RPGaDay: Day 13

Post Gen Con, we are in the process of returning to our regular schedule ’round these parts. So while a bit late in the day, welcome to my regular Monday post! This month I’m taking part in #RPGaDay 2018, a series of gaming related writing prompts for tabletop nerds. You can see the bulk of my posts for RPGaDay over at RenaissanceGamer.ca, but for the rest of the month, my Monday posts are going here.

Day 13: Describe How Your Play has Evolved

It’s been a long evolution, no question. Like most players who get into the hobby quite young (I was ten), I started out very hack and slash, kill them all and get the treasure! And that lasted for several years, really until I started game mastering on a regular basis. Then I started to realize that, while hack and slash had its place, a steady diet of it was boring. It seemed to bore the players after a while, and it definitely bored the crap out of me. That had a knock-on effect on how I created encounters and clusters of encounters, making sure to throw in puzzles and role-play encounters to balance combat. I wasn’t great at it to start with, and I still tended to focus on the stuff that I thought would be fun instead of tying my players into it more (or at all). Eventually, though, I started to figure out a balance, as well as that that balance could change depending on who was at the table.

I might make it sound like that was a quick process, but it wasn’t. That evolution was probably the middle twenty or so years of my time in the hobby. I think that’s important to note, because a lot of new players might think they have to get their role-playing skills up to 110% before their group even rolls a die. My advice? The other stuff will come. Roll the dice, fight the monsters, take the loot, RP when you can and to the best of your ability at this moment. You’ll get better at it all and it will come to you. If what you love about the hobby right now is smashing things with a big axe? Smash away! See if you can fit some character stuff into your smashing, but go for it. Everything else will come in its own time.

In that middle couple of decades, I learned things like sharing the spotlight with other players, how to read the tone of the table (both as a player and a gamemaster) so I could match it, that fun is more important than the rules, and generally how not to be a dick to my fellow gamers when we play. As they say, nothing gives you experience like time, and I would feel a right stupid git if, after thirty-nine years, I hadn’t figured a few things out.

Probably the most important thing I finally internalized after all that time? It isn’t Us versus Them, whether you’re playing or gamemastering. It’s just Us, playing a game together. Everyone at the table should be focused on making the experience as fun and challenging as possible, without being a douchecanoe about it. If everyone is invested in what’s going on, then no matter what game you’re playing you are, A) doing it right, and B) winning. Everything else just sort of stops mattering.

How has your play evolved? Drop a comment below.