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Bold Text on Roll20? Markdown! and a Few Other Tricks.

Using Markdown to Bold Text in Roll20

I see a lot of people trying to understand how to bold text on Roll20. The trick is using markdown, a markup language used by Roll20 and others. You can find their explanation of the topic here, but in brief, it’s all about the asterisks:

  • *One asterisk one each side gets you italicized text*
  • **two gets you bold text,**
  • ***and three gets you italicized and bolded text***

This works in both chat and in game descriptions. Go forth and format text.

Showing the Token

As a GM, if you’ve gone ahead and shelled out cash for some sweet tokens, or your players are using some nice custom tokens they’ve made, you may want to draw everybody’s attention to said token. The easiest way to do this is by selecting the token and using the hotkey “shift+z”. This will gray out the rest of the screen and show an enlarged image of the token, like so:

A zoomed-in token on Roll20
Hey players, get a nice close look at this Tromokratis I bought for you….

Representing Persisting Area of Effect Spells

I struggled for a long time with how best to show spells like Dawn or Storm Sphere. I’m going to give credit to Ӕtherfluxx™, because I think they are the one who showed me how to do this, but if it was you, then apologies. So here’s the trick: You make a copy of the player’s token and add a color coded aura to it. You can tint the token or add token markers to make it clear which token is the copy and which one represents the player.

Here I am, standing safely outside my conveniently labeled Storm Sphere

Don’t forget to go the the “Advanced” tab to make the aura visible to all players. If you’re not the GM, you’ll have to ask them to do it for you.

Making Maps

So, I’ve got a whole article series about Dungeon Scrawl. Dungeon Scrawl makes it super easy to create great looking old-school maps really fast. You can see what I’ve done with it so far in my Everdown articles. I’m a big fan of this style of map. It clearly defines a space so your players know what they are working with. The conventions of this style of map are a shorthand that many players understand, and they leave a lot to the imagination. I always worry that overly-detailed maps pull players out of their imaginations and into the art, and imagination is where the magic is in a TTRPG, IMHO.

But what if you need something a little different? Maybe something for a non-fantasy setting? The best solution I’ve found is PowerPoint. It came to my attention recently that although access to PowerPoint has been free to me for decades for one reason or another, it may not be so readily available for others. If so, let me know in the comments or on twitter and I’ll see if I can find some free option. A few spring to mind as I write…

Why PowerPoint?

The great thing about PowerPoint for map making is that you can control the slide size in inches, and then snap to the grid. You can start by going to the Design Tab, and selecting Custom Slide Size from the Slide Size drop-down menu.

Where to find Custom Slide Size

Next, set the slide size in inches:

Sometimes, you need a really big map….

The great thing about powerpoint is that it give you really fine grain control over the size and position of the wide variety of shapes it allows you to create. Additionally, you can use images as the backgrounds, allowing you a lot of options for how to make things loo

I created the map below in PowerPoint. It fits perfectly to a 50×50 page in a virtual tabletop. Using tiled background images gave me a variety of options, like the starburst carpet in certain areas, and the red tile in others. I also used beveling on the edges of the circular stages to give them a three dimensional feel.

The map for the Dungeonsports Coliseum’s Gentlebeing’s Club

Now that you know how to bold text on roll 20, maybe you’re interested in some other GM Tips and Tricks?

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