How to be a Good Player

Time is a very precious resource when playing a tabletop RPG. There are some things that can help us conserve this and make the game much more streamlined. Some of this is basic obligations you will need to fulfill when you take on the social contract that is agreeing to playing a game. Some of them are tricks you learn over time. Continue reading

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Are we all on the same page about this game?

The first thing you have to know about this post is this: If you feel you don’t understand what I’m talking about or if you feel that this is way too much bullshit that has nothing to do with games…. STOP READING RIGHT NOW!

Because you’re right.
It really has nothing to do with sitting down and playing.

Except… It does. But…
Oh, it’s complicated.

If you don’t understand or don’t want to care, then that’s actually for the best. For the rest of you, read on. Continue reading

What sort of game will we play?

There are as many ways to play these games as there are people playing them.  If you’ve played one, you may think that what you’ve played is the only way to play.  If you have never played, you may have some preconceptions that will or will not coincide with the realities of the game you’re getting into.  Hopefully, this post will clear up some questions you may have about the game I want to run and this can inform your decision to play in this game.

I envision the main game run in this world as an “open table” game.  This means that there will hopefully be enough people interested in playing that whenever we have enough people -at least two and up to five- that want to play on a given day we can run a session.  Also, the format will be such that you can drop in and out and the fiction of the world won’t suffer because each session is a self contained “episode” within the story.

I would like the “main” focus of the overall game to be a classic “tent pole megadungeon”.  This means that the player characters (PCs) will be based in a central location – in this case, a small village outpost – that is nearby both a larger city and, more importantly, an extremely large underground complex, IE: a Megadungeon.   The megadungeon provides the main focus for the PCs to enter and explore.  The reasons are multiple: a mission for exploration by a patron, treasure maps, possible continuation of personal PC storylines, simply wondering what the history of the complex and how it ties to the history of the world…  The possibilities for story are endless.

This isn’t to say that the entire game will be in the dungeon.  Many times, things you learn about in the dungeon will lead to adventures on the surface.  Sometimes this will be very close to the dungeon, either in the village, the nearby city, the local environs, etc…   Other times it may lead to advetures hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away. Possibly even taking place on the other side of the Coin of the World and even on the magic focused moons that orbit it.

Without going into the hell that would be describing the various views on what makes a good game, I will say that I am absolutely aspiring to an Old School aesthetic.  This means that you WILL encounter things that are too powerful for you to face, if you’re not careful.  If you are stupid in your exploration, you WILL die.  Having said that, it might be a good idea to have a backup character ready to play…

The dungeon will be the focus.  Most of the motivations for the game will center on the reasons you are in this dungeon.  These reasons may change, over time, as you discover more things about the dungeon and your characters’ roles within this world.  But, yes, the dungeon is the thing, as in the Old School aesthetic.

See this link for what I mean

When do we play, anyway?

This game will specifically be designed for adults who have lives.  The conceit of the encompassing story is such that every time we play, that adventure will be a self contained “episode”.  There should be no reason for players to be present at each and every game session unlesss they want to.  Unless special circumstances occur that are agreed upon by all involved, there will never be a session that will end on a cliffhanger that requires everyone involved to be present the next time for the resolution.  You can just drop in and drop out when you want to play and that’s great.

Having said that, how do we perform the actual logistics of getting together?  Well, at first we will use a combination of Facebook posts, emails and text messages.  I’d like to transition over to something like When Is Good though.  It’s a free and easy to use scheduling tool.  Browser based and not flash, so you should be able to use it on almost anything you’re reading this on.

If I can figure it out and we have enough people interested, I’ll try to get a forum thing going on this blog so we can all have a central place to chat about scheduling and other things.

I will be up for playing any time we can get a group of two or more people together.  I’ll likely put a cap on six players per session though, so if we have more than that wanting to play during a given period, we will figure something out.  Maybe the rest can get together and play some board games, or something.

