Hey friend! Have you been looking for a way to play RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons online from the comfort of home? If so, you‘ve probably come across Roll20 – one of the most popular virtual tabletop platforms out there.
But you might be wondering: is Roll20 completely free to use? Or do you need to pay to access certain features?
The answer is: Roll20‘s core functionality is 100% free for players! You can jump into games and start rolling dice with your online party in no time without spending a dime.
However, Game Masters running campaigns can benefit from upgraded subscriptions to unlock additional options.
In this detailed guide, I‘ll give you a comprehensive overview of Roll20‘s pricing tiers, features, capabilities and more. That way you can decide if it‘s the right virtual tabletop for your RPG gaming needs. Let‘s dive in!
Roll20 At a Glance – What Exactly Is It?
For those who are new to virtual tabletops, here‘s a quick crash course on what exactly Roll20 is and how it works:
Roll20 is a browser-based platform that lets you play tabletop RPGs like D&D or Pathfinder online with groups of people remotely. It provides everything you need as a player or Game Master:
🎲 Virtual dice rolling so you don‘t need physical dice
📃 Interactive character sheets to build and level up your PC
🗺️ Maps and tokens to setup encounters and explore dungeons
🌫️ Fog of war and line of sight tools for immersive gameplay
💬 Built-in text, voice and video chat to communicate during games
📚 Compendiums full of spells, monsters, items and more
🗒️ Campaign management tools to organize adventures and share content
With these features, Game Masters can provide an authentic tabletop RPG experience online for players anywhere in the world. Everything from rolling initiative to epic boss battles is handled through the virtual tabletop.
This makes it easy and convenient for RPG groups to continue adventuring together even when they can‘t meet up physically around a table.
Now let‘s take a look at Roll20‘s account tiers and pricing…
Breaking Down Roll20‘s Free, Plus and Pro Subscription Options
Roll20 offers all users free access to their core virtual tabletop features. But they also provide Plus and Pro paid subscription tiers that add extra capabilities for power users.
Here‘s an overview of what‘s included with the Free, Plus and Pro tiers:
|Tier||Price||Storage Space||Key Features|
|Free||$0/month||100MB||Core tools for playing RPGs online|
|Plus||$5.99/month or $59.99/year||3GB||Expanded storage, Dynamic Lighting, better video chat|
|Pro||$10.99/month or $99.99/year||8GB||Max storage, APIs, custom sheets, priority support|
As you can see, the Free option still provides plenty of value for playing basic RPGs online with friends. But upgrading to Plus or Pro unlocks bonus perks, especially for Game Masters running campaigns.
Now let‘s look at each tier a bit more closely…
Roll20 Free Account Capabilities
With a Roll20 Free account, you get access to the core virtual tabletop features needed for most RPGs:
✅ 100MB storage for maps, tokens, music etc.
✅ Dice roller, character sheets, drawing tools
✅ Video, voice and text chat
✅ Free community Compendium content
✅ Easy campaign setup with invite links
This free offering is extremely generous. It contains everything needed to jump into online D&D or other RPG groups as a player.
The 100MB storage may limit GMs wanting to upload lots of hi-res maps/images. But for most, the free tier should be sufficient.
Roll20 Plus Adds Helpful Features for Game Masters
For folks running games, the Plus tier lifts some restrictions for just $5.99/month. Upgrades include:
🔼 3GB storage space – No more worrying about asset limits!
🔼 Dynamic Lighting – Cool fog of war reveal effects
🔼 Better group video/audio chat quality
🔼 More campaigns with unlimited pages
🔼 Custom macro buttons
🔼 Expanded Compendium content sharing
These bonuses will really enhance the experience for Game Masters and players alike. The Dynamic Lighting alone adds so much immersion as you reveal parts of a map.
Overall, Plus is very reasonably priced considering how much value it adds on top of the already functional free tier.
