back to article Wish you could play tabletop Dungeons & Dragons but have no friends? Solasta: Crown of the Magister offers a solution

Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Before we get into it, quick story: I wasn't sure if I'd make this deadline because I came back from holiday to find my PC had acquired a fondness for crashing then rebooting anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour into playing something …

  1. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Friends ≥ null program

    I used to play DnD, but all of the people I used to play with moved away, got married, had kids, went to work, etc. I keep waiting for a resurgence of games that rely more on problem solving than hand/eye coordination. I particularly love games that encompass all genres of knowledge. Most of my good friends are polymaths and we all love learning new things.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Friends ≥ null program

      Same here. My old AD&D crew now all have lives, wives and children, plus no vacation time to spend three or four full afternoons sitting around a table with (badly) painted figurines, wierdly-shaped dice and a piece of paper with stats written on it.

      Fond memories of those times, though. It was good while it lasted.

      Nowadays, I have a different group of friends and we convene Mondays and Friday evenings for two hours of multiplayer gaming via Internet. We use a Teamspeak private server for voice, and our current gamelist is 7 Days to Die, Diablo III and Minecraft.

      It's another sort of fun.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Friends ≥ null program

        Both of you need to either get down to your Friendly Local Games Shop or get online to play Fifth Edition - plenty of online tools these days.

        1. Danny 14

          Re: Friends ≥ null program

          those shops have long gone. even the warhammer shop has gone. along with debenhams and even the travel agents and charity shops.

          we did try a zoom dnd (before lockdown) but it wasnt the same.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Friends ≥ null program

            They haven't, I know of at least two within 30-40 minutes drive of me, and am aware of at least one more. Board games and table top games are in the middle of a major resurgence.

            1. Wellyboot Silver badge

              Re: Friends ≥ null program

              The nearest University will likely have a games shop within easy walking distance.

              Some stereotypes never die!

            2. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

              Re: Friends ≥ null program

              Yup, board games in particular seem to be trendy, somehow (even to the extent of having a Family Guy episode make reference to them).

              I know of a couple of board game cafes, plus several board game/rpg/wargame shops that offer game tables.

          2. Mooseman Silver badge

            Re: Friends ≥ null program

            "we did try a zoom dnd (before lockdown) but it wasnt the same."

            We run 2 days a week online using Fantasy Grounds. We tried discord but it's not exactly user friendly and always kicked one of our group off every 5 minutes, so we switched to messenger, which while not ideal is at least stable.

            It's nice to get together even virtually, but no, it's not the same.

      2. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: Friends ≥ null program

        We are back to playing in the old group, online through discord and maptools. Works well, once a week, only for two or maybe three hours.

        Much better than nothing, and the group dynamics still are there. Yeah, most of us have kids, and since two are a married couple with young kids this is sort of the only way to do this.

        Had it not been for lockdown we would not have started it!

        1. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

          Re: Friends ≥ null program

          Yup - we've discovered that skype (text only) works well. You can set up one-to-one chats, for those situations where the party inconsiderately split's up into ones, drop in images, etc. Pre-prepared text can be cut-and-pasted.

          Not the same as face-to-face, but easier for those with family commitments, and means that what would have been travel time to get to the venue is now game time, so we get 3 to 4 hours a week, rather than 2-3 hours every fortnight.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Friends ≥ null program

        Everyone got married and had kids, and wanted Lanzarote in summer with Ryanair rather than Verbier in winter with BA.

        How did you get him onto the plane? Surely he must have worked out the trick with the drugged milk by now...

    3. FozzyBear

      Re: Friends ≥ null program

      Same. However, Once a month we all get together and still play. Nerd day! Where without the usual interruptions of family and the ankle biters whining about nothing/everything. we can get together talk crap/work/families and play.

  2. Manolo

    Tip: Subnautica

    One of the games reviewed here earlier is on sale now.

    Subnautica is now 50% off.

    Got an email alert for it, only to find out there is no Linux version D'oh!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tip: Subnautica

      Subnautica runs absolutely fine on Linux through Proton. So, if you're talking about the Steam version, go ahead and get it!

      1. Manolo
        Thumb Up

        Re: Tip: Subnautica

        Yeah, after my post I was thinking about that.

        Remembered looking into it after the game was reviewed here.

        Thanks for remembering me!

  3. ShadowSystems Silver badge

    Play By Email.

    Even before the lockdown made in person table top gaming impossible, my friends & I got into the PBE style to accommodate all the different schedules of the folks playing. You still have the DM, PC's, & NPC's, adventure hooks, trips, traps, treasures, & terrors, it's just played at a pace that leaves each person time to craft their turn description as their schedule permits.

    DM sends a group email with the current situation description, exactly the same as if everyone were at the table. You are given one week in which to think about what you want to do, describe it in detail, & email back to the DM. Player's can side-talk to each other to brainstorm strategy & coordinate, but everyone separately & individually replies to the DM with their PC's actions. The DM collects all the replies, collates & coordinates what happens, asks individuals for specific dice rolls, then releases another "Current Situation" update (the start of the next Round.) Players can post In Character (IC), Out Of Character (OOC), and include any dice rolls they know the DM will need so as to speed things up a bit, but otherwise it's a game of table top D&D just at a more leisurely pace.

