Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Campaign Checkpoint

We have now played four game sessions in this Ptolus campaign of ours. Here are a few of the random thoughts (things I've learned, re-learned or confirmed mentally) I've had outside of game sessions so far:

1- It is good to have fun and laugh out loud at the game table. The end goal of a role-playing game session is to have fun. Verisimilitude only matters so long as it increases the fun of a game session. If the players want to have fun through jokes and movie lines and you, as a DM, stop them from doing so because you'd think the believability of the game is the only thing that matters, you would have to seriously question your train of thought and re-prioritize the aims of the game.

2- Using game materials from other sources than RPGs, including plots coming from computer games such as Baldur's Gate II - Shadows of Amn can be great fun. Having played this game many times and loving it dearly made me feel the actual plot elements I used in the Ptolus game much more intensely. Maybe not something to do all the time, but variation is good.

3- Speaking of variation, playing a campaign with some sessions using miniatures, some sessions without, and/or sessions with varying types of visual aids (dioramas in 2D, 3D or all at the same time) is feasible and keeps the game fresh for versatile players who like all these different aspects of tabletop role-playing. It requires some organization on the DM's part, but it can make for a better play experience when done right.

4- Running a game with fewer players makes it tougher for me to DM because I feel the attention of the players is more often driven to me. If I make a mistake, the players are thus far more likely to notice it, whereas, when playing with numerous players around the game table, they are more likely to interact with each other than pay attention to this or that ruling of mine.

5- Running a game with fewer players makes it easier for me to DM because they are more likely to be focused on the adventure at hand rather than sidetrack and debate over the next course of action for a long time. I have less policing to do, as far as the social part of the event is concerned.

6- It's tough to plan a game without first having an idea of how long it will go on. I expect I'll run more than one campaign using Ptolus, and thus do not expect to stop the Praemal Tales any time soon, but this game we are playing may end in a few months since some of the players may leave the place we live in for good. It's particularly tough to plan a short campaign and make it a worthwhile or somewhat "complete" experience for all the people involved.

7- Having dinner before the game can be great, because it re-focuses the game on the actual social part of the whole thing. We play the game because we like to be together first and foremost. The game can be great and fun all we want but the bottom-line is that we wouldn't play together if we weren't getting along first outside of the game.

Food for thought, indeed.


Greywulf said...

This is the single, best ongoing role-playing blog I've seen for a long, long while!

Thanks for sharing. Keep it up :)

Benoist said...

Thanks for reading the Praemal Tales, and thanks a lot for your kind comments, Greywulf!

I will update the blog as we play the game and ideas/comments come to my mind, so stay tuned!


Etherion said...

I am interested in how you implement those various roleplaying aids. I am a fairly cautious shopper so its cool to see its not just a gimmick.

The personal tone is the definite charm of this blog.

I looooove the pictures of the encounters and the fact you are showing the meals and the trappings around the sessions. Ive bookmarked this blog and will keep checking back in.

Make sure you keep going strong. :D

Benoist said...

Glad to see the Praemal Tales are worthy of your bookmarks' selection!

I definitely think about adding more personal thoughts and insights on how the game is planned, set up and run, as well as game aids and tidbits that would bind what happens in and outside the game.

Thanks for your interest!


Alex Schroeder said...

Hey Greywulf, what a surprise to find you on this blog, too! :)

Alex Schroeder said...

Regarding the number of players: I usually play with three or four players at the table. It works with two players only, but then there's always the temptation to just drink beer and play Soul Calibur or something like that. With five or six players, there's a lot of internal discussion amongst players, but at least in my game, it frustrates players: They can't keep quiet and let other people decide, and at the end they complain that there was too much talking. I find myself doing a lot of railroading in these situations. Little comments like "Excellent idea!" or "Nah, the guards would never have allowed that..." or "Let's go!" to prod them along...

In addition to that, if one of the players in a big group has is on a little side quest researching or scouting ahead, there are that many more people waiting. And personally I feel sad if players start leafing through the Monster Manual while other people are talking. It shows that I'm not doing my job of entertaining them all.