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Tips For Gaming With Kids

Over the last 4 years I have looked into running games for my kids frequently. I have tried a few times and I have learned a bit about running games for young kids. The first rule to running games for kids is they just want to have fun. 

Knowing that all kids want to do is have fun you have to know a few other things about kids. So here are some questions to ask yourself about the kids you are going to play with.

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Gaming Conventions for 2019, and This Weeks Video Ideal # of Players

With Dungeons and Dragons being played in a Castle oversees I have loved seeing the short video clips and pictures of the festivities. There are so many great events going on out there. I really love that they are doing things like this.

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RPG Prep Road Block

I have been trying to prep for my Saturday home game of Dungeons and Dragons for awhile. I've had ideas but felt stumped which is a frequent problem in this campaign for some reason. Been analyzing why it seems so difficult for me and I can't quite put my finder on it. A lot of sessions I have had to improv because I couldn't come up with anything ahead of time I felt would be good. So tonight in a chat on G+ Hangouts that was posted by Chepe in the Tabletop RPG One Shot Group I asked people for feedback. Some of the potential reasons for my road block that were suggested were as follows...

  1. Maybe I haven't made my story personal enough to the characters.
  2. Maybe I give too much info at times.
  3. Maybe I should focus on the little things more.
  4. Maybe I should invest more into individual NPC's and let those interactions drive where the players take the story.

So I began to think about if my story has been personal enough for the characters. It clearly isn't. The story of the campaign is about a Long Forgotten God who has his body parts scattered around. There are rumors that he can be brought back to life. The players also know he may have suffered split personality disorder which also explains him being a Cleric and a Wizard. The players have stated it doesn't make sense that they would want to bring him back to life yet they have retrieved some of the body parts. There is a personal side quest I tried to get the players involved in but they didn't seem very interested in that either. Maybe this campaign is lacking that personal touch and I need to give them that.

If I am going to add some personal inspiration to the game there are many ways I can do this. Bring character family members into the mix. Get some background info from the players about their characters. Ask their characters in game why they adventure and what their characters life goals are.

Is it possible I info dump at times? Sure this is possible but I think the real problem with this is I can be quite vague or general about it. If I am going to info dump I should give them more info right? Give them the bits that will make it fun or interesting. Not just the info outright. Maybe make it a plot hook to go retrieve something.

I've played some great games that focused on the little things and I don't do this much in this game on purpose. Sometimes going on a quest to clear an area of bandits or goblins is just what the party needs. This can be a fun session and give some ok loot. It might not advance a story but it can lead to some fun interactions with an NPC as you build up a relationship between PCs and NPCs.

There is a great website by Johnn Four called Roleplaying Tips. You can go to the site and subscribe to his newsletter. Some of the things he recommends is always introducing a new NPC or two in a session as well as a plot hook or two a session. When he talks about the NPCs all NPCs should have a secret, and a descriptive trait. These NPCs should provide plot hooks for future games or the current one. NPCs can be the lifeblood of a campaign so focusing on them is a great way to get players invested in the story.

Some campaigns write themselves and prep is easy. Others for some reason or another seem more difficult. This group is awesome and I love my players. They are great people that I always look forward to getting together with so I want to provide the best experience possible for them. I want to thank Philip Posey of Maps & Dragons, Mike the Piper, and "Lumi Jo" Joseph Becker for helping me come up with some interesting ideas for my game Saturday.

Have you experienced RPG Prep Road Block? How did you overcome it? Where do you usually get caught up in prep? If you found this helpful be sure to leave a comment and share it with your RPG friends.

Why I Craft Terrain For D&D

I have had many people ask me why I craft terrain for Dungeons and Dragons games. This seems like a simple answer but there are so many reasons that I do it. The number one reason is I get personal enjoyment out of the act of crafting. The second reason is I get personal enjoyment out of seeing players reactions to the crafts. A third reason is it is relaxing actually crafting things. A fourth reason is that it can add some nice dynamics to a game that otherwise aren't there.

The personal enjoyment I get out of crafting is the best part for me. It is awesome being creative and getting ideas out there. When I begin a project I don't always know how it will come out. When I am finished though it is neat seeing what I could do. While I know I am not the best at crafting and am certainly not the most patient it is still pretty awesome seeing what I can do with some glue, cardboard, and paint.

The first time I slapped down some things I crafted on the table with my wife and my gaming group gave me a lot of motivation to do more. The first time I crafted anything it was for a 1 on 1 game with my wife. She had said before that she wasn't into miniatures or terrain but that game changed that. I incorporated a puzzle into the terrain too which she loved. The first time Nate from WASD20 (CLICK FOR HIS WEBSITE) saw my crafts he began to take photos of it all because he loved it. I love seeing their reactions to really cool things I have worked on.

Crafting can be very therapeutic. When I sit down to paint whether it is terrain or miniatures I feel at ease. It allows me to clear my head and not worry about anything else in my life. When I spend hours crafting the same thing happens. My focus goes to what I am making and the game I am going to run. It is the best way to escape reality I think. It is also a fantastic hobby that you can do with friends, children, spouses, or anyone really.

Painting Wargaming Figures
$23.43
By Javier Gomez Valero

My fourth reason and one of the better reasons is it allows players to visualize everything on the battle field. You don't have to worry about them not hearing your description of the boxes in the corner or the balcony they could swing off of because they can see it the whole time. This can help make for some really cinematic play if your players are adventurous like that. Plus changing up things like room shapes and sizes I feel has more impact in this scenario.

