Game Night: Session 17, Live and Learn

YAY!!!  We had a game night the other night.  It’s been a while.  That whole real life thing got in the way for a few of us.  People were either unable to get to a PC, or had a broken PC.  Since we play online using Discord and Fantasy Grounds, not having access to a PC was a bit of a problem.  But the stars realigned and we got a session in…

The session was a bit short, but I believe it was informative… as it was meant to be.

The group spend one last night on the banks of the Welandar River before being able to reach Welandar City, the kingdom’s capital.  They spend the evening recovering from the ambush by Kogan and his band of Krell soldiers that happened earlier in the day.  But soon the discussion turns to what they plan to do once they get in The City.  They have a mission, vague as it may be, and they are being pursued by creatures and humanoids with ill intent.

The group believes that there is something more behind Slythis, the “convenient” encounter with the bug-creature and Kogan’s ongoing pursuit.  Theren has felt the presence of “dark magic” during many of these encounters.  They are now convinced that many of these encounters have been orchestrated with information from magic and/or spies that are tracking them.  They know they need to change their tactics and make contacts that can help them change this situation.

Once they reach Welandar City, each member of the group has something in mind to do for themselves in addition to finding a way into a secret library in a secret location in or near the castle dungeon.  They want to help with the situation that is unfolding before them, but they also have goals and dreams of their own… some of which they hope will help with whatever is going on.

After a restful night on the riverbank, the group, along with the riverboat pilot start packing their things so they can head downriver to The City.  While this is going on, a couple of them spot what appears to be a body lying on the bank near the water’s edge a short distance upriver.  The group investigates and finds a Krell – dressed like the others from yesterday’s ambush – near death from brutal stab wounds to the gut.

The group realizes that this situation could produce valuable information if parlayed properly.  Fang successfully stabilizes the Krell with some first aid (they don’t want to waste magic on the enemy).  While doing this, he checks the wounds for signs of desiccation similar to what Slythis’ knife could do. Fang finds none… to the relief of the group.

With some “persuasive” comments,  the Krell, named Urd, begins to answer some questions.  They discover that Urd was part of yesterday’s ambush, but withdrew when he saw the magic being used by the group start to kill his fellow squad mates.  He decided that being killed here was not a good way to accomplish the mission of killing the group.  He thought reporting back to Kogan would be a smart thing to do.  The essentially fatal stab wounds in his belly, delivered by Kogan, has since convinced Urd otherwise…

Further questioning reveals that Kogan had been in contact with the bug-creature they dealt with in South Haven, but long before the Krell had even made it to Mert. Urd also reveals that Kogan had spoken with a Dwerg near Piketon reinforcing the idea that the group has, in fact, been tracked throughout their journey.

As the interrogation continues, the group learns that Kogan possesses a talisman he wears on a necklace.  By asking the right questions they realize the talisman is similar in nature to the knife that Slythis had.  This explains the feeling Theren has gotten when Kogan has been nearby… again similar to Slythis.  It also appears to have some influence over his actions and general behavior.  Urd reveals that Kogan has definitely become much more powerful since he got the talisman.  Of course this causes concern over what sort of transformation will occur in Kogan as he continues to wear the talisman.

Throughout the questioning, Urd mentions that Kogan refers to something known as “The Dark Tide” and how it is coming to, at the least, destroy Mentari’s secret.  Apparently, Kogan is either a part of this agency or is serving those that are a part of The Dark Tide.

Armed with this new information about their situation, the group decides that going straight to Welandar City and sending a message to Perry Braiton would not be wise.  They, instead, decide to take Urd and go to Braiton (the hometown of Fang, Theren and Bran) to report to Lord Braiton directly.  They also plan to turn Urd over to the local authorities.  It’s agreed that Urd should not be simply murdered by them since he chose to cooperate with them and is decidedly uncertain about his place in life.  The notion is that Lord Braiton might see fit to let Urd live and serve his time for crimes in the Kingdom as a member of a work gang.

At a bridge for a road that leads either into Welandar City or north to Braiton, the group parts ways with the riverboat pilot.  They make their way to Braiton with Urd in tow.  It is quite late at night when they arrive at the edge of town…

And that is how we ended the night.  The group now has a name for that which is pursuing them and trying to stop their efforts to reach the secret library… The Dark Tide.  They now know that their movements have been tracked since they began their journey.  This points out the fact that the Dark Tide has agents in many locations, and that they must become more covert in order to stop the pursuit.

