Sunday, September 8, 2019

RPGaDay 2019 Day #31 End

Today’s theme is “End.”

How do you end a campaign?

I think we’re all familiar with how a campaign “normally” ends. Someone finds something else to do with their Thursday night and eventually everyone else follows suit. How long this takes can depend on where in the chain the Game Master is.

There was a period where my gaming career consisted of “mini-campaigns,” 3-4 months of roughly weekly sessions using a single system and a single setting to tell a single story arc before jumping on to the next system and setting for a new story arc. Each of those story arcs had their own conclusions (and if I had tried, I would have had the devil’s own time trying to push past what that ending was), so I actually had a number of campaigns that did have a proper ending. The closest I had to a continuing campaign in this period were the “sequel campaigns” I ran in the “Mars invades Atlantis” setting I had devised, each using a different generic system.

My Adventures in Oz playtest, which occurred during this period, was an example of something that was mostly intended as an open-ended campaign that found itself a conclusion. I was trying to keep things going, but I was having a hard time giving them plot threads to follow. This would have been a sign for me to wrap things up, but my players, especially Kris, beat me to it. He declared the mission to go to Utensia (since that would unleash my worst pun impulses, the group had resolved to never go there), and he also devised the scheme to thwart the Nome invasion that I had put in front of them along the way.

My “ultimate sandbox” campaign is intended to be never-ending. One way of looking at the old school playstyle is that players would bring their characters, Dungeon Masters would provide the setting and play would happen when both of those things came together. So as long as I keep my notes for the sandbox together and in playable form, I can use them for whatever group I organize at any point in time.

RPGaDay 2019 Day #30 Connection

Today’s theme is “Connection.”

RPGs are an inherently social hobby. You can’t really play by yourself. Well, there are solo modules. GURPS did a few and Tunnels & Trolls is famous for them. But that’s not the point.

You need people to play with if you want to play most RPGs. How do you find people to play with?
I found my first roleplaying group by emailing someone who had put up a website that mentioned their gaming interest, the fact that they were local to me at the time, and an email address.

My second gaming group was from responding to an ad from a Dungeon Master looking for players. That group spawned a couple of minor groups when one or the other of us decided that we wanted to play D&D outside of the main campaign or someone wanted to try their hand at being the DM. These never lasted long, but they were fun. It was here that I got my first taste of running a game.

Not long after that, I started hanging out with a gaming club at a local university. I was surprised to find that I didn’t have to be a student to play or run a game with the club. There was even a period where the club president was a player in a game I ran.

My good friend Jordan was someone that I met around this time. I invited him to play in my game at the gaming club while we were playing HeroClix. That was about 15 years ago.

Sometimes, it’s a friend of a friend. I first met Kris Newton due to a mutual friend.

I’ve also recruited co-workers. Boots started out as a co-worker and became a friend. When I noticed the occasional fantasy novel in her backpack, I mentioned that I was interested in starting a D&D game. I helped her build her first character (a ranger with some pretty awesome stats) and ran her through a couple of rooms of the Castle of the Mad Archmage in a session that wound up launching my first long-term campaign.

Since I moved to San Diego, my primary method of getting in touch with other gamers has been This city is too big to trust to random connections. The nearest quality game store is over an hour away by bus, so everything is a product of planning and deliberation.
How did you meet your current gaming group?

RPGaDay 2019 Day #29 Suspense

Today’s theme is “Suspense.”

RPGs are full of suspense. Every time a die is rolled, no one knows what the result is going to be. Success? Failure? Disaster? And for whom? It might be only a few seconds while the dice are being rolled and counted, but if it’s a matter of life and death, the suspense can turn those few seconds into an eternity.

And then there are the times when you do wait an eternity. The tension has reached an apex and the Game Master says, “See you next week!” Though that just means that the GM has just given you a week to prepare for whatever he has just revealed. If you’re smart, you use that week to strategize as best you can. I know I’ve shared at least one story of how having the time to think led to a clever solution.

At least once during the Sir Meriwether incident, the players got together without the GM present to discuss strategies for dealing with our presumed-paladin/pain-in-the-keester. It was long enough ago that I don’t recall what our strategy was or whether or not it worked, but we were sufficiently worked up about the Sir Meriwether situation that it was worth taking a session of our own to work out a plan of action.
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