Now that I’ve got my do’s and don’ts out the way, I want to start to dig a little deeper. One thing that’s definitely changed about my games over the past few years is that I stopped playing with the same group of people and starting recruiting. Vigorously. In the past three years I’ve introduced about eighteen people to D&D through long term campaigns (longer than a year), and working with new players is something I love doing, though it can occasionally tax my patience a bit. It’s definitely been for the better.
Today’s post is a bit late in part because there was much fretting about what I consider an essential “Do” in a game. Things like “Cooperate” and “Don’t be a dick” were generally ruled out because they’re true for any game, I would hope. I wanted to narrow down my own foibles rather than digging out obvious truths. Without further ado, my do’s. Not to be confused with my don’ts.
The 40th anniversary of D&D gave me a chance to really reflect on how my GMing style has changed since I started playing. I’ve gone from teenage autocrat to adult sandbox GM, but lately I’ve noticed that my style has become a bit paternalistic. I’m starting to set the boundaries and define what people have fun at and what they don’t, and I think that’s a problem in some cases. I want to write and reflect on that a bit, because I think it’s useful for me and hopefully for you. So today, my don’ts. The things that, after this long, I’m just finished dealing with in terms of PCs. Some of these are justified, and some of them are just pet peeves, but it’s all worth thinking about.
One of the things on my GMing bucket list is to have a PC fall in love when it’s not their idea. It’s one thing to have a PC dream up a love interest and have it as a goal, but something else entirely to have their character develop an attraction to an NPC all on their own. I’ve had PCs fall in love with each other. I’ve even had players fall in love (I’m in their wedding in May), but never a PC and an NPC when it wasn’t specifically the player’s idea. One day. I’ve had some time to reflect on romantic relationships in rpgs though, and I want to share some of that this morning.
How I learned that I don’t actually play videogames for the story, and other discussions in today’s TPK video. We’ll have a new one every two weeks, so check back for that!
Recently, my D&D character helped kill a Beholder. A small one. We did what adventurers do, looting its treasure and making off with its prisoners, and I paused for a moment. Properly stuffed, that beholder would make a lovely hatrack in my character’s foyer. Because he has a foyer in the small house he shares with his wife. I asked if anyone else wanted the body, but no one did. They couldn’t carry it with them. That was when I figured out something important.
I know I’m practically the only one, but I do. I love that it’s super vague, and I don’t like the move away from it in newer editions of D&D (though I don’t like the notion of tacking it on to games that don’t have it). I know that it’s an unnecessary piece of the system that’s carried forward for the same reason that fireballs always do 1d6/level damage, and I still like it because it’s an occasionally convenient piece. Read more
Two weeks ago I wrote about three ways I’ve seen religion used as a cultural force in rpgs as a preface to talking about the way that I like to use it, along with some general thoughts on religion in games. I think there’s a lot of different relationships characters can have with their faith, just like in real life, and I wanted to find a way to articulate religion so it was accessible to everyone and couraged people to created deeper characters with a more interesting narrative. As an ethicist who’ll talk anyone’s ear off about values, it seems like the obvious way to do it.
Getting back in the habit with a post I’ve wanted to write for a while. Religion at the gaming table can be an interesting and sticky subject. There are a lot of ways to treat it, and I could write for months about it. I’ve played with people of a few religious stripes, from those with none at all to pagans and various flavours of Christian, and they’ve really helped me define my idea of what belonging to a religion means, and how it can matter narratively. I’m an apatheist myself, but I understand the power of religion as a cultural force in the lives of millions of people, so I’ve always wanted to give it a treatment that resonates with faithful people without disincentivizing secular players. There’s a wide gulf between representing real-world religion vs. fantasy religion, but today I want to pay attention to fantasy religion. We’ll talk about the way I do it next week, but here’s three other ways you could treat religion.
30 Days of GMing Day 5
Today’s topic is Stealing like an artist: what inspiration have you drawn from other games, books, movies, etc? I struggled with this post a lot. One one hand I want to say I haven’t stolen anything in a long time because I can’t remember specific instances. On the other hand, I know I’ve been doing it because everyone does it. A lot. Which means I’m probably doing it without thinking about it. Everyone does it differently, but here are some things I like to steal.