Welcome to the first post of Epoch’s Team Series! This blog series will introduce you to the team members of Epoch to get to know them a little better. Since our team is located in different cities across North America, having a strong workplace culture (virtually) is extremely important to us. It helps to boost our team’s morale at the end of each workweek and improves team collaboration. We don’t let distance get in the way of having a connected team.
The Team Series will follow each team member‘s events and how they engage the entire team virtually, using the Epoch platform. Each Friday, a different team member hosts an event to bring the whole team together for some laughs and a good time through the screen. It will also introduce you to some exciting events ideas and best practices of using Epoch to create events for your team for improving workplace culture.
Meet Tim! Tim is a Senior Software Developer and a new addition to our team at Epoch. Learn all about how Tim hosted a Virtual Dungeons & Dragons event for the Epoch team - using Epoch!
About the Event
Intro to Tim’s Event 🐉
I decided to host a virtual Dungeons & Dragons event. I chose it because I became aware that several people on our team had been wanting to try out, but hadn’t yet had the opportunity. Since I have played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons in the past, including running games, it seemed like a good choice.
Event Creation & Preparing Attendees 🗓
Running a Dungeons & Dragons event online for new players in a short period of time is rather tricky. There is a lot of reading that could be done, especially in regards to rules and character creation. I used the Epoch Event Description to give attendees a short, clear introduction into what Dungeons & Dragons is and what they would need to do to prepare for my event.
My goal was to keep things as simple as possible so we could hit the ground running. So I used the Epoch Event Questionnaire to allow attendees to select from a few different simple character types (Elf Ranger, Human Paladin, etc.) and then asked them to think of a character name in advance. This ended up saving me a lot of time and allowed me to get everything prepared before the event started.
Other preparations involved having attendees sign up for technologies I was using to run the game (Discord and D&D Beyond) in advance so that we wouldn’t have to spend our time together on that at the start of the event. I wanted to be as prepared as possible so when the event started everyone would be fully set up so we could all get right into playing the game.
Learnings from Hosting the Event 🌟
When I first started brainstorming on my event idea, there surprisingly wasn’t a lot of good information online for running a short 2-hour D&D game for new players. Most content is aimed at running full multi-session campaigns or at least longer 3-4 hour one-shot (one session) games.
There are lots of tools available that support these longer-term scenarios such as Roll20, Astral, Fantasy Grounds. But I knew that we would spend most of our two hours just familiarizing ourselves with those tools and I didn’t want to do that. I also wanted to avoid spending our entire time on character creation as there is a whole process with many choices involved. So I set about finding my own solution to these problems to create the perfect event for my team.
Here was my solution:
Have players choose from only the simpler character classes that don’t have spells. This allowed us to reduce the amount of time spent on the learning and explaining the rules during our session. I prepared a list with a few different choices of race and class that they could choose from.
Use D&D Beyond for character sheets and dice rolling. Once I knew what race/class each player selected from the Epoch Event Questionnaire, I used D&D Beyond’s character creation to generate character sheets for each of them (including adding equipment so they’re ready to go). For more experienced players you can have them do this step themselves. I then created a D&D beyond campaign, added the characters I created to it, and unassigned myself from those characters. This way, when players joined the campaign they could either add their own character sheet or just take over one of the ones I created for them. When they opened their character sheet, they could simply click on the abilities or actions and the sheet would roll the dice for them (this was so helpful for playing virtually). This saved us time on the finicky rule explanation and understanding of what gets added (or subtracted) from a roll.
Use Discord for communicating (virtually) throughout the duration of the event. I set up a Discord server for us to all video chat together, play campaign music, share information such as pictures, and see our dice rolls.
The Groovy bot was used to play music. I had prepared a list of possible tracks from Youtube to play for different scenarios prior to the event.
I prepared a folder of pictures to share during different parts of the session (for example a picture of a tavern or a hobgoblin) and dragged them into the discord chat.
The Avrae bot was used to sync the players’ D&D Beyond dice rolls with our discord chat.
Create a custom campaign. I created a campaign that I felt would be short enough to accomplish during our short time together and would introduce players to the basics. I tried to find a nice mix of role-playing scenarios, combat, and even a puzzle. We didn’t use grids during combat in order to keep things simple.
Event Feedback ✅
It was fun to read all of the responses from the Epoch Feedback Form. The feedback from the event attendees was very positive - people were ready to play more D&D!
What it’s like to Create & Host an Event using Epoch (as an Epoch Engineer) 🎉
It gives you a better understanding of how the things you create are really used. As a relatively new Software Developer on the team, there were some features (such as the Promotions feature) that I hadn’t fully understood how to use until I created my own real event. With a greater understanding of using Epoch, it has allowed me to do my job even better.
Spending time in the users’ shoes always gives me lots of ideas on how to improve the product. As a developer, it’s cool to know that you’re part of the team executing on the improvements and making the product better for our users.
About Epoch’s Remote Culture
Do you feel that working at Epoch is different from working at other companies?
I’ve worked at a few small startups before and it is similar in a lot of ways. However, since we are a company focused on helping others improve their culture through events, culture is definitely more of a focus than most of the other places I have worked. I also feel like there is a very flat management structure at Epoch - anyone’s ideas are welcome.
Has Epoch’s Team Series helped you understand your team better?
Absolutely. In a remote working environment, it’s so important to have events like this. It really helps to see others outside of the regular flow of work and connect with them in ways you just otherwise can’t. It’s also fun to see what events others choose to run.
Do you think engaging with your coworkers socially improves collaboration?
Definitely. It gives you insight into their personality in ways that you might not notice during the regular workday. It also really helps to be able to just relate to each other as people and friends and not just as a voice at the other end of a zoom meeting.
How has the experience affected your motivation and engagement with your work?
It’s definitely provided me with some additional insight into the product. I’ll use that insight moving forward as we work hard to improve it.