More specifically, I will likely keep my current work and school schedule pretty much the same for the foreseeable future.  This means that I will be most likely to play Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday afternoons into evenings.  Along with that, I need to talk a bit about what I expect for a session length…

Having each session be a self contained thing, I would want to play for a good chunk of time.  I would expect people to be able to play for AT LEAST four hours and more likely six to eight.  That may sound like a long time if you’ve never played a game like this, but it’s really not.  I’ve played many ten hour sessions that felt like a couple hours had passed when we were done.  We will need this time to get through an episode in one session.  The exact time for each session will be determined before we play either via texts etc or on Whenisgood.  There will be no surprises on the day of play.  Again, we are adults and we have lives.  I hope to provide a structure for this game that allows both real life and play time to coincide smoothly.

As a final bit of info, I’m planning on hosting these games at my place.  I live close to downtown on the corner of Olympic and Vermont.  It’s close to the Metro Red and Purple lines as well as other good bus connections.  I can’t speak to parking since I don’t have a car.  If anyone has an idea of hosting at their place or in an affordable rental space, or if you have an idea of a good bar we could take over for that length of time, let me know. I’m always up for other options as well.

What you will need to play.

The adventures run on the Coin will use the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons.  Wizards of the Coast have provided the basic rules and a few of the playable character classes on their website for free.  This includes the four iconic classes of cleric, fighter, rogue, and wizard, as well as what they view as the essential subclass for each. It also provides the dwarf, elf, halfling, and human as race options; in addition, the rules contain 120 spells, 5 backgrounds, and character sheets.

This link will take you to the free rules

If you’d like character options other than these, the Player’s Handbook provides many other classes, subclasses, races and backgrounds.  If you’d like to purchase your own copy, that would be great.  Another pair of eyes on the rules during actual play never hurts, plus it’s a really beautifully made book.  If you are interested in a digital copy, get in contact with me through email and we can see what we can come up with…

You don’t need to memorize the entire thing.  I don’t even have it all set in my head. I do ask that you have an understanding of the basic mechanic used in the game before we play.  I present this here as a recap:

1. Roll the die and add a modifier. Roll a d20 and add the relevant modifier. This is typically the modifier derived from one of the six ability scores, and it sometimes includes a proficiency bonus to reflect a character’s particular skill. (See chapter 1 for details on each ability and how to determine an ability’s modifier.)

2. Apply circumstantial bonuses and penalties. A class feature, a spell, a particular circumstance, or some other effect might give a bonus or penalty to the check.

3. Compare the total to a target number. If the total equals or exceeds the target number, the ability check, attack roll, or saving throw is a success. Otherwise, it’s a failure.

The DM is usually the one who determines target numbers and tells players whether their ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws succeed or fail. The target number for an ability check or a saving throw is called a Difficulty Class (DC). The target number for an attack roll is called an Armor Class (AC). This simple rule governs the resolution of most tasks in D&D play.

You will also need to have made a character with a filled out character sheet.  You can either print it out and bring it or have a digital copy on a mobile device if you’d like.  Along with having a character ready to go, I ask that you have a basic understanding of how your character should work.  What sorts of spells or special attacks and non-combat abilities it is capable of, etc.  You don’t have to have the rules for these things memorized or anything… We can figure that out as we play.  But you should at least know that your cleric can cast divine spells and your rogue can pick locks, or whatever.  Most of that should be taken care of during the process of making your character and only becomes much of a problem when using pregenerated characters.  If you have any questions about this, don’t hesitate to ask me.

You don’t need to have your own dice, as I have a ton from my years of gaming.  But having your own set of dice is really cool.  That’s why I have so many of them…

There are times we will use a physical map and miniatures on the tabletop.  If you want to provide your own miniature for your character, that is fantastic! I do have enough extras that we can find something for you though.  It won’t look exactly like the character in your head, however, which is the fun of finding a mini that represents your character.

That’s pretty much it.  Just have a character sheet and basic understanding of the core mechanic.  Other than that, bring your readiness to have fun and help us all tell a great story together!