What will happen next?

As always, if you like what you’ve read here, let me know by hitting that like button.  If you have something to say or a question to ask, please, leave a comment.  I’ll be happy to have a conversation with you.

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Game Night: Gotta Keep It Going

Pounding Keyboard How do you keep the tabletop

role-playing game campaign going?

A role-playing game campaign is rarely a short-lived thing.  It takes a while for the players to work their characters through the story created by the DM/GM.  Even one adventure in a campaign can take more than one game session, especially if the group limits a session to a few hours at a time.  So… How do you keep it exciting at the tabletop? How do you keep things rolling and not get boring? Those are interesting questions.  The answers are… well… hmm.

I’ve been running and playing tabletop role-playing games on and off for over 30 years now.  Even with that much time in, I’m no expert.  But I do know that you have to keep the players and DM/GM interested in the campaign to keep the campaign going.  Without that interest, the game is going to come to a halt… plain and simple.  This interest comes from excitement and pace at the tabletop.  The players and DM/GM have to be excited to find out what happens next in the story of their heroes.  The pace of the game/story must be maintained, too.  A slow game – for the most part, no matter how exciting, can kill a campaign.

Excitement – I think – is relatively simple.  Mystery, drama, new character abilities, danger in combat; all things to get excited about.  Now don’t get me wrong.  Creating those elements takes some effort, and without those elements, there’s no excitement.  Vicious loop? Not really.  It starts at the beginning 😉

What I mean by that is that getting excited about the campaign does not happen during the campaign.  If you’re not excited to get started, then you’re likely not going to start 🙂  The excitement has to be there when the campaign starts.  So, you create an idea for your campaign.  You discuss that idea with your players and they create characters they want to be part of the campaign.  The excitement builds and off you go.

Maintaining that excitement does require effort, but it’s not like what it takes to set up the campaign story and get the players excited at the beginning.  After that, it’s about generating scenarios and challenges that move the story along to its completion.  Inspiration for that is rooted in the story itself – something you already have – and the feedback from the players among whatever other sources of inspiration a DM/GM might use.

Pacing is a very important element for a successful campaign.  Pacing can truly make or break a campaign.  And what is pacing?

Pacing in a tabletop role-playing game is the “speed”, if you will, that the game moves and the story unfolds.  Pace is influenced by the story itself, the players & DM/GM and the game system being used.  And the kicker is that it does not remain constant.  It can even be slow… when necessary.

Pace can make or break a campaign (Stated twice now for emphasis).  The pace of any given game night must be appropriate to what’s going on in the campaign.  There isn’t a minimum or maximum pace.  There isn’t a prescribed pace setting to maintain for a campaign.  The game/campaign needs to move along at the correct speed for what’s going on.  Moving too fast in a part of the story/campaign that has a lot of important detail can cause players to miss things that could be key to the next challenge/adventure.  Moving too slow in a part of the story/campaign that should be upbeat and intense can cause boredom.  When the players are bored, the campaign suffers… a lot.

The pace required for any given session must be quickly discovered and maintained.  A change in pace also needs to be picked up quickly, too, and the appropriate adjustment made. If you miss the mark, then the campaign, or at the least, the game session, can suffer.  It’s okay for it to happen once in a while.  Sometimes it’s tough to get a finger on the pulse of any one scene, adventure or session. Remember that there are many factors to consider to set the proper pace.  But missing the pace mark regularly will likely end a campaign sooner than later.  This is because the players miss things or get bored and the DM/GM gets frustrated trying to figure out why his/her campaign is taking a header for the toilet.

I know that last sounds a bit harsh, but it’s true.  When the excitement and interest in a tabletop RPG campaign drops, game sessions become more work than fun for the DM/GM.  The players become uncomfortable because they aren’t having any fun, either, and are likely trying not to say anything.  Nobody wants to have to speak up and call out out the DM/GM for a campaign that is no longer interesting.

So, pace is key.  Even if the story is a little lacking in danger, drama or mystery… you know… excitement 😉  Keeping the proper pace can really help get through a “dry spell”.  And vice versa…  With a really exciting scenario unfolding, if the pace is wrong for what’s going on, that excitement can be drained away so fast you can’t believe it.

