All posts by Viriatha

My favorite games are usually science fiction but once in awhile I feel the draw of fantasy. My current games include running 2 D6 Fantasy games - one tabletop, one online using Fantasy Grounds and some LARPing for which I’m coordinator of my local Camarilla Chapter. My two primary LARP characters are V (Daeva, Invictus, Squire of the Thorned Wreath) and Kiera (Mekhet, Carthian Movement, resident in Auburn, AL). I welcome IC contacts.

Just Say Yes

Posted by Viriatha, the Bard of Valiant

Saying yes to players is something we all know we should do, whether it be a hard skill challenge or finding that unique cool item in a shop. Much has been written on this principle and how it works with game mechanics, and I’m not going into all of that here.

Instead, I want to ask, if we’re all saying yes why am I reading more about punishing players for not roleplaying? Isn’t that saying no?

I understand most people are on limited schedules, with families and kids. I understand that everyone is getting together for a small amount of time each week or even every other week for the very purpose of roleplaying and accomplishing in-game goals.

I also understand that this one night of the week might be the only time some of these people ever see each other.

So why are you saying no? Learn to say yes.

Balancing the social aspects of game night with the actual goal of playing the game can get tricky. We’re all just friends getting together to have a good time, after all. But is it a good time if we’re not actually playing the game?

One obvious solution is that instead of punishing players for not roleplaying, you consistently reward them for it instead. Say yes to good gaming instead of saying no to being a friendly member of the group.

At the end of the night, give them person who contributed most to keeping the game on track, while in character, some extra experience points. If more than one person did this, reward them both (or all three, etc. – whichever applies). Be careful not to reward a player who hassled the group. Don’t punish that but don’t reward it, either. Reward positive behavior with a positive reaction.

And be consistent. If you do this each game for the same behavior, the group will get the idea.

That’s why punishing social interaction that’s out of character can backfire so badly. Most players see this as positive behavior. If they get negative results, game night loses some of what makes it fun.

That’s the most obvious way to say yes. What are other ways you use in your game?

Guest post: Use Your Weaknesses

Stargazer and I chat regularly on Google Talk. He’s a pretty cool guy to talk to and our conversations almost always spur me to think about something new.

Earlier this week, we were chatting about he probably wasn’t going to be able to join my online game because of timezone differences. I live in the state of Georgia in the USA and as I’m sure most of you know, Stargazer is five hours ahead of me in Germany. This means my game starts at 1am for him… not too practical.

Then he commented, “my spoken english is definitely not good enough to roleplay.”

This brings to mind that we all, just as general every-day people, have faults, quirks and weaknesses. One of mine that’s always caused me trouble is that I cannot act. Imagine a roleplayer and game master who can’t be anything other than herself to save her life. It’s been a real challenge, especially when attempting to portray NPCs.

Most personality quirks aren’t anything we think about. They rarely distract from the game and most of the time your friends are so used to them that the quirks blend into the background. But what if you’re quirks involve a heavy accent, or the inability to act or do math?

Use it. But to make it interesting, take it to the extreme.

I suggested to Stargazer, that if we could’ve solved the timing issue, he could make a character with a heavy accent. Another idea is one who can write English but not speak more than perhaps ten words of it. It would certainly be something different for most of us at the virtual table.

If you can’t do math, consider a character in a modern game who has so much trouble he can’t even make correct change without a dice roll. Other examples could be a grammar nazi who won’t take a contract with an employer who uses the word “stuff”. A character who habitually interrupts only one other character at the game. A know-it-all on just one subject.

My case is a bit different. Since I can’t act, I always give my characters some really weird item. One loved amethyst and bought it wherever she found it, regardless of cost and another had an armor-plated diary. This seems to be enough to make them stand out a bit so I’m not just playing myself all the time.

By taking your worst weakness and twist it into something fun and new, you’re going to come up with an idea that adds to the gaming experience instead of distracting from it and makes something unique and interesting for the next game.