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2019 Optimistically Moving

So 2018 has come and passed us by. It was a great year but I didn’t game as much as I would have hoped to. Started the year off running and playing in some games. I did get to try the 7DSystem by DMGinfo and that was a fun experience. One game I didn’t get to play that I really hoped to was Dragon Age the Tabletop RPG.

We finally……

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Problem Players Discussion

This past week has brought up the Power Gamer discussion again. Your Main Man Ander Wood from WoodWWAD on YouTube had messaged me a few months back after watching a video I did a few years ago which you can watch here. He followed up last week with a video of his own which you can watch here. Once he did that video many others began to debate whether or not power gamers were killing the hobby. I decided to weigh in once again with why I think people even bother debating this. Now this has all had me wondering more about the various types of problem players. 

Power Gamer - Many don't agree to the definition of what a power gamer is and I find that is why people don't always agree with Main Mans point that they are destroying the hobby. Everyone agrees that a disruptive player hurts the experience though. Power Gamers aren't to be confused with optimizers, min/maxers, or hack and slashers. Some view power games as people who try to optimize their character and some view it as more than just that. I used to think it was just someone who optimized. My idea of what a power game is has changed though. I personally think a power gamer is someone who tries to sneak a combination of abilities, powers, spells, or multi-classing by a game master and group of players.  By this definition since they are using a mechanical advantage at the expense of the group they are a power gamer and I think they are bad for the hobby. If you have a power gamer you need to speak to them and explain what you and the group are striving for. If the player just wants a strong character that is ok as long as they know they need to work within the style of game you the game master and the rest of the group are striving for. If they can't change their disruptive behavior it is time to let them go.

Loner Character - The player who is playing this character can be very disruptive. They force the game master to split their time between the one character and the rest of the group due to splitting the party frequently. RPGs are a group activity and if you are playing a character that doesn't fit this model then they probably are best not being played. If they can still work in the group though then they may be ok. I recommend avoiding the loner characters though. If you have a player like this talk to them and tell them it is ok to be that character but they need to find a way to work within the structure of the group. If they can't do that then they will need to make a new type of character to fit within the group.

Rules Lawyer - The rules lawyer can be very disruptive by cutting off other players or the game master. Whether they are wrong or right about the rules they can be really obnoxious. I know because I tend to do this sometimes as a player. I am working on fixing this! Anyways the rules lawyer may have good intentions. If you let them know your house rules up front and also if you establish when it is ok for them to say something this can help with this player type. Another thing you can do is have this player write down any rules you or the group got wrong on a piece of paper. At the end of the session they can give it to you and you can review the things before the following session. At the next session before starting go over these rules with page numbers for reference to help the whole group.

Thespian - The thespian can be a fun player but can also be very distracting at the table. A lot of times they can demand a lot of attention. They may also stifle a session with the dreaded phrase "that's not what my character would do." In a game where it is collaborative storytelling if the group is trying to do things but one player refuses to do what the other want to do it can ruin a game night. It can cause a lot of problems for other players who want to seek out a specific adventure or quest. Sometimes you may need to pull them aside and ask them to compromise at times for the benefit of the group. You can also ask this player to help you share the spotlight with some of the players who get less "screen time" than the rest.

Multitasker - This is the person always on their cell phone, drawing sketches, knitting, sculpting with clay, or generally doing other things. This can be distracting to them or other players even. Some people don't mind this as much as others. I find that if it slows down play or is ruining anyone elses time at the table then they need to be talked to and asked to stop. Ask this player to take notes on the session so you have a timeline of events for example.

Player's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons)
$27.51
By Wizards RPG Team

Spotlight Hog - This player wants all the glory whether in RPing with the NPCs or being the best in combat. This player can be all of the above problem player types or even none of them. They just require a lot of attention or they get bored. Give this player a job whether it is keeping track of events by taking notes much like the multitasker or something else.

Sometimes the problem isn't even that they are a bad player. It might be that everyone can't agree on a play style whether that is hack and slashing, investigations, or some other type of game. A majority of people for example don't want a hack and slash type of player in a Call of Cthulhu game. The type of player that is good for that type of game is someone who enjoys puzzles and investigations. There may be a time with the right group of players and game master though where a hack and slash player could play a fun game of CoC though. Point is though really think about what the problem is at your table before throwing around labels at people. Don't confuse combat as non RP and social interactions as RP. I have played in games with great combat RP and terrible social interaction RP. You can RP everything in a game. If you like to get past encounters with social interaction that is great but that doesn't mean the other players who enjoy combat don't like RP. If you find that your group has styles that clash talk to them to see if both sides can compromise at times for the better of the group.

