What’s in a name? As said by Shakespeare’s Juliet “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” And while our star-crossed lovers may still have quaffed their apothecary’s brew, I doubt audiences would be as eager to attend “Garth and Janet” as they are “Romeo and Juliet”. But what can we do to improve our characters’ names?
Whether creating the next big villain or simply adding some good back-story flair to that goblin the party just decided to interrogate, creating a name for your non-player characters (NPCs) can set the scene as well as any physical description.
Nearly as important as what you play is where you play. As the gaming community has matured, it has left behind the days of attracting players to mom’s basement or the picnic table at the park. Instead, the modern player wants to be comfortable and have all the amenities of home, like power outlets for their electronics, snacks and comfortable furnature. It seems like every day technology is holding a stronger presence on the game table, making these comforts of home even more important. So what should game masters consider when they’re choosing a space to host their game?
Some severe health concerns and the arrival of my niece have delayed the Player Series yet again. Please accept as tribute Game Master Tip #5 – Getting them in the door!
Any Game Master who’s ever experienced it – from a LARP to a MMO Raiding Group and every brand of tabletop in between – nothing kills a game faster than bickering and arguing between players. But if you want to see a game die a slow, painful death? Apathy is the way to do it. When the players (or even worse, the game master!) disengages from the game itself the sessions start a slow downward spiral until, if you’re lucky, it dies. If you’re not lucky? Well, then it really takes a turn for the worse. What can a good Game Master do to keep his players engaged and his story engaging? I was given a tip by a fellow Game Master several years back that I have always followed. He said (and I’m paraphrasing): “First, you’ve got to get them in the door every week.”
Taking a break from the Player series to give the crew more time to test some of the software. Let’s look at an important topic – keeping the player’s attention!
At its core, being a Game Master is not that different than managing a business meeting. Sure, the goal is driving away the Goblin King instead of driving up business profits, but the premise is the same – the manager is giving a presentation to a team. Like any team meeting, a gaming session can devolve into a caffeine-fueled chaos if they don’t have a clear direction.
Various studies over the years have shown that, on average, the attention span of an adult is somewhere around 5 minutes. ﾠThis means that after 5 minutes of inactivity, the average adult will likely wander away (at least mentally) and check out of the discussion – which is easy to see in the comments section of most YouTube videos. ﾠBut what can we do to keep our players’ heads in the game and their attention away from the Magic Draw Tourney at the next table?
Rules calls are a touchy thing – a slippery slope that the skilled game master must navigate with their players, testing their footing all the while. Especially until a trust can be formed, game masters must be careful to be even-handed and address all of a player’s concerns or risk losing the player – or worse yet, losing control of the situation and losing all your players.
But what can game masters do to keep control of the situation – and still make it fun for everyone at the table?
As a player, rules disputes carry with them a certain level of morale-crushing bias. No matter how the game master rules, there is always going to be a player that disagrees with the ruling – whether it is the player who raised the dispute in the first place or someone else at the table. The best way to avoid that disagreement turning into further argument down the road – or the dreaded calls of favoritism – is to be consistent as a game master.
In the fourth installment of the Golden Rule series, Thirdwalling will delve into ensuring consistency from gaming session to gaming session through the creation and implementation of a House Rules system.
The players, readers and carpal tunnel of Thirdwaller have all requested a “cease and desist” on full session recaps here on Thirdwalling. So instead, beginning with this entry, we will cover highlights of unique mechanics or fun encounters – including notes on setup, research and background.
Last night, the Long Shots were exploring the Heart of Korrigan – the glacial center of the dwarven capital of Korrigan as part of the Trials of Everrun campaign. Some of what happened last night is still waiting to unfold – so we’ll be light on the details until the players have fully explored the in-game mechanics behind the ritual they encountered – but they’d gotten wind that a ritual was taking place underground, involving a being called “Nef” that everyone seemed to be terrified of. As they approached the site of the ritual, the local Ia (ice trolls) and Eira (ice goblins) were more intent on fleeing the scene than standing to fight.
After taking out the door guards – and the Cold Ones – they Bran-ed (that’s a verb, now) their way through the door (Drip Dry had stepped out for a phone call, leaving the Leg-up to figure out the puzzle of the gate) and into the Ritual Site. Look beyond the More Link for more write-up on the mechanics of the ritual –
In the era that the Thirdwallers affectionately refer to as the Gygax Era, Dungeons and Dragons games were brutal. A look at any of the old modules will show that these games were kill or be killed. This idea has changed a bit – evolving into a better player experience for the most part. There are still hold-outs to its teachings that demand respect. Anyone that can enjoy a game geared so obviously against the player must have jewels the size of Roc eggs.
One lingering effect of this brutal era is a sense of “Us vs. Them” that seems to hang over every gaming session – the idea that the players are at odds against the game master. In my own gaming sessions I’ve had players deliberately hide their plans from me until the last second, for fear that I would re-arrange my game to better oppose them and make a daring plan fall flat! This mentality of hostility must be overcome for a successful game on both sides. The first step toward that elimination is for game masters to rule in the player’s favor when rules disputes could go either way.
Here at Thirdwalling, we are researching for a whole series on using miniatures and maps. About two years ago I finally made the jump to using miniatures (watch for a future post on what that entailed) and I’ve been conducting an experiment to escalate that into a more immersive experience.
theDMsCraft – DM Scotty loves him some Hot Glue. Seriously, buy stock in 3M’s Hot Glue Division. TheDMGinfo – He uses DM Scotty’s 2.5D system to put together some great tutorials on practical and modular dungeons.
In some upcoming Thirdwalling series, it should be easy to see the influence these two have had on my miniatures mindset. I’m still working out the kinks to make it more seamless – but I wanted to give a web shout-out to two of the craziest miniature ninjas I’ve stumbled across in my search. Their 2.5D system pushes right up against the Thirdwall philosophy and the Thirdwalling crew is all captivated by their creativity, ingenuity and dedication.