentation and it’s been very easy to manage. It also has its own dashboard, so you can see what’s playing and manage your sounds from their WebUI. It supports Youtube, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Vimeo and Twitch which basically means all you need to do is find or upload your music or ambient sounds and call to the URL. One thing to note, you can create a list of links in Pastebin and then call to the Pastebin URL and it will load all the links in there, so that will save some time preparing on game day.
That’s it for now, I hope you find these bots helpful and fun in your own campaigns. I know my gaming group has really enjoyed all the add-ons. Of course there’s always a little growing pains, but once everything settles it really does improve the experience. You’re always welcome to Contact Me if you have any of your own bots you’d like to share!
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