    It's a great way to be inclusive & accessible to disabled players, since they get all the action via plain text that can be consumed in the same way they get their email.

    There's no issues with video programs trying to live stream a game that may need Sign Language for the deaf or an audio transcription for the blind, there's no pressure for those with motor skill impairments to rush to post in a severly limited amount of time, and you can even play when all you can manage is a crappy dial up connection to a monochrome green screen of blargh.

    Granted the DM may need to Save As plain text any/all PDF's for offering to those of us that can't read the pretty pictures, but that's a small price to pay to get the DM a batch of easily searchable plain text files through which to quickly find the bits they need. As an example, I've got all my stuff in plain text spread across various subdirectories such as Backgrounds, Classes, Domains, Items, Races, Rules, Spells, Tables, Wild Magic & Surges, etc. I can jump to the proper directory, find the proper file, & do a Control+Find to get the data I need so I can create the next Current Situation Email (CSE) to keep the game going. I have a directory for Characters further subdivided into each Class, so if I need a Cleric for example, it's D&D>Characters>Clerics & browse the list until I find one that works for what I need.

    PBE isn't just a "disabled person" thing, it's open & available for any/everyone. If you want to play a non-video-call version that doesn't require a constant internet connection, or a game that doesn't require everyone to coordinate schedules in order to play, PBE is the way to go. =-)

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Stumpy

      Re: Play By Email.

      Not just PBEmail, but there's also plenty of forums for PBP gaming too.

      I'm currently in several games over at Mythweavers and RPG Crossing. Plenty of other sites out there too.

      1. Khaptain

        Re: Play By Email.

        Chess also exists by PBE and even snailmail...

        1. Stumpy

          Re: Play By Email.

          True, but for a chess fix, there's always or

    3. Mooseman Silver badge

      Re: Play By Email.

      Our group runs twice a week for a couple of hours online, with a roster of DMs (different systems) - when one gets tired the other takes over. We usually do a catch up message after the sessions to recap what went on, very handy when you come back to it after work/family etc.

  4. fizz

    "Since we're in 2021, you don't have to read reams of text. Characters are fully voiced and conversations take place in brief cutscenes during which you choose what to say."

    Does it tell something about my age that I consider this a minus and not a plus? Also, voice-over conversations are enemy to mod-friendliness for user-produced adventures.

    All the money modern production spend in trying to be so-so "2.0 movies" could be better spent in additional content and better playtesting.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Unless the voice acting was done by the building's janitor and the pizza delivery person...

      (Seriously, I agree with you. Sometimes less is more, especially if you're a small budget production which has to set priorities. Also there is nothing as annoying than bad voice acting, but that's potentially just me.)

      Anyway, I bookmarked this for potential purchase, GOG sells it too, which is perfect.

    2. Bongwater

      FF started this right? People wanted to see the guy from Goo Goo Dolls in cut scenes and it took off from there.

      FF even made movies like two years after FF8 came out I believe. *have to double check*

      W40k Space Marine has some clips but doesn't over do it I feel.

  5. Proton_badger


    On the subject of Divinity Original Sin 2, I bought it on a Steam sale a month ago. I'm an old BG/Neverwinter fan and just finished Pillars of Eternity so I thought it'd be a good way to fill the space until BG3 - but I wasn't prepared for it to be so completely mind blowingly good, the combat, dialogue, music, graphics - it's absolutely spectacular. I guess I'm a Godwoken now.

    I ended up buying both Steam and iPad version. It performs very well on the M1 and with some directory hardlinking f@ckery and iCloud on the PC it shares savegames between the two seamlessly.

  6. Old Used Programmer Silver badge

    Another way to get in your table top gaming....

    Gaming conventions have thrived in recent years (the past year plus being an obvious exception). Find your local convention(s) and treat your spouse/SO to a weekend away from home.

  7. John Savard


    Just yesterday, on another site, I was reading about a D&D-based game that had a Beholder in it; the review discussed several RPGs influenced by D&D, and one of its main points was that no one seemed to be able to capture the essence of paper D&D in an RPG; all they could make were dungeon looter games.

    And here you've found the counter-example!

  8. CuChulainn Silver badge


    Although I don't play table top D&D, I did once dabble in computer D&D - and that got me into the Dragonlance books, which I enjoyed immensely.

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm happy for there to NOT be any damn dice. The aim is to role play and not rule play so slavishly trying to reproduce a very flawed D20 based combat + environment system in computer form is a circular exercise in pointless. Happy to use the flawed mechanics in-person as something simplified is what in-person calls for, but to reproduce the same thing in computer form? No.

    Not helped because the latest D&D edition has essentially turned the old mechanics into a poor parody of the computer game trope mixed with a large dash of superhero thrown in.

    So not for me, but I understand how others might like it.

    1. Mooseman Silver badge

      "The aim is to role play and not rule play"

      There have been "diceless" systems around for a while. I agree in general terms though - my own homebrew system has stats/saving throws/hit chances etc for the basics of the characters but I prefer the players to flesh their creations out. It makes it more fun for me for one thing. My ex gf hated most RPGs but quite liked mine as it was character focused not a number cruncher.

      D&D 5 is very much D&D-lite as far as I can see - quick, simple and very limited.

  11. jason_derp Silver badge


    "Not everything is Windows' fault."


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