#RPGaDay 2017: Day 27

#RPGaDay for 2017 asks about our essential tools for good gaming for this 27th day of the month of August. This has the chance to be a fun question which crosses lines of preparation, location, gear, and the group’s culture of play. It may even remind the elders among us of those advertisements in Dragon for the Dragonbone random number ‘wand’ but need not be limited to equipment.

I will share three of my essential tools for campaign play for this response, starting with two which exist primarily to build a solid foundation for campaign play, and one which remains an ongoing feature of play.

Comprehension then Context then Consensus

A lot of people now hold a formalized Session 0 to establish how a campaign will start and ensure that there is a basic level of understanding and agreement about characters and setting. I prefer to hold short conversations with the players on specific items in isolation in the weeks or days leading up to launching a campaign to cover that material, and then as the campaign starts to take shape, to revisit those topics again to confirm that things are running as expected, and that people are satisfied with the decisions about character and connections they made before play started.

I feel that the context of interaction as it actually happens can point out differences in comprehension and expectation, and the realities of how a new system actually plays in actual play can alter a player’s view of the characters. Exploring these reactions and adjustments in comprehension, talking about them, and making changes to our expectations or making changes to the initial version of the character can then build on a combination of what we want and what we have been getting. That in turn, once set, leads us to consensus, and more harmonious play within the system and among each other.

System Mastery

I like the people that I game with to be comfortable with the rules of the games that we play. To that end, I run the early sessions of a campaign with the books present and accessible, and take breaks for open discussion of rules and their implications for action. Where characters represent some form of specialization or possess unique knowledge, I ask the player to become familiar with any rules or concepts which govern those aspects of their character. As the campaign progresses, these learning tools disappear in stages as knowledge of the system and how to use it spreads through the group.

A fringe benefit of this approach is that it decreases barriers to helping to encourage others to take on the GMs role, and that aids in establishing a long-term, healthy group.

Recaps

One of my preferred tools for good gaming is to conduct brief, point-form recaps before and after each session to help set the events of that session in memory, followed up by a more explanatory and comprehensive recap of a series of sessions at natural ebb points in the flow of those sessions to help establish and reinforce the context of all of their events in the emerging story of the campaign.

Getting a working framework of what has happened and how it conceivably links together, establishing insight and evidence into non-player characters and motivations, reinforcing the traits and motivations of the player characters are all major factors of these recaps, and I feel that they are an essential part of an ongoing campaign. Ongoing, open-ended campaigns are my preferred mode of gaming, so establishing this habit early and repeating it often is important to me.

Examples of what I am talking about can be seen in this YouTube playlist for our Star Wars campaign: Edge of the Empire – Seeds of Reckoning Campaign.

 

Question 28: What media property is the biggest source of quotes in your group?

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  1. […] thought about this question, my focus was on physical items, and I will address a few of these, but Runeslinger’s Day 27 blog entry helped broaden my […]



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