Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

I am thankful for many things in my life. I won't bore you with all of them, but I thought the ones dealing with RPGs were most appropriate for this blog.
  • I'm thankful for my wife and her understanding that playing RPGs is part of who I am. I appreciate her patience when I wax geeky about some minutia of a game session I just played. And I love that she encourages me to persue my passion of sharing RPGs with a new generation of gamers.
  • I'm thankful for my boys and their love of the hobby. I love that it has transcended me always initiating play and that they have found new ways to play together. It is wonderful to have this bond that we can share as they grow older and I hope it is something that keeps us close.
  • I'm thankful for all the players I had the opportunity to share a game with, I am the richer for that time.
  • I'm thankful that the Wood County District Public Library took a chance on letting me run a game for their teen patrons. I hope to be able to introduce more players to this hobby I love so much.
  • I'm thankful for BG Teen Central's warm reception to my presentation on RPGs. I look forward to sharing more with this program in the future.
  • I'm thankful for my Friendly Local Gaming Stores for persevering in this trying economic times to continue to provide a place to gather and play.
  • I'm thankful for the RPG podcasters who tirelessly put out new content with little or no compensation for their time other than a job well done.
  • I'm thankful for all the RPG publishers who create countless wondrous worlds for adventure and exploration.
  • And finally, I'm thankful that Dave & Gary decided to throw caution to the wind and publish their little brown books.
Happy Thanksgiving,


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A day at the library

Ok, maybe not a whole day, but at least three hours. In my previous post I was talking about going to the Wood County District Public Library on Saturday, November 14th to take part in National Gaming Day @ your library. Now that I've had some time to process and get some feedback I'm ready to talk about it here.

I was running a demo of the Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Starter Set. I was slated to 'work' from 2 - 4pm. I arrived early and check in with the librarian. She walked me over to the Teen Space. This was a very cool room a few steps away from the circulation desk. It has one entrance and the room is long and narrow.

The place was very inviting and looked like a cool place to hang out (which I'm sure was it's intent). It has several comfortable and stylish couches, three tables (one regular height, one about waist high, and a coffee table between the couches), a reception desk and small computer station. All the walls were lined with books. Like I said, a very cool place to hang out.

I chose to set up at the tall table because this would allow easy access to the game pieces while standing (I like to stand when I game master - I tend to get very animated and would fall out of my chair if I were sitting down). Without chairs, visitors could slide up to the table and see what was going on very easily.

I laid out all my 'stuff': dungeon tiles and counters, laminated character sheets, grease pencils, dice, quick-start rules and Dungeon Master guide. Everything mentioned came in the Starter Set except for the laminated character sheets - which I printed and laminated - and the grease pencils - for marking up said character sheets.

I had studied the short delve in the DM guide prior to arriving and was ready to go. All I needed was players. I didn't have to wait long and they started showing up. The event was advertised at the middle school, at the BG Teen Central after-school program (which I had stopped into on two occasions in the two weeks prior to the event), and on posters around the library.

Before long I had six players, most were teen males between the ages of 11 and 14, one teen female in the same age range and one adult female. I launched into my spiel about the game. I didn't spend a lot time on basics, only enough to set the stage. Then I launched into the requisite meeting in the tavern to get their first job.

Thankfully everyone played along and the party was soon delving the ruins under the village for the goblins that have been harassing the villagers. They soon came upon a group of goblins and quickly set to battle with great relish (and a little mustard and horseradish on the side).

I did most of the instructing as we played. I explained new phrases and key words that were common parlance to old hats like me (speaking of 'old', when I posted on Facebook that I had introduced teens to D&D, one friend commented, "You 'introduced them' - like a grampa would 'introduce' chess??? Old Man!!" to which I replied, "Old and proud of it!"). Everyone started picking up the game very quickly. Combat was moving along and soon the goblins were defeated.

At this point I took a short break to see if any new players would stop in. Since two of the players were sticking around for the whole session I didn't wait too long to gather the troops and start back up. The adult female and one male teen were back from the first session. We were joined by four more male teens in the same age range as the first group.

We were able to get the new players up to speed quickly. There was much more encouragement and suggestions from other players this time around and everyone was getting into the battle with a new set of goblins deeper in the ruins. Long story short, we went over our time allotment by thirty minutes because everyone seemed to be have a very good time.

Today, I received great news from the librarian who processed the surveys that were turned in by the participants for the event. Seven of the participants that took part in the demo filled out a survey and six of those stated they would be interested in a community role-playing game that met consistently. Everyone selected "good" or "excellent" when rating the program. Of the seven replies six stated they would be "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to come to another similar event at the library.

Needless to say, I am thrilled at these results. I hope to continue working with this library (and possibly others) to develop a library RPG program tailored to the needs of the participants and the library. I'll be sure to post more information as it becomes available.

