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Showing posts from January, 2021

How You Started

This entry is about the the influence that a player's experience of entry into the hobby of role-playing games has on subsequent preferences. It ends with questions for you , the reader. UPDATE: I hope that younger players will leave a response, too. I do like to hear from the other guys who are 45-55 years old, but not just them! All players, please respond. Even a brief answer will be interesting. *** Each one of us begins playing role-playing games somewhere, somehow, with some rules (or lack of rules), and with some other people. That last factor--our fellow gamers at the start--may be the most formative, because others contribute to our experience with different expectations, preferences, and prior experiences of their own. Different player groups produce different styles of play. I think the people we play with at the start condition some of our preferences for a long time to come. Reading other gamers' blogs and talking to friends about these games, I am struck by how di

Knowing Your Players and Their Kicks

There is a lot of advice on the technique of running role-playing games out there. Referees think a lot about how to make fun games for their players, usually their friends. Thinking about the next game and scenario and optimal rule design becomes a hobby within the hobby. I'd bet that Referees spend a lot more time thinking about and planning for the next game than they do playing. In light of that, Referees will trade tips as part of their meta-hobby. We learn from each other and we get to enjoy that hobby within the hobby by talking to other Referees. How to run a game that is fun for others depends, however, on what it is we think we are doing. And the debate about what the role-playing game is, and what it is supposed to be, is as old as the game itself. Long-standing disagreements continue, as witnessed by Jon Peterson's new book, The Elusive Shift (my review here ). *** People thinking about RPGs have parsed players into types representing different needs. Already in 19

Repeated Attempts by Different Characters

DM David has an interesting new entry on judgment calls the Referee makes when players want to try the same action over again after the dice already said the outcome was failure. You should read that smart discussion to make full sense of this discussion, but the issue is one that every experienced Referee will recognize: under what circumstances do you let players re-roll to succeed after their character fails through a dice roll? How do you keep rerolls from depleting excitement and raising a degree of boredom? I'm with DM David on this. First, don't make players roll for something when failure would cause the game to stop in its tracks. If the object of the quest is behind a portal that they can't open because of a failed die roll, that's not fun. Second, the dice rolls mean little if your solution to their failure is merely to penalize them in time spent. (DM David cites a D&D third edition rule, which I had not heard of, that failure can mean it takes 20 times

When the Grognards Were Munchkins

Happy New Year to all! The premise of this blog is still my thinking about role-playing games and getting oriented to gaming today as a reawakened gamemaster well into my middle age. Today's entry is about generation gaps. Munchkins I first came across the term "munchkin" in a gaming context in 1982, reading an issue of Dynamite magazine that someone had given to me because it contained an article on Dungeons & Dragons, then my new hobby. (I think it was issue #94.) The article described a visit to a games store with tables reserved for players. This strange new kind of game (role-playing games) was featured. One group of older D&D players was observed to have a serious and mature game. Another table, full of kids, was making far too much noise, and they had to be told repeatedly, finally at a shout, to quiet down. These were described contemptuously by the older players as "munchkins," rowdy and immature kid gamers. When I read this, I understood the