Player Technology Part 4 – Making Minis

Like bringing your own dice (which you should always do), bringing your own miniature is a great way for players to get into the spirit of the game.  It gets players thinking about what their character looks like, gets them in the mindset of (literally) bringing something to the table and out of the mindset of expecting the game master to provide their fun.  But any player involved in several games – or not sure about a game – may not want to invest the bucks to buy expensive plastic miniatures.  What other options are there?  Make your own!

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Game Master Tip – Keeping their attention.

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?

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Player Technology Part 1 – The Cloud

In the first part of our series on players using technology at the game table, we will look at online storage and note-taking applications.

In the days of yore (read: last weekend at the Thirdwalling hosue) our notes, character sheets and various other character paraphernalia were stored in folders in designated backpacks set aside for gaming.  The goal with this experiment was to take all of that various analog data and move it into digital format to see how it affected play at the table.

Via a very complex polling method we selected three pieces of popular software to test; Evernote, Dropbox and Google Drive – and in all cases we used the free version of the software.  After all, if we’re going to spend money – we might as well spend it on paper!

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Player Tip Series #1 – Technology at the Game Table

For over a month now, the posts on Thirdwalling have been dedicated to the Game Master – with the Tip Series on the Golden Rule and the sporadic other quick tips.  In this new series, we will be spending 4 weeks dedicated to the player – and making the play experience easier and more enjoyable by brining technology to the game table!

As a player – especially a first time player, or the first time playing with a new group – sitting down to the table for the first time can be a daunting thing.  But there is technology out there that can help us – as players – to be better equipped to gaming.  While this technology is by no means a requirement, over the course of these four weeks I – Bob Thirdwaller, devout player minimalist – will test out some software at the table to see if it benefits my play experience!

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The Golden Rule Part 4 – Be Consistent

So far, the Golden Rule series has discussed From a player’s perspective, handling disputes professionally, the dispute between the rules and the story, and conceding when appropriate.

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.

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Arts and Crafts – Miniatures Edition

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.

The Golden Rule Part 2 – The Game Comes First

When a prominent aspect or focus of the game master’s story conflicts (directly or indirectly) with the core rules of the game trouble is on the horizon.  But what is a game master to do when they find their masterpiece at odds with the rules?

There are two schools of thought – and they are as polarized and hotly debated as everything else in our great hobby:

Some will say the rules trump the story and for the beginner game master, that is certainly a safe path to follow.  By shielding themselves behind the rules, an inexperienced game master can prevent a lengthy debate or hard feelings associated with perceived “favoritism” and get an early start on circumventing the “Us vs. GM” mentality in their players.  But it raises concerns of unnecessary “rules lawyering” stealing from the spirit of the story – and opens the door for heated debates over rules minutia.

There are others that say that the story trumps the system – a strategy that certainly appeals to the game master that’s spent months working on their campaign.  But this path is full of pitfalls – if the players don’t know what to expect from the system they will feel cheated and ill-prepared for your encounters.

The truth is, the real key to a happy campaign is not the system or the story – it’s the game!

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The Golden Rule Part 1 – Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

This post is automated – Thirdwaller is taking some time away for a family emergency!

Disputes at the table can be intimidating to a game masters – rookies and veterans alike.  Many is the failed campaign that can attest that disputes can be treacherous ground – capable of tearing an entire gaming group apart.  In fact, a particular rules dispute in Thirdwaller’s very first attempt at running a Star Wars campaign in 9th grade has forever tainted the opinion of one player such that he will not game with Thirdwaller as a game master anymore.

But what is a game master to do when the rules don’t cover a topic – or a player more versed in the rules (looking at you, The Fez) has a different interpretation of the rules?  How the game master handles the interaction is almost as important as the ruling made.  Handling a dispute correctly will show the players that the game master wants and respect their feedback, that they’re open to the player’s opinions and that the game master is not “out to get” the players.  In other words, how you react to your players’ questions, problems or disputes will tell them you aren’t a d!ck game master.

In the first part of our multi-part series on The Golden Rule we’ll discuss a dispute handling philosophy we call “Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick“.

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Game Master Tip Series #1 – The Golden Rule

In every discussion I read pertaining to Role Playing Game tips and rules, regardless of system, publisher or genre, there is a variation of the same rule that pops up again and again.  This recurring theme even shows itself in the core rules of role playing books like Vampire: the Masquerade where it is called things like the Golden Rule or Rule Zero.  Whatever the name or system, the theme is always the same;

The Game Master Is Always Right. 

Wow, no pressure, right?  In this multi-part series Thirdwalling will discuss this premise and equip game masters to navigate the treacherous waters of the Golden Rule.

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