Follow Your Bliss,

Friday, November 13, 2009

National Gaming Day @ your library

This Saturday, November 14th, is the second annual National Gaming Day @ your library. I will be participating at the Wood County District Public Library in Bowling Green, Ohio. This national event is to help show patrons all the wonderful activities available at libraries. Gaming has been making inroads at libraries as supported events for all types of gaming.

For my part I will be at the library from 2-4pm to run demonstrations of D&D 4th edition. I have a copy of the new D&D starter kit that I will be using. I've been a fan of boxed sets since the magenta (pink) cover of Basic D&D back in '81. This latest one is by far the best. While the 3.5 version of the starter set had plastic minis, this one has cardboard punch out tiles and tokens. Though this is not as cool as the minis, you get lots more of them. The rules for this starter kit are excellent. Much clearer and straight forward than the last boxed set I had. The starter kit also has a short delve (three encounters) which leads right into the Keep on the Shadowfell adventure (which can now also be downloaded for free).

I'm hoping to spread the word and get more folks interesting in role-playing games in general, and, more specifically, RPGs in libraries and other public venues. I think gaming in libraries is a great way to bring the games 'out of the basement'.

I'm looking forward to the event tomorrow and will be sure to post here the results.

Follow Your Bliss,

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Back in the saddle again

I recently tried my hand at podcasting again. For those that aren't aware, I was a podcaster for two years with Fist Full of Comics & Games. I thought I was done with podcasting and then I started listening to the Games in Libraries podcast. This is a podcast is targeted at librarians to aid them in developing gaming programs in their facilities.

I really liked this podcast and went back to the beginning and listened to all the episodes. As I listened I noticed something: no content for RPGs. They did a lot of talking about video games, some of boardgames, but nothing really for tabletop RPGs.

So I contacted Scott Nicholson, professor at Syracuse University and host of the show, and asked if I could contribute some content. Here is the result of that conversation:

My segment is about 10 minutes long and focuses on introducing librarians to the rich world of RPGs. I have a lot of ground to cover and a limited amount of time. If you are interested in listening to an introductory course on RPGs then please give it a spin. As always, comments and feedback are welcome.

For further listening on getting started with RPGs please check out two excellent podcasts: Square One and The Basics of the Game.

Follow Your Bliss,

Monday, November 2, 2009

NPC scripted scene

In my last post I talked about doing an NPC scripted scene in an upcoming adventure. Well, last night I ran that scene. I'd been waiting until the party had finished their current adventure. The scene was meant to act as an interlude between the last adventure and the next. Up until this point the Patriarch of the church would call the PCs into a meeting and offer them a new chance to adventure. This time was a little different. I have used Google Docs to create the document and have shared it here:

To give you a little background, the characters have just completed a successful mission to capture the chaotic cleric Elwyn who had made off with a holy artifact. The cleric and artifact were returned to threashold and the custody of the Baron Sherlane Halaran, who is also the Patriarch for the Church of Karameikos.

Normally the players would not find out what happens to Elwyn after they turn her over to the Baron nor would they see what leads up to the Baron calling on the PCs for assistance. This little scene does that and more.

In addition to the backdrop each of the characters in the scene with Elwyn have a tie to one of the characters. The Patriarch and Aleena are both members of the Church to which one character belongs. Lady Halia is mentor to the magic user in the party. Porthios is mentor to an elf in the party and Lady Halia's husband can act as a mentor to any fighters in the group.

With these mentors more formally introduced I inserted a role-play scene in which the PCs had an opportunity to interact with their mentors prior to meeting with the Baron. This was a fun scene with no real goal other than to give the players a chance to expand upon their characters. It also pointed out that the thief in the party had no such mentor; something that will be addressed in upcoming play.

The scripted interlude also allowed me to introduce an important NPC for the upcoming adventure: Commander Castellan. This helped to prepare the PCs with the eventual meeting with the commander.

All in all, the scripted scene was well received and I was very pleased with the results. The scene when a long way to making the PCs adventures set more firmly into a world deep and rich in detail. The scene went a long way to help ground the actions of the PCs into a larger framework, will still keeping the focus on them.

I highly recommend using this simple tool for adding more depth to your role-playing experience. I wish I had more time to devote to the scripting (I posted it with all the typos still in it), but I don't want to take too much away from the spontaneity of the game. Scripted scenes are great for fleshing out the story, foreshadowing and epilogue. I want to thank Rich and Ryan for talking about in an episode of the Canon Puncture podcast. I've mentioned this and other podcasts I listen to in a previous post. Ryan's excellent Master Plan podcast on game design can be found at

I'll have more updates soon. Until then, follow your bliss.