Monday, March 19, 2018

Old Files and Transitory Thoughts

When I first started getting into playing role-playing games back fourteen years ago I tended to go online a lot searching for articles that I could use and that would inspire my imagination and improve my games. Often I would copy these into a folder I lovingly called my "DM Toolbox." The thing is that after fourteen years the Toolbox has become more akin to a junk drawer filled with all kinds of odds and ends than anything useful. 

I need to remedy that.

My plan is to explore some of those resources on here every so often and see if the articles are still worth using or if they should be deleted off my hard drive altogether. You'll be able to tell when I'm doing these articles as they'll be indexed as "GM Toolbox" on the blog. This should make it easier for people to search them. 

More later.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

We Were Strange Before You Thought it Was Cool

I was sitting down this evening and thinking about playing Dungeons & Dragons when it occurred to me that I hadn't done a Greyhawk poster in a while. So I figured that I should fix that tonight.



The question though remains: how do we bring more eyes to Greyhawk? How do we get Dungeon Masters who have never plumbed its depth to start exploring it's caverns, forgotten citadels, and foreboding tombs?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Silly Elf Games and Bullshit Schedules are Meant to Fall Apart

There are nights, like tonight, when I find myself wondering what the fuck I'm doing with my life. I have a full time, regular, job which has allowed me to be able to provide for my family. And that's wonderful. It is. But I spend a lot of time worrying about things that don't matter and that only hamstring my efforts to be better at this life thing.

There isn't really a point here. I'm just worrying about things that I can't control and the things that I can are just causing my head to ache.

Anyway.

I'm thinking that I'm going to just do things that make me happy creatively for the next few weeks and then I'll try something else. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Life, Mother Fucker. Life

I'll be back to Gygax's Role-Playing Mastery read through on Monday but right now we're rocking out to Phish and wrestling with all the kids in the neighborhood. Time to get back to the fight!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Tomorrow, I'm on the Greyhawk Channel

First let's listen to some funky tunes:


Now, I'm going to be on the Greyhawk Channel tomorrow at 3:00 PM. You should all come on over and talk shit with me. It'll be fun!


I'm so ready to have fun with this. I hope you kids will join me.


Monday, March 5, 2018

I'm Being Interviewed!


That's right kids! 

On Wednesday, March 7, 2018 I will be interviewed on The Greyhawk Channel by DM Shane at 3:00 PM EST. We're going to be talking about all kinds of nerdy shit and you should totally join us and talk shit with us on the chat! Got questions you've always wanted to ask me but don't want to leave a comment on the blog? Here's you chance to do just that! 

I'll even be wearing clothes - I think! 

So join us in two days on The Greyhawk Channel! 

He didn't give me a banner yet so I'm using my own Greyhawk shit!




Let's Read: Role-Playing Mastery by Gary Gygax Part 1; Understanding Mastery and Role-Playing Fun (pgs. 11 - 23)

Gary Gygax begins the book with a simple question: why would anyone want to become a role-playing master? It's a question that he spends the whole introduction, and often revisits throughout the remaining text, trying to answer - and it's one that many of us today are still trying to answer in our blogs, tweets, facebook posts, tumblrs, and Instagram posts. Becoming masters of our preferred role-playing game promises us little. There is no widespread fame, there's little money to be made, and even less power. So why are we expending so much effort in attempting to become masters of our hobby?

Over the last five years I've found myself asking this question a lot as long time bloggers and friends move away from the hobby. Why are we spending so much time, money, and effort on this game that captures our imaginations and causes so many of us to put other things on the back burner? Gary Gygax argues was that we expend so much effort becoming master of role-players because it ". . . is not so much an effort toward individual excellence as it is a broadening of personal knowledge, contributing to the social group activity, and increasing the fun and excitement that stem from superior participation. This is when role-playing becomes captivating. When you master role-playing, you become immersed in an activity that is peerless among leisure-time pursuits . . ." (Gygax, 12). To a certain extent he's correct. This hobby does broaden our personal knowledge as we all spend countless hours researching the various topics that our games touch upon and becoming good at the hobby is good for our social circles. Where he falls short is when he adds the part about "contributing to the social group activity." It's a needless addition that doesn't explain why anyone would want to become a master role-player. We all contribute whether its through bringing drinks, coming up with good ideas, or telling off color jokes. Being there as an active participant of the group is contributing and it doesn't lessen your contribution if you're good at role-playing or not.

If Gary Gygax's answer to the question is only partially correct it begs the question: why do so many of us expend so much time, money, and effort to become masters of our hobby? 

