Monthly Archives: May 2010

Games…Must Have Games…

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I hate gaming dry spells. I think the longest period I’ve gone without gaming was two years, if you’re talking about actually sitting at the table, either as GM or player. If you’re counting game preparation and research, it’s more like, well, 6 months.

How to do I manage? Gaming is a priority for me: right after the important personal relationships in my life and equal to martial arts.  Which puts it way ahead of just about everything else, since rpgGM.com is my job as well as my love. It also helps that just about everyone in my immediate family are also gamers. I’ve been very, very blessed, especially with a fiancé who’s actively encouraging  me to (and supporting me while) I get my own game publishing company off the ground.

But this is about how to survive the drought. Like everyone else, I’ve had times when I couldn’t get a group together or couldn’t find one I wanted to play in. Here’s what I do when I’m game deprived:

  • Worldbuilding. Number one top slot. I love worldbuilding, which is why rpgGM.com’s first series of products is the game world, Guang Keshar. But it’s not just building worlds from scratch. I also consider rewriting the background of existing game worlds as worldbuilding.
  • Reading game systems. I try get my hands on and read as many game books as I can. This helps me keep the creative juices flowing, which leads to…
  • Campaign creation. I’ll spend a lot of time fleshing out the bare structure of a campaign for a game I’m itching to run. That’s a bit trickier, since I have a very hands-off GMing style and tend to build my games around my PCs. But I can do a fair amount of preparation work so that I’m ready for character creation when it does happen. I often have three or four campaigns I’m working on (but not currently running) simultaneously.
  • Reading about GMing. I’m always looking for ways to improve my GMing. I like reading game-related blogs, though right now I don’t have time to keep pace with more than a handful of my favorites. I also love reading books like Robin’s Laws of Good Gamemastering.
  • Playing RPG computer games. For me, this is something of a last resort. I generally dislike the rigidity of computer RPGs (though they are getting better). I prefer gaming with real people who’re in the same room as me.
  • Running “Play by Email” (PBEM) campaigns. This is actually one of my old stand-by’s when I can’t get a group together locally and the number one of the reasons my dry spells are so short.  They’re still not the same, but I find them a better substitute for a tabletop game than computer games. With the advent of MMOs, I know many people who prefer the other way around, though. To each their own 😉 .
  • Writing about games (non-worldbuilding). Most of the game stuff I’ve written has happened when I was between game groups.
  • Painting miniatures and creating game-related art.

What can I say? I’m a game junkie. Gaming is one of the things my family does together and that’s something I’m very grateful for.

[This post is a part of RPG Bloggers‘ May blog carnival].

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27 Surefire Ways to Get Kicked Out of a Game

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Awhile back I did a post on 21 Surefire Ways to Loose Players. With this being Player Month here at Evil Machinations, I thought it time to do a post for the players. Even the most die-hard GMs will change sides of the table, even if it’s a pick-up game at a con. You’d think we’d make the perfect players, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, all too often GMs-turned-PCs are the most difficult players in a group. While orginially aimed at GMs, even players who’ve never sat behind the GM screen should enjoy this list as well.

[Photo courtesy of House of Sims via Flickr Creative Commons 2.0 license]

  1. Repeatedly arrive extremely late to a game session without calling to let people know.
  2. Repeatedly miss a game session after assuring the GM you’d be there.
  3. Refuse to read the rules of the system you’re playing.
  4. Hog the spotlight.
  5. Give long lectures on how the game you run is better than this one.
  6. Tell the GM what he’s doing wrong and offer frequent unsolicited advice on how to run the way you would.
  7. Recite a Monty Python or Princess Bride quote for everything that happens during the game.
  8. Insist on roleplaying every moment of a supply run.
  9. Turn everything said into a sexual innuendo.
  10. Make overt sexual advances to every eligable PC in the party.
  11. Make overt sexual advances to every eligable player in the group.
  12. Argue for every advantage you can squeeze out of the system, even if it takes an hour to win a +1 bonus.
  13. Insist that the GM look up an obscure rule in the middle of combat.
  14. Expect everything to go your way because the GM is your significant other.
  15. Loudly and frequently complain about how your favorite rules system is better than the one the GM is currently using.
  16. Insist that the group run your favorite system, especially if they don’t want to change.
  17. Constantly brag about your über-character in another game and how she would wipe the floor in this game.
  18. Refuse to get dice of your own and insist on borrowing someone else’s.
  19. Continuously forget your character sheet so you can make up numbers on the fly.
  20. Play while drunk (or high)–unless your entire group enjoys drinking to excess while gaming.
  21. Deliberately and/or constantly ignore the rules of the host who’s house you’re playing in (such as putting your feet on the coffee table, not using a coaster, etc.)
  22. Torment your host’s pet(s).
  23. Play computer games while you’re roleplaying
  24. Repeatedly charm members of your own party.
  25. Repeatedly steal from members of your own party.
  26. Insist on going off on your own on a regular basis.
  27. Claim every useful bit of treasure as your own.

