Object Permanence in Roll20

About a year ago, I described how you, as GM (Game Master), could improve to your players’ token settings — but how these improvements couldn’t be made “sticky”, i.e. wouldn’t persist if your players dragged their token onto a new Roll20 page.

Turns out, they can be made permanent — if you take a particular extra step.

  1. First, follow all the steps from this post.
  2. Then, select the token on the current Roll20 map page, and go back to the Edit window.
  3. Now, in the Default Token (Optional) box, the Use Selected Token button should be enabled. Click that. This should make that selected token the default token, including all the settings changes you’ve just made to it.

Now, every time the player drags out that character’s token, it should be configured the way you want.

There’s no step four!

In My Bag of Holding: Helpful D&D Links

I talked previously about using Roll20 to play D&D during the pandemic, but there’s a plenty of other D&D resources I’ve also found handy.

In addition to Roll20, the other star of the show is D&D Beyond.

The good news: first, their online character sheets and character generation options are tremendous.

Second, they’ve got all the content from the Player’s Handbook, the Dungeon Master’s Guide, and everything else from Wizards of the Coast, like Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, all usable in your character sheets, and all searchable without needing to fumble through multiple books to find what you need in the middle of a session.

The bad news: it’s commercial content, so anything beyond the basics isn’t available for free. This can be especially unfortunate if you’ve already bought the physical books, and now have to buy them again, at basically the same price, for online convenience.

But there’s more good news: if somebody else you know has already bought the content on D&D Beyond, they can share it with you. It’s especially good news if they’ve bought one of the bundles, which can include…well, everything. (And that’s pricey.)

Just, don’t get confused by D&D Beyond subscriptions. They don’t include the WotC content.

If you want to use the stats of your D&D Beyond character sheets in Roll20 during a session, such as your attack/damage/ability rolls, you can install the browser plug-in Beyond20. I use it, as do lots of other players I know.

(A quick aside: if you want to roll your D&D dice on your Mac or iPhone/iPad with a little more graphical flair, I recommend Dice by PCalc by James Thompson. No character sheet integration, but gorgeous graphics and some amazing About box Easter eggs.)

If you want to import your D&D Beyond character sheets, with all their details, directly in Roll20 instead of retyping or regenerating everything, you can use the BeyondImporter from Kyle B’s version of the Roll20APIScripts. You need a Roll20 Pro account to use scripts, and it’s a little fiddly (and subject to breakage over time), but it’s worked so far for me.

And, once you have your character sheet in Roll20, if you want to give your character’s avatar a nifty and colorful frame, you can use the free website Token Stamp to do so.

While the WotC game modules have maps for their stories, I often found myself wanting additional maps for the side adventures I create as a DM. So, I went looking for artists online who were providing these so-called “battle maps”.

The best I found was Party of Two, whose maps are gorgeous:

Preview Tumblr: https://partyoftwo.tumblr.com
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/partyoftwo

I’ve been a happy Patreon subscriber of theirs for almost a year now, and have used their maps for:

  • A magic shop fronting a hidden dungeon
  • Rooms at an inn where the party was attacked by assassins
  • An extended cave system with a giant crab, sea hags, and a hydra
  • A lighthouse guarded by undead minotaurs

Their maps are lushly colored and intricate, and thus relatively specific, so it’s hard to slot them into encounters whose details I’d already written. I’ve solved this in two ways:

The easy way: rewrite the encounter, or start with the map and make up new details to match it.

The hard way: take pieces of Party of Two maps and edit them together with my own meager photoshopping skills. For this, I use, not Photoshop, but Acorn, by Gus Mueller. The cave system mentioned above is an example of this, as well as other, more ambitious projects, which will remain [REDACTED] for now.

And lastly, when I invent homebrew monsters for my encounters, I find myself wanting to display their stats in the layout the Monster Manual does: that familiar golden-yellow box.

While nothing I’ve found matches it exactly, Statbock5e comes the closest, while being customizable enough for my needs.

Here’s a quick-reference list of everything I’ve talked about:

Seeing It All in Roll20

I’ve been playing a lot of Dungeons & Dragons lately. You might have suspected if you saw my current Twitter account icon.

Since the Pandemic started, my campaigns have all taken place over the Internet. The way most people play D&D over the Internet is through a site called Roll20, which gives you easy access to your character information, maps, and a bunch of other things.

Roll20 is a very powerful website, free to use, and…a little fiddly. If you’re a GM (Game Master) for a game on Roll20, and you’ve already gone through the in-editor tutorials and tried things out for yourself, there’s a couple of steps I’ve found that you can follow to make the experience better for your players.

1. Visible Character Sheets
I’ve found it helpful for each player to be able to see, not just their own character sheet, but the character sheets of all the other players in the game.

When, as a GM, you first create a character sheet for a player, you need to set both who can see that sheet, and who that sheet is controlled and editable by.

These are modified by clicking the character name to open the sheet, then clicking the edit Edit button, and finally going to the In Player’s Journals and Can Be Edited & Controlled By sections, respectively.

Most GMs start out by setting both fields only to the individual player who owns the character.

But if, instead, you set In Player’s Journals to the special All Players option, that character will be visible to all existing players, including the controlling player, and any new players you add, without any further work from you. That’s what I would recommend.

Screenshot of the edit view for a character sheet. The "In Player's Journals" section has been set to a single token called "All Players", and the "Can Be Edited & Controlled By" section below it has been set to a single token called "Player 1".

2. Visible Token Labels
Now that you’ve made the character sheets, you or the controlling player can drag those character tokens on to the current map page. (Be sure to start the drag in the character’s name, not the icon.)

By default, this doesn’t show the name of the character, either to you or to the players.

You can change this, first, by clicking the token on the map to select it, then clicking the gear icon.

Under the Basic tab, in the Name section, there is a checkbox labeled Show nameplate? If you check that, the character’s name will be visible to both you and the controlling player.

Screenshot of the edit view for a map token, with the "Basic" tab selected. The "Name" section has a checkbox called "Show nameplate?" that has been checked.

If you want the label to be visible to everyone, which I would recommend, go to the Advanced tab and, in the Name section, check the See checkbox.

Screenshot of the edit view for a map token, with the "Advanced" tab selected. The "Name" section has a checkbox called "See" that has been checked.

Note the players can’t set these values for themselves. You need to do it as the GM, for every dragged-out token, individually.

Unfortunately, these changes aren’t “sticky”. Editor’s note: you can make these changes permanent, see my newer post for details. If someone drags out a second token for a character, say, on a new map page, these changes have to be made all over again. That’s annoying!

Instead, select the tokens that you’ve already edited and that you want to appear on another page, and copy them. Go to the second page, and then paste the tokens there. This way, you’ll have the tokens available on the second page, with all your changes.

I hope this is helpful!