Even when I’m not actively participating in my chosen hobby, it’s nice to think about.
Day 8: Shade. Crom knows I’ve been guilty of throwing shade at Dungeons & Dragons over the years. I try to make clear that it’s only my opinion and I don’t expect others to feel the same way. The example I often use is how people like reading James Paterson, but it’s not to my taste. I still like reading and I hope you enjoy his books. They’re just not for me. What can’t be denied is that D&D helped create the hobby and has been a constant thread for almost 50 years, keeping the flame lit even in dark times. I tip my hat to D&D. Just don’t ask me to play it.
Day 9: Light. How do I like my tabletop RPG mechanics? Light. I’ll make an exception for Ars Magica (and a couple others, maybe), but generally the more numbers, modifiers, “if A then X” rules, etc., the less likely I am to be interested. I talk about the system for Over the Edge (2nd Ed.) a lot, now available in a setting-neutral download called WaRP. It’s close to perfection as far as I’m concerned. Four ‘statistics.’ One of them describes who you are. Are you an Adventure-Plumber? Are you a Time-Traveling Dinosaur Dilettante? Are you a Half-Vulcan First Officer/Science Officer? OK. Anything that makes sense under the umbrella of that core trait is rolled against a target number. You also like to play the Vulcan harp and have a high skill in nerve pinching? OK. Those are your two other, much more specific and limited, positive traits (essentially skills). Rounding it out is your Flaw. Do you struggle with your dual nature? There you go. You’ve essentially made a character and are about ready to play. Simple. I love it. There are a couple knobs and blinky lights, but that’s essentially the game. Give me system-light games any day. Over the Edge, Everway, Barbarians of Lemuria, A Cool and Lonely Courage, Fudge. Sign me up.
Day 10: Want. I believe it was Cheap Trick who said it best; “I want you to want me.” I want to run a game where the players all want to be there, where the players show me they want to find out what’s next, where they want to come back session after session to keep pushing forward, and where players want to take up the baton & become GMs. Is that really the selfish motive behind running games? Do I just want to create GMs so I’ll have more opportunity to play? …Maybe…
Day 11: Stack. I’m just going with the obvious on this one. I have a stack of games, enough to weave stories for years. Like a certain type of story? I can almost certainly find a game in my collection to fit the need. Contemporary Horror, Space Opera, Hard Science Fiction, Conspiracy, Historic, High Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Weird, Goofy, Serious…I’m pretty sure I have a game for anyone. Now, just give me piles and piles of time and a few open minded friends…
Day 12: Message. I used to pass a lot of notes and messages to players, keeping the paranoia rolling, making sure each player had different information and keeping things uneven to create DRAMA!!! Handouts and such can be a really interesting addition. Secrets, codes, dreams. Messages flowing back and forth from GM to players. Good stuff.
Day 13: Rest. I let myself get entirely too wrapped up in anxiety and anticipation when I’m running games, and need a serious rest afterward. It’s always good to give yourself some time to decompress and recharge the brain cells. I’m trying to develop some skills involving both less preparation and scheduled decompression. This should help. Being properly rested before a game is an important step.
Day 14: Banner. I used to keep my head down. I didn’t talk about tabletop RPGs in public. But now, I let my freak flag fly. I wave the banner of the hobby that has done so much for me. If anything, I’m trying to be more open about it. If you’ve got friends you like hanging out with and like playing board games with, you’ve probably got friends who would be fun to play tabletop RPGs with. Oh, sure. Not every game is for every person. But there’s a game out there for almost anyone. You’ve just got to find the match.