6.6 KiB

Owlbear Rodeo Legacy

Demo Image

This is the source code for Owlbear Rodeo 1.0 released for your non-profit, non-commercial, private use.

This code won't be maintained or supported by us as we've moved all our time to maintaining and building the new Owlbear Rodeo.


Owlbear Rodeo was created as a passion project in early 2020. We worked on the site from that time until late 2021, spending nights and weekends learning and building the site found in this repo.

By the end of 2021 we were spending more time working on Owlbear Rodeo than we were at our day jobs. After almost two years working on the project we had learnt a lot about what we wanted Owlbear Rodeo to be. With these two things in mind we decided to start working on a new version of Owlbear Rodeo, throwing out the old version and starting fresh.

This new version would streamline common actions, be able to grow with the user and be a lot more reliable. We called this version Owlbear Rodeo 2.0 and it is what you see now when opening Owlbear Rodeo today.

Owlbear Rodeo 2.0 was released mid 2023 but as a thanks to our community we wanted to give you the option to build and run the original version.

Programming Notes

This project marks one of the first big web projects Nicola and I made. With this in mind there are many things that aren't great with it.

The state management for the frontend relies primarily on React contexts. This is a bad idea. React contexts are great but not for a performance focused app like this. You'll see that every context that is used has to be split into a bunch of small chunks to prevent unnecessary re-renders. Don't do this. Just use a state management library like Zustand. It's so much easier and it's what we do in 2.0.

This code makes no effort to handle collisions when two users edit the same data at the same time. This means that it can be pretty easy to brick a map with a combination of delete/edit/undo between two users. Instead you should use a data structure that is designed to handle this like a CRDT. This is what we do in 2.0.

All images are stored client side in an IndexedDB database. I think this is a cool idea but browsers hate it when you do this. There are ways to tell the browser that you should keep this data around (the persistent storage API). But it's a bit of a mess. Chrome will silently decide if it wants to keep the data, FireFox will prompt the user for permission and Safari will ignore you. In fact if you don't visit the site every week Safari will delete all your data. I thought I was being pretty clever when I created 1.0 with no cloud storage but it bit us hard having to tell users every week that there was no way to recover their data because the browser was cranky at them.

Because this project doesn't have user accounts or cloud storage to share an image with other players we use a peer-to-peer connection. To do this we use WebRTC. Be warned though every time I've decided to use WebRTC in a project I've regretted it. WebRTC is great on paper but it will never be reliable. Many VPNs/Antivirus/ISPs will block all WebRTC traffic. So you end up having to proxy a bunch of traffic through TURN/STUN servers which end up eating up any cost savings you thought you were going to have.

There are some pretty cool things in the project though. I developed a Tensorflow model trained off of thousands of battle maps that can detect the number of grid cells visible in a map. The model is in the src/ml directory. The 3D dice roller is physics driven which makes it fun to just throw dice around. The pointer tool has a nice network interpolation model. This idea was expanded in 2.0 so that every interaction you do is synced in real-time with other players.




To use the project with docker you can run the following from the root directory of the project:

docker-compose up

Note: You will need to increase your max memory allowed in Docker to 5GB in order to build Owlbear Rodeo.


If you don't want to use Docker you can run both the backend and frontend manually.

Before running the commands you will need both NodeJS v16 and Yarn installed.

To build and run the backend in /backend run:

yarn build


yarn start

To run the frontend in the root folder run:

yarn start


Owlbear Rodeo is designed to be hosted in a cloud environment.

To make this easier we have provided a blueprint that will allow you to host it on Render.

Once deployed Render will provide a URL for you to share with your players.

Deploy to Render


Custom Images Aren't Showing on Other Computers

Custom images are transferred using WebRTC in order to navigate some networks you must define a STUN/TURN server.

You can read more about this topic here

While there are some freely available STUN servers, most TURN servers charge you for the bandwidth used.

To change the STUN/TURN configuration you can edit the /backend/ice.json file.


This project is for personal use only.

We do not offer a license for commercial use.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, participate in the transfer or sale of, reproduce, create new works from, display, communicate to the public or in any way exploit, any part of this project in any way for commercial purposes.

If you're interested in using Owlbear Rodeo for commercial purposes you can contact us about version 2.0 here:


The code provided here is for historical purposes and as such we have disabled pull requests on this repository.


This project was created by Nicola and Mitch. In the live version of Owlbear Rodeo we provide default tokens that use licensed images. To ensure that the license is adhered to we have replaced those images with CC0 images. Here are a list of the image libraries used to make these new tokens: