Welcome, Critters, to this comprehensive guide for using the Roll20 website to play D&D with your friends, or fellow Critters. This guide is focused on the 5th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons. Let’s start with the basics.
Table Of Contents:
Once you register, and receive your player link (sent by the DM) you will be brought to a screen similar to this:
Above is a screenshot from my campaign’s home screen, so yours won’t look exactly the same. There’s not much you (as a player) can do on this screen right now. So just click the “Join Game” link on the left panel. This will take you to whatever page the DM has the players listed on. For example, this is more or less what you should see:
The first icon (and most others) will open a context menu when you hover the mouse on it. This is where you would select the option to move your character token(s) or pan the Map around.
The second option is for painting on the map. The available options are as followsr: drawing shapes, freehand drawing, polygon/line, or text.
You’ll find it very useful for determining distance between spaces. Simply click and drag to measure.
In most cases, three squares on the map are equivalent to 15ft (however, this can be adjusted by the DM). The next icon is particularly important…
The second to last icon is a d20 die – and this button opens the dice roller.
This is all fairly self explanatory: the Basic Rolls section will roll one of whichever die you click, and with Advanced Roll, you choose how many of what dice to roll. Rolling this way, as opposed to the shortcut way for most rolls, (which we will delve into later) is the more traditional tabletop way.
So if you were to roll any attack, check, etc., you would click the d20 icon, and add any modifiers in the “+” field you have.
The last icon is the help icon, which will take you to the Roll20 Wiki (where you can find much more technical documents for the Roll20 application).
Now, on the right side of the page, on the top of the window, you should see this:
The icons at the top are assigned to the following:
1 Chat | This window is the most important. This is where all chat, and rolls will appear.
2 Journal | This is the second most important tab, This is where your Character Sheet, along with any other handouts, and NPC sheets will reside.
3 Jukebox | This isn’t really important as a player. This is where the current soundtrack will be playing.
4 Decks | This isn’t all that important either, at least I haven’t had any use for it as of yet, but if something in game requires you to use a deck of cards, or “rollable tables,” this is where you would go.
5 Settings | This is the third most important tab. Here you can change various settings for Roll20.
As I stated before, this is where all dice rolls and text chat will appear. You can also make rolls from the chat window; if you type
/roll 1d20 a simple d20 roll will be made. You can also whisper a message to a player or character. You can also do
/w gm [message] to whisper to the GM.
This is your journal, where all character and handout information will be stored, as well as your Character Sheet. By clicking on your character in the journal, you will open your character information and Character Sheet. Clicking on any of these items, will open the associated sheet.
Here you can create macros, for quick rolls, and other assignable options. These are a little advanced for the beginner player, so we’ll skip these for now. You can also change your display name, and adjust the master volume for the jukebox from here.
I recommend having these check boxes marked, especially “Enable 3D Dice”, and “Use Window popouts for Characters.”
(Do keep in mind, that a pop-up blocker will probably catch the Character Sheet when you try to open it, so make sure you disable that on this website.)
These settings makes things a bit easier in the long run. You can also clear the current chat log, enable/disable video & voice broadcasting, and change the size of the other player icons that appear on the bottom of the map.
This is by far the most important part of playing D&D. To access your Character Sheet, enter the journal tab, and click the character your DM made for you. Here you should have a basically empty window with three tabs. Click Edit.
Here you can adjust your name, avatar, and character bio & Info.
When you are done, click Save Changes.
To simplify a little more, I’ll highlight the important areas for you.
- 1 Character Name |
- 2 Character Info |
- 3 Sheet Tabs |
- 4 Core Stats/Ability Scores |
- 5 Ability Checks/Saving Throws |
- 6 Skills |
- 7 Character Stats |
- 8 Quick Attack/Character Resistances and Immunities. |
Clicking any of the Blue icons will make a roll of the selected type – Roll20 automatically adds everything together for you. This is for making ability checks, skill checks, spending bit die, rolling for initiative, etc.
If you haven’t seen a Character Sheet before, this can look a bit intimidating at first, but I assure you, it is much simpler than it looks. As the purpose of this tutorial is focused around the mechanics of Roll20, I won’t be guiding you through creating a character, I will just be showing you what these do. Once you roll for your stats, which your DM can help guide you through, all of this will more or less fill itself in.
Area 5-6 is a pretty important area. When you hover the mouse over the name of the skills/abilities, a tooltip will appear that shows a brief description of the selected skill/ability.
Making a weapon, or adding one to your character is fairly simple. The grey or green bubble icons are toggle icons that add options to the menus.
