Sunday, August 23, 2015

Pasty, Fat Fuck that I am

Yesterday I head that if I "Want to improve (my) game mastering? Get up off the chair." This struck a cord with me. I was reminded of days when I was spry and had so much energy that I couldn't sit down while running a game. I felt young again. But I also know now that while I was a good GM back then, but as I am not good as I am now. Game-mastering that has the GM feel good and connected with even complete strangers is not a mysterious ritual . Further more, game-mastering should not be about the only time a person bothers to exercise.

Quick disclaimer: Werdna (Scott Malthouse) is a person that is comparatively younger than me. He is also one of deeper, better thought table-top gamers that I will ever meet. His articles provide me with perspectives that I would never think of on my own. The debate going on here is a discussion among colleagues not an derisive argument between unfeeling agents of imaginary factions inside of some great schism in a hobby meant to be for fun that often isn't. Also, there is a good chance that any participants in this discussion will not come to a conclusive uniform outcome as to how things should be.

Let it be said, that as a GM I got rid of GM-screens in 1991. I would put scraps of paper in front of me, and when someone needed to see if I was making things up, I'd pull out a manila folder with the written-out scenario in it from my very book-bag. In these days (20o4-present) of electronic readers, video players, and complete stereo systems in single large-pocket sizes, this habit of mine has only gotten worse. Lordsheads, that book-bag is sooooo damn heavy. Apparently, I am a radical.

While the mixture of bad decision-making in dietary matters and ever-growing food industry in modern non-manufacture-driven economy, have helped me put on pounds since I was 14, my tabletop gaming passion has never required me to carry around a lot of stuff. Though the providers of current "adventure gaming" would have you think otherwise, "gaming" does not need to be burdensome nor preformed by sedentary people. If indeed folks seem to think that showing up to a "role-playing" game requires fifty pounds of equipment and being out of shape signifies a person's inner deepness, they are welcome, but it really should not dictate the reality of the hobby.

At the same time, we should not be so concerned about looks, and our personal smell (GAYMERS), that we cannot share those sparks of intelligence that show how imaginative we are. Cosplay might be paid for by the electronic gaming industry, but those game designers do not have as much fun as we have for 1/15th the money that they spend. Table-toppers get the lookers for virtually free because of our fantastic thoughts.

A little about GMing a RPG session.

Table-top should resist the urge to be a performance artist. Indeed, a good GM is of course one, but folks should not see it "for free." If you get this, sit down already. I mean it. Folks at the table aren't here to see your passion. More than likely they're here to see how a game should work or at least want to sample the game mechanics. Your passion helps, don't get me wrong, but folks want to see an activity formed by a prcess developed by you. They will apply to possible situations well away from the table that you are sharing with them much later.

Actually your passion about any game system that you are working is not indicated by whatever position you happen to be in while being observed by others. The desire comes through in the knowledge of the game system. The drive to be entertaining comes from the technique of presenting players with the options that they have. Most often, what is indicated by your standing or sitting is how much control that you as GM want to have.

You, yourself, get a whole lot out of this interaction. Besides being clever, you get to organize things. You get to shift from being omnipotent as the GM, to slovenly ignorant as a dim-witted NPC. Best yet, you make the patterns as you roll dice. Hopefully you don't fudge roles too often, sometimes you need to, most time you don't. Using the success or fail of dice/card/whatever determination provides the GM with as much entertainment as the scenario set out in front the players. Your own heart beats faster, you are quicker than usual mentally, _and_ the opposite (as well as the same sex) thinks you are sexy.

Now about standing up and sitting down.

Okay, hopefully you walk, or wheelchair around in fresh air, enough to get some a sense of well-being to not be expecting too much from the players sitting in front of you. It is now that you should know, that everything is up to you. Good or bad, it's your fault. There isn't a set of rules written that is going to preserve you from any criticism from the folks that have come to the table between you and them. Here is playing field. He is where you prove yourself.

Sitting while having players define their Characters, tells people that they are in charge of their characters. You are, hopefully, actually distracted with important details of the upcoming scenario. Familiar players should act as coaches to new players with designing their PCs.  Try to listen to the conversations going on, this helps you get notes on how to make the upcoming adventure great in everyone's eyes.

What your posture during the start of any narrative can be anything. That position is actually going to define the rest of the session. This subject will be covered in later blog posts, or not.

Stand-up when you're not in charge. You are now, in fact, floating, above each and every individual Character. You're looking at the PCs. They are in charge, you're just showing how special that they are. Take notes if you're any sort of author. These moments ae gold and should be cherished.