Roll20 Pro Caters to Power Users and Content Creators
At $10.99/month, the Pro tier is geared more towards advanced Roll20 users who really want to customize and contribute tools/content to the community.
For example, Pro includes:
⚙️ APIs for advanced automation and customization
🧰 Custom sheet and Compendium creator tools
🆕 Priority customer support access
🎛️ Advanced fog of war and lighting options
🎉 Increased asset storage space (8GB total)
The expanded options for creating content make sense for this tier – it helps provide the Roll20 community with more resources.
But for the average player or Game Master, Plus has pretty much everything you‘d need at a lower price.
Roll20‘s Pricing Model – Is It Really Free?
Based on the tier breakdown, the question "Is Roll20 free?" has an important caveat:
The core Roll20 virtual tabletop is 100% free for players to use. You can join Roll20 games and play full campaigns without ever spending money.
However, Game Masters will likely want to subscribe eventually for extra storage and features.
Think of it like getting a free pizza slice vs paying for the whole pie. Players get a very generous "slice" of Roll20 functionality for free. But GMs need the whole pie with extra toppings (subscriptions).
This makes Roll20 very inviting for new players. Since you can join games for free, it‘s easy to find an online RPG group as a beginner.
Many competing VTTs either restrict free accounts, or make you pay one-time license fees upfront. Roll20 definitely stands out by providing the complete player experience gratis.
But again – Game Masters will benefit greatly from upgrading. The extra space and tools help run bigger, better campaigns.
Why Game Masters Should Consider Paying for Roll20
As a GM, why should you consider paying for a Roll20 subscription when a free account is available? Here are the key reasons:
More Storage Space for Maps, Tokens, Music and More
The 100MB free storage fills up incredibly fast. A few hi-res battle maps alone can max it out.
With 3GB (Plus) or 8GB (Pro), you get way more room to upload all the maps, tokens, tilesets, ambient music and other assets you need for expansive campaigns.
Not being constrained by storage helps make campaign prep much smoother.
Dynamic Lighting and Advanced Fog of War
These lighting/fog of war tools totally change the tactical experience on Roll20 virtual tables.
As players move their tokens around, the map is revealed in a realistic line of sight manner. You can create immersive dark dungeon experiences.
It really enhances the feeling of exploration during gameplay when sections of the map are unveiled as characters progress. Awesome feature!
Better Quality Video/Audio Chat
Roll20‘s built-in video and voice chat is super convenient for online play. But the free tier limits group sizes.
Upgraded accounts let you stream table chat with higher fidelity and player capacity. Much better for chat-heavy campaign sessions.
More Customization Options
Pro subscribers also get extra customization capabilities like:
📝 Custom character sheet building to support homebrew systems
⚙️ APIs for advanced automations and scripting
🔧 Sandbox for testing changes before going live
For power users, these expanded customization tools are invaluable.
Support Ongoing Roll20 Development
Finally, paid subscriptions help fund the ongoing development of new Roll20 features and improvements.
So paying a little each month ensures the platform you play on continues advancing. It‘s win-win all around!
Using Roll20 for Dungeons & Dragons Games
Now that you understand Roll20‘s pricing and features, let‘s talk specifics about using it for Dungeons & Dragons.
As one of the most popular RPG systems worldwide, D&D is very well supported on Roll20. Here‘s a quick guide to getting started:
For D&D Players
Playing D&D through Roll20 as a player is easy and intuitive:
👥 Browse the LFG listings to find an online group
➕ Create a free account to join the game
🧙 Build your character on the official 5E character sheet
🎲 Make ability checks, attacks and saves using the dice roller
💬 Use text, voice or video chat to communicate during the session
⚔️ Level up your character and access stats/skills/spells right on the sheet
🌟 Gain cool magic items stored on your character sheet inventory
Everything you need as a player is available for free – dice, sheet, chat and more. Dive right in to some amazing online D&D action!
