Monday, July 23, 2012

View From The Observation Lounge

This weekend I noticed something while running RPGs for the two very different groups I game with each weekend. Here now, is what I noticed...

The first group is the one I work with at the Study Center and consists of about 8 kids between 3rd and 6th grade. It is a mix of boys and girls, all from Brooklyn.

The second group is my regular gaming group and consists of four guys, ranging from their mid-twenties to mid-thirties, from all over New York City.

Observation and Speculation

The mysteries I provide for each group are not all that different in complexitiy or depth. Though the groups are very (very) far apart in age, I don't dumb down my connundrums much for the younger group or create overly complex and nuanced ones for the older group. Perhaps a little more of the latter once in a while but not in a significant way.

The younger players take a lot of notes (or at least most of them do) and look at each clue or element and put together what's happening pretty quickly and easily.

The older group, especially one player in particular, tends to lean toward speculations after their observations. That is, they will look at the clues, identify what they know and then spend 20 minutes or so speculating on what else might be involved but there has been no evidence of. This quickly leads to unwarranted assumptions, missing other key details, confusion and often putting the players in a bigger pickle than they started in.

I've noted here on this blog before...or perhaps it was elsewhere (in the comments of a fellow blogger's blog post)...that I need not create terrible monsters or brilliant death traps to cause harm to the PCs created by this gaming group. All I need to do is place a cup of coffee on the floor in the middle of a room and within a hour they will be trying to kill each other or destroy the building that has the room in it in order to save the world from what they are certain is a deadly menace beyond all reason. It is instead, quite simply, a cup of coffee in a room.

So you can keep your dragons and spring loaded floor panels, your pits of acid and well-organized goblins. I can TPK four seasoned veterans of gaming with a hot cup of java.

This is the face of evil.

Barking Alien


  1. I've noticed the same thing.

  2. Thanks Matt.

    Not to be an ungrateful host (Glad you can by. Can I get you anything? A soda or water maybe?) but can you elaborate? Can you share a sample situation? Why do you think this dynamic exists?

  3. I have noticed similar things with my different groups and I believe this is a post-worthy topic so stay tuned!

  4. Yay! The comments on my posts may be few and small but the posts themselves inspire others to post. I claim a victory!