Friday, April 3, 2020

Discussion: How Are You Holding Up?

Normally I save discussion for things about games and gaming. With us being at the tail end of week 2 of quarantine I figured instead it would be a good idea to check in and see how everyone is doing. I'm in a good spot. I'm working from home. I'm still being paid. We have groceries, entertainment, and shelter. I'm still able to make blog posts, which in and of itself is a sign of how well I am doing.

For me the problems come in the mental. I don't do a lot of social interaction in person so that's not really bothering me. However, the change in daily routine to working from home, not going to the office, and doing everything online is definitely making the days blur together. Today I was convinced it was Tuesday until speaking to a friend who said they thought it was Friday which prompted me to check the calendar and see it was actually Thursday.

Self care is important during times like this. Gaming can definitely help with keeping the mind strong and healthy, providing an outlet for emotions and feelings of frustration with a world where there are rules that make things make sense.

So how are you doing? How are you keeping on? Got any game moments you're particularly looking forward to?

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Your Players Can't See You Gesticulate Online

Just a quick note for today, but with a lot of people moving their games to online I've noticed my own trend of gesticulating and using body language to convey nuance and thought is not really available as an asset, and is in fact a hindrance in running online games. I don't have a web camera, and the stores are all sold out. So my players can't see the gesticulation. They can't see the gestures. They can't see the broad grins and other signs.

That's the challenge. Why does this excite me? Because the fix is something I've been trying to work on anyhow, and now I need to and in a way where it will work.

The solution to the problem is more narrative story telling. I can't just give a gesture, I have to describe the gesture. I can't smile. I have to say that they smile. With out a camera, I need to use my words to paint a picture for my players not only of what is happening, but how it is happening. And hopefully not being on camera will help me do this and not feel awkward. Though one of the players will be in the room for me, so we'll see how well that goes.

The real trick and tool here is for some things I can pre-write descriptions and just read them without having to worry about the fact I'm not paying attention to the players while I read off a screen or piece of paper.

A small thing, but something to keep in mind. When you only have your voice or words, you need to use them to convey everything. All five senses. So give it a shot and go for broke.

Monday, March 30, 2020

De-escalation & You Choose What Actions to Reward

One of my goals in the newer of the two D&D games i'm running is to keep situations where it has to end in combat a minority. This has been easier than I expected simply by having goals for each side. After all, if there are orcs because they are hungry then it stands to reason that asking for food might work instead of just attacking. I haven't used that specific example, but you get the idea.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Targeting the PCs - Part 2

On Wednesday I laid out three steps for approaching when a villain is targeting the party. Today I'm going to apply that for one of the groups I've been in to give an example of how it can work.

The group in question has a light cleric, a celestial pact warlock, an arcane trickster, a paladin, and a fighter. They tend to fight with the cleric and warlock doing spell damage from range while the paladin and fighter tie up front lines with the rogue providing special 'striking' support and mobility. So let's begin.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Targeting the PCs

On Monday we talked about how your early encounters in a plotline or with a villain should be done without consideration for the PCs skills or abilities. This is done to focus on the villain's themes and resources, and to let the PCs jump in as they please and use their tactics. It also lets them showcase how strong they are against certain opponents or opponent types if that is relevant (i.e. clerics vs. undead.) Today I want to talk about later encounters, when the PCs are specifically being targeted.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Building 'Early' Encounters

When it comes to making any encounter I find a lot of GMs often try to keep in mind their PC's abilities. When I say that I mean that they custom build their encounters to be a challenge for the PCs. The NPCs have answers for key strategic abilities the PCs have. While this can work for some encounters, and can definitely be a good thing to introduce a smart or more tactically minded enemy, it's not something I feel most encounters should take into consideration for 'early' encounters with a big villain.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Discussion: Are You Moving Your Game, And If So Where To?

On Wednesday I recommended moving your game online for the foreseeable future as the Covid19 pandemic continues to go nuts around the world. Today DNDBEYOND expanded the campaign sharing to 5 campaigns per subscriber to help encourage people to keep their games online and stay inside.

My question today is are you moving your game, and if so where to? Are you going into a system like Roll20? Are you just keeping it simple with Discord or Google Apps? Are you going more robust? Dropping a ton of cash on buying more digital books to get the adventure and everything you need?

I've moved my game to Roll20, and it has made me very happy about how popular D&D 5e is. Simply put the amount of online support for running D&D is a little nuts. Every game should have this. There are free extensions and advice and everything you could want on the internet if you're willing to put a bit of time in. There's also a lot of low cost unofficial supplements, maps, tokens, adventures, and other things.

I do mostly custom content for my games, but having easy to import monsters has been a big relief for getting ready to GM online.

What about you? Moving online? Already online? Keeping it in person?