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 →

GMing (Part 6): Beginning a Campaign or Session

A road, beginning at the bottom of the image and stretching away from the viewer into the background, fading in the distance. In the foreground, the word 'start' is stenciled on the road in large white letters. Last time, we talked about running a game session. However, there is an important corollary that goes along with this idea. That is the the understanding of how to begin a game session. But this concept of a beginning doesn’t apply exclusively to game sessions: the beginning of a campaign is just as important (in some ways, more so!). So we’re going to talk about beginning things in today’s session.

For those less familiar with gaming, a trope exists about most campaigns beginning in a tavern. The location of the beginning is less an issue than the nature of the characters themselves. I wrote an in-depth discussion of the concern on my other blog. In short, the first session of a campaign often starts with the characters, who have never met, in the same tavern. There are problems with this approach, which we will discuss later in this article. The important point here: the beginning of a campaign or game session is very important.

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Children as players in roleplaying games

A father GMs for his wife and children, two daughters, all of whom are sitting around a table covered with Dungeons and Dragons paraphernalia.A friend of mine recently posted a link to an article about playing D&D with your kids. It was short, but had some interesting points. In particular, there was the part in which the author described a gaming session with his group that includes some parents who’d brought their children to the game. In this particular session, the three-year-old daughter of one of his fellow players was having fun with his miniatures. He states,

…as I was explaining what each monster was she began to ignore me and make up her own names and stories for them all. I smiled and played along with her. As we played however, I noticed that this was really kick starting her imagination. Stories of strange beasts and dragons with giant spiders as pets…

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Roleplaying: An adventure in imagination

A hand hovers over the table, where several dice have just been rolled. The dice are of different varieties, including d4, d6, d8, and d10.I have talked at some length about board games, and a little about one specific roleplaying game, but I haven’t yet talked in general about my favourite kind of games: roleplaying games. It’s not surprising that I enjoy RPGs; as I’ve mentioned here before, I am a storyteller player type, which means that I most enjoy games that follow Freytag’s pyramid, especially if they involve character growth and the development of interpersonal relationships. Given the right gaming group, roleplaying games are the best vehicle for telling stories as a game that you can hope to find. So I’m going to talk today about this wonderful type of game.

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Changeling: the Dreaming – Why I love it so much

A photo of the Changeling: the Dreaming main rule book, with the cover art representing a stained glass window of a gryphon holding a sword. Last week, I wrote an article about the tabletop roleplaying game Changeling: the Dreaming. Included in that article were links to descriptions of the setting and in-game history. Anyone who is familiar with the Storyteller System (the original World of Darkness in particular) already knows the basics of the system. But what I didn’t describe was why I am such a fan of the game. So I think I will do that today.

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Transgender Changeling: Adapting the Changeling Way

The Title Logo for Changeling: The Dreaming -- the title rendered as a slightly whimsical stained glass panelAs a gamer who is a fan of stories and storytelling, I tend to be drawn towards games that allow and encourage the telling of stories. This is why I became a fan of roleplaying games; they are the single best framework for telling stories as a game. Of all the RPGs I’ve tried (and I have tried many), my favourite is, without question, Changeling: the Dreaming. It emphasises creativity, and is set in a world which includes a vast realm made entirely of dreams. This allows you to play in any setting you can imagine. The important thing right now is that the characters in this story are faeries inhabiting human bodies. Normally, players assume that the human body in which a fae spirit is housed matches the demographics of the fae spirit itself. But as I find myself thinking more about Changeling as a result of the recent 20th Anniversary Kickstarter, I realise that nowhere in the rules does it say that this is necessarily the case. In fact, there are places where it hints that it isn’t always the case; specifically, it mentions that the Eshu, an African kith, are not always born into host bodies of African descent. Thus, I begin to wonder if there are other ways in which this disconnect can be expanded. And my first thought is: what if the human body is of a different gender than the fae spirit born into it? And thus I find myself contemplating the possibility of Transgender Changeling.

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