About J

J was introduced to tabletop roleplaying games in high school, where he found that he enjoyed telling epic stories through the medium of games. Since then, he has only grown more fond of games, and is now an active supporter of his local board game cafe. He's been blogging about games at gamingdork.blogspot.com for a while, and is even working on play testing his own original RPG. He lives in Oklahoma with his wife, a cat, and two rats.

An Analysis of GMing (Part 9): Handling Player Conflict

Two warriors, a human in armour casting a fireball spell and an elf wearing only trousers wielding a large sword, fighting against one another on a bleak landscape with streams of lava flowing by. It is implied that these are the characters of two players letting player conflict spill over into the game. Player conflict is a problem that all GMs must face at least once in their life. It may result from any number of causes. But regardless of the cause, it can result in a total disintegration of the gaming group. Even if everything else is going well, two players (or their characters) being antagonistic towards one another can ruin the game for everyone.

Ideally, you’ll be able to assemble a group that gets along well enough that this won’t be an issue. But sometimes, no matter what you do, two people may develop an insurmountable conflict in the course of playing. Even worse, a disconnect may arise between a player and you, the GM. How do you handle this situation?

In today’s entry, we’ll look at ways to minimise potential player conflict, and how to handle it when it does happen. Whether vetting potential players or mediating between players once the game has started, there are always ways to avert this possible crisis. Continue Reading →

Board Game Review: Power Grid

The game of Power Grid in the course of a four player game. The board represents a map of the continental United States with various cities connected by network lines. Wooden house tokens in the various players' colours have been placed on many of the cities. Along the bottom of the board are black, brown, orange, and yellow tokens representing the various resources. Cards and more tokens lie around the board on the table.In my quest to play eighty of the top 100 board games, I have finally been able to play Power Grid. I first heard of this game when I read the Cracked article 6 Board Games that Ruined It for Everyone. That article lists Monopoly as the worst board game of all time. Perhaps it’s only fair to say it’s the worst widely known board game of all time. But the article goes on to recommend Power Grid instead. The article states:

Power Grid is everything Monopoly should have been. You’re genuinely aiming to build a monopoly, earning ever-increasing fountains of money, but you still have to spend every cent to stay ahead of the competition.

I’ve only been able to play once, but I already know I need to own a copy for myself. Let me explain why. Continue Reading →

GMing (Part 8): Awarding Experience Points

A variety of medals on blue ribbons lying in a pile, representing the concept of a rewards, which is how many players perceive experience points. The evening is over, and the game is finished for tonight. Everyone is ready to go home. There’s one last thing left to do. It’s finally time to award experience points. For some players, this is, in some ways, the entire point of the game. They see it as a reward for having done a good job. Getting a lot of experience indicates that they’re a proficient gamer. After all, it helps them feel as if they were useful to the completion of the goal. For that reason, awarding experience points is an important and often delicate task.

Depending on the system you’re using, this can be a very easy task, or it can be daunting. Let’s look at some of the intricacies involved in effectively awarding experience. Continue Reading →

Fate Core – An Overview of a Great Roleplaying Game

The Logo for the Fate Core System, which is the word 'Fate' in large stylized block letters, with the A rising higher than the other letters, in white on a blue gradient background, with the words 'Core System' in smaller white block letters underneath.I’ve played a lot of roleplaying games in my life. I’ve talked about some of them here before, like Changeling: The Dreaming. The first I ever played was Marvel Super Heroes from TSR. I’ve tried the big, well known ones like Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve also played many small obscure ones, like AlbedoThe Whispering Vault, and Tales from the Floating Vagabond. Although I’d heard of the Fate system, it wasn’t until last month that I got to actually play it. A friend invited me to play in a two-session Dresden Files RPG game, which uses Fate. He then loaned me his copy of the Fate Core book.

I am a convert.

Let me tell you why. Continue Reading →

Board Game Review: Five Tribes

A view of Five Tribes being played. There are 30 square location tiles arranged in a five by six grid. Each tile has a representation of a location from a stereotypical Arabian city, as well as a victory point value and an action icon. Distributed amongst these tiles are meeples in various colours, wooden camel tokens in various colours, wooden palm tree tokens, and wooden Arabian palace tokens. Around this playing area can be seen various resource cards, djinn cards, victory point tokens, a turn order track with Arabian-style towers marking players' turn order, and reserves of the various wooden meeples/tokens. A couple of weeks ago, I was looking through the top 100 ranked games on Board Game Geek. I noticed, to my dismay, that I had only played about seventeen of them. That was when I decided I needed to fix that. So I made a new year’s resolution for 2017. Before the end of this year, I want to, at some point, be able to say that I’ve played at least 80 of the games on BGG’s top 100 list. This led to me playing Five Tribes with some friends last week.

I’ll talk more about this resolution on my other blog, where I’ll also keep track of how many I’ve played. But for now, I will use the opportunity to review a wonderful game. At first, I was hesitant to try it, based on the relevant episode of Tabletop. I have learned that I need to be less reliant on that series. Games that look uninteresting to me turn out to be a lot of fun. That was the case with Five Tribes; I really liked it. So let’s see why, starting with the numbers: Continue Reading →

GMing (Part 7): The End of a Game Session

Four gamers sitting at a table playing Dungeons and Dragons. There are character sheets, dice, and pencils on the table, as well as empty food bowls and several empty (or almost empty) drink glasses, indicating that the game is at an end.The evening is drawing to a close. The session is ending. You’re nearing the end of the time allotted for tonight’s game. All done, right? Time to say, ‘See you next session!’ and pack up your stuff and go?

Not quite.

The end of a game session is at least as important as the beginning. Before you call it a night, there are a few important details that you should cover. In this entry, we shall look at some of the essential issues to consider at the end of your session.

Stopping Points

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is where to stop. The exact end point will depend on several factors: Continue Reading →