Dragging out the dusty cardboard boxes crammed in the hundreds with lead and pewter figures, lichen trees, dungeon tiles, silver beads, bits of rock and other household flotsam/jetsam pressed into service reminded me—alongside the more immediate human joy of having real, laughing faces of friend-players around the table—that although I love my virtual play group it never quite closes the gap.
Don't get me wrong, the experience is quite nearly “there”, real friendships have even grown out of the experience and the consistency of that much play (closing in on 70 sessions) has been a longtime goal of this campaign. We even have the long post-game (and work morning-hating) bull session.
But there are the little moments I love in a face-to-face game: the arched eyebrow, the “oh shit” expression flashing on the face, the sudden collective crackup, the dramatic hand flourish--all the little bits of nonverbal communication that only roughly translate when you are looking at a third of a torso on a foot-wide screen. The minis, artery-choking foodstuffs, booze--the stage props of tabletop play--naturally, something I always miss—even the sudden forcible intrusion of a hijacking junior DM.
The long and short for 2013: expect more rolling of funny-shaped dice and the quiet death throes of lead men around my white pine dining room table.