It’s not about the stats!

With every Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG (DCC RPG) session I judge, I learn something new. I learn that every player that comes and sits down at my open Road Crew table comes with their own perception of what roleplaying means.

It has been quite some time since I was in high school where my extra curricular activity was drama club. And in growing up, playing with Barbie dolls, I pretended in many make-believe settings. The books I did read, I enjoyed seeing the world develop inside my head. I did not have stats that I made sure I was correctly playing. Yes, I wanted to be the most liked and see as the one who could do it all and come out of the game as the winner. But it was in playing and being imaginative with what I wanted to do and not set on stats. What happened to the creative imagination of those that are now in their twenties and thirties?

I’m in my fifties now. I grew up in the ’60s and ’70s. I was in college in the ’80s. I discovered Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) in the 2010s. I knew of D&D in the ’80s. It was taboo. It was considered satan worship. Did I know what it was? Of course, I didn’t. I couldn’t get near a game and honestly, I was scared of it. I grew up in a conservative Christian home. Now, before you go all political on me, conservative, in how I’m using it means: holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to religion. I grew up in a Mennonite home. Not the conservative dress sect. But I do remember when my parents said that playing cards were not to be in the house or played with. I think, though, that by the time I left elementary school and started middle school, playing cards were allowed. My parents played “Rook” a lot with a group of friends that they invited over. It got to be a game group for them that they even rotated through each couple hosting the game night.

We played a lot of board games. There were several years in the ’70s that getting a new board game or two was what we could expect as our Christmas gifts. One year, I think, between my twin sister and I, we got five board games. Family holiday gatherings were spent around the table with cousins playing board games for hours on end. Traditions and memories were made.

I went on a tangent there that I didn’t necessarily mean to go on. The purpose of this blog post is to write about role-playing and what it is or at least what I believe it is. Role-playing is to play a role. What is a role? A role is an actor’s part in a play, movie, etc.

When you take on a role in a role playing game, you are the character you come to the table with or the character you take on at the table. The rules for the game should be left to the game master, dungeon master, judge, referee. In a way, I wish the stats were only seen by the judge for each character. The players are given a description of their character with a description of each stat. Example: (and I’m pulling this off the top of my head as I type)

“You are a warrior. You have great strength. Due to your armor, you are not as agile as the thief who stands beside you. You wield a great ax along with your pack of provisions. You may not be the smartest of the group of adventurers you are with, but you are not the dumbest either. You have a great will, a positive fortitude, but not so good reflexes.” 

In this way, you, as the GM, regain the control of the rules. Okay, I will be honest, I do not like meta-gaming! And I do not like min/maxing! Period! I will call players out during a game. For example, I don’t want you saying to me that your PC has a Strength of 16 and could do it. NO! I want you, as your player to say “I walk up and I take my fist and punch it through the door.”

This was the case at last Saturday’s Road Crew when I had a new player at the table who, get this is a D&D 5e player. And maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on the newer or maybe I should say younger RPG players. OMG, but those of you who are GMs, please STOP teaching your players that numbers matter!

So, for the length of this blog and purpose of this blog, I have just hit on the reason for this blog. My ultimate message here is that “It’s not about the stats!” It’s not about the numbers! Yes, add the modifiers of the numbers you happen to have for your PC, but just because your PC may have a high number in Strength or Personality/Charisma does not mean that what you want to happen will happen. I don’t darn well give a flip about what number you have in a stat. Just tell me what you want to do and I will give you something to roll.

GMs, please do not teach your players that they are playing stats. Please, let’s just role play by pretending you are your character. What would your character do? Build your PC to be a hero. Stats only matter in regards to what your dice will roll.

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Developing and writing for your players

We are well into October and I have set myself to creating, developing, and writing an RPG module. When put into this position, I find that I’ve suddenly become frozen and can’t seem to push the creative juices to move ahead.

Backstory? Oh, boy, where has my main character come from. What will be interesting for my players to want to pursue the end of the adventure? I much enjoy the magic of the mountains in the Shudder Mountains which is the setting in Michael Curtis’ “The Chained Coffin” box set. I’m not a proponent of reinventing the wheel, but also I am not a proponent of “stealing” ideas or plagiarism. I do know Michael Curtis and have been in conversation with him. I’ve been advised on what I can and can not do. I am grateful for Michael Curtis’s advise. I hope you will be able to someday read and play what comes from this conversation.

My players began with me doing something off the top of my head for a “Ladies Game Night” at a local bookstore where we play Dungeon Crawl Classics weekly.

Life. Yes, life is distracting. Wow, I’m sure that is a new piece of information for you all…NOT. So, finding time to just sit and write is a gift. I don’t get gifts often. Therefore, I’ve not been gifted lately. I am trying with this blog post to spark some creative juices and see if they set a fire. When I don’t feel creative, I find that my mind can easily drift quickly to something else to do. Then, I am a guilty feeling person. The guilt sets in and I seek to find something that will get the creative juices following. It is a Catch 22 with me. Reading would be good, but then I feel like…oh, I need to be writing. Then when I turn to write, I’m thinking…I don’t have enough information to write. Ugh. Writers! I need your help!

So, on with this cycle hoping that it will end soon. The organizing of ideas is a tough area for me. I’m not a seasoned writer, at this time, so I’m developing.

Has anyone written a module that plays on one level and by the time the level is done, there has been enough XP to level up and move on to the guts of the adventure? So that you have almost two modules in one? As I mull over this question, I can list a couple that works in this way…”Sailors on the Starless Sea” and the tournament module, “The Carnival of the Damned“.