I can not answer this question definitively for all of the other Game Masters, role-players, and gaming enthusiasts out there but the reason why I have become a better Game Master, and why I launched this blog, is because I find it personally fulfilling to become good at all of the creative aspects of the game. I love telling stories with my friends and creating situations that challenge my players. It's exciting to sit down at the table, pull out fantastic maps, and let my imagination wander down cavernous dungeons and to see my friends battling diabolic monsters. The creative side of the hobby is what captures my attention and that pushes me to become a master of it; and it's that creative side of things that I see driving the most notable members of our online community - the people that many of us would say are masters of the hobby. So yes what drives us all to become masters is the broadening of personal knowledge and all that other feel good noise, but it's also the way that it allows each of us to express ourselves creatively. 

After this discussion Gary Gygax explores what role-playing is and what it means to be a good role-player in the first chapter of the book. Largely it comes across as an answer to a lot of questions that we today no longer face. What is role-playing? Is it Satanic in nature? Will it give you brain damage?

Figure it out; fucking yeah; and I hope it does. 

Let's Read Role-Playing Mastery by Gary Gygax
Understanding Mastery and Role-Playing Fun (pgs. 11 - 23)
Master Players (pgs. 24 - 40) [live March 7, 2018]
Master Game Masters (pgs. 41 - 56) [live March 9, 2018]
The Group (pgs. 57 - 76) [live March 12, 2018]
Making and Understanding Rules to the Game (pgs. 77 - 103) [live March 14, 2018]
Research (pgs. 104 - 119) [live March 16, 2018]
Tactical Mastery (pgs. 120 - 137) [live March 19, 2018]
Designing the Game (pgs. 138 - 152) [live March 21, 2018]
Mastery and the Appendices (153 - 173) [live March 23, 2018]


In unrelated news I will be getting interviewed by DM Shane of The Greyhawk Channel on Twitch on Wednesday at 3:00 PM EST. If you'd like to hear me talking about silly elf games with a fun guy then come on by and join the stream. All I can promise you is that I'm going to have fun and you should totally join me and we can have fun together. AND maybe a baby. 

No promises. 

Below I have posted links where you can purchase a copy to read along if you would like. If you buy from the Amazon link I get a referral fee. It doesn't affect the price of the things you buy but it helps me buy things. So if you use it that's wonderful, but I would prefer you get the best deal no matter what else is going on. 

Barnes & Nobel (starting price $33.80 used)
Not available on !ndigo
Not available on Walmart.com
Not available on Wayne's Books
Amazon (starting price $38.95 for a new copy and $42.93 used)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Let's Read: Role-Playing Mastery by Gary Gygax (Introduction)

A few years ago I did a Let's Read of this book that, to be frank, felt a bit too heavy on the quotes and a bit too light on the analysis. So I deleted it with the idea that I would come back to the series later and do it over the right way. 

Today marks the start of that process. 

The goal of this project is to explore the ideas that Gary Gygax raises in this book and to see how they impact playing the game as it exists today. To do so I will be using limited quotes from this book so if you're interested in reading along with the project then I highly suggest picking up a copy because books are fucking awesome.

The other thing that makes me kind of excited about this project is to see how my own perspective of this work has changed over the last few years. When I first read it I was overly enthusiastic about everything I read. It was like Gary Gygax had written some sort of revelatory text and it was changing my understanding of the fundamental nature of role-playing games. Three years later though and I'm wondering if that sort of excitement wasn't an overblown reaction due to the dearth of discussion in those areas that I had been exposed to and my willingness to be impressed. 

Let's Read Role-Playing Mastery by Gary Gygax
Introduction
Master Players (pgs. 24 - 40) [live March 7, 2018]
Master Game Masters (pgs. 41 - 56) [live March 9, 2018]
The Group (pgs. 57 - 76) [live March 12, 2018]
Making and Understanding Rules to the Game (pgs. 77 - 103) [live March 14, 2018]
Research (pgs. 104 - 119) [live March 16, 2018]
Tactical Mastery (pgs. 120 - 137) [live March 19, 2018]
Designing the Game (pgs. 138 - 152) [live March 21, 2018]
Mastery and the Appendices (153 - 173) [live March 23, 2018]

Below I have posted links where you can purchase a copy to read along if you would like. If you buy from the Amazon link I get a referral fee. It doesn't affect the price of the things you buy but it helps me buy things. So if you use it that's wonderful, but I would prefer you get the best deal no matter what else is going on. 

Barnes & Nobel (starting price $33.80 used)
Not available on !ndigo
Not available on Walmart.com
Not available on Wayne's Books
Amazon (starting price $38.95 for a new copy and $42.93 used)

GM Toolbox: Things to Do from January 24, 2005

Shortly before I was going to run my first game back in the early months of 2005 I was sitting in the Den working on a list of things that...