Mar 142014

I have been reading (and responding) on reddit a great deal about problems within gaming groups and it really got me thinking about how people handle putting together a group. It seems like there are lots of interpersonal issues that crop up (as with any social activity) and many of them seem like completely avoidable situations. I am not trying to solve everyone’s problems here, more just musing. I have had my own troubles with my group and the groups I have been in. All the problems were solvable though, and most of the time, easily solvable. Some required tough decisions, such as kicking a couple people out in the past, or myself actually sitting out of the group because I couldn’t handle a couple people in the group at the time. These just required a few moments of sitting down and thinking though and not being afraid of making unpleasant decisions. I obviously didn’t want to sit out of a game, but I wasn’t running it and my problems would affect everyone else’s fun. It seems like sometimes a little bit of  “Man the F up” is in order.

It seems that most problems could be solved before any game starts by setting expectations. When I invite someone to my group I let them know flat our what we play, how we play it and what is expected of everyone. I cover play style in general, what kinds of games we run, what is expected for attendance, and what themes we are ok and not ok with. This may sound a touch harsh, but I don’t think it would be unreasonable to for a team captain to say “Hey, you need to show up for practice unless something big comes up”. I’m not asking for a giant life commitment, but if you agree to this you need to show up regularly (pending extenuating circumstances) and mesh with our group to some degree. Don’t join our group if you are going to complain every time a sci-fi games comes up, I like sci-fi and I GM a lot of it. Now if we have the tenth sci-fi game in a row, then let your voice be heard, and stating preferences are fine as well. I just can’t stand someone absolutely refusing to play a game and thinking the group should bend to their will. A little give and take is needed all around.

I also find the anti-social nerd stereotype to be hilarious in regards to RPGs. The game in itself is a social activity and managing a group is something that requires a great deal of interpersonal communication skills to manage effectively. Maybe I just can see this because I have some training and background in management and communication. I tend to see many of those skills used in managing gaming groups. These are the same skills that are taught in management or leadership classes and even marriage counselling. Maybe I am off base with the stereotype, maybe it exists and that is why groups fall apart so much. Passive aggressive behaviour and difficulty with confrontation are some things I have seen kill groups in the past. Does it come about because people are grasping so hard to hold onto this group because it is what they know? Many times it feel more like a bad or abusive relationship and I can see how people would get caught up in the psychological trap.

That may be the reason I always see “I don’t want to leave my group” or “There is no other place for me to play” when they are having problems. Not having another group may or may not be true, I have seen both cases. However, I feel most of the time these statements are usually hyperbole or just fear of change. I have seen the fear that these people won’t be my friends any more! Well, if they are your friends I am sure you hang out other places, and let them know that. I don’t game with all my friends, and they don’t make me play softball or some other sport I hate. Communicate expectation so that people who are serious about gaming don’t get into a game that is a “hang out with my friends and drink Mountain Dew” adventure. If you are in a group that is just not working out, know when to leave. I don’t like telling people to leave their group, but if there is a big problem it may take a sit down and talking it out like it is marriage counselling. If you don’t want to do that then man up and leave. I have had to do this in the past and it sucks, but sometimes it needs to be done.

This felt like a rambled quite a bit. I know I went back and forth a few times because my mind kind of wanders like that. It may be a touch harsh in some places, but while I believe we absolutely need to be inclusive as a gaming community and understanding there comes a point where a line needs to be drawn. It may sound like another job, but I don’t want to ruin other people’s experiences with misunderstood expectations. I hope I didn’t come off as too big of a hater. I am a big advocate for getting people into gaming and am always trying to run games for completely new gamers and returning gamers. In any case, thoughts are appreciated. Thanks for reading.

Mar 062014

I have been brainstorming what game I plan on running next and have a lot on my mind. So many settings and stories I want to visit. I decided I want to do a heavily story based game, as opposed to my normal sandboxy, loose story game. I managed to narrow down the top three on my mind and created pitches for each one. I am solely focusing on the story of the game and I actually am still up in the air to the exact setting or system for them. I am really focusing on telling a story so I want to get opinions solely on that.

My players! Please choose 1, 2, 3, or none. Toss me and email or comment on the G+ post with your choice. I would like a quick reason why you choose the one you did and what you would like to see. If you choose none then defiantly include this. I want some feedback on these ideas so I can hopefully run a sweet game.

1. In a feudalistic world a soldier claiming to have divine favor rises up to help reclaim power for the nation. But, as their popularity grows how will the ruling powers both inside and outside the nation react? The players will be soldiers in the military of the nation and may be forced to choose sides.

2. In a world that previously knew nothing but peace, war has broken out which turns the once peaceful land into a dystopian terror for all sides. The players will be resistance fighters caught in the middle who need to choose a side or bring both down.

3. A peaceful and advanced society experiences a strange murder. It soon becomes apparent that something more sinister than a simple murder is happening. The players play law enforcement investigators that need to uncover why this murder happened and bring the criminal to justice.

Feb 102014

Well it has been awhile. Pushing two years actually… The last post was my successful Linux and Citrix post I put up for my own reference and apparently others found it useful. I will probably keep that up to dateish, but it seems the same basic idea applies to each version. It is just dealing with the receiver breaking between releases.

Ran quite a few games  over the two years. The last one I ran was very…. mediocre… I blame myself for not running it better. It was one of the first games I gave a title to. It was called “Legion” and was a biblical post-apocalyptic game set in Nebraska and surrounding states. It dealt with Angels and Demons and all that good stuff. Had some sweet moments, but nothing really held it solid. The plot was bumpy and the pacing was terrible.

I have yet to sit down and parse out the Ironclaw game, which is likely the best game I have ran up to this point. I hopefully write out some of the musings here just to decompile it and figure out what I did right. I  attribute most of it to the players, as they did a knock out job with their characters and the interactions between them. I almost cried at one scene. It was great.

I have decided to take a break from running for a game or two (maybe the odd one shot module). That isn’t completely true. I am currently running a game for my co-workers I titles “The Destiny of Man” I think. I can’t remember. It is set in my sci-fi world and run in cortex. It kinda has a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Serenity vibe to it. Basically it steals a ton from all those settings. I ran one other game in that world, but I wanted to explore another aspect of the setting. So far it is a good time. My future plan for my main group is a Battletech game, which I have never ran before. I still am struggling with a plot for the game, so I need to really brainstorm and think something up. I did however start outlining a one-shot for the diceless game I have been writing. It is a murder mystery/investigative style game set in the Myst world in the main D’ni city. The players will be playing members of the Guild of Maintainers (the police) and investigating some happenings in the city. I am looking forward to trying it out. This is very experimental for me as I have never ran a pure investigative game or a diceless game. I probably should have just done one or the other first off. Oh well, I like to jump in with both feet.

This felt good. I think I need to just talk at the screen every now and then to release some of this stuff in my head. I hope more is to come.