So, yes, this blog has sparked some creative juices…I will see you on another day with some development of this crazy module idea.

Two FLGSs keep me hopping

[SPOILERS BELOW]

There is nothing more fun than having fun with friends! And of course, when you are running Dungeon Crawl Classics at TWO FLGSs, friends begin to come in abundance.

My tables are filling up, therefore, I’m finding myself in a quandary.

  1. What to run each time (there usually are one to two new players)
  2. Whether to limit the number at the table (sorry, I can’t turn people away)
  3. How to start and run a campaign with 8+ people at the table. (this is at one of the stores presently)

Just as much as I enjoy this quandary, I’m also not enjoying it. You see, I’ve not been running DCC RPG for even a year yet. It has been just over a year ago that I started playing DCC RPG. And in having so much fun with it, I thrust myself into judging.

With judging Goodman Games World Tours Road Crew 2017 games, I found myself at GenCon 50 in Indianapolis having won one of three spots in a Road Crew judges contest. What a thrill that was! You know, it’s the kind of thrill that you have to keep pinching yourself to see if it is real. And now, I’m going to Gary Con in March. I’m going as a gamer. I want to learn as a player what a good judge needs to know in order to provide adventures that keep players coming back for more.

Well, this blog started out to share my last two Road Crew 2017 games. Not to talk about cons.

On December 14, at Better World Books in Goshen, IN there were three returning players at the table and we visited “Not in Kansas Anymore” by Dieter Zimmerman with Mark Sprengeler. On December 16, at Secret Door Games in Elkhart, IN there were seven returning players for “Sailors on the Starless Sea” by Harley Stroh. Two of which had been new to the game the week before. One didn’t make it out of the store without purchasing a DCC RPG core book. Both returned with their own set of strangely shaped dice. dnddice

With three players, at Better World Books, having a total of 12 PCs they take a time-traveling trip from the Shudder Mountains back to the 1970’s. “Not in Kansas Anymore” isn’t dull. The PCs find themselves no longer meager peasants with occupations of cheesemaker, baker, and candlestick makers. Semi-truck driver, lawyers, waitress, etc. are trying to escape the threatening lava of a volcano. Along the way, they have gotten some jewels and coins mound of treasure and defeated a poor young sky lizard. Really, what did it ever do to them? Its mother had died a cruel death prior to the PCs ever finding it. With yet more to come, Greg, Cam, and Anita have some exciting adventuring to do and figuring out what purpose the enchanted coins have in escaping the volcano.

Sailors” has gotten itself into its third session with seven players having a total of 20 PCs among them. I am hoping that it will conclude when the group can reconvene after the holidays. Or maybe an all day/night pre-new year’s eve event. The group has made its way across the starless sea with Jacob’s chaotic beadle Image result for Beadleand his holy symbol jumping into the sea to appease the beast. And the PCs are now disembarking the ship for the island with the ziggurat. My players are Marlene, Kelly, Jocelyn, Matt, David, Isaiah, Jacob and Ben. Not with me, at this time, are the names of their PCs. But I can truly tell you that these characters have come up with amazing character names for their PCs.

For those of you that DM, GM or Judge RPGs, please leave a comment below. The subject: The *stress* of preparation for an RPG game and the relief the running of the game to find that it ran better than you’d ever planned for.

My comment is this: I have anticipation anxiety in preparation for a game. Then during the game, I relax and find the players give me the joy and the fun of getting to the end. Sometimes we get to the end quickly and at other times (I know that I’m doing a lot for them to get the clues – not always the best judge’s feature) it goes slow.

I’m constantly looking for ideas, suggestions, and feedback. Positively put, criticism is accepted.

May your holidays be filled with crits.

Learning the role of DM/GM/Judge

This is the post excerpt.

This is the first blog for my discovery of tabletop role-playing gaming.

I was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons in 2013.  Now playing in a small group of players that have played for years together has been intimidating. I’ve had to learn really quickly, but there is no way I’m going to get to the experience they have. I’ve bumbled and fumbled multiple times with character creations in D&D 3.0/3.5.

In the past few months, I’ve been introduced to Dungeon Crawl Classics. For short it is called DCC RPG. When I first played it, I disliked it. I guess I was expecting my 0-level characters to at least be stronger than marshmallows. I was so disappointed that we didn’t get through the whole module before we were slaughtered by a huge clay army. Geez, I was hoping that the Judge would have been a bit more helpful in giving clues to helping us get through the adventure.

Now that I’ve taken on the role of Judge, I’m learning that it’s not all that easy to run a module. I’m understanding why that most DM/GM/Judges prefer to run their own adventures. I’m also learning that my style to one that with each evening the group plays, that we come to a “conclusion”.  That the conclusion includes finding a “mother-load” of some treasure after slaying monsters of some kind.

As I am learning, I am also finding that there are so many resources out there for role-playing. That there is really no cut and dried rules. There are lots of resources that are guidelines, but not meant to be rules set in stone. Yes, you will find runes carved in stone within the stories.

Fantasy genre was not something liked. I didn’t even like “The Hobbit” when I first read it. I chose to read it a second time, as so many people found it a wonderful read. Movies being made and enjoyed by millions and I felt like I was missing something. And I was. Now, I know that I’m missing a whole lot of fun reading. And I’m finding that there is not enough time to read it all.

I thought I’d like to read all the books before watching the movies, but now I’m pretty sure that I only have time to watch the movies. So much and so little time.

I enjoy table games and am finding that role-playing games are intriguing.  So, I have offered to be Judge for DCC RPG at a local game store and I am having fun learning and teaching this crazy fun dungeon crawl game.