Is keeping up the excitement and pace for your campaign a tough thing to accomplish?  Not really.  I think I handle it okay, so it can’t be that tough.  Learning how to keep a good balance comes with experience for sure, but paying attention during a session is the trick.  What do I mean by paying attention?

The group, DM/GM included, gets involved with the story, the game system or the socializing or any combination of those things when at the table.  That involvement is fun and interesting.  The problem this can create, though, is that not everybody in the group is necessarily involved in the same thing at the same time.  As examples, sometimes one or two members are socializing, either between themselves or on social media (distracted).  Sometimes some members of the group get caught up in some part of the story and want to discuss it in detail where others don’t.  When the group gets “out of sync”, it can create pacing problems.

It’s the DM’s job to keep the group on track when things at the table go off the rails a bit.  So, that means the DM has to always pay some attention to the group, campaign and game as a whole no matter the distractions at hand.  Do you see what I mean?  There’s the involvement in the various things going on at the table, and then there’s the overall pace and mood of the game session and the portion of the campaign going on in that session.  The job is to allow for a little of all of it, but not at the expense of the campaign and game as a whole.  It’s okay to let things go for a bit, but as a DM, you should always be guiding the group through the story and keeping everybody involved.  You have to set the proper pace to help keep everybody focused.

That’s where the experience comes in, and that’s what new DMs must learn.  Like I said, it’s not that tough.  You just have to be paying a little attention to everything going on at the table.  If I can do it, anybody can.

I hope this helps some of you gamer folks out there.  If this can help a group out there improve their game sessions and overall experience, then I’m glad I shared my thoughts on excitement and pacing.

Thanks for giving this a read.  If you liked it, please click that like button to let me know.  If you have something to say or have a question, leave it in the comment section or send me a message.  I’ll be very happy to talk to you.  A conversation is always better than a monologue 🙂

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Drive-By Blogging

I thought I would swing by and say, “Hi.”

Hi!

So… I’ve got a couple of Game Night posts brewing, but I haven’t gotten them finished just yet.  I’ve got a couple more tabletop gaming topics that I thought were worth discussing.  Those should be along shortly.

We have not had any actual game nights since my last post, either.  There’s been a mishmash of life events that’s kept one player or another in the group from being able to join us on our designated night. In deference to that, we simply have not had a game night since session 16.  While we have added a fourth player to the group, I have not felt like we could get away with having a “pocket character” with the other three for a night.  Things are going on in the game that need “all hands on deck” right now, and I don’t want anyone to miss any of it.

So, we all suffer…  O_o

Time to get busy, I guess.  The holidays are coming.  With my family and I, that’s always a little busy.  The obvious things like Christmas shopping and such are beginning to happen.  Also, now that Texas has been taken out of the oven, there are things to do around the house that the raging summer heat makes… difficult.  The weekends are now pretty active until June when the heat of summer comes back.

With the busier weekends, most of my writing, including my D&D campaign stuff, gets done during the week.  I also work full time.  So, that leaves me a few hours or less each weeknight to get things done (Unless y’all wanna pay me to write full time 🙂 ).  I have to be ready for game night.  And then there’s this here blog thingy.  Plus, I’m easily distracted and/or sometimes just tired from the day job.

Anyway, I didn’t want to neglect the blog thingy and wanted to let you know there’s more coming ASAP.  I hope you’re all doing well.  I’m doing okay.

As always, don’t forget to click the like button if you like what you’ve read here.  If you got a question or comment, by all means put it up here for me.  I’m always happy to have a conversation.  Thanks for hanging with me.

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Game Night, Sessions 14-16, Zombies & A Bug, Oh My!

A little catching up is in order since there has been 3 game nights since my last post… sorry about that.  I’ve let that pesky “normal life” thing get in the way of things 😉

Lysandra, Bran, Fang and Theren team up quite well and go to work to finish off the zombies.  Then there is a pesky bug to stop, and, of course, that’s not all…

The group work their way from the tower out to the remainder of the zombies.  Theren makes good use of his sensory link to Tolthas for recon.

It takes very little time to find the remaining ogre zombies and reanimated villagers. They pull out all the stops for a final fight with the zombies.  Fang makes good use of a spell of entanglement to help slow down the lumbering ogre zombies.  With the group numbering four now, dispatching zombies takes far less time and less sacrifice of blood.

