Favourite non-RPG thing to come out of RPG’ing

I’m going to say friends

Stop cringing.

Since the topic says “RPG’ing”, I take it that we’re talking about the act of engaging in the hobby, as opposed to RPGs as a medium.

My oldest friend in the world and I did not meet though RPG’ing — we met each other in 4th grade (about nine years old for you non-US-icans). Then we went to different middle schools and drifted apart. After that, we ended up at the same high school — one with a student body of around 2,000 kids (3,000 now!), so the odds of us bumping into each other were pretty negligible.

One day towards the end of Freshman year I get a call. My 4th-grade friend has found my phone number and wants to know if I play D&D, because he needs players. I go over to his house, play through the first Dragonlance module in a marathon eight-hour session. He and the two other players become my closest friends for the next four years. Years later, we’re in each other’s weddings. Just last month, my friend is hanging out at my house.

Decades later, the same phenomenon happens when 3e brings me back into the hobby. I meet people who become close friends, see them wed, divorce, become parents — their highs and lows. I travel to conventions and game with people who I later communicate with constantly via the Interwebs.

RPG’ing has been a primary social outlet for big chunks of my life. The bonds I form, even if for a brief time, while at the game table have been the source of so much enjoyment for me. The stereotype of the lonely nerds in the basement has never really made sense to me; my actual experience has never matched that. We were in the basement because it was the best way to keep our loud boisterousness from waking up the rest of the house (and that’s were the ping-pong table was).

Runner-up for this category is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My wife bought me a copy of the EDEN Buffy RPG after I expressed some interest in an episode we’d watched (S2E19, “I Only Have Eyes For You”). The game prompted me to borrow season one from a friend (who’d I’d met via my D&D group). Cut to years later and I’m naming my first-born son after Joss Whedon.

Favourite RPG playing celebrity


Seriously, I had to Google around to come up with anyone beyond Vin Diesel or Wil Wheaton.

Sure, it’d be low-hanging fruit to pick someone like Stephen Colbert or Joss Whedon, but I don’t know that they actively play any more. And the only celebs with hard evidence of current activity are folks like Will Wheaton, and honestly I haven’t even been able to bring myself to watch his current show. I mean, I like the guy, and he does great “nerd outreach” or whatever, but a favorite? Meh.

To be honest, I’m not sure I care any more about whether celebrities play tabletop RPGs or not. Call me cynical, but I don’t need that kind of validation in order to enjoy this hobby. (And I think there’s already one “celebrity” that’s done more than his fair share of damage here.)

Oh, and here’s Putin riding a shark, cause I got nothin’.

Favourite RPG website/blog

Honestly, Google+ is my favorite right now. This is where I spend most of my time online, and this where I’m having some of the best RPG discussion I’ve ever had. It’s also pointed me to more games — mostly via Kickstarter — than any other site, save maybe ENWorld back during the d20 boom.

The runner-up would be Chris Chinn ‘s “Deeper in the Game”, as it’s maybe the only RPG blog I follow now. https://bankuei.wordpress.com/

Special mention would go to Ron Edwards’s fantastic Doctor Xaos blog, but it’s not strictly about gaming. https://adeptpress.wordpress.com/

Favourite game you no longer play

Wow. Uh, all of them? Welcome to fatherhood + full-time employment.

I also wonder what is meant here by “no longer play”. Sure, one can lack time to play, but would there be a reason one would actively avoid playing a favorite game? Besides an inability to find others willing to play?

Favourite inspiration for your game

By “your game”, I’m assuming this topic means “your current campaign”. Seeing as I don’t really have one, I have a feeling this isn’t going to garner as many plusses army last post.

In general, games inspire me to build campaigns around them more often than something inspires me to choose a game and build a campaign (or a session). It’s been pretty common for me to find an RPG that then spurs me on to look into its source material. E.g., Eden’s Buffy RPG got me to start watching the show, and Evil Hat’s Dresden Files RPG got me reading Butcher’s books.

That said… does anyone remember John Coyne’s novel Hobgoblin?


