Sunday, November 6, 2011

Things Role Playing Bloggers Tend Not To Write About (Answered)

Being a list of TRPBTNTWAs, or, Things Role Playing Bloggers Tend Not To Write About:

(I will answer these questions posed by “noisms” at his Monsters and Manuals blog and others, like Back to the Keep.)
  • 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).
I know my 1e books are in awesome shape compared to the use they have seen! I do think some printing is cheaper on the binding of RPG rule books, even if the paper quality is better. PDFs are nice to have but a printed rule book/Supplement is great to have in hand. I prefer hardcover, but softcover is not bad either.

  • "Doing a voice". How many people "do voices"? Should they? How do you get better at "doing a voice" if that's your thing?
Most players I have played with do not do voices. I personally give a voice or at least an inflection to every Character (whether Player or Non-Player) that I run. A good way to get used to that is to be a Game Master, if even for a one-shot session. You learn that voices add to the atmosphere of the game. I know they aren't for everyone, but I prefer them. A key to doing a voice is to have take into account who it is that you are voicing: age, gender, social status, motivations, etc. If these are not fleshed out or are not part of the tale (in the case of a random, minor NPC encounter, perhaps), then just wing it and come up with one on the fly. Doing is the best way to get better at them. Roleplaying is a lot like acting – get into character and have some fun!

  • Breaks. How often do you have breaks within sessions?
    I think a short break should be taken about every couple of hours, so people can stretch, get some beverages or just move a bit. I don't mind long gaming sessions, but sitting still for hours on end isn't good for anyone.
  • Description. Exactly how florid are your descriptions?
If I am describing a magical, mystical or especially important place or person, etc. I will give a elaborate description. I do try to keep them as brief as possible, though. Going on and on takes away the immediate impression that people can come up with in their own heads. The human mind tends to fill in details if given a basis to go on. If it matters, I describe things as accurately as possible, with the attention gven that is needed. Atmosphere is really a big part of a game. Too little makes it cardboard – detailing everything makes it overbearing. In everything, there should be balance.

  • Where do you strike the balance between "doing what your character would do" and "acting like a dickhead"?
If you have to act like a jerk, you are probably playing a character that is a jerk. Under-evolved character personalities are the types that unimaginative players have. If after a couple of sessions you don't have some motivations and personality traits coming to the surface, you are probably just wanting to play a pure hack-n-slash game by the numbers. That's fine, but you can still hack and slash and have a developed character. The guy that is greedier than greedy and back stabs other people's characters and steals their pouches for no reason, just because he is playing a Thief, needs to learn that there is more to roleplaying than showing off abilities or acting like a dork. I have played with those kind and they are juvenile types, typically.

  • PC-on-PC violence. Do your players tend to avoid it, or do you ban it? Or does anything go?
Regarding PC on PC violence, one time a friend of mine and I made new characters to play in a game. I made a Vampire Hunter and unbeknownst to me, he had a Vampire! (oh the irony!) During the session, I had suspicions about him and figured out he was a vamp. To make a long story short, I wasted him with a cross-bowed stake to the heart... and afterwards i felt badly and just retired the Hunter then and there. I acted in character, but hated it! We both spent the rest of the session rolling up NEW new characters while everyone else played ;)

I am not totally against PC-on-PC violence, but it should be rare (if ever occurring) and part of the game. It's like the last question above: If you are playing a dork, why are you doing so? Trying to kill other PCs for no reason is plain stupid – there should be a clear motivation. To avoid this situation, the characters need to have an external enemy that is greater than any animosity that characters may have for each other. I am sure that if I was hunting Dracula, that my suspicion of the vampire player character would have been great, but I might need their vampire expertise to get the job done. I might have made that vampire the only exception of those I wouldn't presently kill if we had come to an understanding, such as “No turning other characters or killing people in your blood drains” or some such. There's a lot you can do with having polar opposites in a group that adds a cool tension that does not have to come down to PC-on-PC violence. A good DM knows how to take a “bad” situation and make it an interesting one. I am against forcing players to a certain type of character, unless it is announced beforehand what is banned or what kind of campaign this is.

  • 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.")
Well, I just say it is a lot like acting – all we are doing is acting out the parts of a person in a fantastic world. I would tell them that roleplaying is a social thing and that [whatever game] is just a way to have some fun. Personally, I just encourage people to try it. They might like it. I don't take offense if people aren't into it; they might not have tried it so they may have an uninformed opinion.

  • Alcohol at the table?
    I don't mind if people drink, so long as they don't act like “dorks” ala the above questions. The last game I played in face-to-face, there was a guy that got half in the bag that I had never met before. He became very personally insulting about how I played my character in the game and did all sorts of odd behavior in game play himself. No one said anything about it, but that is the last time I will ever play with that guy, because he took the fun out of the session. If you can't hold your liquor, don't drink during a game. Go to a bar and act like a jerk there so I can punch you in the nose ;)

  • 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 tend to play the missing character as an NPC or make them “indisposed” somehow. I won't let a character of someone who isn't there die, but they get no experience points, treasure or anything else from that missed session. Sometimes it may be preferable to side-adventure the people that are there or even play a one-shot of some other game. I let the players decide. Having a character die because of actions imposed upon them by the DM stinks. I won't do that or anything like it to anyone.


  1. Well said & an interesting read. Thanks for the link - I hadn't even thought of doing that.

  2. I stand corrected - I did put links but they were just in the body of my post, not at the end like you did. I guess I'm trying for Mr. Observant

  3. I was just too lazy to add them into the text ;)
    Still, adding them in is good... share the OSR love!!