The bug creature is spotted soon after the last zombie falls.  The group decides that the bug cannot escape.  They pursue it and engage it.

The bug decides to try and dispatch the group quickly by conjuring a poison fog.  Bran takes the brunt of the poison while the rest resist it to some degree.  Once again, Fang comes through with a spell to conjure a globe of swirling winds around him.  Using it disperses a significant amount of the poison fog quickly.  Lysandra heals Bran and they head into melee with the bug.

The bug is not stupid.  It sees that the group is more capable than it thought, given how they dispatched the poison cloud so fast.  But it will not let a group of lesser meat sacks conquer it and it relishes the fight.

Bran, Theren, Fang and Lysandra realize quickly that the bug creature is strong and a capable fighter, but they don’t want it to escape.  Again, Bran’s combat prowess proves very valuable as he doles out damage despite the bug creature’s naturally heavy armor.  It’s carapace is strong and thick.

Ultimately, the group prove themselves the better combatants.  The bug creature falls to the onslaught, clearly underestimating them.

A quick search of the body reveals, among other things of value, a note…

“Find the Chosen.  Set a trap to test their abilities.  Report back. –Erebus”

Apparently the bug was not supposed to kill the group, AND it was supposed to survive…

Questions about this immediately come to their minds.  Then they notice smoke near the lake shore and realize it’s near where Fisk put them ashore and is still waiting for their return.

Lysandra spies a villager returning from one of the hiding spots in the woods to see what has happened.  She let’s him know that the villagers are now safe, tells him to find her father and runs off with the group to find out what is amiss by the lake shore.

At the lake shore they find that Captain Fisk’s boat has been burned to the waterline and there is no sign of him.  They scout the area and discover Krell footprints.  Again, more questions fill their minds as they consider the possibility that Kogan has tracked them here and possibly murdered their ally from Piketon.

Suddenly uncertain about what to do next, they return to South Haven to discuss things and answer some questions for Lysandra. She bears the sigil of Mentari’s Secret on her left hand like them, but knows nothing else.  She wants the rest of the group to fill her in.

Lysandra is relieved to find her father unharmed, and after talking with some of the villagers about what happened and that things now appeared to be safe, the group is invited to rest and recover as needed.

There is concern over how this bug creature and its zombies knew to show up in the village.  There is concern over how Kogan also managed to catch up with them.  But they still have no idea how this is happening.  The group feels compelled to get to Welandar City and find the hidden library in the castle dungeon.  Based on what they do know and Mert’s instructions, getting to that book should provide some insight as to what might be going on.

With Lysandra brought up to speed – which convinces her to join in their quest, they hire a river boat pilot to take them down the Welandar River to the kingdom capital.  Lysandra says goodbye to her father and the group, now numbering four, continue their trek toward Welandar City to find a secret book in a secret library.

Night one of the trip sees them camping on the river bank. They have to deal with the recurring shared dreams that come to haunt them in their sleep and remind them that darkness is coming.  Otherwise, it is a peaceful night of camping.

There next stop is the trading town of Fork.  The riverboat pilot lands them at the docks below the town of Fork and the group makes plans to spend the night there before continuing on to Welandar City.

The walled town of Fork is a bustling trade town located at the confluence of the Welandar River and the Border River.  There are also a couple of roads that converge here.  The town never completely sleeps due to merchants and traders arriving and leaving around the clock to move goods from Fork to other parts of the Kingdom and those with whom they trade.

So, the group do a little shopping and set themselves up to spend the night in one of the busier inns near the market area.  Lysandra has been concerned that Theren does not like her given his standoffish personality and the fact that their “trades” are very different (she is a cleric of Nira the Life Giver; he is a warlock that has made a pact with an eldritch being of power).  She purchases a nice scroll case to give him as a gift of friendship.  She hopes that he will appreciate it and use it to protect the special scroll he carries.  This does not seem to be the case when Lysandra presents the gift to Theren…

While in Fork, discussion of where they should go comes up again.  The need to find allies and information is very evident.  The concern about if and/or how they are being tracked has grown significant.  The group is not certain that going straight to Welandar City to find a way into the secret library is the best course of action anymore.  They consider going to Braiton, where this all started, to talk with Perry, the man who helped get all this started.  They also consider the possibility that being near Perry, a known ally, might help deal with the threat that Kogan has become.  They can also get word back to Piketon through Perry about Captain Fisk.