How about you? What have I forgotten that really raises your hackles? Please share!

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What’s My Motivation?

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motivation-chartYour GM picked out the adventure, did all of the background work, fleshed out the NPCs, balanced treasure and other rewards. Now it’s finally time to run the adventure, it’s up to the GM to find a way to motivate your character. Right?

[Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/philippeboukobza/ / CC BY 2.0]

Wrong.

True, the GM will most likely provide you a motivation for going on the adventure, but you can help by providing your own motivation for your character.

While “My character wouldn’t do that” can be a legitimate concern (I’m a “method actor”-style player, myself), it’s not helpful. If you try hard enough, there’s usually some way you can provide your character with a motivation to undertake the adventure.

Character History

Even if you don’t have a detailed backstory for your character, you can find a way to work something about this adventure into your character’s history. In fact, it’s probably easier to do it without a detailed history. But even if you’ve written down information for every month of your character’s life, you can still usually find a way to work a motivation for the adventure in there.

Perhaps you stumbled across this dungeon when you were growing up and always wondered what was down there that was so dangerous your parents wouldn’t let you explore it. Or your now-deceased mother had been an adventurer but had fled from this dungeon before exploring it thoroughly and you want to find out what could make a generally fearless woman flee in terror.

These are simply suggestions; you’ll do much better to find some reason yourself. The point is, that it doesn’t have to be a driving passion to provide motivation. Simple curiosity can be enough. Maybe the owner owes you some money and if you can’t get the money, you’re going to take payment in goods of equal value. Or perhaps you want to prove yourself a better adventurer than your mother who’s shadow you’ve been in since you started your career.

Character Relationships

That brings us to our next type of motivation: other people and the relationships your character has with them. It could be your favorite uncle asked you to check out the city sewers to find proof of the giant cybernetic rats and cockroaches he’s always said live down there. Maybe your familiar or a favorite pet wandered into the Mayor’s Mansion and hasn’t been seen or heard from since. Or maybe, just maybe, your brother dared you to go into the spooky cave.

Again, the reasons don’t have to be deep of life-changing or part of The Big Picture. It can be petty concerns. The important thing is to have a reason that will motivate you to undertake the adventure. It could even be something simply as the party’s cleric said “Please” when he asked you to come along. Of course, if you want to have this adventure affect your character deeply, go for it.

Character Goals

This brings us to our last set of motivations: your character’s goals. Maybe you want to collect one of every type of potion in the world. Or maybe you need some  scrapings from the wall to to mix the exact shade of grey paint to finish your current project. See, even here you don’t need grandiose ideas — simple ones will do as long as it gets your character moving.

Of course,  you’ll want to clear your motivation with your GM. If he hears, for instance, that you think there may be potions for your collection, then he’ll most likely go out of his way to put one in there as a reward.  Maybe you just want to complete your rock collection and the last type of rock you need is said to exist in this lich-controlled forest. placed in there.

Brainstorming or “Mind-Mapping” can help you find a reason. You can get special software for that, but I find good ol’ pen and paper work great for the job. If you’re really stuck, you might try having the GM other person you trust over for a brainstorming party. If something doesn’t come to you immediately, keep trying until you come up with something you can play. You’ll find the game much more enjoyable.

Other Player Month Posts:

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Upgrading Issues

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Please bear with me as I finish upgrading the theme for this site. I had technical difficulties installing the new theme and upgrading to the most recent version of WordPress (which for several reasons on my end, most of which come down to RTFM).

I’ll be finishing the set-up on the new theme over the course of the next few days. Everything’s there and you should be able to access it without difficulty. It just doesn’t look pretty yet.

Thanks for your patience.