For Dungeon Masters
As a DM, Roll20 also provides awesome tools to run 5E (or any RPG) campaigns:
🗺️ Import custom maps or purchase pre-made ones from the marketplace
🧙♂️ Populate your game with monsters, spells, items and more from the SRD Compendium
🎚️ Use Dynamic Lighting for immersive exploration as players reveal parts of maps
📋 Organize campaign details in the Journals, Notes, Handouts and Character Info sections
🕹️ Quickly set up combat encounters with the drag-and-drop token system
🔔 Get notifications when players edit their sheets or send messages
🕰️ Schedule games in advance and prepend session summaries after
With these features, you can provide an authentic D&D experience remotely. Your players will love exploring your homebrew world or pre-made adventure!
Popular Alternatives to Roll20 Worth Considering
Roll20 is far from the only virtual tabletop option available today. Top competitors like Fantasy Grounds and Foundry VTT may suit your group‘s playstyle better.
Here‘s a quick rundown of Roll20 alternatives to consider:
Fantasy Grounds – Officially licensed D&D content. Similar features to Roll20 but with subscription model.
Foundry VTT – Self-hosted so requires more tech skill. Highly customizable and modular.
Owlbear Rodeo – Simpler free VTT focused purely on shared maps. Great for beginners.
Tabletop Simulator – Robust 3D physics sandbox well suited for miniatures gaming.
Astral TableTop – Newer VTT with slick interface and animated battlemaps. Free to try.
MapTool – Open source with free usage. Steeper learning curve but very powerful.
Evaluate your group‘s specific needs to determine if something like Fantasy Grounds or Foundry VTT might suit your playstyle better. But Roll20 is a great starting point considering its generous free tier and huge userbase.
Answering Common Roll20 Questions From New Users
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Roll20:
Is Roll20 secure? What about privacy?
Absolutely. Roll20 utilizes industry standard 256-bit SSL encryption and other security measures to keep user data safe. It also has privacy options to control campaign access.
What features can I use in Roll20 for free?
The core tools like video chat, dice, sheets, and 2D maps & tokens are all free. Players can fully enjoy Roll20 without paying at all.
Is there a mobile app for Roll20?
Yep! Roll20 has mobile apps for Android and iOS so you can access campaigns from a smartphone or tablet too.
Can you use 3D maps and miniatures on Roll20?
Not natively, but there are workarounds like using 3D props in Tabletop Simulator then importing into Roll20. Some miniatures sims integrate with it too.
How long do Roll20 sessions tend to run?
Roll20 sessions work just like regular tabletop games – they can be 1-2 hours or 6-8 hours depending on your campaigns and playstyles! Play as long as you want.
What happens if I cancel my paid Roll20 subscription?
Your purchased content and upgrades are retained permanently even if you cancel or drop to Free later on. You just revert to Free limits.
In Summary: Should You Use Roll20 for Your RPG Gaming?
At its core, Roll20 provides a free and easy way for both players and game masters to enjoy tabletop RPGs like D&D online together regardless of location.
While some limitations apply, the free tier contains more than enough functionality to easily jump into games as a player.
For Game Masters, upgrading to Roll20 Plus or Pro can greatly enhance running campaigns online thanks to added storage, features and customization capabilities. But it‘s not essential just to participate as a player.
Overall, Roll20 is a fantastic virtual tabletop option due to its:
Huge userbase – Easy to find online RPG groups
Accessibility – Browser-based so no complex installs required
Free tier – Lets you sample Roll20 extensively without paying
Popular system support – Built-in tools optimized for D&D 5E and other major RPGs
Active development – Constantly expanding with new features and improvements
So if you‘ve been looking for a way to take your tabletop RPG gaming online, definitely give Roll20 a try! It provides everything needed to level up your adventures from the comfort of home.
Just remember the core tools are free for players, while Game Masters gain extra capabilities through affordable subscriptions.
Now grab your dice and gather your party. Adventure awaits on Roll20‘s virtual tabletop – see you there!