#rpgaday2016 “What gamer most affected the way you play?”

My cop-out answer is that I can’t think of any one gamer that has affected the way I approach playing RPGs. I can think of a few people who served as examples of both what to do and what not to do, and there are a host of people that I have played with at Forge Midwest, BurningCon, Chicago Gameyda, and Chicago Longcon that completely challenged my ideas of how to run and play games.

That said, Shari Corey played in a Monster of the Week game I ran at Chicago Gameday 42 and gave me one of the most useful and brutally honest de-briefs I’ve ever had. With the help of Willow Palecek, she helped me realize that my whole approach to MotW — and probably PbtA games as a whole — was totally wrong. I’ve had some come-to-Jeebus moments like these before — like one time when Robert Bohl succinctly identified how I totally biffed a session of Mouse Guard and got me thinking hard about BWHQ games — but this was more in-depth and filled with meaty discussion.

So, in the near term, my hat’s off to Shari. Thank you for helping me be a better gamer!

#rpgaday2016 “Largest in-game surprise you have experienced?”

When I was fourteen or so, I was running Call of Cthulhu for the first time, using a TOME adventure. Part of the scenario were a bunch of missing girls in a small town. At one point, the PCs find a pile of bodies in a mine, and I have them roll Sanity checks. Since part of the Sanity mechanic is gaining insight along with the SAN damage, I tell them: “You realize that these are the bodies of the missing girls.”

Both my players then get wide-eyed and tell me, “No shit it’s the girls!” They then start running around the room yelling, “The sky is blue! THE SKY IS BLUE!!! NOOOOOOOO!!!”

It would be another twenty years before I ran Call of Cthulhu again.

#RPGaDay2016  “Beyond the game, what’s involved in an ideal session?”

A group of people who are:
• earnest in their desire to play the game;
• invested in not only their own enjoyment, but that of others at the table;
• proficient with the rules being used;
• prepared for the session;
• respectful of the needs and boundaries of other players;
• willing to be creative and adventurous.

Anything beyond that is gravy.

#RPGaDay2016  “Hardcover, softcover, digital? What is your preference?”

Hardcover + PDF. The hard- vs soft-cover choice is not so much of an issue for me, though given a choice and a book of sufficient size, I’ll opt for the durability and presence of a hardcover.

But… I desperately want to have an accompanying PDF file. PDFs are far, far too useful for prep, study, and handout creation. And, should I later decide to sell the hardcopy (because I buy too many damn games), retaining the PDF gives me peace of mind — “Well, if I ever need to look at it again, at least I have the PDF.”

Thankfully, this combo seems to be the new normal for RPGs.

#RPGaDay2016 “What aspect of RPGs has had the biggest effect on you?”

The connections.

There’s been a lot of talk about “community” in our hobby recently, some asserting that there is actually one (or more), and some that there is not. I’m not sure I know one way or the other, but what I do know is that roleplaying is an inherently social activity, and it is the primary vector through which I have made friends — or grown closer to friends I already had — over the course of my life. There are actual communities, in the real-world sense, to which I am now connected because of RPGs.

I will also say that, the more I broadened my horizons within the scope of available product (i.e., I got into the indie publishing and theory scene), the more varied were the people I met and the perspectives to which I was exposed. This has a profound impact on my worldview — for the better, IMO.

So, community or not, RPGs have, more than anything else, helped me find My Tribe™, and for that I will always be grateful.

(I think there’s also a side conversation that could be had here about how approaching a social activity with the tools of antisocial behavior is inherently flawed and, in some sense, violent. Not sure where to go beyond that thought, but there it is.)

#RPGaDay2016 “Most amazing thing a game group did for their community?”

This seems a weird question, and I have a really lame answer, because Google is failing me.

There was this charity 24-hour con event during the 4e days where some team ran this team of dwarves and never once had to use a healing surge. This was awesome because 1) holy rules mastery, Batman and 2) it somehow maximized the amount that was donated to the charity.

Does anyone remember this? I was to say I saw Judd Karlman or Chris Chinn post about it at the time.

#RPGaDay2016  *”Most impressive thing another’s character did”*

What immediately leaps to mind is this session of Marvel Heroic where Geoff Raye survived a pair of 12s and then proceeded to defeat Ragnarok emotionally — by daring him to lift Mjolnir. Once he defeated him, it was also the moment his PC gave up the hammer and returned to his original, non-Thor self. As a campaign-closer, one couldn’t ask for more. Some of the most drama I have ever seen in a game, and it was all system-supported.


RPGaDay: “Character moment you are proudest of”

(i.e., “Character moment of which you are most proud”, grr.)

I played The Inheritance at GenCon back in… 2005? It was a big Burning Wheel scenario with a Viking theme. It ended in blood opera, but not only did I manage to stay alive and navigate all of the intrigues, I earned the titular inheritance and mounted an expedition to Vinland (i.e, the New World). In other words, I actually accomplished a belief in a scenario GM’ed by luke crane. Huzzah!

If anything sold me on BW, it was this experience. I’ve been wheelsworn ever since.

#rpgaday   #rpgaday2016

RPGaDAY 2016: “Best game session since August 2015?”

I have not been doing a lot of actual gaming this past year. Out of that small sample, I’ll point to the ongoing D&D 5e campaign that MadJay Brown has been running for my now-infrequent-Sunday group. The session linked here was a particular stand-out, but honestly every session has been really fun. It’s a good group of people, and I am really enjoying 5e on the whole.

A runner-up would be the session of The Warren I played at Chicago Gameday 43. A fantastic game run exceptionally by Joe Beason. Linky: https://plus.google.com/+MarkDelsing/posts/NpRbbVQrDbT

#rpgaday   #rpgaday2016

RPGaDay: “Real dice, dice app, diceless, how do you prefer to roll?”

I’m happy to use whatever tools are required by the game or the medium. That said, I think physical objects are important.

In part this is because I spend most of my days on some kind of computer, and so the last thing I usually want to do during my limited gaming hours is log more screen time.

But I’ve also done some reading lately about the importance of handwriting and physical affordances in product design. Learning to write — particularly cursive — has a profound impact on a child’s development, and data we process with our hands affects us differently than data manipulated on screen.

I think that all of the traditional objects we use at the game table are important: dice, cards, paper, pencils and pens, minis, maps, printed rulebooks, etc. To me, manipulating those objects as a part of play enhances the experience; it adds a tactile aspect to our relationship with the shared imagined space that I think is missed when screen-based tools are used.

This is one reason why I’m still not nuts about using laptops and tablets at the game table. Even leaving aside the issue of constant distraction, I think they may distance us from each other, making it that much harder to join in the social acts of creation that happen when we play RPGs. But holding dice, turning pages, moving figures on a map — these physical actions get more of our neurons firing.

Not to mention the power of wonderful rituals like: handing a helping die to another player (Burning Wheel), reaching for token inside a bowl or bag (The Clay That Woke), or accepting a bead or chip offered by the GM (Fate). These have a meaning beyond their in-game function; they connect us to other people at the table.

So, yeah, gimme dice. And cards. And nice pens. And minis. And glass beads. And…

(It’s that time of the year again. #RPGaDay2016   #RPGaDay )