Friday, May 16, 2014

Looking Back One Year of Running Games in Roll20

FIRST session of GURPS Modern Fantasy

Session 1-8
Season 02, episode 1-11
about 60 hours of gaming

Things Learned

  1. Sustaining New Cast and Players. I only have 1-3 regular players in the span of the campaign and a lot of people who try it out and part ways when its not a fit. My experience with this is parallel with how work and family really pulls us in all directions. Its not a bad thing, its just how life is now. You can't let all those biases get in the way of enjoying being able to run or play RPGs. One important thing that came out of this is how understanding the limitations helps me appreciate whats there and achievable. 
    1. Curiosity of meeting new people. I've gotten to know a lot of people over the Games and G+ and with every new person I meet and interact with my image of the world changes and is reshaped. As bill nye would put it "they know something you dont" and this mental expansion is something to look forward to because age is actually getting in the way of my learning new things. 
    2. Constantly Making stuff up for New Players can be pretty challenging. Especially when I make a report after the game. I get it if you don't have to rationalize anything by end of game, but when making a session post it becomes a bit challenging. What happened with WBH is that I used it as a tool to let new people try out GURPS and always open the table for people to try. 
    3. Long term Investment in Time. I get it why it is Ideal that you have a long standing cast - you can build story around them playing to their favorites and preferences. I don't expect the GM to know your preferences and master meeting them in one session or two even.   
    4. There is a lot of relationship dynamics in a campaign. There is also the barriers of schedule. It is in the games I can be regular in is where I cultivate a stronger connection in relationships. There are campaigns I wish i can join but are well outside my schedule. 
    5. Ages perspective over time. Because of work and family and Age, time can pass very quickly and a couple of sessions schedules will begin to conflict.  
  2. Use Roll20 Campaigns to 
    1. ...meet people of your desired time slot. Make a campaign and put it in LFG with an disclaimer that you will run with enough people. Use it as an AD to find players or GMs who are available in the same Slot.
    2. ...meet people of your same very niche Interests. Make campaigns like above, put it in Looking for Games (LFG) so that you can find people who like the same very niche games you also like. 
    3. This is what kinda played out with my obsession to run games and find players who'd play them. In the end I found people who are of a similar sched and interests. Working with what you've got, even if it is not the "IDEAL"(the incredibly PLATONIC and unreachable ideal for some) is the best case scenario. Its sad when people dont even try and can't compromise in RPGs! (having "your way" in this hobby is not a great way to make friends). 
  3. Conflict is King. Drama can be a pain, but the drama that gets me and, I think, the guys who play my game is the kind that makes a strength out of a vulnerability. The disadvantages that we get our 50cp from is where we get an idea of what kind of conflict and vulnerability we want to explore to strengthen us. The nice guys and the misunderstood jerks, drawing from their own weaknesses for strength and empowerment. As the GM I have to formulate a narrative based on these motivational forces.  
    1. Drama is the biggest Quality Time chunk of a game. I believe that drama/conflict has the biggest return on investment in game prep. Note that my idea and definition of drama or what makes for Dramatic actions and scenes has expanded with experimentation and random success. Since I'm not a master I'm really not that good at describing it and how to bring it out. My best guess is to mix economic and interpersonal conflicts and shake it till something happens. 
  4. A good night's Sleep. Fake it till you Make it which is true when it comes to confidence but when I lack sleep, my "bounded rationality" gets really limited. So you can't fake something unless you have the mental agility to improvise. without sleep I can't improv.  
  5. Managing Expectations. from the smallest to the subtle to the biggest disconnect of expectations. People can go into your games expecting certain things and it takes a lot of follow and juggling to get it all done and ready for the game. 
  6. Timing for a Change. The best time to end a game is on your own terms. It sometimes ends prematurely, and sometimes life just gets in the way. It does really suck when it ends interest wanes and the ability to stop just in time is a very difficult one.  With OnAir recording I can keep record of the games, and at least save all of that. 
    1. The GM's ability to run a genre needs to be recharged and he needs to pull away from it now and then. A break is important.  
    2. Every End campaigns means an opportunity to try new things. Since I'm a research and Try out new things GM. I really should survey how long 
  7.  Keeping a lot of Notes in Gdocs. I hope nothing happens to Gdocs because thats where all my notes can be found lolz. One big advantage is when I'm hit with inspiration I can open the app version on my phone. Until Dropbox and Libreoffice docs can be better used on mobile I think Gdocs would be the most used. 
  8. How to pitch your game to strangers! This needs a long and separate post, but I guess its trying to be professional because its the only thing your particularly interested and all pistons are firing in the old noggin when it comes to games lolz. 
  9. Learning some topics I never thought I'd learn. Learned a lot about Orisha and Africa, principalities and thematas. I learned more of operational logistics for the small arms armies, and medieval retainers. Learned a lot about 11C history lolz. 
  10. My games are slowly becoming Project Based Challenges. The project based mindset from work has given me some tools to see a challenge, any challenge: social, logistical, combat, long actions, etc..., as mentally tackled as "Project". To frame a problem quickly in the Empirical Process and Format, and the Set up challenges in the same methodical manner allows for a manner of GMing where players can use any Strategy and the GM won't be flatfooted without a method of resolving it. This should be another topic of discussion (which requires a couple of case studies). Very Niche and probably nobody cares about - which is why the blog is 
  11. Filtering Opinions and Constructive Criticism. Its your game, and enjoy it how you like. People would criticize but most of the time they should just enable (via Constructively Criticize, like in any professional environment lolz). I realize debate and argument is a young mans passion, these days its just going to your gaming peers and presenting a problem and the results you want to achieve. Its not about "Ideological Perfection" but more of Dramatic Effect and Emotional Immersion (aka having fun). 
  12. Practice and Process. I have small improvements over the number sessions, what improves most easily is preparation but its less appreciable lolz. Still the processes of getting the mindset ready for the game is a very challenging and difficult one. Psyching myself out is important because I need to visualize all the things the pcs will do in the most extreme case. I can't say worse case because if they really decide to go to a direction it should be as good as any other if its purely from an RP perspective. 
  13. Facts Sheet or Post game Report, Flow Charts, and Checking up on players. Strange is that these are skills used to entertain clients and meet their expectations and I happen to be using it to make sure my players are on the same page and prepared by the next adventure. 
  14. Running Mass Combats. I like the scale of great leaders, generals and nations. So many great things (and so many trampled underfoot, the things that happen behind the propaganda) that add drama but dressed up as a fairytale people will want to believe.
    Mass Combat and major economic efforts are things I want to explore in a game because behind the simplicity of the statement "The city built a wall" there is "the city employed press gangs to work for the wall, a man died every day in construction and many families starved when they were manpower short to prepare the harvest as enemy troops were raiding the lands". Internal conflict of someone whose seen the human cost of various actions - i find it dramatic and entertaining when Players are able to foresee and struggle with it.
  15. Journalize and Consolidate my weird prep heavy manner. I like heavy prep, but I can't do it every session. Out of an 4 sessions, one heavy prep's material lasts for 2-3 sessions. It also only works when I've established a profile of what the players like to do, and cater and compromise to that.  
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