Is the VTT the only place to play online?

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I find with how busy my life is, at times, it is hard for me to get out to specific timed events at local hobby shops to play Encounters or join a campaign. With that in mind I was thinking about looking into online as an option. I was just wondering if the VTT on the DnD main site (which you would need to be an insider) is the only viable option for a real DnD experience online. I don't want to play video games (I have Dragon Age for that) I legitimately want to play DnD to RP.

Thanks for any responses, and sorry if this kind of thread is a frequent one -- I didn't see any.
"Opportunities multiply as they are seized." - Sun Tzu
Not at all.  Though I'm not super familiar with communities, per se, there's a TON of programs out there that let you play D&D online.  The one I use is called Fantasy Grounds II.  It does cost some money (unless you can manage to find a DM with an Ultimate account), but it's like... $20, I think?  And is a very good program with an active developer community.

There's also a lot of other programs like maptool (which is free, but isn't immediately set up to play 4e, and I'm not certain about the community), d20 Pro (though I'm not sure if that's 4e compatible?), and I'm sure there's many more.

I use the maptools forums:

Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
there is maptools it is free and here is a link to the forums where you can hook up and try and find games
Maptool is pretty much the defacto standard for VTTs since it is open source and free to use, runs on any platform, and provides by far the most sophisticated vision and lighting tools of any VTT out there. Their macro scripting functionality is vast as well, though rather excessively klunky and hard to work with (1.4 is going to fix that, but it will probably be a year or two before they get to a working build). Many people run 4e on Maptool and several people have made reasonably workable macro sets for it. Using those is a bit of a PITA, but then again you can always just fall back to ordinary paper and pencil and just use the Maptool dice rolling macros and maybe a few simple token properties to display basic stuff like hit points and whatnot.

As far as hooking up with games, you can check the forums, people do announce games there, and if you have players all you really need to do is create the required maps, set up some tokens for your monsters, have the DM run the server and everyone else can connect (you can announce your server too, just give it a descriptive name and if you want to exclude random people just put a password on your game).
That is not dead which may eternal lie
As said above fantasy grounds 2 is a great product. I play every Thursday and Friday night with my guild. we have 2 DM's who have the anyone can play version so if your interested 25 or older stop by and check it out in the general game area under role-play and virtual table.
I am interested, but my issue ends up being that I'm new to the DnD world of gaming. I played once, when I was really young, when my uncle was into the game and had a pretty harsh experience (I think he just wanted me to stop bugging him about it.)

With that said I got some help generating a level 1 rogue, and I'd like to try it out in a 4E campaign or even just a beginner's adventure but I don't know where to go to do it. I'd like to do encounters but I feel like I probably couldn't show up consistently to the workshop, whereas I'm usually close to a computer if I'm not playing baseball or on vacation.
"Opportunities multiply as they are seized." - Sun Tzu

If you don;t want a consistant campaign then I would suggest Living Forgotten Realms (LFR) on Maptools: Sign up for any games you feel like - 4hr slots with no repercussions for lack of continuity.

Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
We are VERY friendly to new player at old timers guild. Come by and see if you like it. We've turned 3 or 4 never before have no experience regulars to our games. Only issue you would have right now is thT we are level 13/14 depending on night. But if you want to get a feel for it come by and take a look.
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