Discord in the Dungeon – Setting Up Your Game
By Cole Troisi
Now that we have set up the server and invited everyone, let’s talk a little bit about the best ways to organize your server so people can quickly and easily find what they need. The best way to do this is to set up Channels.
If you are only planning to use one group on one server, then the General channel is going to work out just fine for most things. But, if you want to run multiple groups on the same server, or just organize your content, you might want to set up multiple channels.
We’ve previously discussed how channels work as rooms in a virtual environment, so just think of each channel as a place where different content can be held. Text and Voice channels can be added by clicking the plus (+) icon above the channel tab and can be named whatever you want!
This is a great way to create separate rooms for different game groups to discuss what’s happening in their individual games. You can also set up additional channels for different table talk discussions.
I recommend setting up a few channels. That way you aren’t bombarding one channel too much information, as this can quickly get confusing and often results in lost information (and lost players). For example, here are a few channels that could be helpful:
- A dice rolling channel
- A channel for character sheets
- A channel for maps
- A channel for discussing scheduling
- A channel for character art
- A non-game related discussion channel
The number of channels that can be used to break down your discussions is virtually endless! Separate channels will help keep things organized and information easy to find.
Setting Up Private Channels:
By default, channels are set to public. These work well for most things, but private channels might sometimes be necessary. For example, if you are running a game with multiple DMs, it’s good to have a shared channel that the players can’t access.
Setting up a private channel is about as simple as setting up a public one. First, you need to create the channel. Then, you want to select the gear icon next to the channel name and go into the permissions tab of the window that appears.
You then want to select the Red X Icon for all the options in the channel. Doing this will disable permissions for everyone. Then, it’s time to add people back with the permissions you’d like them to have.
In the Permissions Setting Window, simply select the plus (+) icon next to the roles and members text and add whomever you want to the channel. Then using the icons that you turned off before, you can manage their permissions to whatever your heart desires!
Discord has a lot of available functions that make gameplay easy and accessible for users at any level. Here we’re going to cover two of the basic and most used features in Discord: Pinning and Direct Messages.
Pinning is a great function because it allows you to lock information into the top of the chat so that people are always able to find it. There’s nothing more annoying than having to post a map or magic items stats over and over again because people can’t find the image while scrolling back through the chat. With pinning, you never had to worry about losing important information.
In order to pin something, enter the channel that you want to post the content in and add it to the channel chat. You can input text, upload files with drag and drop, or just browse your computer for files, all from the chat window. Pinning is as simple as selecting the three-dot menu next to the content you want to pin and then clicking the pin button.
As you can see in the image below, no matter how much I type into the window, I can always click on the pinned menu to see what the pinned messages are.
Another great feature of Discord is the ability to Direct Message people. This is an excellent way to have a GM give hidden information to a player, or for players to have table-side chats without disrupting the game.
In order to direct message somebody, simply click on their Discord name and icon in the friend’s bar, or click on their name in the chat and type a message in the pop-up box that appears. This will automatically open a new chat between the two of you. You can also add people to the direct message with the person-plus (+) icon at the top right of the screen.
Voice Vs. Video – Getting the Most out of Discord
At this point, you may be looking at the voice options and wondering why you would ever want to use them when we have video conference settings instead! Well, there are a few reasons you might not want to be on video all the time. Maybe you’re feeling camera shy, or your hair is looking particularly goblin-esque.
Voice-only functions are also useful if you’re using other programs to play your game. A lot of people like to use Roll 20, which is a practical way to handle map creation and organization, but not the greatest way to get a lot of people synched up on a call.
Discord’s voice function allows you to move around on your computer and use alternative programs more easily. This is especially helpful if you happen to be using your phone as your main device, as the phone camera will turn off when you switch programs.
When using the voice function, there are two essentials that you need to know: the Push to Talk function and adjusting your Audio Gain.
How to Set Up and Use “Push to Talk”
To activate the Push to Talk function, you’re going to locate the gear icon next to your username at the bottom of the screen. In the settings, go to Voice and Video, then check the box for Push to Talk.