As they continue downriver toward Welandar City, they are ambushed by Krell from the river bank. Bran, Theren, Lysandra and Fang quickly realize that these Krell aren’t ordinary.  They are well trained soldiers and very capable with the weapons at their disposal.  There also gets the strange feeling he had when Slythis – and now Kogan – was nearby.  This reinforces the idea that Kogan is carrying some sort of talisman that has influence over him like the bone dagger had over Slythis.  There is also some concern about what sort of changes Kogan is undergoing… like Slythis did.

The battle between the riverboats and the bank is tough.  The Krell soldiers are well trained and do not get shaken in the face of adversity.  It is initially uncertain if the group can defeat these soldiers… until Fang calls upon his druidic powers and sets upon the Krell with a beam of radiant energy from the sky.  The damage he is able to deal levels the playing field and allows for the group to begin shifting the flow of the fight.

In the end, Lysandra’s healing power, Bran’s combat prowess, Theren’s ability with eldritch magic and Fang’s radiant energy spell overwhelm the Krell soldiers.  They fall except for one that had remained hidden during the fight, and that one is noticed running away from the river through the woods.  They know he will be reporting back to an absent Kogan.  Where was Kogan?  Theren felt a presence, but the group never saw him.  They begin to wonder about the tactics being used by Kogan.

After scouting the area of the fight, they float a little further downriver for another night of camping.  Sometime the next day they will be at the entrance to Welandar City.  Then what?

So, what now?  As of right now the group is sticking with the plan of going to Welandar City to start figuring out a way into the secret library.  They are at a loss as to how the bug and Kogan keep finding them.  The encounter with Kogan and his soldiers makes some sense; Kogan made the assumption that they would head to South Haven and then downriver to Welandar City.  The group’s route took them from Piketon to Lon-Kar and THEN to South Haven, a route that took them along the edge of The Great Lake.  Kogan only had to cross the lake from Piketon.

But how did the bug know where to go? Did it know that the group would be there or just Lysandra who has lived there all her life until now? Who is Erebus?  By what means are they being tracked?  What will Kogan become if he has a talisman like the one that transformed Slythis?  What will they find in Welandar City?  How can they convince the right people to let them into the castle and look for a secret royal library?

Stay tuned 😉

As always, if you like what you’ve read here, let me know by clicking the like button.  If you have a question or comment, by all means speak up.  I would love to hear from you.

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Game Night: Player Connection

cropped-game-dice.jpg HeadScratcher Joystick

What separates the tabletop RPG from the video game RPG?

The depth of the connection…

When video game capabilities – graphics, audio, etc. – started soaring, I honestly wondered if the tabletop RPG was going to, if not outright die, get close to death.  Within the scope of my awareness, I noticed that friends of mine and my daughter’s and people we know, in general, were steadily gravitating toward video game RPGs versus tabletop RPGs like D&D.  It made some sense to me that the younger generations might do this, but I was a little surprised when my friends and acquaintances (folks my age) – and in many cases, fellow tabletop gamers – started going for the video games over the tabletop.

That was not the case with me.  First, it was partly due to the fact that I had very limited money to spend on video games, etc.  I couldn’t buy all the latest hot video game RPGs that were out.  The ones I got I enjoyed a lot,  but the second reason, and likely the biggest reason for me, came into play.  It was the fact that I just didn’t see the appeal of the video game over the theater of the mind that I could conjure at the tabletop.  And this is why I decided to bring it up here…

With some of the newer video games out there, I’ll have to admit that the separation between video game and tabletop is definitely not as large as it used to be.  The graphics are better than ever.  The sound in some of these games is exquisite.  There are some well-written stories out there, too, for the RPG genre of video games.  So, the immersion is pretty good and playing such a video game RPG can be a pretty awesome experience.

BUT…

The experience at the tabletop, in my opinion, can simply be next level.

The more “massive” a video game RPG becomes the more open it feels.  What I’m saying is that, in some cases, the more complex and intelligent the programming and the more content that developers cram into a video game, the more it appears to portray a fluid and open world.  That is, of course, IF it is well written and there are many player options built in.

