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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Descriptive vs Statistic – An Evolution in RPGs

The current cover art for three descriptive roleplaying games: Bluebeard's Bride, Fiasco, and Fate Accelerated Last week, when I posted the interview with Whitney Beltrán, I had to cut out a lot of material. The transcript of our conversation was over 5,000 words long. I usually try to post articles of around one thousand words. Generally, I keep a thousand five hundred as an upper limit. Even cutting out entire sections of the conversation, it was hard to get the article down to two thousand words. This is especially disappointing to me, as there were some really interesting topics that I had to remove entirely. The interview I posted absolutely stands on its own. It does a great job of communicating the important aspects of the game. But one of the topics I had to eliminate was a discussion of the evolution of roleplaying games. In particular, we discussed how roleplaying games are becoming less statistics-based, and more descriptive. Continue Reading →

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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My Experiences at the 2015 Gen Con

2015 Gen ConMy first trip to Gen Con in Indianapolis was a blast. I drove down there Thursday morning. I had some problems trying to figure out where I could park. I wasn’t able to make it to the Writing Comics: Writing Women Friendly Comics seminar since I got there later then I intended. I picked up some generic tickets and wondered around trying to find a program.

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