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Playing RPGs Online
Josh Street
United States
Mount Pleasant
North Carolina
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Let's face it, as we get older, it gets harder and harder to physically get together to play a multi-hour role playing game. Thanks to the Interwebs, we no longer need to suffer without the sweet bliss of role playing! With this in mind, here are the current options for playing online (feel free to add any that I may have missed!).
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1. RPG Item: Lost Telepaths: The Secret of House Kashmere [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Josh Street
United States
Mount Pleasant
North Carolina
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Skype/Ventrillo and AOL Instant Messenger/Google Talk

For bare bones role playing, its hard to go wrong with these options. Those without access to decent microphones or who like to compile games into novel form typically prefer the text chat options, but Skype and Ventrillo really help to bring things home by delivering quality audio. These options don't help a lot in terms of the work of gaming (rolling dice and what not), though some systems feature 3rd party bots that can do this sort of work.
 
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2. RPG Item: Open Grave: Secrets of the Undead [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:430]
Josh Street
United States
Mount Pleasant
North Carolina
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OpenRPG - http://www.rpgobjects.com/index.php?c=orpg

Easily one of the oldest tools for running a game online, OpenRPG is still one of my favorites. This Python-based tool can be a bit of a pain to get running the first time, but offers a huge level of customization and has a huge fan following with extensions to customize the engine to the RPG of your choice. And you can't beat the price tag - its free!
 
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3. RPG Item: Hunting Ground: The Rockies [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:6448]
Josh Street
United States
Mount Pleasant
North Carolina
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Fantasy Grounds
http://www.fantasygrounds.com/

This application has become a quick favorite of online role players. Its polished interface and incredible support for the D20 system guaranteed its rise in popularity when D&D 3.X hit the scene. Its got a rich feature set with whiteboarding, mapping, chat, game utilities and built-in support for some of the most popular RPGs. The price can be a bit off putting ($24 for players and $40 for GMs) and it only supports Microsoft Windows, but many people swear by it.
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4. RPG Item: Battlegrounds NYC [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Josh Street
United States
Mount Pleasant
North Carolina
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Battlegrounds
http://www.battlegroundsgames.com/

Battlegrounds is a Java-based virtual tabletop that many people consider to be on par with Fantasy Grounds. With a similar feature set and some very attractive tooling, Battlegrounds has become fairly popular with groups that aren't using Windows PCs (being based on java, Battlegrounds works on most platforms, though only Mac and Windows are officially supported). Battlegrounds is $33 for GMs and $17 for players (with floating licenses available for $17 as well).
 
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5. RPG Item: The Monkey God's Curse [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Josh Street
United States
Mount Pleasant
North Carolina
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Screen Monkey
http://www.nbos.com/products/screenmonkey/screenmonkey.htm

Screen Monkey is a unique system where the GM runs a highly customized web server. Players connect to this system through their web browser and have a decent degree of functionality, though nowhere near as much as the other systems on this list. The program is largely designed for Windows computers running Internet Explorer, so some functions won't work for those of us on other operating systems. When combined with a $40 price tag, this is one that I generally don't recommend.
 
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6. RPG Item: I, Tyrant [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:1551]
Josh Street
United States
Mount Pleasant
North Carolina
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iTabletop
http://www.itabletop.com/

I've not used this system, but it definitely leads the pack in terms of features with maps, chat, game tools, webcam support and the ability to play multimedia, this one has a lot to offer. That said, its also Windows only and requires a monthly plan ($72/year for GMs and $36/year for players).
 
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7. RPG Item: Damage Tables: Small Arms [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:5612]
Josh Street
United States
Mount Pleasant
North Carolina
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GameTable
http://gametable.galactanet.com/

GameTable is a fairly bare bones implementation, featuring basic die rolling, mapping, whiteboarding and chat. It is built in Java though and will work on just about any computer and heck, its free!
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8. RPG Item: Another Fine Mess [Average Rating:8.67 Overall Rank:2713]
Josh Street
United States
Mount Pleasant
North Carolina
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kLoOge.Werks
http://www.kloogeinc.com/

Ignoring the website that is designed to frustrate and the frustrating capitalization of the name, kLoOge.Werks has a rich feature set and gives Fantasy Grounds and Battlegrounds a run for their money. This is another one that focuses on generic support rather than handling any particular system. kLoOge.Werks is also based on Java and runs on a variety of systems, with GM licenses going for $30 and player licenses going for $15.
 
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9. RPG Item: Game Master's Toolkit [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:3282]
Josh Street
United States
Mount Pleasant
North Carolina
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RP Tools
http://www.rptools.net/

RP Tools is a fairly recent set of tools, all developed in Java (that do work just about anywhere) for various aspects of role playing. Rather than try to put everything you need into one really big tool, RP Tools is a collection of tools for map management, character management, die rolling, initiative tracking and token design. The initiative tracking and map making are fairly ready for primetime, but the other tools are still a bit raw. This one is also free!
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10. RPG Item: Terror Australis [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1868]
Robin DH
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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There's also the Australian site Roleplay Online (though it's pretty international), the best play-by-post website I've come across. It's straightforward, but very flexible - I've found most other PBP sites are glorified forums in comparison. Built-in GM tools and dice roller, I've run a few games on there over the years:

http://rpol.net/
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11. RPG Item: Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game [Average Rating:8.10 Overall Rank:19]
William Hostman
United States
Eagle River
Alaska
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Gaming in Greater Anchorage area, Alaska since 1978. Looking for Indy-willing RPG players in Eagle River (or willing to drive to Eagle River). Geekmail me if interested.
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The Shattered Imperium
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Both Vassal and SunTzu VTT have modules for some RPG's, including Mouse Guard. (I cobbled together MG).

Die rolling, use of virtual counters, cards, chat, and ability to play live or by "pass-the-file"
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12. RPG Item: A Portal to Adventure: People, Places & Things [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Patrick McInally
Canada
Simcoe (Norfolk)
Ontario
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When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning
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Rust monsters: separating the wheat from the chaff since 1976.
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Rondak's Portal: www.rondaksportal.com (or .ca)

A pretty straightforward play-by-post website that's free to use. I haven't used it in years now, but I used to be rather into it and really liked the site and community.

It has a mostly generic character builder that lets you port pretty much any character from any game -- with more or less blank fields depending on the game. And while D&D and its iterations are by far the most popular games on the site, there are plenty of others to choose from.
 
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