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…

Type to you later.

Advertisements

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 🙂

That’s NOT How I Thought It Would Go…

After my last game night and post about Game Night, Session 6, I got to thinking about how the story unfolded during the game.  It did not play out how I thought it likely would.  That is the gift and curse of tabletop role-playing games (RPGs).

A quick primer on tabletop RPGs…

For those that don’t know, a tabletop RPG is a game where a group of people play/act out an adventure/story as a group of characters they have created.  These characters are the heroes/villains of the story.  The “game” part is the rules system that helps determine the outcome of actions the characters take during this adventure when there is a chance of failure or success.  The “play/act” part is basically “theater of the mind”.  A character is created with attributes linked to the game system rules.  The player adds color and depth to the character that is appropriate to the setting in which the story/adventure takes place.  Then the group sits around the table talking about what their characters do as the story plays out.  The role-playing is when each player assumes the role of his/her character in the story.

Then the “other player” is the Dungeon Master (DM) or Game Master (GM).  It’s the DM who acts as referee for the game system and manages the rest of the game world in which the players play their characters.  This person is responsible for supplying the setting and general plot hooks for the adventure/story in which the characters are the heroes/villains.

That’s what I do.  I’m the DM.

Back to the point of this 😉

So, anyway, session 6 was meant to be a showdown with Slythis – the villain that was harassing the characters as they tried to make their way to a town (Piketon) a good distance from their home town (Braiton) to get information about the plot they find themselves in.  As the events unfolded in the past game nights, the players decided it was time to force a direct encounter with this menace.

And so, as DM, I worked to accommodate just that.  I fleshed out Slythis for game mechanics (needed to determine the outcome of the pending fight).  I also set things up so that the group of 3 had some potential allies (the merchant and his group) for the pending fight.  Finally, I made a few notes about how I thought the encounter should happen.  That involved an attempt by Slythis to infiltrate the camp by stealth and make surprise attacks.  Then the fight would ensue, and hopefully, the outcome would be a victory for the players.

Well… ultimately… that is kind of what happened… kind of. . . …

This is where the game mechanics come in… I rolled dice as prescribed by the game system rules to determine if Slythis could slip into the camp area undetected for his surprise attack.  He could not.  In fact, he was detected much sooner than that because Theren reminded me of the fact that he could sense the nasty magical dagger Slythis used.  That was part of the story I helped create. On top of that, my rolls for his stealth were not good enough to beat rolls by the characters standing watch to see if they detected the presence of an enemy.

Yep, the encounter went right off my intended path (the curse part of tabletop RPGs… anything can happen).  Now I had to start winging it based on the information about Slythis up to this point and reacting to the players’ actions with their characters.  On top of that, the merchant’s group now had to become more than just “warm bodies” for the fight.  They had to be more… dynamic.  That really is the “gift” part of tabletop RPGs.  Now even I, as DM – the creator of the base story, had no real idea what was going to happen next.

When I run a tabletop RPG, I consider myself just one component of the story.  Sure, I have to create the setting (or use published material as an aid) and kick off a scenario/plot.  But I rely on the players to help create the story.  It is OUR story and adventure.

Nope, it did not go how I thought it would go.  But that might have been the best part the other night.  I wasn’t sure how it was going to play out.  So, in spite of my plans/ideas, even I can’t wait to find out what happens next 🙂

Thanks for taking your time to read this.  Let me know what you think.  Click that like button and/or leave a comment.  A conversation is typically better than a monologue 😉

 

Oops… It’s been a bit

O_o

Sorry…

I didn’t realize how long it’s been since my last post.  I’ve been caught up in other stuff, I guess.  And when I’ve had time to do something like… I don’t know… MAKE A F@CKING POST… I seem to be doing other things.

I have no excuses. I have simply let myself not write a post <shrugs sheepishly>

So, anyway…

The virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans went okay.  Our 6-man team had fun and brought the car home in pretty good shape; that was our goal.  We didn’t have a ton of drama or intense racing, but we gained positions in a split that was much tougher than we thought it would be.

D&D

The group played a short session the other night.  Differences have been worked out, I guess, because it was the same group.  That, in my opinion, is a good thing.

There is not much to mention since we were mostly recapping and getting our heads back into the game.  Besides, I had to cut it short to watch my St. Louis Blues win the Stanley Cup (HELL YEAH!!!).

What is worth mentioning, though, is that the group has decided to try and force a showdown with their goblin stalker, Slythis.  We left the session with them working out a camping situation on the road to Piketon.  A small merchant group is sharing their camp site – the chosen site for this possible encounter.  This merchant and his guards are well-equipped and seasoned.  They are, at the moment, considered by Bran, Fang and Theren to be an asset for the pending confrontation with Slythis and his nasty dagger.  We are planning on running session 6 Sunday night.  I will definitely let you know how things turn out.

Well, I guess that’s it for the moment.  Again, I’m sorry for not keeping up with my posts.  I’ll get myself back in a better routine 😉

Race Day! When’s Game Night?

Hey.  Wassup?  I hope shit’s going good 🙂

I guess things are going okay for me.  There are few complaints, I suppose.

Anyway, I decided to “bark” a little bit about the next couple of hobby things going on for me.

