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June 16, 2008 / jadettman

Running D&D

Every other Sunday I run a D&D game at a local game store. The understanding is that anyone is welcome to come and play. The reason this is the understanding is that this was originally organized as a Meetup group.

The idea was for the Meetup group to get together so that folks that hadn’t gamed in a while, or were looking for new folks to game with, got that opportunity.

Overall, it was a good idea and most of the folks that show up for the game seem like a good bunch of folks. They understand that, because we’ve got a variable number of players each session, the roleplaying aspect will be somewhat reduced and the combat aspect will be much more in the forefront.

Now, even taking that into account, the roster each week is relatively steady. There is a good core group that shows up every session and then there are the other, more occasional, players that make it when they can. So, for any given week, I can have between 5 and 12 players to work with. It’s an interesting dynamic but the game is designed specifically to accommodate the different number of players each week, so I think it’s been working pretty well.

The problem we ran into yesterday was one of history, and it shows why this format isn’t the best for roleplaying. You see, yesterday we had three new players join the group (1), I wasn’t expecting new players (2), I’d already fallen into GM mode (3), and one of the players had no regard for the history that the group had to date (4).

That I wasn’t expecting new players and that I had fallen into GM mode are connected and well established as problems for me. You see, as a game session lumbers through the social setup before play begins, I tend to enter a mindset specific to running the game in which I’m organizing threats, looking at which of the players are there that week, and determining what kind of shennanigans can be gotten into. While this is going on, it can be difficult for me to switch gears and deal with anything else, like introducing new players that I hadn’t been expecting to the game. When this happens, I often try to leave a certain amount of the introduction and integration in the hands of the experienced players so that I can reassess the situation and get the game rolling. With such a large group this is difficult. You run into the ‘someone else’s problem field’ that can occur in large groups and it falls to me (the recognized authority figure) to make things happen. This, in turn, throws me off my game a bit as I try to switch gears back and forth. It’s a problem I have and a game can suffer because of it.

Then there is number 4. One of the new players had no regard for the history of the group. You see, historically, the group has worked largely through consensus: players show, they see who is there, and then they decide as a group what part of the map they want to explore. For the most part, it’s worked pretty well.  Yesterday, though, new guy decided that the group had to have a leader and, since none of the established players was doing the job, it clearly fell to him to get things organized. Which, you know, was funny considering that he didn’t have a clue as to what was going on or what the group had already accomplished. It showed.

The group didn’t really seem to take to new guy’s leadership. In fact, in one scene, where new guy wanted to hand over an Evil Item (yep, that’s a capital evil) to a minotaur that was riding herd over a group of undead, the game came to a grinding halt while he argued self-interest vs. the rest of the group’s altruism. Although, it could be said that the group was just thinking of a different kind of self-interest. I found it interesting but it also didn’t make yesterday’s game very fun or exciting.

Where am I going with this?

I’m not sure, really, but I wanted to get it out of my head. I guess I’ll have to wait until next session to see if I learned anything.

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