Friday, July 15, 2011

New Players…

… are awesome.

So, I ref a weekly game over Skype. My players are two and three time zones away from me, so this is pretty much the only way to do this. It's a lot of fun.

(Today we actually tried using Google+ instead of Skype. It worked pretty well, except that there seemed to be a short delay of my audio and the video was grainier than Skype's. We spent most of the session on Google+ until one of my player's browsers crashed for some reason and then we bounced back to Skype. We'll probably continue to use Google+ in the future, though, as it has that handy feature where you get to see multiple video streams of people you're talking to.)

Some of my players recently invited two middle-school-age kids to join in. The brother played last session and the sister joined in this session too. They've had some experience with RPGs before. I'm pretty sure, from his religious consistency when it comes to "looting the bodies," that he's played some sort of computer RPG before. They've also apparently tried to create some sort of RPG together at some point, but I didn't get to hear much about that. They were new to D&D and any kind of published tabletop RPG rules, though.

Anyway, encountering creative players who aren't bound by the normal conventions of roleplaying is awesome. The sister played Bob the Faun, who wields a "bighammer." When faced with orcs coming across a bridge, though, did Bob the Faun use his bighammer? No! Instead, Bob hid behind Rakvar, my regular player's 4th level Dwarven Weaponmaster who is about as tankish as this player can make him within the limits of my homebrewed Swords and Wizardry rules. From behind Rakvar, Bob the Faun uses his 3-meter pole to push an orc over the edge of a gorge! Marvelous! Spectacular! My regular player commented that she is quite possibly the most creative RPG newbie that he's ever seen, and I would have to concur. She's also planning on running a winged unicorn next session. That's… zany, even compared to my other players, who do things like run blow-gun-specializing weaponmaster giant toads and V [for Vendetta] look-alikes as characters. My players come up with this on their own, by the way, without my encouragement. I run a pretty "straight" setting, but I figure if players want to have fun, my job is to enable them, not get in the way; when I run a less messy, hacked-together setting with some kind of unifying vision besides "have something, anything, I can run my players through", I may be a bit more strict on the zany characters.

This unicorn apparently shoots a sparkly beam from its horn that has a stunning effect. Arg- I'm not happy about that, but I'll allow it unless it starts breaking the game. This is, after all, an experimental campaign. If I get a chance, though, I'll recommend that she reads Lewis' The Last Battle to give her an idea of unicorns that's more in line with my tastes. I'm much more a fan of Lewis influencing my games, than, say, Lisa Frank. (And yes, this is probably what influenced me to actually allow this.)

The brother also ran a character last session that, upon encountering a phosphorescent pool full of inert goo, decided to climb up to the ceiling where the goo was slowly dripping from and pry and whale on it with a crowbar. He started a cave-in, he did. He's a tinkerer, and he also runs characters that don't like to share loot. I suppose this might be a problem if I, and the other players, were also 13, but I didn't really have to lift a finger to try to stop him, as my older player stepped in, in character, and made sure he shared. He also had his characters scout ahead, which I thought was interesting and wise of him to do, until I realized that he was quite likely doing that so that he could pocket loot without other characters seeing, the scoundrel! He'll make a great roleplayer as well. ^__^

Here's an interesting observation, though. Both of the females that ran characters tonight ran characters that weren't nearly as interested in treasure as the characters run by males. The girl that played for the first time tonight actually offered some money to a band of brigands that tried to rob the party! Now, one character was a Ranger, who isn't supposed to amass large amounts of treasure, and her player role-plays that pretty well, but the other characters had no real excuse. My regular male character is as gamist as they come, and the younger boy has probably had MMOs shape his paradigms, so it's quite possible that this has nothing to do with sex, and quite likely that, if sex is involved, it's not the only factor, but I found that really interesting.

Both of my new players also got to see their first trap today. Both of their characters had run ahead and tried different doors. The sister's Bob the Faun started carefully examining the hallway through the door on the right; the brother's Vorlon the Elf traipsed right into a chute trap through the door on the left. Both of my older players had encountered this trap before, but they (probably gleefully) mostly kept their mouths shut, as their characters had been left behind. The trap was non-lethal, but it took some time to rescue Vorlon, and they almost had a run-in with a 9th level wizard. (If Rakvar wasn't a dwarf, with a bonus to saves against magic, he would have been polymorphed into a rust monster by the wizard as he slipped back up the chute. Rakvar wears plate armor. That would have been so sweet…)

Anyway, this is about as rambly as anything I've seen called a play report, but I'm going to call it a play report anyway. Staples signing out!


  1. Great story! I particularly love that link to the mini. That's incredible!

  2. Very cool session report. Interesting group of players. We run our multi-timezone games through Skype ... Premium, I believe, which we pay for to get video conferencing. That will be further tested in a few weeks when I move east.

    That's a tough one about the unicorn. Sounds like a great player that you're happy to have, but you also need to leave yourself the possibility of reining in the details of the horn effect as you go. Carter's done that on several details in our campaign where after a few sessions an innovation (that he explicitly allowed, and maybe even wrote a post endorsing) just upsets the game balance too much. In that case it seems more like a tightening-up of rules than a revision of rules, which has been more palatable to us as players.

  3. I haven't decided yet how much I'm going to limit the unicorn's stun-beam-thing, mostly because I haven't seen this player play more than one game. I suspect that she'll get into her character a good bit, using the wings and stun-beam more as trapping than as an attempt to break the game. If she doesn't do as I expect, though, I'll probably impose a dragon's-breath-weapon-like limit to the number of times, and the scope of, the stun-beam.

    The other reason that I'm allowing it is that this campaign is specifically experimental. I try out house rules I would be hesitant to try out without this "experimental" label on the campaign, add and retire available character classes and outright change rules, and I've extended the invitation to my players to ask to try experimental things as well. You're right, though, that care needs to be taken. I'm not too concerned about game balance to begin with, but I'm certainly not going to allow a "pegacorn" to trample my campaign either; there's a difference between being arguably unbalanced and being a cakewalk. The former is fun, especially when the unbalance shifts this way and that; the latter isn't fun at all, and fun is quite a bit what this game is about.