Sunday, November 6, 2011

What We Don't Write About...

Noisms asks about...

Things Role Playing Bloggers Tend Not To Write About (And I try to answer why that may be...):

Book binding. (I can't be the only person who bemoans the way new rulebooks tend to fall apart like a sheaf of dry leaves after about 5 seconds of use).

Nearly all my books, dating back to my 1st Edition AD&D books, are in perfect condition with the exception of my 4th Edition Champions Hardbook which is huge and often read so it's not that odd to me.

Why don't we blog about it? I don't know. Don't feel like complaining about that sort of thing. 'Specially when you can get practically anything on PDF.

"Doing a voice". How many people "do voices"? Should they? How do you get better at "doing a voice" if that's your thing?

I do voices. Lots of voices. I have been practicing doing voices for years. I have read a number of articles and interviews with voice actors and obviously have a special connection to the puppeteers of Jim Henson's Muppets. I also make blasters sounds, explosion noises and my favorite, a hopefully unique 'CHUNG-Chi-Chung-Bang-Bang' sound of a malfunctioning Traveller jump drive.

I get better by practicing between games. I will say various things in a noted character's voice (a character who needs to appear more than once) repeatedly and/or in a variety of ways to get the sounds and style/personality right. I listen to sounds I need to use often (the Enterprise's Red Alert, Godzilla's roar, what-have-you) and try to repeat those as well.

Why don't we blog about it? No sure. Good subject.

Breaks. How often do you have breaks within sessions?

Eh. It's irregular. In a typical 8 hour session, I would say we break for snacks or bathroom for a few minutes at a time a few times a game.

Is this really a big thing? Most bloggers don't blog about it because...I don't know, I don't really care about this myself. Whatever works.

Description. Exactly how florid are your descriptions?
I'm a really visual guy, as are my players, so when I was younger I would be very descriptive and florrid, yet I and my players would also draw pictures of things. Eventually I realized that since I had pictures for a lot of things, I needed to waste less time describing those things.

I often think about what constitutes good descriptions and how much is too much.

Why don't we blog about it more? Not sure. We should.

Where do you strike the balance between "doing what your character would do" and "acting like a dickhead"?

Rarely comes up. I don't play with dickheads. What our characters do is not act like dickheads.

Why don't we blog about this more? I kind of think people blog about this too much. There are a lot of dickheads out there.

PC-on-PC violence. Do your players tend to avoid it, or do you ban it? Or does anything go?

Depends on the campaign. More often than not it just doesn't come up. We tend to all be on the same side.

Why don't we blog about it? Hmmm...I wish others would. I would be curious to read peoples opinions on this.

How do you explain what a role playing game is to a stranger who is also a non-player? (Real life example: my friends and I were playing in the local M:tG club space. A M:tG groupie teenage goth girl came over and asked, "What are you playing?" "[We answered.]" "Sounds kind of gay.")

I usually start by saying, "Ok, let's say you were going to the store and you saw a bright light in the sky. Really bright. Definitely not the sun. What would you do?"

After a few sentences back and forth I say, "Well, it's like that. That was role-playing. There are usually some die rolls involved."

Why don't we blog about this more? Well, most bloggers are old school guys who are preaching to the choir. Generally, they aren't talking to people who don't already play. So, maybe, they just don't think about it enough. Too bad. I think we should discuss it more.

Alchohol at the table?

Doesn't come up. Don't drink much or often.

Why don't we blog about this? Really? Don't know. Again, it doesn't come up for me.

What's acceptable to do to a PC whose player is absent from the session? Is whatever happens their fault for not being there, or are there some limits?

I try to reduce the level of activity of a PC missing their Player but I refuse to pretend they suddenly aren't where they were or don't exist. That is to say, if the Captain, First Officer, Doctor and Security Chief beam down to Beta Rotori IV and are still there at the end of the session, they are all there at the start of the next session even if Paul isn't there to play the Doc. The Doc becomes an NPC and I, as GM, will try to act as much in character as possible while also keeping him out of harm's way as much as possible.

Why don't we bog about this? We...wait. Sorry. What exactly is the subject? "What is acceptable to do to a PC whose player is absent". Do to? Ah. D&D thinking.

Barking Alien


  1. A lot of my new books still have good binding. Nothing so far has fallen apart.

    I do accents, but not a lot of different voices.

    We play eight hours with a dinner break on a Saturday sessions.

    I love writing text. Save vs. text box when it comes to me.

    I hand out a social contract to new players in that boorish behavior will not be tolerated. If they want to play Chaotic Dickhead just "shake things up", they've played their last session. No warnings, no sit-down discussions to straighten up. If a player thinks it's funny to be a jerk to the other players or try to derail the game for their own amusement, they are gone.

    My players avoid PC-on-PC violence and I seriously frown upon it. I make it clear at the beginning of each campaign that the characters want to adventure together so there should be a reasonable expectation to find some solution when disagreements come up aside from attacking other characters. Using the excuse, "I'm playing my character's alignment" is not acceptable and lazy to me.

    I'm a closet gamer. I don't explain my hobby to non-gamers and I never disclose what I do for fun.

    Nobody at my game drinks and I'm not a fan of going to games where alcohol is served because usually those players will get smashed which makes for a very boring game.

    I give my players a choice when it comes to missing a session. They can skip it with their character--no XP or they can let a fellow player run their character and let the dice fall where they may. If I run the character for the player, I have the character on autopilot in which he's doing not much, but still if something happens where there's bad dice rolls and the character dies, he dies.

  2. Here's my $0.02 in order:

    Binding: My 2nd Edition PHB has has its cardboard spine re-glued by me I don't even know how many times. Also, though it's not binding per-se, the 2nd Ed monstrous
    compendium in that ginormous binder... It was impossible to organize if you bought any add-ons. With nearly every sheet having a monster on both sides, expansions wouldn't fit alphabetically in the mix. I ended up photocopying and hole-punching more often than not.

    Voices: Always, and consistently. I keep little 3x5 cards with the npcs and what accent and mannerisms they have.

    Breaks: Rarely. But our sessions tend to be only 3-4 hours.

    Descriptions: If it's a planned location, I try to hit all 5, sometimes 6, senses if possible in the read-aloud text. If it's from the hip, I tend to focus on vision and smell and forget the others.

    "Realistic Character Behavior": If it's good roleplaying and internally consistent with the character, I'll go for it. But then again, I don't allow "dickhead" characters either.

    PvP: If it comes up, we roleplay it instead of Rollplay it. It makes for a better version of inter-character conflict. But it doesn't come up that often with my group.

    Explaining RP: I usually explain it in the "who's line is it anyway" impromptu acting way. Most people have seen the show at some point, and really, all we're adding is dice.

    Alcohol: I'm sober 3 years next month, and we play in my "dry" house. Nobody's complained yet.

    Missing Player: I usually find out before the game and will ask them if they want to designate another player to run their pc, or if they want me to NPC them and send a summary after. If there's more than one, it's a reschedule.

    Nice article. I'm not sure if these topics are "never" touched on, but I think some of them should be covered a bit more. Maybe I should start blogging in earnest.

  3. I don't blog about these things because most of them aren't that interesting to me. It's supposed to be fun so I write about things I like more than what I don't. lot of these fall under "Gaming Minutia" which I tag once or twice a year.