Adding a melee weapon is as simple as this:
- Specify the weapon’s name
- An emote is not necessary, so don’t bother with that
- It has an attack, so click Attack
- It has reach, so click Reach
- It deals damage, so click Damage (this will open a list of additional options)
- It deals no secondary damage, so don’t click that (unless it’s magical, or does another type of damage, i.e. poison)
- It can crit, and it should be highlighted already.
- It deals no bonus damage and has no bonuses,
- And, for the sake of simplicity, no macro is needed.
Now lets fill in the stats. In your Player Handbook, you can find the damage and stats for the weapon you are using. In this example, it will be a simple longsword.
If you are proficient with this type of weapon, click the check box for Prof. The Longsword Atk Stat is strength, so Str. The To Hit is automatically calculated based off of your stats. The Reach is 5, the Dmg Dice is 1d8, so replace 0 with 1d8. It’s Dmg Stat is Str, the DMG Mod is auto calculated, the Dmg Type is slashing. And last but not least, the Crit Range is 20. This means, if you roll a natural 20 on the attack roll, you achieve a critical hit. After all of these options are filled in, it should look like this:
To test the weapon, you can click the blue melee icon. This will do a melee attack roll in the chat window.
What’s this? A Critical Hit?
Upon rolling a critical hit (usually a natural 20) the option for Crit Dmg shows up. In summary, this roll was a normal attack, no advantage/disadvantage, and was a natural 20. Being a 26 vs the enemy’s armor class (AC), dealing 9 slashing damage, and 6 extra Crit Damage – for a total of 15 damage to the target.
Congrats! That are the basics of melee combat.
Making a ranged weaponis just as simple as making a melee weapon attack. Take a look at the settings below:
They are basically the same, right? That’s because they are, with the exception of Range, and Ammo.
Again, there are two numbers listed – which are only important if advantage and disadvantage are a factor in the attack.
What’s this? A Critical Hit?
In summary, this roll was a normal attack, no advantage/disadvantage, was a natural 20, with a 23 vs the enemies AC, dealing 5 piercing damage, and 1 extra Crit Damage – for a total of 6 damage to the target.
As a note, how I DM, and I believe how Critical Role calculates it, (I could be wrong) I only use the notification of the Crit Dmg as an indicator of a natural 20, and I double the amount of damage that was dealt on the original hit – in this case the 5 would be doubled to 10 damage. This is strictly up the the DM, but personally I feel that it is more rewarding this way.
Congrats! Those are the basics of ranged combat.
Clicking the Spellbook tab on the bar will take you to this window.
If you’re a spellcaster, this is where you will manage your spells. Spells range from cantrips to spells up to level 9.
Cantrips are spells that can be cast at any time, and use up no spell slots. Spell slots are the number of times you can use a spell of that level. For example, if your character has 2 level 2 spell slots, this means, you can cast 2 spells of up to level 2 (for more information about spellcasting, be sure to read your class information in the Player’s Handbook).
Clicking the red bubbles (Cantrips – Level 9) will toggle the list for spells of the selected type.
To add a spell to your “Spellbook” you simply click the +Add button, at the bottom left.
Just like filling out the stats for the weapon slots, the spell is fairly straightforward. For this example, I will be filling in the spell with the information from Eldritch Blast. The spell is a prepared evocation spell, with a casting time of 1 action, range of 120 feet, has verbal and somatic (abbreviated with V,S) components, an instant duration, with it’s source (in this instance) being class, and the Target/AoE is target.
You can copy the spell’s description directly from the Player’s Handbook – this helps the DM (or at least it helps me) visualize just what exactly happens when the spell is cast. Eldritch Blast has an effect at Higher Levels, requires an attack roll, and deals damage – so be sure to click the bubble & complete the information for each of those items. For this spell, the target does not complete a save roll, is not a healing spell, and has no status effect, so you will not be clicking the Save, Heal, or Effects buttons
Now you can fill out the spell’s details.
- The Spell Description is: “A beam of crackling energy streaks toward a creature withing range. You can direct the beams at the same target or at different ones. Make a separate attack roll for each beam.”
- The Higher Level effects: “Two beams at 5th level, three beams at 11th level, and four beams at 17th level.”
- The Spellcasting Attack Stat: Your spellcasting ability for your class. In my case, as a Warlock, it’s charisma.
- If it makes an attack roll of any kind, it can crit.
- The Damage Dice for the attack: 1d10.
- The Stat Bonus option, i’m pretty sure is if the spell description says (for example) 1d10 + your spellcasting ability modifier, if the spell description doesn’t say this, select none.
- It deals no other bonus damage
- Damage Type: force.
Your completed spell should look like this:
You can test the spell by clicking the blue cast button.