These are just some of the types of problems/problem players and potential ways to handle them. Keep in mind at all times it is a group experience and if anyone at your table is making it less fun for others then they may need to be talked to. Try to think of ways to make them help the group though before talking to them so you have some constructive suggestions. I hope you found this article helpful. If you did you can help support this blog by purchasing something from my Amazon links on the side or by subscribing to my channel on YouTube. Would love to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.

Free RPG Day 2015

Free RPG Day 2015 has passed us by. This year the store I pick my stuff up from was having a Magic the Gathering Tournament which meant that no RPG events were happening. They had the stuff laid out on the counter though for anyone to just come up and get what they want. I had taken my 4 year old daughter so she could get something and she chose the Pathfinder Card Game Cards, the Pencil, and Valiant. I picked up the Coin, Munchkin Bookmark, 13th Age At Lands Edge/Nights Black Agents The Harker Intrusion, Castles & Crusades Shadows of a Green Sky, Atlantis Second Edition, Fifth Edition Fantasy Into the Dragons Maw, Through the Breach Recruitment Drive, Dungeon Crawl Classics Judges Screen, Pathfinder Module We Be Goblins Free. 

13th Age RPG Core Book
By Lee; McConnell, Aaron; Heinsoo, Rob; Tweet, Jonathan Moyer

Last year I picked up just as much but ended up giving most of it away to people I thought would enjoy the things I had. There is a lot that people can try out for the first time and that is the beauty of Free RPG Day. I highly recommend people go out and pick up whatever they ca especially if they are new to RPGs or looking to try them sometime.

The thing I always do first when I get all of the free stuff is look through the products and cherry pick ideas for the games I am currently running. Then anything that stands out I will tend to use. If everything seems good like a full adventure then I may consider converting it over to the system I am currently favoring. This year that would be 5e. So Fantasy products are the go to for me.

This year the things that really stood out to me were the Goodman Games Fifth Edition Fantasy Into the Dragons Maw, Atlantis, and Castles & Crusades Shadows of a Green Sky. The Dungeon Crawl Classics Screen has some useful crit hit and fumble charts I like and I like the artwork too. The coin is really high quality as well.

Into the Dragons Maw is perfectly compatible with 5th Edition D&D. The adventure is solid, and has a really cool monster that I want to use pretty bad. They also have some new magic items in the back which are decent. I am planning how I can use this in one of my upcoming games. This would be something I would use in my family D&D game.

Atlantis is a really nice product that I have only skimmed over. The system seems interesting and actually looks like it may be pretty simple. If I gamed a lot more I would probably consider picking up the core book for this game even.

Castles & Crusades is a good game and there product last year gave me a lot of inspiration. This year I have skimmed through it but haven't felt too inspired yet. I am hoping once I read it I will get a lot of great ideas. 

All of the products are great and they are FREE! They lead to great chances to try new games and I am surprised more systems don't participate. For example Dungeons & Dragons could have taken their FREE PDF and made a print version for this event. Wouldn't that be great? I will wrap this up by saying next year don't miss out! Get out to your local game store and pick up the items they are giving away for free if you like RPGs.

Get a Group Together. Show Up. Play

The below article is a guest post by the wonderful Rogue DM as she is known on YouTube. Below the article you will see a couple of links to her personal YouTube Channel. This blog was inspired by a post in the Tabletop RPG One Shot Group that led me to asking her if she would be willing to write on the topic from her very own perspective. So here it is and be sure to go and check our her YouTube Channel when you are done reading this.

Get a Group Together. Show up. Play 

In this day and age there is a lot of concern about equality, which in my opinion is of course important. Equality falls into various categories such as race, gender and sexual orientation and so on, and these are often addressed in the world of gaming. Tabletop gaming is no exception, as we see more and more incidences of unacceptable behaviour that need addressing, or concerned GMs wanting to run a game or campaign that is fun for everyone at their table.

As a biological female (I say biological due to me expressing my gender differently, but more on that later), I of course want to be treated the same way as those with a Y chromosome. However, when it comes to expressing gender equality at the table, I feel that the subject has become so convoluted that doing anything that could possibly be deemed sexist if interpreted in a certain way is now a huge taboo. Quite often I get people asking for my thoughts and opinions on the female presence in gaming. It is an interesting subject, although rather confusing to me, as there are lot of labels that are placed on forms of entertainment nowadays. Cosplaying is typically labelled more feminine, while FPS games or anything to do with war is deemed more masculine. The media certainly doesn’t help as it often plays to stereotypes, and unlike the 80s and 90s where girls and boys would both be shown wearing dungarees and playing with Lego everything is lumped into a very black-and-white perspective nowadays.

