Blog

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.

Inspiration From Easter

***This is not a post about religion. ***

The story of Jesus is that he was sentenced to death on the cross and then rose from the dead 3 days later. This was to signify the forgiveness of our sins. Thinking about this has made me wonder how this could be used in an RPG today.

While thinking about this I was considering how I would implement this into an NPC for a fantasy RPG. They would need to be a polarizing figure with many very dedicated friends/followers. Maybe they are a Cleric or Priest but they could really be any class as long as they have many people who believe in their cause. 

A huge Government or Faction would need to oppose this cause. At first it shouldn't be much of an issue but as the NPC gains influence it should become more and more of a problem. Eventually this will need to blow up. The NPC will need to be caught and imprisoned or sentenced to death. 

Make the imprisonment or death sentence a huge event. This will get the importance of this NPC across in your game. His followers could try to help him escape but maybe this NPC refuses and thinks it is his destiny to carry this out.

After death he could ascend to being a diety in your campaign. Maybe he just comes back from the dead by resurrection spell which depending on your games could be a common occurrence. If it is common though this may not be as impactful as you would want. Personally I like the idea of this person becoming a diety.

Obviously you could change the story at any point however you want. The character could be battling for freeing slaves, or equal rights for a certain race for example. Maybe he wasn't sentenced to death and was murdered instead by an assassin. This story could be modified to be a really fun background story over a large campaign.

I would love to hear how you have used holidays or stories from the bible for inspiration in your Tabletop RPGs. Feel free to leave a comment in the comments below.

D&D Princes of the Apocalypse or Temple of Elemental Evil Pre-Release Thoughts

Being someone who has never experienced the classic Temple of Elemental Evil this is something I am pretty interested in. Now I won't know much about any references to the classic and if there is any overlap it won't be a spoiler for me either which is nice. Due to word of mouth though I have heard the original ToEE is great and worth trying out. If this version lives up to my expectations by what I have heard it, will be fantastic and well worth the $49.95 retail.

When Hoard of the Dragon Queen, and Rise of Tiamat came out I will admit I was apprehensive about picking them up. I heard about typos, and some story issues with HotDQ but once I actually picked it up and thumbed through it my mind changed quickly. Since that time I have purchased it and have used it for ideas in some of my current games to great effect. It has helped provide me with some great moments in my campaigns. That is what I am expecting out of the Princes of the Apocalypse.

Princes of the Apocalypse is going to be set up for levels 1 - 15 and will have extra content for the online MMORPG which is free to play. That is also expected to be on XBox Live here soon. The book will include a new race, spells, and other great things to use with Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition. Personally the digital content for the MMO doesn't do much for me but if the book is going to provide as much in the way of ideas for my games that I expect then it will be worth every penny.

Princes of the Apocalypse (D&D Accessory)
$34.33
By Wizards RPG Team

Everyone who knows me realizes that I am full on 100% behind Wizards of the Coast and Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition. This edition of the game has really made me into a huge fan unlike any other edition of D&D. Never would I have thought that I would be so excited about a WotC game like I am about 5e. While they have had some mistakes here and there I do think that it would be hard for them to have done much better with this edition of the worlds greatest role-playing game in my opinion.

Now as I said above I am not sure what to expect from the Princes of the Apocalypse compared to Temple of Elemental Evil. I am open to hearing your thoughts on the old class Temple of Elemental Evil below but also your thoughts on the new Princes of the Apocalypse. Let me know by commenting here and when I pick this up I will be sure to share my thoughts about it.

Your FLGS is expected to be charging $49.95 for this book but you can help support my Blog, and YouTube Channel by purchasing the book through my Amazon Affiliation Link above. Purchasing this book for between $34.33 at the time of this post is as simple as clicking that link and ordering it. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Once I pick this up I will probably be running it through the Tabletop RPG One Shot Group on Facebook which can be found here

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.