It was one of the “D&D drives a kid crazy” novels that appeared during the Satanic Panic. IMO, unlike Rona Jaffe’s Mazes & Monsters, it was actually a decent read, more of a horror/suspense story that happened to use roleplaying as a hook rather than a treatise on the evils of gaming.

In the book, the main character plays “Hobgoblin,” a fantasy RPG set in mythic Ireland. It uses a custom deck of cards with weird art and crazy dice combos, like using d1000s (and somehow generating decimal points) and other stuff that shows the write didn’t really grok how D&D worked. However, to 11-year-old me, the game was fascinating. The Irish mythology was awesome and the cards sounded like the coolest thing ever. Plus, the book describes them using the cards in chargen, and producing characters of all kinds, not just the standard D&D tropes (one being a minor noble girl who then goes on an adventure that feels like a gothic novel). Honestly, it was like cards plus lifepaths from BW or careers from WFRP.

For na very long time, I wanted to try and find that game. I went through a lot of fantasy RPGs, tried to integrate cards (mostly tarot) into my games, and named multiple characters “Brian Ború”, the legendary Irish king (and the paladin played by the main character in the novel). The book also fired off my obsession with all things celtic, and why Dark Ages settings are like crack to me.

I’m tempted to go back and re-read the book, but I feel like that could taint my fond childhood memories.

Favourite Revolutionary Game Mechanic

This: “Every moment of play, roll dice or say yes.”

I think that this phrase from Dogs In The Vineyard by Vincent Baker has more functional GM practice packed into its five words than almost any GM guide ever published for any game ever — which is probably why the adulterated version (“Say yes or roll the dice”) has appeared in many RPGs published since.

This is the phrase that tells the GM to be a fan of the players. This is the phrase that tells us that system matters. This is the phrase that tells us to play to find out what happens. This is the phrase that tells us to focus on what’s important and move the game forward. This is the phrase that fixed roleplaying.

/mic drop

Favourite house rule

I’m going to have to recuse myself on this one, as I’m not sure I’ve played any game in recent memory that used any house rules I liked, much less house rules at all. The closest I can come is hacking bits from one game onto another, e.g., using Marvel Heroic initiative in Fate, or using Arcana Evolved Hero Points in straight 3e.

Honestly, extensive use of house rules often feels like a symptom of a larger problem to me.

Perfect game for you

The obvious answer here is Burning Wheel. 😉

But if this is about ideals (like yesterday’s topic) then I’d say a game with:

* Rules that support its premise
* Rules I find enjoyable to use
* A rulebook that is well-edited and well-organized
* Pleasing and functional graphic design — it doesn’t need to be fancy, it needs to be good
* Useful tools for facilitating play, i.e. doesn’t always require intense prep, pre-play
* A GM role (I tend to like games with GM/player divides)
* Lots of player authority (I like to share the GM love around the table)
* Inspiring art
* An egalitarian ethos (i.e., no “we’re using ‘he’ for all pronouns because it’s grammatically correct” or other inane gender/racial bias stuff)
* PDF copy included with print price (ideally) 🙂

I think that’s about it. I reserve the right to add more tenets in the comments.

Perfect Gaming Environment

I’ll confess that I don’t really know what this means; I assume it’s asking us to imagine an ideal situation and then describe it.

I suppose it goes without saying that the perfect gaming environment is one in which I feel comfortable and am gaming with people I like, playing a game I want to play.

Gravy would be: lack of ambient noise or competing chatter, suitable lighting, comfortable-but-functional seating (so folks aren’t falling asleep), readily available food and beverages that don’t get schmutz all over everything and aren’t totally unhealthy, a big table with room for everyone’s stuff, and clean bathroom facilities.

If this sounds like gaming at someone’s home, as opposed to a store or con locale, that’s no accident. I think being invited into someone’s home creates a feeling of trust, intimacy, and obligation of hospitality on the parts of the both the inviter and the invitees. So, you’re both allowed more emotional comfort, as well as obligated to not be a big jerk — you’re a guest here.