Thursday, November 3, 2011


So, I guess I'm back. Things are still kind of crazy, and my series are still on hold, but I think I can probably handle semi-regular posting. Today, along with seeing that Brendan at Untimately has done a very cool bit of OSR blogosphere archeology, linking to Sham's "D&D Cover to Cover" series, I saw that Noisms had a list of "Things Role Playing Bloggers Tend Not To Write About." I don't have a lot to say on any of the topics right now, but I figured I'd address them all with a few thoughts. Maybe they'll spark some conversation around the OSR, or maybe they'll percolate in my head for a while and I'll come up with a more substantial treatment of a few of them at a later date. Here goes:

  • Book Binding: I read somewhere about how great spiral-bound binding would work for RPG books, and I agree. I don't know how many times I've not been able to just lay a book down when running a game and not have to worry about keeping my place with a bookmark, or even just the book closing on me. If the pages are reinforced with plastic along the spine, that would also make this one of the most durable ways to bind a book.
  • Voices: I'm generally weak on the sensate aspects of running a game, but I do try. Kobolds have my attempt at "chirpy" voices. I think I'm slowly getting better at this, but I have a ways to go.
  • Breaks: When you're running a Skype game, like I do, there's not a lot you can do when your players want to take a break (read, you can't throw your d30 at them through the screen). They're usually pretty good about this, but we game over dinnertime, so there's usually a few short ad hoc breaks a session. We try to keep this to a minimum.
  • Description: Again, I'm pretty weak in this area, though I am putting effort into getting better. My stocking of my megadungeon with dungeon dressing is the latest step I've taken to get better at this, but my descriptions, I'd say, only rarely hit what you could really call "evocative."
  • Anti-social/Evil PC behavior: I ban evil PCs in my game, and my players generally aren't interested in playing horrible people either, so I generally let my players have free reign when they think their characters would do something they don't necessarily condone. It hasn't been much of a problem so far. FrDave's recent post on how horror is most horrific when you realize that you're the monster has actually got me thinking about ways to give my players opportunities to do things they'll later regret.
  • PC-on-PC violence: I've never had any in games I've run, besides one instance of attempted grappling (I don't remember specifics, but one character tried to grab another character who was jumping overhead, and missed quite badly). There's a general assumption that I'm not going to stop it if it happens, however. My very second roleplaying experience involved me being on the losing side of a PC-vs-PC fight where I'd struck the first blow. I didn't end up dying, but got pretty close, so I got what I deserved.
  • One of the ways I think RPGs are a positive good, rather than just a really fun hobby, is that it involves people sitting in a circle (usually) and telling a story; I see it as a way to get back in touch with oral tradition, a way to fight back against TV and video games, have real interaction and have shared stories again. Because of this, I tend to describe RPGs as a shared story, where the players control the protagonists and the referee controls the setting. If people don't "get it" after just a bit of explanation, I usually tell them that it's hard to explain but it's pretty easy to "get" if you play or see it played, and encourage them to join in a game.
  • My first experience with alcohol at the table was at a SoCal Minicon, when Brunomac of Temple of Demogorgon brought some of the fruit of his other hobby to the evening game he ran for us. I didn't really notice it having any affect on the game compared to the others I'd played in that day that hadn't had alcohol. More recently, one of my players has been drinking Mikes Hard Lemonade, which also hasn't seemed to affect anything that I've noticed. No one's getting drunk, or even tipsy, so, if anything, it's probably just helping him relax and hopefully take risks and be more creative, which is great when you're playing RPGs and aren't driving afterwards.
  • Absent PCs: Right now, when a player is absent, so is their PC. My campaign is North March-y enough that it can handle that. I've considered using Zak's table of things that happened to your PC while you were gone. Taking PCs along with the rest of the party and killing them, or letting other PCs take advantage of them, are right out.