The fluidity and openness of  the tabletop RPG, though, is only limited by the DM/GM and the players.  It’s their combined imagination that creates the world, the theme, the setting and the action.  Those characteristics can change in a moments notice at the tabletop when a scenario drives it to.  The depth of the world and the possible options of where the characters go and who or what they interact with in a tabletop RPG are technically boundless.  The video game RPG, however, is still limited by its programming.  There are a certain number of options and that’s it.  Not necessarily a bad thing to be sure, but there are NO limits at the table and in the theater of the mind.

Now when it comes to visual and aural stimulation, I will again tip my hat to the video game RPG.  Like I mentioned above, the graphics, sound and music have become incredible with 4K high-definition and 5.1 (or more) digital surround (yes, many of these games contain this stuff now).  There is little need to try and imagine what the evil dragon looks like because it’s been rendered in stunning detail on the screen.  You can hear and almost feel the concussion of the fireball when it bursts into “existence” at the mage’s command. The clang of sword on sword echoing through the mountains during an epic battle is pretty awesome.

But the video game is still limited and, ultimately, fixed in its scope.  Even with a significant number of options, there is always a chance that the player finds a limit – a choice that the programming does not allow for.  It’s that limit that can hurt the experience.  Beside that, what about the gray areas?  The video game gives you choices, but not all the subtle options between choice A and choice B 😉

I think that is where the tabletop RPG can outshine the video game every time.  The ability to find the path between the paths and make the experience your own is always possible in the tabletop RPG.  This can help create a much deeper connection to the character for the player, not to mention the connection it can form with the DM/GM, other players and the world that has been created and continues to evolve in “real-time” inside their imagination.

There is also a deeper emotional attachment and sense of accomplishment with the game and the characters in the tabletop RPG.  One reason for this is the additional investment that must be made in creating a character.  While video games have come a long way in character creation, the limited scope and fixed options stifle the depth of character exploration that can be achieved in the tabletop game.  Again, the detail and subtle aspects of character background and personality are only limited by the player’s investment in the creation of his or her character for a tabletop RPG.  Plus, the video game has a fixed set of rules and options.  The tabletop RPG rules and options can be tweaked and things added on the fly allowing for unique character abilities that simply aren’t available in a video game.

While the DM/GM can’t render beautiful graphics and create killer sound for the tabletop experience, the intensity and drama are still there.  The players have spent time creating their characters, and the effort has helped them get to know those characters.  The DM/GM has spent time and effort creating the campaign world and learning about the players’ characters alongside them during creation.  Character backgrounds are created and integrated into the campaign world which further strengthens the connections of DM to players to characters to world.  So when the characters are in danger, the players, who are now a little attached to their characters, get concerned and tense.  They don’t want those characters to die.  All that energy put into those characters has meaning and the players and DM want to see them win the battle and get the fame and fortune.

Don’t get me wrong.  There is some of that element in video games, especially in the newer ones that are much better developed.  But the next character is just a few button clicks away and the options for those characters are still limited to what the game was programmed to provide.  Again, that can take away from the player when he or she finds that limit.  While the video game is still great fun, the connection between character and player is likely not as deep.  And… well… the DM/GM is the program, not another person working with the player to add as much depth and color as their imagination can provide.

So, what do you think? Am I way off base here?  Have you ever played a tabletop RPG?  Have you ever played a video game RPG?  Which is more appealing to you?  I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.  Let’s see if this old dog who’s stuck in the old days of pencil and paper at the tabletop to play in a world of cyberpunk, swords & sorcery or whatever can learn something new.

As always, if you like what you’ve read here, let me know by clicking the like button.  I really want to hear from you, so leave me a comment.  I want to know what you think about what I’ve posted.  A conversation is always better than a monologue…

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Game Night… Consent?

I need to mention, up front, that I have not downloaded this thing from Monte Cook games (yet), so some of the thoughts that have been formed in my head are based on the threads/arguments/rants that I have read.  Please, forgive AND inform me if I have something skewed.

I’ve been playing tabletop role-playing games for over 3 decades.  Too say the least, I’m old… school. So when this RPG CONSENT CHECKLIST was published by Monte Cook Games and all the discussions began, I admittedly scratched my head.

