RPG a Day 2020: Week Three


I could keep this up for another couple months.

Day 15: Frame.  I often stumble over game mechanics. The more simulationist, the more the mechanics try to quantify every possible action, the more cumbersome I find them.  Reading rules for various game mechanics often feels like reading stereo instructions or theoretic math formulas.  I’m of the opinion the system should be a frame upon which characters and story are built. In a best case, it is invisible, under the surface, propping things up without obstructing the view.

Day 16: Dramatic.  When I’m at my best as a player, I like to (within reason) do the things that are most dramatic, as opposed to the most ‘optimal.’ Sometimes the most memorable stories are the ones where things don’t go well. The most interesting characters are typically those with flaws, those who do the sub-optimal thing. Drama often comes from mistakes, failures, miscalculations, and poor choices.

Day 17: Comfort.  It’s important to break out of your comfort zone. Unfortunately, these days being what they are (*waves hands around, indicating…everything*) I don’t know if I have a comfort zone. Getting back into tabletop RPGs after a long hiatus has involved a twisting bundle of nerves. I feel completely out of practice, trying to flex muscles I haven’t used regularly in over a decade. I guess my comfort zone has been “thinking about, but not doing it.” So, I definitely have to break out of that.  I took steps in 2019, running a few things and playing in a few things.  In the last year, I’ve even tried my hand at running games online a couple times.  Not something I’m super comfortable with, but there it is.

Day 18: Meet.  RPGs have been a fantastic way for me to meet people over the years. I’ve gamed with military folks, electricians, computer programmers, retail-jockeys, historians, engineers, actors, biologists, teachers, writers, nurses, chefs, folks from lots of different backgrounds, folks of different political leanings, etc., etc., etc.  Sitting around a table, looking into the eyes of fellow humans, telling stories that reach out and connect us. It’s pretty great.

Day 19: Tower.  Sometimes the hobby does feel like scaling a tower. Making the time, finding the friends, convincing the friends, overcoming inertia, overcoming a grinding sense of ineptitude. It’s kind of like writing. I love it, but it doesn’t always love me back.  The rewards for scaling the wall are great.  With friends, the tower doesn’t seem quite so impregnable.

Day 20: Investigate.  How can I not mention what is probably my favorite game, Call of Cthulhu. With most games, the GM hopes players will want to investigate things, explore the world, search behind doors, talk to the townsfolk, etc.. With Call of Cthulhu, you’ve got to do it. You need to ask lots of questions, search around every corner, and read every blasphemous text, or you’ll never know what’s happening…not that you’ll do very well after learning what’s happening.  It’s so important, your characters are referred to as “investigators.”

Day 21: Push.  Sometimes I need a push to really get things going. Mostly, I need to push myself. Lots of ideas, lots of inertia. It’s easy to stall out. Too many options and you can become frozen.  Again, like with writing, you’ve got to break things down into more bite-sized chunks.  Don’t get too bogged down in possibilities.  Shake it off and push through.


Check out my Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.  And take a look at my Patreon page, where I’m working on a novel and developing a tabletop RPG setting. You can also read my fiction over on Amazon.


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