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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

Tools for Getting People Invested (Guest Post)

There is a question that burns in the minds of many gamers: How do you get so and so to role-play? Many times GMs and players alike resort to instructing someone as if with a child, bribing them with mechanical incentives, or just plain forcing role-playing situations on to a person they are just not comfortable with.

As someone who among their favorite hobbies have included improvisation and a lot of freer forms of role-playing without systems....

As someone who has been in the spot of no gamer friends and have had to introduce several people to role-playing who of all kinds: strangers,  friends, online, and offline....

As someone who has heard all the excuses of “It seems weird”, “I am not good at it”, or “That seems too nerdy”...

I want to say to you who are using social pressure. STOP!  You don’t need to these kinds of things. It is a person’s own choice if they want to role-play or be immersed into what is going on. It is a player’s or GM’s choice to be invested in a narrative, scene, or world. You need to do things that respect that person’s choice. It boggles my mind how GMs reward role-play with mechanical power and then are surprised when newer players get the idea mechanical power takes precedence. So many of these tactics of extra experience or ganging up on the person in a conversation is at worst hobby-destroying and at best belligerent. There are other ways.

There are things you can do to turn a player from being someone who eats out of your hand into someone of with their own sensibilities and proactive reasons to want to be involved. Why not have players who want, by choice, to work with everyone for the good of the experience? Why not have a GM that is equally invested in the characters as the players are? No matter what role it is, the trick is to help the person find their own reason for role-playing and their own reason for wanting the welfare of the session.  So here it is...

7 Subtle Ways to Help Someone be Invested in the Story

1.       Leave Blanks to Fill. Players and GM’s alike do have one thing in common: they will be engaged by what they helped create. Depending on what people are used to, this can seem counter to your habits. Letting a person decide a fact about the plot, the setting, or any given character is not as bad or as difficult as it sounds. They save the Tavern, so why not let them name it? The person has a previous relationship with your character’s relative, why not let them make that NPC’s appearance and personality?

Doing this does require you to trust the players. If that bothers you, I would advise gaming with people you do actually trust, since it is unhealthy not to. Regardless, you can test the waters of with a person by just letting them name something. Depending on how they respond, you know whether or not they can be a cool contributor to that part of the game. It’s simple; but one of the quickest ways to build attachment to a world is having done something to it and named something in it.

2.       Make things open to interpretation. Not every single aspect of a world or plot needs to be fully explained. If an event happens and there isn’t an immediate explanation, then there is a sense of curiosity to draw on. What eyes are looming in the dark? Was that a real conversation or a guise to mislead us? People will be motivated to by their own needed to fill in the canon. On top of that, letting others interpret an action or thing will allow you to know what assumptions their making about  the plot, characters, or setting. This will often times tell you more about what was actually communicated than they say was communicated.

3.       Play off assumptions. Once you know someone is thinking a certain a way about a situation, you can make a story out of it. Someone thinks its a trap when its not? Why not, mess with their heads and let them wander off into interesting territory? Someone interprets a character to be different than their cannon? Why not let that misunderstanding factor in the role-playing of their conversations? If you know what a person assumes, then you know what they will do. Knowing what a person will do opens up opportunities to create interesting situations. They will be invested by confronting the reality that this story, world, or character really isn’t what they thought. They were responded to.

4.       Give simple, meaningful choices. You can give someone an input that matters and break it down to 2 or 3 options. A person who is shy can be brought by asking if you should go left or right on a path. Giving choice means they’ve determined the path that is being tread upon. It was their choice and it has consequences attached to it. People are invested in things they have a choice in.

5.       Reward with Climax, not power. People have tried a “carrot-and-stick” method of manipulating GMs and Players alike. This can work but it doesn’t mean a person is interested in the world. The behavior x is a reward to y bonus to my character. That’s not what you want the table to think. The trail of bread crumbs will not work on every person and many can see through it.

The key is to reward people with their interests. What parts of the story do they want? Airship Mechanics? Flashy Moves? Large Combat? Long Slugfests? Words of grandeur? Interesting Environments? Whatever it is, let the getting to know the characters of the world and each other be the means by which they get that Climax they enjoy. Why not have a Bartender also be the organizer of a fighting ring that he can hookup things with? Why not tie in negotiation with allies into the massive combat strategy to have elements for everyone? There are plenty of ways for people of different intent to have middle ground. It turns into a positive feedback loop. The more involved everyone is, the more they get what interests them; consequently the more they are getting what interests them narratively, the more involved they are.

6.       Let them describe. A simple way to reward a really good roll is to acknowledge they succeeded and say to them, “How do you do it?” They describe their finishing blow, their massive revelation, their clever plot, their roaring speech when they choose as they choose. They have a window of agency and spotlight to properly get to display their character, plot, or setting as they wish.

7.       “In World” or “In Character” Jokes. People like to laugh and its one of the easier emotions to invoke in another. Turning an in character mishap into a slapstick mess involving the other player can lead them to realize the world has an emotion attached to it. Bring the GM’s NPC in on a gag. Make funny voices or lines within character rather than pop culture references outside of dialogue. Save the references for the what a person is doing in character and use them as simalies: “He failed his role and weeped in a deep voice like that Girl Scout from Dodgeball.” Laughing with a character attaches an emotion to them and people will be more engaged by what have an emotional value of.

There is obviously more to it than a list of simple tricks. There isn’t a one size fits all solution to get someone interested. But I can say from experience, that these ways help others at the table to get invested. Consider them tools to use rather than solutions to a problem.

As with anything this amateur writes, I hope this helps.

FaunTrodden

FaunTrodden's YouTube Channel

FaunTrodden's Blog 

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.