Playing and Learning


Why is it that the best ideas are not only the simplest but are so simple and straight-forward that you tear your hair out when you realise you didn’t think of it first. I experienced this at my first D&D session when the DM handed around a sheet to all of us where we recorded out defences, armour class, hit point details for the simple reason he would have those numbers in front of him and not have to shout out numbers like a bingo caller.

I guess that makes me a bit of a bingo caller.

Yes, this is the much-prmised post about the Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition game I playes…wow, it’s like a month ago now and haven’t had any gaming since (except online). The reason for the delay (aside from the fact that I’ve been busier than usual, which also explains the lack of gaming on my front) is that I really wanted to get my head around what was happening that afternoon as I was responding in two different ways. Firstly, as a player to a relatively new game system and secondly as a Level 1 GM who has not had the opportunity to see an experienced DM run a game before.

So here we go, and I guess I am starting on a penalty as I have attempted this post at leats three times.

As a Player

Have I said that my first time playing Star Wars Saga was bad? I think I did, but it wasn’t the game itself that was bad , it was me responding as a player to an inexperienced GM that I should have cut some more slack for. I was too demanding, focused more on myself than the group as a whole and started metagaming.

I know now how bad this was, but oddly enough I did not have any preconcieved thoughts or plans when I sat down at the table several saturdays ago. This is good, but bear in mind that I was at a house I had never been before, with people I had never met before and one I had met once for only about five minutes. Add to that the fact that I was suffering from low blood sugar due to the fact that I skipped lunch, and you can find it easy to believe that I forgot what some of my feats did to the rest of the party-let alone trying to actually do anything alterior.

But now, when I think about it, there really wasn’t the desire even to take the game off the rails as not only was the story going to be potentially good (and this deserves a write up of it’s own, actually), but the DM kept us focused on what was going on as well as wondering what the hell was going on. Like that mind-altering curse that affected my LG Paladin and the rogue to the point where I almost committed an alignment violation. Even now, I am still wondering what the hell was going on and if me examining the body of the hobgoblin leader (not looting his corpse) had anything to do with it.

There were also some rather interesting alignment issues that I had not expected to find, even though my own hands were tied in terms of killing prisoners and taking goblins as personal servants. Just how would you respond to a man who is willing to take his own life rather than infect others with the curse he is affected with and so you can go and tell his liege about it. I was in favour of letting him, but others weren’t which led to a rather interesting discussion on whether it was better to honour his requestknowing that he was going to take his own life or tying him up so he wouldn’t.

In the end, I went for the utilitarian argument “the greatest happiness for the greatest number“. Now that’s not very Lawful, is it?

As a GM

A good present for this DM would be a a hand-truck, given all the books he carries to the game. And it’s only going to increase. I don’t even own all the Star Wars Saga books, much less bring them with me to the game. But then, I catch the bus and walk to the game and he has his own car.

Materials aside, one of this things I have noticed is how much time he spends on the other side of the screen. Not just moving the minis around, but walking up and down and acting out the game. I admit I try and do this, try to “get into character” with mu voice, the words that I use as well as gestures and posture. But getting up from behind the screen and walking about? I admit that I would like to do that, but given that where we play doesn’t have nearly as much room, it’s going to be limited.

Come to think of it, there is that big briefing coming up in the next game which is also going to be a vehicle for knowing where the players are going to be in my Nice Big Battle (Ooh, did I just let that slip? I really should just shut my mouth, sometimes *snicker*).

Unlike my games, there was no notepassing yet there was no call for notepassing either. It doesn’t happen in all of my games. But there was revealing plot points to some players and not to others while the DM had a smoko, and this resulted in the mind-altering curse that was rather fun to roleplay as I just had to be paranoid. The outside talk I have not done, mainly because we have a limited time to play and I don’t want to waste it. But I have approached players on their own when we aren’t playing and negotiated plot points with their characters, that’s how I managed to do my last two campaigns, by working with the players. The first one would not have come about so much if I had not done this.

All in all, I did take a lot away from that session and it’s going to get even more interesting. Now, if only I had some idea how to do complicated battles…

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~ by katanageldar on October 26, 2009.

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