I identify myself as gender fluid, which basically means that I can fluctuate between expressing masculine and feminine behaviour, to anything in the middle. It is in my nature to identify everyone else around me as human beings, rather than with the sexual organs they were born with.  At my table, it is the same story. I do not choose people based on their gender. I choose based on their interests and enthusiasm for the game. I do things because I enjoy them, rather than feel restricted by gender stereotypes, and again it is in my nature to expect others to do the same. It is true that one is more likely to gain male players in a game of Dungeons & Dragons, but it is also apparent that the gap between majority and minority is getting smaller. Trying to recruit enough women to gaming groups in order to balance statistics is not the right way to go about it. I would certainly not insist that a certain number of men had to be present if I was leading a supposedly more feminine activity. 

What I have found is that those who care about gender equality are always striving to better their games to suit such a purpose, but those who do not care will not go out of their way to improve it. I have been sexually harassed and assaulted before and the gender of those who did it matches with statistics, but I hold the incidences against the specific people involved rather than encompassing an entire gender. If something unacceptable were to happen at my table, such as someone making a blatantly offensive remark to someone else, I would address it to that specific person, no matter who they were. But, I think anyone who is concerned about such things would do so anyway. It is the people who don’t care, that we need to be concerned about. For those who do care, that is great, and if you have made a sexist remark by accident, oh well. You did not wish to intentionally offend anyone, and the person who is offended has to understand this. I’ve made racist, sexist and homophobic comments before unintentionally, just as everyone in some way or another will screw up in some kind of situation. That’s just life. But it is the fact that you know you screwed up that is important. Those who don’t care to treat both genders equally automatically think their opinion is the perfect one, and to them they are not screwing up.

Nobody is perfect. But those who think they are already perfect are the ones to watch out for. It all comes down to a collective passionate about the game they are playing. Rather than sweating the small stuff and tip-toeing around every potential way to offend someone, make it known that you care for gender equality. Don’t let your love for the hobby be restricted by such things. Just get a group together, show up and play. As for those who don’t treat people equally at their table make it clear to them that they are not welcome in the hobby. They will eventually get the message.

Jenny, going under the alias TheRogueDM, is a YouTube content creator and an avid member of the RPG Brigade. 

Her Youtube channel can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/user/theroguedm
Her Facebook page can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/theroguedm

Cheers,

Jenny

Why Robert Ogre Loves RPG's and Why Everyone Should Try Them

What's up everybody!

My good buddy GM JUCE asked if I'd write a guest blog, Naturally, I said yes!

So,as I filtered through my brain about what should I write about: The One Shot Group, Adventure ideas, System mechanics, Character ideas, Trying different games, Blah Blah Blah. I decided to write about the most important thing of all to me concerning tabletop RPGs: Why do I love them and why everyone should try it at least once.

Now, I have to go back a little into my history. I, like probably everyone reading this, have many interests in life. I love many, many different things, most of them have to do with creativity. I play multiple instruments, I draw and paint. I make videos. I make computer graphics. I build musical effects pedals. I cook, Build and refurbish furniture. I weld (yes that's an art) I can sew, and recently got into crafting for RPGs. That's only a quarter of my interest (Video games, Martial arts, Science, Comics, Anime, Surrealist art, Nature and on and on) So, a few years ago, about 3 or 4, I had an epiphany. It was a year or so after my daughter was born.I realized that, one day I won't be here anymore. Rather than waste another day thinking about creating things, I would spend everyday actually creating things. Even if it is a little doodle or a short guitar riff, I need to stay active in creating something. And, I have. Everyday since that pact with myself I have done just that. It usually comes naturally so it isn't hard to maintain a daily creation. Sometimes I used to have to remind myself but now it just happens. Is it obsessive? Yes. That is my personality. If I get into something, I really get into something. It doesn't mean I don't enjoy things because I'm worried about all the details. I'm not clinically Obsessive. Maybe. There are a lot worse things than being obsessed with creating everyday, anyway.

So, back to the point. Tabletop RPGs allow me to bring together many of my interests into one place, obsessions whatever. In particular, Gamemastering. I can create maps, create characters, buildings, vehicles, monsters, a whole damn world. I can take my interests in nature, science, human conflict or anything possible and put them in a game. I can make physical representations of things in my mind or just paint a mental picture of them. All while being humbled to the fact that I'm doing this for other people. This is the exact reason I create everyday. It is a win/win all around, I am filling my need to connect with others and others are directly in contact with my creations. I like making people happy. And in a really contradictory way, I'm not a people pleaser. I do what I do, if people like it than that makes me happy. If not then I'll try to match interests later. I'm constantly working on myself and RPGs have been a huge factor in that. I've become less of a perfectionist, I've become more social, I feel more accepted because I'm not the only one who thinks of weird things, I'm more cordial and organized and generally feel more confident and comfortable with my voice and face(making videos)

