Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Noisms Grab Bag of Topics
These are my thoughts on “Things Role Playing Bloggers Tend Not To Write About” from Noisms. I’m not certain I can do entire posts on these topics, so I’m covering them all here. Once the DayJob and life slows down a bit, I'll get back to more regular postings.
See Hero System 5th Edition and 5th Edition Revised for how it should be done. You can run it through a dryer and it will hold together (although the pages will be a bit folded). Plus, it will stop bullets from handguns. Really. Look for demonstrations on YouTube.
Tangentially, I prefer paper I can write on, so I can write notes (or text corrections as some publishers are prone to typos – AEG, I’m looking at you). Slick paper sucks at this as ink either doesn’t stick or smears a lot. “Grainy” paper (like newsprint) tends to blob out a bit and is difficult to make small notes on and have them remain legible.
"Doing a voice"
Yes, I do “voices”. Not for every NPC, but for major NPCs or to differentiate groups, either by species or nationality. In my Southern Reaches game, each type of elemental had a different accent. Earth elementals had a Russian accent, which I did every time the wizard summoned one (which was often). Smaller species have higher pitched voices than larger species. Goblins are a bit more nasal while kobolds speaking Common sound like bad Viet Cong extras on a ‘Nam movie (“You die, adventurers! You die now!”). In their own tongue, they are more elegant, but tend to shout a bit.
For week-day games, folks step away from the table when they need a bio-break. We keep going unless we need their input (or it’s the DM). When we game on weekends, we tend to game all day, starting just after lunch, making a dinner break around 5:00 to 7:00 (depending upon what’s going on in game), with bio-breaks as needed. We do not currently have any smokers in the group, so that is not an issue, but when it is, they go out on the porch and come back after a quick smoke.
My descriptions are the minimum necessary to get the point across. During combat I may describe cool things the PCs or NPCs do based on how the dice rolled and what the PCs stated intent was (not all of my players give a lot of detail beyond “I swing at him”).
Where do you strike the balance between "doing what your character would do" and "acting like a dickhead"?
Creating a character who is a dickhead is a dick move and I police that. If you can’t play a character who is not a dick at least to the other PCs, I don’t need you in my game or really in my circle of friends. You are not normal nor an adult and I game only with adults, whatever their age. The point of the game is for everyone to enjoy the game, not just one person.
PC-on-PC violence. Do your players tend to avoid it, or do you ban it? Or does anything go?
My player group tends to avoid it (it can cause unnecessary issues), but if there is a story reason for it to happen and both players agree it should happen and are OK with playing it out, I’ll allow it. I would not expect it to end in character death outside of a Cyberpunk/Shadowrun game, where I fully expect it. Usually by ambush.
How do you explain what a role playing game is to a stranger who is also a non-player?
Assuming they ask, I use “It’s like D&D, but with slightly different rules.” A high percentage of the populace will get that, even if they have odd perceptions about it. If that gets a blank look, I go to “It’s like cowboys and indians but using Lord of the Rings characters.” Although really, I’ve never had to use either explanation before.
Alcohol at the table?
I don’t drink, but I don’t mind players having a drink. A drink. They are still responsible for everything their character does in game. Usually not an issue with my current groups.
What's acceptable to do to a PC whose player is absent from the session? Is whatever happens their fault for not being there, or are there some limits?
Usually we find a way to get them off camera for the session – they are doing something time consuming or the equivalent of “watching the horses”. Worst case scenario, they just fade into the background that session and fade back in the next session the player attends. Sometimes they just drop out of the narrative – see Luna in my Aldelle Group adventure log postings. Her player is often missing due to conflicting work and college schedule.
Now days, my campaigns are designed such that the PCs return to a safe point at the end of a session. Next session runs whoever makes it to the game. I have had to skip a session when someone critical to what is going on is unable to make it and then we do boardgames. For weekly games this is not a big issue, but for the monthly games I used to run it could kill a campaign if I was not careful about scheduling.