Once this is enabled, you’ll need to set a key that you can use as the actual Push to Talk button—do this by entering the General Settings and selecting the Key-Bindings Tab. Then, click the Add Key-bind button. Choose Push to Talk as the action and then hit Record.
From there, you can select the key that you want to bind to the Push to Talk function. Once you’re done, hit the Stop Recording button to finish and save your preferences to make sure that you actually save the binding.
Improving your Audio with Audio Gain
Adjusting your audio gain is important because you don’t want to overwhelm your friends with your booming giant’s voice, or come in softly with an elven voice too quiet and ethereal for earthly ears to hear.
To adjust your gain, we’ll need to access the Audio Settings. First, head down to the gear icon next to your username and select it, then go to the Voice and Video tab. From here, you can adjust your input and output settings and test them against the program to see what sounds best.
Make Your Game Easy with BOTS
Discord has many plug-ins that allow a user to do all sorts of extra features. These come in the form of Bots. These grant access to cool features like digital dice rolling, music, and calendar scheduling, amongst many others. There are literally thousands of bots, all of which you can check out Here.
To add a bot to your Discord server, locate one Online, and select it. At the bot page, you need to click Invite and then log in with your Discord information. This will then prompt you to add the bot to a specific server. Make sure that you enable Administrator Settings for the bot; otherwise, it won’t work correctly.
After that, you should see the bot appear in your server with a little message on how to use it!
If you happen to be using the incredibly popular web app D&D Beyond, there’s an amazing bot called Avrae, which has numerous functions and the ability to work directly with D&D Beyond. Check out the video on their website to see how to integrate your D&D Beyond content into Discord.
Good Practices for Good Games
Proper gaming etiquette can look different at a virtual table. No matter what platform you’re using – following these tips will help your group have the best possible experience.
1. Avoid Cross-Talk.
Everyone gets excited when playing games! However, there is nothing more frustrating than trying to get a word in edgewise when everyone is shouting over each other. This can be even more difficult in a remote setting because you may not be able to see everyone if you aren’t in video mode.
If you’ve ever been on a video call with multiple people, you’ll know that cross-talk can be a problem. It makes it near impossible to hear what people are saying.
An excellent way to deal with this issue is to mute yourself when you aren’t speaking to reduce background noise that could interfere with the call. Then if you have an idea that you want to share, you can type it into the chat to avoid interrupting.
2. Avoid Background Noise.
Background noise can be a problem for any conference call. Microphones are often a lot more sensitive than our ears and can easily pick up every cough, dice rattle, or page turn in your area.
Again, to keep background noise to a minimum, make sure to mute yourself when you aren’t talking. Your friends will appreciate it!
3. Share the Spotlight.
When you’re in the middle of a game, it’s easy to get excited and wrapped up in trying to do as much as possible, but remember, there are other people at the table, too!
Try to be respectful of your fellow gamers and make sure that everyone gets a chance to talk and make their moves. Try to act as though you’re playing a turn-based game, even if you aren’t, and let everyone make a move before you go again
4. Have Proper Lighting.
You might not mind sitting in the dark to play games on your computer, but if you’re hiding away in the shadows, it can make the game less engaging for the other players.
This is especially important for GM’s, as they are doing the most talking and gesticulating, and you want to make sure that everyone can see them! Turn on a lamp or an overhead light when you play, or maybe even open the curtains to a window—just get some light in there!
5. Not Alone? Use Headphones.
If you have roommates or family members around, they don’t generally appreciate listening to your friends yell about being a wizard for three hours at a time (generally). Headphones also can cut down on an echo that might get picked up by your microphone.
There’s nothing more bothersome than being on a conference call, and hearing yourself echoed back in a tinny, high-pitched voice. Break out those headphones to reduce echo and keep your living partners from banging on your door!
6. Discuss Consent.
This is an essential section for GM’s because it involves having a discussion with your players ahead of time. Some popular games involve content warnings on the box due to the sensitive nature of some of the game’s mechanics.
Always make sure to discuss with your players during your first session to go over what they are and aren’t comfortable with. Together, you’ll be able to implement a system that ensures that nobody ever feels uncomfortable during a game.
Have fun and play safe!