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RPG Pet Peeve When Players Meta Skill Checks & Abilities

Red Dice Diaries does a video series called RPG Bugbears and I love that series. Those videos have been inspiration for a lot of videos I have done and now I am going to give my "Bug Bears" on my blog. I run a lot of games and one thing that comes up often is players not explaining what they are doing but they ask if they can make a (insert skill) check. I then ask them how are they using that skill. What are they hoping to figure out. The other thing they may do is request to use a certain ability that they know they have a higher score in because they don't want to be forced to use the lesser score.

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You may be asking why would that bother you Juce? I think it bothers me because they are not thinking like their character. They are thinking by the numbers on a piece of paper. This may be a shock to some out there that know me but I do want my players to play in character. Yes I am ok with players optimizing their character and running whatever they want. When that guy is made though I want them to do things that they would normally do. Players shouldn't just play as though this is a game that they have to beat. This is a role-playing game and yes it should also have some tactics as well.

When players ask me that I always ask them to describe what they are trying to do and I will tell them when to roll a skill check. Sometimes I may not have them make a roll for it and will give them the information. Do players ask to do this because they want to just roll some dice? Would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Off topic now but I adjusted some things with my Patreon account today so if you are interested in supporting my YouTube Channel, Website which hosts my Blog, Podcast, and Downloads please think about supporting me by becoming a Patron today.


2014 Wraps Up and 2015 Begins!

2014 has been an amazing year. When this year began I never would have thought it would end the way it has. When the year started my family was in a transition phase. We had moved to the other side of the state and were staying in my wifes parents basement until we found our house. It took a little longer than expected but in the end we found a home and are very happy here.

When it comes to gaming much like the year before I made a game transition. At the start of 2014 I was getting into Pathfinder pretty heavily. Struggled for a long time to find a group to play Pathfinder but when I did the new D&D5e had come out. So I switched over to Fifth Edition and it was awesome! I couldn't be happier with where I stand on the games I enjoy. Don't think I will ever run Pathfinder again but may someday play it again. Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons is my favorite game right now and for the foreseeable future.

Currently I run two campaigns of D&D5e. I also run D&D Encounters at a local gaming store. This has given me a lot of experience in a very short time. One thing I have learned is the importance of campaign notes because trying to keep track of things happening across multiple games at the very same time is difficult. I had to drop out of a Savage Worlds Campaign due to how busy I am with work and not being able to plan far enough in advance for gaming sessions. It was unfortunate because they were awesome people. Maybe down the line I will get back to being able to play with them.

The YouTube channel had a little over 130 subscribers and I set the bar high I felt at 500 subscribers by the end of 2014. Little did I know that I would hit that goal in November and I'd hit about 750 subscribers. It is funny because it reminds me of a class I took this year where they ask you what your goals are but then make you cross it out and double it. So I would probably say my goal is 2,000 for 2015 but if I cross it out and double it you know what that makes it. No matter how many subscribers I get over there though I will always try to reply to as many comments as possible.

Content is still key with YouTube and there is a lot I want to do in 2015. Crafting is something I want to get back to. Haven't done any crafting in a few months now. It is something I enjoy doing and I think people like to watch it. I would say Flip Through Fridays but I don't buy enough books to keep up with that every week. My D&D Basics Series has been on hold for a few weeks but I plan on bringing that back until I finish it and move on to a more advanced D&D series. One of the things I enjoyed doing early on with my channel is discussing ideas for campaigns and stuff so I want to do that again. Also World Building and fleshing out my current world is on my list. The video ideas I have are many and looking forward to doing them.

When it comes to this website, blog, and podcast it is still new to me. The positive reaction it has received has been great. We have had some guest blog posts that people liked too. I want to bring you new posts at least every other day on average. I'd also like to get more downloads up on the website with monsters, characters to use, tables, and more. The podcast is going to be bi-weekly but every now and then it may be once a month. We don't have an actual release schedule for it. We are always interested in your questions, or show requests though.