Image result for rpg consent checklist

It just didn’t make sense to me.  Part of the reason for that was some of the more volatile threads I was seeing concerning using or not using this checklist and simply the point of it in the first place.  I just didn’t see why some folks felt the need to make all the proverbial noise they were making.  It’s just gaming.  Each to their own…

The other reason was that “old… school” thing.  Of all the gaming groups I have been with over the years, I just couldn’t recall a need for something like a consent checklist, and that included groups that were mixed with adults and kids and/or male and female.  If there was some concern over a type of content in the game, there was a discussion (group and/or individual) and we moved on with adjustments made.

As a DM/GM, I have always been upfront about the content of my campaigns.  When there was an issue over something in my campaign, it was discussed.  We resolved the issue and continued on.  The resolution was not always perfect, but I never passed judgement on those that brought up the issue.  I never felt any need.  I would rather work something out and understand the issue rather than be a jerk and hurt feelings and lose players.  So, maybe that’s why I’m initially uncertain about the value of this checklist.

With that said…

This checklist could be quite useful when trying to form a new group.  It is a convenient collection of possible contents in a campaign that a person can go through and give their acceptance (or lack thereof) to in a written form that the DM/GM can quickly read and get a preliminary understanding of potential player requirements.  He/She can then go through and choose players that appear to be the best fit for the intended content of the campaign.

When you don’t know people, admitting being squeamish or having issues with certain content might sometimes be difficult.  So, having a form like this makes it a little less personal than having to explain issues face to face.  It’s a win then and carries some value.

I don’t know that I will use it since I am the type of person that is more than willing to discuss these things directly and without judgement.  But if a possible player approached me and gave a checklist to me, I would not be offended in the least.  Some folks are just better at communicating that way.  I would go over it and see it as an opportunity to begin a conversation with that person/potential player.

That brings me to the next point I’d like to make…

Who gives a shit if some people want to use this checklist and some don’t?  I guess I don’t see the point of all the “angst” this has seemed to create.  It’s a tool that can be used or not.  It might help some socially awkward folks better communicate with potential gaming groups about concerns they have over the content of a game.  If it helps better inform, what’s the problem?  If you don’t want to use it, so what?  It’s up to the individual to decide whether to use this checklist and whether to try and interact with other individuals that decide the opposite way.  If you don’t like how a DM/GM handles things, you don’t have to be a part of that group… walk away.

Look.  I understand that gaming has many personal facets to it.  I have gotten to know gamers over the years way better sometimes than casual friends. It’s amazing what you learn about people when you play RPGs with them. There is potential to strike some deep chords with individuals with certain types of situations, even if it is just in a game.  I have even creeped myself out while running a game because of situations the players helped me create.  I understand where this checklist idea probably came from.

I still don’t understand why, though, this has seemed to boil up like it has.  I think some folks are being too rash about this.  I don’t think it’s right or wrong to use or not use a checklist like this.  I don’t think it’s right or wrong to have conversations about possible content in a game before starting that game.  I don’t think it’s right or wrong to have a combination of these things.  I don’t see a reason to judge people either way.

The fear of being a bit vulnerable is, I guess, why this seemed to escalate.  When there is concern over the content of a game, folks with the concern must admit that concern making themselves feel, at least, a bit vulnerable.  Just discussing the possible use of this checklist makes folks think about vulnerability, and I suppose, opinions are strong because of it.

Again, though, I’m going to admit to not understanding the tension this has created.  Some people like the idea of the checklist, some don’t.  There’s no need to argue about whether it should be used and be butt-hurt if there is disagreement.  Quite frankly, if you’re going to try and ram your side of an argument down my throat, I’m not going to be interested in wanting you around as a fellow gamer (or person) anyway.

Everybody has the freedom to choose.  Gamers can choose with whom they will group up.  If part of the criteria for joining or not joining a group is the use of the checklist, so be it.  You do you, and I’ll do me.

I would appreciate hearing from you folks about his.  Do I have this wrong?  What other insight is there concerning the consent checklist in gaming?

As always, if you like what you’ve read here, click the like button.  If you have something to say about this post, please, leave a comment.  I always want to hear what other people think.  Conversation is much more fun than monologue.

Type to you later 🙂

Game Night, Session 13; Where’s The Off Switch???

