Several days ago, I bid my regular role playing group, with whom I've had the pleasure of hosting several successful campaigns, a fond farewell, as the majority of them were no longer able to reliably commit to our weekly sessions. Of the various reasons this had transpired, chief among them was the issue of transportation, as a strangely prevalent trend of geographical relocation had taken hold of many families in my area (read: they all moved away). Where others may have seen a definitive end to their familiar group of players, I saw an opportunity to familiarize myself with the various practices and technologies of 'long-distance role playing'. I know not if their resolve to play is as great as mine, or if their commitment to the game will follow them wherever they lead, but I'll do my best to facilitate the process of adapting our around this new obstacle. Even in the event of catastrophic failure, I'll surely be wiser and more informed from the experience.
As previously mentioned, this is a relatively recent challenge I've undertaken; therefore, I unfortunately have little to offer by way of informed, experienced guidance on the matters of long-distance role playing. Be this as it may, I've decided to supplement what little knowledge I have to offer with a brief 'spotlight' on a website with a number of resourceful tools and a dedicated community:
The programs offered on this site, though a bit technically daunting for those uninitiated in Java, are well-built, customizable, and well-suited for the specific roles. 'DiceTool' and 'InitiativeTool' aren't anything we haven't seen before, but the other three, particularly 'MapTool', are definitely worth noting. As revealed by my veteran role playing contacts and personally tested in preliminary trials, it serves as an excellent virtual medium for representing the board/field-of-battle/play area/etc.; especially when paired with 'CharacterTool'. For managing out-of-character communications and general connectivity, I've been instructed to survey the ever-popular 'Skype'; a program with which I'm sure many of you are already familiar. For those who aren't, it appears to provide registered users with a means to communicate through both instant messaging and voice chat, a feat accomplished with 'Voice over Internet Protocal' (VoIP) and the technologies pertaining thereof. I won't bore you with the technical details, primarily because I've never previously attempted to utilize its services, but I can say that there appears to be much confidence in the Skype + MapTools combination within the role playing community (the one I frequent, anyway).
Hopefully, this will be just the thing I need to keep us all together.
I thank you for your time and attention.