For attach, just like with melee & ranged weapon atacks, you’ll use the first number if you have advantage, and the lower number if you have disadvantage.
What’s This? A Critical Hit?
In summary, this roll was a normal spell attack, no advantage/disadvantage, was a natural 20, with 26 vs the enemy’s AC, dealing 6 force damage, and 8 extra crit damage – for a total of 14 damage to the target.
What’s This? A Critical Hit on Advantage?!?
Since Roll20 makes the attack rolls for you, for both spell AND melee attacks, it calculates for advantage/disadvantage. If this attack were made at Advantage it would be a critical hit. Since it was a normal attack, with no advantage, it is a normal attack, dealing 0 extra damage.
Healing Spells are great – we would all be dead if it weren’t for them. I’ll show you how to fill in a basic Cure Wounds Spell, which is just like filling in the stats for the Eldritch Blast, but this is much simpler.
This is from a Cleric in my campaign. You see the name of the spell says “Cure Wounds (C)” – I use this as a notifier that the spell was given to him by his class, that way he doesn’t accidentally replace it with a different spell.
For this spell, we only to complete Description, Heal, and At Higher Levels.
- Description: “A creature you touch regains a number of hit points equal to 1d8 +your spellcasting ability modifier. This spell has no effect on undead or constructs.”
- Heal Amount: Whatever the spell says. In this case 1d8, and the Stat Bonus
Now you can click the blue cast button to test the spell.
Roll20 automatically rolled 1d8 + the spellcasting ability modifier, so the target would have regained 11 HP.
What’s this? A Critical Hit?!?!
No. Healing spells can’t crit.
Those are the basics of healing spells!
In this window, you will fill out all of your character and background information. They are all textboxes, so no explanation is really necessary – fill in the boxes with the features, and info for your character, and voila, this section is done!
On this page. you fill in the information regarding your class. Adjust your levels, class resources, fill in your features, notes and actions. All pretty self explanatory, so again, let’s move.
Adding currently worn armor is as simple as the adding a weapon. If you have any unarmored bonuses given to you from your class, this is where you would fill in this information.
In this, my character is wearing Studded Leather Armor.
- Worn checkbox is ticked
- Name is filled in
- It’s Base AC is 12
- It’s a Light Armor Type
- It doesn’t have a Magic Bonus
- The Total AC is filled in automatically, based on your stats.
- If the armor says it has stealth disadvantage, or reduced movement speed, (plate mail, for example) enable the option for that.
You may notice that I have Mage Armor on the list. This is an easy way to quickly add the spell effects to your character. Cast Mage Armor, then check the Worn box, uncheck the box when the spell dissipates.
The Inventory is the best – I love this window. It automatically calculates your Carrying Weight, and Coin Carried. The picture above is what my character has on his person at the moment. Simply fill in the info for everything you have on you (weapons, armor, misc items), using the weight of the item from the handbook (or ask your DM) and BOOM – it’s done. Simple as that.
I left my weapons out as an example so i can add them back in for you.
(As a note, the way I DM, I like to use the inventory tabs thussly: Page 1 is what your character can carry on his person, without a backpack. Page 2 is accessible if you have a backpack, and Page 3 if you have a bag of Holding. Not necessary, but I like how it has worked so far.)
That’s about it for the mechanics of the D&D 5th Edition Roll20 Character Sheet.
The game board is fairly straightforward; let’s talk about controlling your token. After creating your character and selecting your portrait, your DM should drop your token on the game board. On the game board, you can click and hold to put a ping on the map, for all to see.
You can change the color of the ping, by changing your player color. To change your color, click the small color box next to your player at the bottom.
This is my character on a map I made for the campaign. If you click directly on your token, some new icons will appear.
The circles on the top represent different bars that you can assign to whatever stat you want.
(I believe the DM needs to do that.)
Double clicking on your token, or clicking the Gear will bring you to this menu.
Bar 1 is my character’s health – the others are not currently being used. Fill in the Min/Max and a bar will appear above your token, if it’s not already there.
If you click on the health bubble, the green circle you can adjust the number of the current amount on the bar. So for example, if I take 15 points of damage, I would click on the green circle, type in -15, then press Enter on the keyboard – this will calculate the damage, and remove it from the bar.
That’s it for calculating damage! The little round icon next to the gear opens the Status Indicator options.
Either you or your DM will manage these, but it’s a good way of keeping track of status effects: raging, poisoned, unconscious…
Controlling Your Token
>Either you, or your DM will control the movements of your token. If it is you, you can click to select your token, (make sure you have the select tool selected on the toolbar), and then you can move your character around with either your mouse or with the arrow keys on your keyboard.