So, in the down time with Fang’s player being out of pocket, we invited another player to join us.  She’s either a glutton for punishment, or… I. DON’T. KNOW. 😉

Welcome, player of Lysandra Bellatore; human cleric of Nira the Life-Bringer!

We ended session 12 during a lull in the fight against the zombie hoard that had formed in South Haven.  Theren, Bran and Fang had taken down an Ogre zombie and several zombies that they suspected were local villagers that had been killed and animated by some nefarious means.

Lysandra’s player was brought in on Sunday night for session 13.  But as DM, I don’t like to just throw another character in the group.  Lysandra Bellatore is actually from South Haven.  Lysandra’s player finds her new character in a bit of a predicament…

Bran, Fang and Theren take a breather as the last zombie in the first wave falls at the base of the bridge.  Bran looks around and spots a stone defense tower a short run from the bridge up the river bank.  It looks like it’s meant to defend against anybody that might try to cause trouble to South Haven from the river.  Bran let’s the others know that he thinks that would be a good spot to regroup and figure out how to handle the rest of the zombies.

Before they can get moving, Bran and Theren believe they hear a woman yelling for help…

***

Lysandra Bellatore’s eyes flutter open.  She feels battered and bruised, but otherwise unhurt.  She instantly realizes that she is having a hard time catching her breath and that she is heavily pinned down.  It seems that after whatever knocked her out decided to collapse a house on her.  The memory of that insect-like creature striking her flashes through her mind.

Before Lysandra allows herself to panic, though, she listens and looks around at her situation.  She hears movement nearby and someone shouting in the distance, but she can’t see from underneath the rubble.  She then tests some movement to see if she can get out from underneath the rubble easily.  “Easy” is NOT going to happen.

Again, stifling panic, she prays to Nira for the strength to break free.  Whether the goddess hears her or not, Lysandra calms herself and gathers all the strength she has.  She begins to push against the collapsed wall.  It moves.  She pushes more until she feels her strength about to give out, but as she is about to give up, the wall moves enough for her to wriggle free.

Lysandra lies still on the ground for a moment, breathing deeply and thankful to be free of the wreckage that was once her neighbor’s home.

She then gets up and takes in her surroundings.  She’s looking for the source of the shouting she heard before.  She suddenly realizes that there are zombies – one particularly large zombie – uncomfortably close to her.  She also sees the group a short run across the village from her.  The zombies are between them and her.

With the decision made to risk drawing undue zombie attention, Lysandra sprints toward the group and calls out to them.

***

Bran, Theren and Fang begin their move to the stone defense tower when they hear a woman shouting for help.  They see her running toward them… THROUGH the zombies.

A sudden change of plans to “rescue the girl” is executed and the group joins the fray.

Quite a battle ensues with damage given and taken, but two ogre zombies along with several human zombies begins to shift the odds even against the group now counting 4.  So, they break from the battle and rush for the stone tower as planned.

Upon reaching the tower, the original trio introduce themselves to Lysandra who reciprocates.  Then they begin trying to figure out how to handle the zombies.

Bran, being a trained soldier decides to make use of the two ballistae mounted on the top of the tower for use against enemies striking from the river.  His skills prove very effective as significant amounts of damage are dealt to the ogre zombies.

In short order, the battle will be at the base of the tower…

And this is where we ended the night, right after Lysandra, whose combat effectiveness was thwarted throughout the evening by the dice rolls, took one final shot at one of the ogre zombies.  She rolled a critical hit to end the night.  Let’s hope that continues in the next session 😉

It took a short time to get Lysandra and her player “synced up” in Fantasy Grounds (character creation and learning the interface).  Then the combat took the remainder of the evening.  Tabletop players will understand.  For the layman, D&D (and other RPGs) combat mechanics can get involved, especially when the group wants to switch from theater of the mind to something a bit more interactive and tactical.  FG has the ability to work through combat encounters with exceptional capability of simulating D&D 5E combat mechanics, so why not use them 😉

Session 14 should see the conclusion of the fight with the zombies… one way or the other.  While the group is in a slightly more defensible position, nearly mindless zombies will simply begin working on the tower to bring it down until they can get to their intended targets.  Then there is the bug-like creature that appears to be the reason for the creation of the zombie hoard…

If you like what you’ve read here, let me know by hitting the like button.  If you have questions or comments, please, post them for me.  A conversation is so much more fun than a monologue.

Type to you later…