Those are just four of the reasons I enjoy crafting. I posed the question in the DMs Craft Facebook page and got some interesting answers like "chicks dig it" from my good friend DMG on YouTube. Go check out his amazing crafting channel. Also go join the DMs Craft Facebook page to see some excellent work by some of the best crafters I have ever seen.

If you want to see some of my crafts you can subscribe to me on YouTube as I post videos every now and then of things I have made. Hope you enjoyed this post.

Motivation For Prep, Painting Minis, and Crafting Terrain

My biggest struggle with gaming is motivating myself to do things like prep. This carries over to painting miniatures and crafting terrain as well which is something I love to do. Considering my preferred way to game is with miniatures, and terrain this makes things even more difficult for me. Coming up with inspiration is easy for me but motivating myself to sit down and unplug from the internet or television so I can prep, paint, or craft is the true struggle for me.

Realizing this is one of my biggest weaknesses I need to force myself to sit down and spend a night prepping for my various games. I think part of the reason I struggle to do these things is because I find that I need to be doing it so often for all of the games I run. D&D Encounters is run weekly, and I have two at home campaigns I am running. Then there are games I run online. Most of the time I can't prep while listening to Podcasts, or watching YouTube because I get distracted too easily. 

Prep can take me as short as 30 minutes or up to 3 hours depending on the adventure. 30 minutes if the players are possibly picking up where things left off and it wasn't finished. 3 hours if we wrapped things up in a previous session and I have no idea where things may go. I find that if I prep the introduction, and just the encounters the session runs a lot smoother than if I try to anticipate a bunch of potential directions the players may go.

Painting miniatures and crafting terrain is something I am not the best at. It is also a lengthy process for me to sit down and do it. My wife keeps the paint up stairs in her crafting desk. I keep my unpainted miniatures in a box in my basement. I don't have a designated area for painting miniatures at this time. The combination of these things makes it feel like I spend an hour just getting everything I need ready and in one place. Then cleaning up is just as taxing for me. 

Once I have my game space in the basement all set up I will be able to do my miniature painting, and terrain crafting much easier. Getting this stuff done I feel like may motivate me to prep a lot more too. So setting aside time once or twice a week to just sit down and prep, another night to paint or craft terrain should do the trick. The trick for me will be to set times in my schedule to do these things and force myself to see them through.

How do you motivate yourself to prep, paint miniatures, and craft terrain? Do you have a designated area for these things? If not do you think having a designated area would help you? If you do, does it help you to sit down and just jump right into things?

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One On One, Solo, and Duet RPG Adventures and Campaigns

For many people it is very difficult to find a group that some would deem a full party of adventurers to play Tabletop RPGs. When I got into gaming this was the case for me. I struggled to find people to play Heroes Unlimited which for me this was the game that I loved when I was 12 and loved up until recently. My first RPG group was 2 players and a GM. When the GM moved it made it near impossible to game because we had it in our mind you needed multiple players to play the game properly. If we only knew about the possibility of playing with 1 player and a GM our RPG experience would have been drastically different.

The 1 player and 1 GM format I have seen called different things. I have seen it called 1 on 1, solo, and duet campaigns. What the actual correct terminology is I am not quite sure. What I do know is that this is a great way to run and play games for those of us who may struggle to find groups to play with. Some people use these types of games to help players catch up after mission a session. Some people use these types of games to teach a new player how the game is played. Either way it is a great way to game and can provide a vastly different experience than you may be used to.

A few years ago I attempted to run a Heroes Unlimited game like this for my wife. Our first session was a lot of fun. She played a Mega Hero that we rolled a lot of the stuff randomly. That character ended up being very similar to Thor which was pretty interesting. The idea of those first few sessions was that she had no idea how things worked on Earth. She broke an elevator door and beat 2 guys into a coma when they tried to kidnap her. Unfortunately the campaign didn't last very long because we ended up moving.

We tried again to do another duet campaign using Pathfinder when I was really getting into that system. The idea was that my wife would make and control a few characters. Her party was an Aasimar Sorcerer and an Oread Barbarian. We played a couple games and this was fun but we wanted enough players for a full party. This game died off but only because once again real life stepped in and we moved again.

Player's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons)
$36.03
By Wizards RPG Team

There are many ways to play a game with one player. Maybe that player controls only a single character or they control a whole party of characters similar to how they would play a video game like Baldur's Gate. Maybe they handle all of the groups social interactions with NPCs or maybe they only control their single characters social interactions while the DM controls all of the other members of the group in social environments similar to Dragon Age for example. In the latter example the players choices could lead to some members of the party leaving the group. No matter how you choose to play this can be an extremely fun way to game.

This style of play is one I wish I was able to try sometime. I would love to play both as just a single character without a party and also a campaign where I play as a single character but in combat I can control a whole party. If I had a DM who was good at improvising I think this could be one of the most enjoyable ways for me to play a game.

On YouTube there are at least 2 channels that cover this style of game. Matt Click's afistfulofdice on YouTube and has recently started running games on his channel for his fiance. He is also my DM for the Provokers campaign and is a very good DM. Andrew Armstrong known as DawnforgedCast has a couple games in this style on his channel. One is with his wife, and the other is with one of his viewers. To see how these games can be played go and check those channels out. If you are interested in running or playing a game in this style feel free to join the Tabletop RPG One Shot Group and seek it out.