Owlbear Rodeo is a free to use virtual tabletop that offers dice rolling, maps and token placement.
To create an Owlbear Rodeo tabletop, visit the site owlbear.rodeo, hit “start game” and set a password. Alternatively, press “join game” and add the ID for the game or follow an invite link.
There is nothing to install, nothing to sign, no details to surrender. Owlbear Rodeo generates a blank virtual tabletop canvas for you, for free, with a click of a button.
If you’re running a game, the next thing you want to do is add a map, so that you can deploy tokens and start to draw on the grid. Click the image icon near the top right for that. You can either import your own or use one of the stock images supplied.
It’s all drag and drop. GoGoCamel recorded a video showing how Fog of War and Exploration work, which is a fairly advanced feature for virtual tabletops.
There is a selection of icons on the right, which click and drag onto the grid. Once placed, icons can be shaded in different colours and changed in size. You can make the Big Baddie suitably large. Once again, you can add your own tokens to the system.
Owlbear Rodeo assumes you and your gaming group are capable of a degree of coordination. Although the GM can lock tokens in place on the grid, by default, they’re open and can be moved by everyone.
On the left of the screen there’s the dice tray, click on the box icon in the top left for that, which will then reveal a virtual collection of dice.
There are more advanced features in the bottom left, including an experimental audio share, and timers.
Many groups will play using Discord, Zoom or Hangouts for chat and face to face coordination, and this is the area that Owlbear Rodeo is less developed in. There’s no text chat in the system or no message passing.
Equally, Owlbear Rodeo is strictly a virtual tabletop, and there’s no character sheet management or rules integration. This means that you or your players will have to work out which dice to roll and what success or failure thresholds you have to beat.
I’ve not been using Owlbear Rodeo for terribly long, but notice that the system automatically remembers maps based on the unique URL generated for each (presumably), but I cannot comment how long those stay saved and valid for.
Hat tip to Mike Shea at Sly Flourish who has used and likes the virtual tabletop.
Leave a comment below and join the Geek Native community.