First, is my next endurance race.  iRacing is putting on its yearly version of the 24 Hours of Le Mans this coming Saturday (tomorrow, actually), and Delta-V will be in the BMW M8 GTE car.  I know y’all aren’t all that into auto racing, so I’ll keep this short.  I’ve been practicing this week, and I think I’m ready to turn some laps.  The possible problem the team has right now, though, is kind of a lack of team.  As of this moment, there are only 3 of us getting ready to race Saturday.  The other members of the team have been quiet.  There has been no chatter from them about their availability, if any, for some stints throughout the 24-hour time period.

I think we can complete the race with 3 guys, but it’s gonna be tough.  That’s a lot of time in the virtual race car for each of us plus time one of the teammates puts in as support/spotter while another is driving.  I don’t think I’m going to get much sleep Saturday :-/

Second…  the D&D game.

I think this next week I will break my “silence” and question my two estranged players about their situation in relation to returning to the “table” for D&D game night.  If there is no reconciliation between the two, I am going to take steps to acquire a replacement player for at least one of them.  I feel bad that they cannot work things out, but I am no longer going to hold off for them.  The other player and I want to game.

I’ll keep you up to date.

As always, I appreciate questions and/or comments.  Thanks for taking the time to “listen”.

Not Sure What’s Next for Game Night

I discovered yesterday evening that the next D&D game night (Session 5, this coming Sunday) has to be cancelled.  There was an unfortunate issue (outside of the game) between two members of the group.  I’m not sure if things will be resolved any time soon based on what I have learned.  That means I’m not sure if/when there will be another D&D game night for our Gods Save the King campaign.

The reason for putting the campaign on hold is that there were only 4 of us – me as the DM and the other 3 as players.  I have built the next couple of adventures in the campaign around the 3 players, so lacking one on any game night creates a significant hole in things for both the story and the needs of the game (a lack of “firepower” if you will).

If there are 4 players, the occasional miss by one player can usually be dealt with.  But losing one of three is far more noticeable.  Besides, I don’t want any of my players to miss out on any of the story they appear to be enjoying.  I’m guessing the gamers out there reading this get it.  I can only hope I’ve explained it enough for the non-gamers.  If not, let me know.

So, what’s next then?

I don’t know exactly.  I can honestly say that I am kind of down and out about this situation.  I was way happier than I realized about ‘returning to the table”.  And now, all of a sudden, the future of the game is uncertain at best.  It sucks.  Tabletop RPGaming is something I really love to do and the game I managed to cobble together with my gamer friends is on hold at best, or over at worst.

Part of me wants to get angry over the situation these two created, but it’s not an issue involving me… it’s between them.  I respect that.  I just don’t like it.

Part of me wants to channel that anger, say, “fuck it,” and go form a local group.  Maybe I should find local people that want to try something like D&D. I enjoy teaching people about tabletop RPGs.  I could also just do it online using Fantasy Grounds.  Since I am paying for an “ultimate” version, anybody that plays with me can use the software for free.

But I want to game with my friends.  I mean I might make some new friends by searching for new players, but that’s not exactly what I want.  I wanted to share this fun with my long-time friends.  I’m just not sure how this is going to work out.

I think I will continue to work on the campaign world.  I have a ton of details and depth I can add to the existing world.  With that new mapping software I have, I can create all the maps I want and help bring my world to “life”. :-/

I will continue to build the campaign arc, too, I suppose.  The story arc, though, is difficult to create sometimes without regular game sessions since the players help create some of the story as we play.  But I will try.

I suppose I will give this issue a couple of weeks to let things cool off and/or settle, but not much more than that.  I want to run a game 🙂

I know this sounds kind of selfish.  I don’t mean it to sound completely that way.  These two are friends, and I don’t want the falling out to be a permanent thing for them.  But all I can do is operate from my point of view and do what I need to do to move along.  It could be difficult to maintain a friendship with both of them, too, if things don’t get resolved.  Another reason I’m stressing… my concern over where this is headed for our little group.

Any thoughts or advice out there? I would appreciate some insight from others.

Thanks for “listening”

Sorry for Being Idle

Business… laziness… not writing a blog when I’m near my computer…

Those are the reasons/excuses for no posts recently.  I’m sorry about that… mostly.  I think y’all get it, though.  I got busy with some things.  I got a little lazy over the past couple of days.  When I was at my computer before that, I was doing other things for better or worse. Who can tell?

I do have game night, session 4 in the pipe. We actually played a week ago this past Sunday.

I have another post about my game world in the works, too.  It’s about the world’s pantheon… and maybe more.  I wanted to put some more depth/color out there for my gamers and my readers.

I also got a “shiny new toy”.  I bought Campaign Cartographer.  For the first time in over 20 years, my hand sketched maps and mind’s eye for this world are finally becoming “real”. I’m making the maps of this world as something that looks like a map out of an actual published campaign… so awesome to me.  Needless to say, there have been some hours sunk into that as I learn the software and make my vision into something others can see (and use, in the case of my gaming group).  I’ll come up with a way for y’all to see it, too, if you want.

Anyway, just wanted to do a “drive-by” blogging to let y’all know that I ain’t quit <grin>. So the suffering will continue 😛

Catch y’all hopefully sooner than later 😉