I know that I've become kind of the joker of the community and everyone who knows me in real life would say the same. I really don't try to be silly, I just am, I guess. I can be very serious but like I said before, I like people to be happy. I think sometimes people take gaming into places it doesn't need to be. Seriousness is required in some games but not in all. That's the beauty of this hobby, everyone is allowed to, and encouraged to be individual and shine as that individual. I love how there are thousands of ways to play a Dwarf Fighter or investigator or Cybernetically enhanced zombie vampire llama convenience store cashier. All based on the individual player. No other game allows that kind of accommodation. Video Games, Sports or Monopoly all have some sort of tighter constriction on players, there's nothing wrong with that, I'm just making a point. And RPG video games are an emulation of real life RPGs.

There are still stigmas surrounding RPGs, so, it can be hard to convince non-gamers to try it out. Which is funny because everything that was considered "dorky" when I was a youngster is now widely accepted. People of all ages play Video games, know who the Avengers are, Spiderman, Batman, Lord of the Rings, Super Mario, Doctor Who, Superman, Star Trek, Star wars, TMNT, and on and on and on. Most people have heard of D&D, at least, but still hold a prejudice towards it. Why is that? What makes it so different from all the other "nerdy" things that are accepted now? Are people just so mentally lazy that if it's not on a screen then it's to hard? Is it that people just have no idea how it works? Are people intimidated by the seemingly elitist crowd? Are people afraid of Math? To let themselves become vulnerable and drop the maintenance of outward appearance? Are they afraid of fat sweaty dudes in basements with bags of Doritos and Mountain Dew? Worship Satan? Well, all of us gamers know that while some of this is half true, in general, none of it is.

Do YOU feel playing tabletop role-playing games are beneficial for people? Do You feel they have helped you grow in a positive way? Do You simply have fun with them? If the answer is yes, then I challenge you to help break the stereotypes of our beloved hobby, by showing your favorite book reader, artist, writer, Video gaming, comic and anime watching, non-gaming "Nerdy" friend or family member, what this is all about. You know there is someone who would enjoy role-playing if only they would try it, right? This simple game is a great step in humanity, we literally put ourselves in the role of another person and surround ourselves with real humans that do the same. The more people that play, the more people we have to play with. So, anyway, I love RPGs. I think it has so many positive things to offer, I think everyone should , at least, try it once, just once. Maybe twice. There is a game for everyone out there. Whatever your strengths, weaknesses, likes or dislikes are, there is a game perfect for you. Just try it. DO IT!

One last thing: Players respect your GMs and GMs respect your players. We have nothing without each other!

OH! I'm not usually this introspective, if I do this again, it will be about something useful:) or funny at least.

When Did Gaming Become About The System?

Recently had a discussion with a guy who was citing the "rules as written" or RAW as people refer to it these days. Now luckily this kid isn't one of my players at my table but he was showing signs of a stage 3 rules lawyer. This got me thinking when did the power leave the hands of a dungeon master and become all about what is written in a book? Why can't people function if something isn't spelled out clearly in the book for them?

I have a tendency to point rules out for people running games if they seem to be unsure of something. It has got a group calling me a rules lawyer before but I am ultimately ok with whatever the person running the game says. I do have an issue when players at the table cite the incorrect ruling as how a book is written but I think they knew that. It was clearly a joke because now they have me running our campaign of Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition. So what is it about people that they feel it is ok to argue with a person running the game?

Then I was speaking to my friend sr2joker about this mentality and it made me think when did players begin doing this? Is it a new concept? I've heard people blame 3.0/3.5 for putting so many rules into the game that are clearly spelled out. Is that when people became so tied to the books and what they say? Please let me know your thoughts on this?

Almost every day I see people consulting forums with questions that could easily be ruled on in game and also that are clearly written in the books. Then everyone fights over who is going to answer the question to show who is the all knowing. I have offered to help people on forums and quickly had those people jump all over it and tell me I didn't know what I was talking about unless I cited all page numbers that say it. That happened today and then finally someone cited a specific thing because my mentioning of the book saying it is up to the DM for other things not mentioned. I even ran the debate by other people and they all thought that even though the book didn't spell things out specifically that it should be up to the DM.

Sorry that this blog post sort of became me complaining but I do truly want these questions answered because I don't understand the mentality. There are a lot of great things in the gaming community but this isn't good for it. We are lucky to have amazing people in the Tabletop RPG One Shot group on Facebook because nobody acts like this from my experience. Hope we can continue to spread the joy that actual gaming does. Seems like the more people talk about games and don't play them the more drama takes place.

Thanks,