The Tabletop RPG One Shot group on Facebook began around August and already has hit 750 members. That is amazing! Right now there are 17 games scheduled in the next two weeks to be played because of the group. Again that is fantastic! When we started the group I never expected this type of success with it. I still plan on running games for mainly new members when milestones are hit. For instance when we hit 1,000 members I will run another D&D5e game.

Some things I would really like to do in 2015 is get more people making videos, playing games, and interacting with others. The Live Chats I have hosted on G+ Hangouts have led to some great friendships and helped me learn a lot as well. If I make half as many friends as I did in 2014 it will be a good year. The friends I made this year are people that I think will be life long friends. There are so many awesome people out there and I want to say thank you to all of them for their support this whole time.

As you can see there is a lot of great things going on heading into 2015 and we here are  planning for a huge year. Growing the hobby is something I have always been passionate about and I feel like I made some progress towards that in 2014. 

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

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What Is The Tabletop RPG One Shot Group On Facebook?

The Tabletop RPG One Shot group on Facebook is hands down the best place to go in order to find games to play in online. Within hours of posting what you are looking to run or play you will probably have a full group. This group has only been around a few months and is near the 500 member mark. The group could hit 600 members by the end of the year and as more people grow comfortable running online games it will only continue to grow.

Right now there are more than 8 games scheduled to be played in the near future. Some people have campaigns running because of the Tabletop RPG One Shot group. I have ran two Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition games so far. I've played in at least three Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition games,  Call of Cthulhu d20, Ninjas and Superspies, and a Heroes Unlimited game.

I am scheduled to run a Heroes Unlimited game and may run some D&D games soon. I am supposed to play in in a Heroes Unlimited game coming up soon as well. Really hoping someone runs Mutants and Masterminds soon because that is a game I have been curious about for awhile. The Dragon Age game might be fun to try out in the near future and I hear that someone may run it soon.

The amount of friends I have made from the group has been amazing! Everyone there has been great and there hasn't been any drama. Everyone is on the same page about being there to play games and just have some fun. Never before have I been part of a community that was so nice and appreciative of each other.

Looking forward to seeing how the group grows and the types of games that get ran there. Don't be afraid to try and play or run a niche game because there are a lot of people who always want to try something new. The group formed out of people wanting to try new games. You can play the same game over and over again or try that game on your shelf that your home group refuses to play. That is the true beauty of the One Shot Group. It is there for everyone and their interests!

Running a One Shot Tips

As the creator of the Tabletop RPG One Shot group on Facebook people have come to me about how to run a proper One Shot. Well first of all there is no correct way to have fun. If the One Shot is fun then you did it right. A One Shot is not much different than a normal night of gaming. With a One Shot though you do want to try and give the players a little bit of everything for the game. Let the players do a little RP, Roll some Dice, and test out the various mechanics for the game. The last thing I recommend trying to do is give the players a conclusion at the end.

Let the players RP. Personally at the start of a session I try to let the players feel each other out and RP together. This usually gets at least one of them to step up and lead the path I have noticed. Then the other players tend to follow the lead when it comes to RP and get more comfortable. If you sense that nobody is stepping up and RPing then move the show along. You just might have a group that isn't as RP heavy as another group might be.

Let the players roll some dice. Give the players some random checks or dice rolls related to the game and system. Sometimes the thing to help players come out of their shell is having them roll dice. In some instances it can refocus a player that isn't paying much attention. It can wake the group up and make them start thinking more. Making it related to the system gives the players some insight into how the mechanics work for the game being played too.

Give the players a conclusion. This one I try to do because leaving a cliff hanger on a One Shot can be agonizing for some. In the Tabletop RPG One Shot group many games have led to campaigns because they didn't have a conclusion. This isn't a bad thing at all but if your goal is to run a One Shot then I suggest giving the group a satisfying conclusion.

Hope you enjoyed these tips for running a One Shot. If you are interested in running or playing in a Tabletop RPG One Shot head on over to the Tabletop RPG One Shot group on Facebook and join today. Once you join, there are over 400 members willing to play and run almost anything. Great group of guys over there.