Getting Back Into The Game

Everything is not rainbows and butterflies when it comes to roleplaying games in the house of the Stargazer – far from it. If you’ve followed my blog over the years you know about my struggles with mental health and my constant fears of failure. The fear not to be able to please my players has become so bad that recently I started getting bouts of anxiety when I thought about having to run a game, or when I tried to do any prep. In the end I decided that no game in the world was worth it, and I cancelled the game. Permanently.

This comes directly after I ended a year-long GMing hiatus. I had high hopes that leaving the GM’s mantle to other for a time would help me to relax, to allow me to look at things from a new perspective. So when I decided it was the right time to make my comeback I managed to drive everything down the cliff in just a few weeks.

Inspired by Matt Mercer’s series Critical Role I wanted to give Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition a try – a game which I like a lot. Unfortunately playing 5E is quite different from actually running it. I also made every dumb mistake possible. When introducing new players to a game it makes a lot of sense to keep things simple. A one-shot with pregenerated characters in the setting you intend to use, is a good start. Of course I decided to jump directly into the campaign. Instead of starting with a small group and adding more players over time, I invited seven players to the game which had none experience in D&D. Instead of limiting the character choices to make things easier for all of us, I didn’t want to limit the players’ creativity and ended up with a very exotic adventuring party which didn’t even include a single human. My last mistake was to decide to switch from Matt Mercer’s Tal’Dorei setting to Eberron basically at the last moment. Yes, you got that right, I basically set myself up for failure – even though I wasn’t aware of this at the time. When it finally dawned on me that I bit off more than I could chew, panic set in. I had cancelled campaigns before, but I think it never went to extremely high excitement to total panic and despair in just a few days.

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The Great Google+ to Mewe Migration of 2018

A couple of days ago Google announced that they will shutdown Google+ in 2019. This was a shock especially to many tabletop RPG fans which have used the platform basically from day one to discuss the hobby, organize events, or generally post great content. Last time I checked there were countless RPG groups for even the most obscure games out there.

For me, Google+ has lost a lot of appeal during the last few years. Some of the changes made by Google worked directly against how I have used the social network at that time, and so I used it less and less. It also became more difficult to avoid the more toxic people in our community. So begrudgingly I moved a lot of my activity over to Facebook while still looking for alternatives.

One alternative was MeWe, which looks a lot like a cleaned up Facebook with a focus on privacy and free speech. Unfortunately not a lot people were using it. For a long time my number of contacts was about 5 to 10 people. With Google’s recent announcement that number quickly rose to over 70. That’s because a lot of the more active people from Google+ seem to have decided to migrate to MeWe en masse. Several RPG groups have been created and are already extremely active. The group chat feature plays a huge role in this.

Some concerns have been raised that MeWe might be a bad choice because of its CEO’s stance on free speech. Mark Weinstein is a registered Libertarian, and has openly catered to some right-wing nutjobs who got thrown off other platforms like Twitter. On the other hand Tim Berners-Lee is on MeWe’s advisiory board and according to Weinstein, the site if fully GDPR compliant (for all users)  and hosted in Ireland.

At the moment MeWe is exploding with activity. Everyone is setting up new RPG-related groups and the one’s I’ve checked so far are friendly and inclusive. Everyone is excited. If you want to check out MeWe for yourself, I recommend joining “The Great G+ RPG Exodus” even if you haven’t been on G+ before. It’s a great hub for new members of the network and people point out new RPG-related groups, give advice, and help newbies to find their way. If you want to connect with me on MeWe, follow this link! I’ll see you there!

First Impressions Against The Darkmaster

So I came across Against the Darkmaster this week and it peaked my interest. The game is, according to its website, vsdarkmaster.com a fan developed game derived from the original Iron Crown Enterprises MERP.

So right now the game is in the public play test stage and has a kickstarter planned for next year.

This is just a literal first look as I have not even read the play test document yet.

There are lots of things you want to see if you are looking at something that shares its DNA with Rolemaster and MERP. Open ended rolls are one and they are definitely in here, skills based characters are they are in here, combat tables are here and criticals. All of those you can tick off.

The character creation is a little different to how I remember MERP being. Here you just get some may bonus points to distribute between your stats. This not uncommon in Rolemaster circles as the actual 1-100 stat is never used just the stat bonus. vsDarkmaster has gone down the same route and scrapped the unused 1-100 stat and just kept the stat bonus.

VsDarkmaster has eradicated the work Race from the game and uses Kin in its place. Despite the name change the kins are exactly how I remember the MERP races to be and they have even retained the Background options. If you never played Rolemaster or MERP then you can spend background points to get some form of bonus for your character such as a magic item as starting equipment or extra money or something less tangible like coming from a respected family or a bonus to one of your stats.

Characters each have a culture and these give you a selection of skill ranks that you can spend buying skills. Skills are all grouped into categories and the cultural skill ranks are distributed amongst these categories so you cannot just pile them all into combat or magic!

Character classes or Professions are called Vocations in vsDarkmaster. There are six vocations in this play test version Warrior, Rogue, Strider, Wizard, Animist and Dabbler. the first three have no magic and the last three are all spell casters.

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