Especially in argumentative situations, you sit down when you need to tell everyone that you are really in control. This bit might be counter intuitive, but it shows that you are a being of finite energy and patience. You can even pull out a reference material at this time. Feel free to stand back up again as you read where your GM decision is legitimized by the rule-set. If it isn't, you made a mistake, but guess what, you're the GM, do not admit to being wrong about the rules. Anybody pressing it is being an ass, let him play himself out. He, or she, just looks confused in the end.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

It's Zak S Pundit's or Hillamena's Hobby, We just Live in It

A couple of you might've noticed already, but last Tuesday (Aug 4, 2015) I received a note from a dude, a Daniel Bently, commenting on a year-old blog entry ( July 31, 2014) of mine. I was sipping coffee as I read his vaguely put point that his blogs were being filled up with "he-said/she-said bullshit" (paraphrased for clarity) and mine should include "citations." It took me a couple seconds before I stopped reaching for my College English Composition textbook from 1986, which is luckily upstairs, to comply with his request. I realized that he was up to something, so I replied " From all 30 reads of this blog post since July 5th (2015)? Really?" Over the course of  the day, I could mostly find out what Bentley didn't actually say. It was all very passive-aggressive.

On the second morning, after I stated that Mr Bentley had an agenda for his reviving of the old blog post, Peryton informed me that Zak S's A Red and Pleasant Land did extremely well at GenCon's Ennie awards. Things clicked in my head. This explained to me why I was the asshole that made him search for my blog and post there, hence cluttering up his feed. Whether he had an agenda or is naturally a jerk ( IE someone who raises a hand to tell everyone that he doesn't know something), I don't really know.

So at this point in time, to balance the unbalance of the universe going on I suppose I should just mention David Hill and Filamena Young, or "Hillamena" as Peryton puts it. As Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have the equal mixture of looks as well as talent to be great artists, these two have the mixture of writing skill and connections to be the bell-ringers for what I am going to call "the Gamer Outrage Brigade." There that is done.

Just as I know that the Kurds as antagonistic towards the nation of Turkey as much as they are oppressed, I also know that the oppressed of the tabletop gaming industry are just as oppressive of other gamers. While many people still don't like homosexuals and still have very simplistic views of cultures not their own, there are just as many folk loudly trying to shame others for hygiene standards and the way that they speak. Big secret folks, role-playing in fantastic scenarios helps us overcome the need to be the oppressor or the bully.

Now John Tarnowski would turn this sort of rant into an awesome 25 page-long treatise. Zak S would disappear for six months to come out with rocking rebuttals towards the easily offended. I am frankly done here. Be nice or not, just let the shaming of people that disagree with you go though. It doesn't work, it only makes you look petty.

Citations listed herein

Monday, August 03, 2015

GenCon 15: Holed-Up Lotta Something

A friend of mine described my time at GenCon as "... holed up running games all weekend.

As you might have read elsewhere, Pery and I weren't doing the exhibitor's booth this year, instead focusing the PeryPubbers on running events. While I didn't run the most events that I ever have at GENCON, I did nine events. It was some work, but it didn't cut anything out of the great experiences that the convention is for me.

The road to GenCon
The passive-aggressive stance of the LLC members towards the anti-homosexual legislation in Indiana annoyed me. Really why did they say anything if they were not going to be going anywhere for five years, if then? Oh yeah, to stir up media mentions of GENCON. I didn't want to go, but Peryton reminded me that we had already paid for our room with JerryTel by then. Having six new scenarios about 3/4s finished at the time of the announcement didn't hurt either.

Over the spring, many of the new GM PeryPubbers and we met up for hoots to basically playtest ourselves. GENCON is just too much of an occasion to walk into without getting some practice in before hand. In June, I actually played the Arkham Horror for the first time in like 20 years to make sure that Caed was familiar with the board, its pieces, and game mechanics.

Still about four days out from the trip, I decided to play CIVIII instead of doing pre-generated Characters for the games. Other, real life things, had my dork factor at a particular low ebb.

I was mopping the floors when the house-sitter showed up Wednesday AM. Peryton decided that her mix of 80s Moody Blues would be the best road trip music ever on the way down. Frankly, I was wondering if I was going to have any fun at all this event.

Old Home Eve, our Wednesday night party was a success though. Beckett, Cram, Jedi and Jessi, Caed, Kal, Batman, JerryTel and the Boy, Sligo, LinZ and Joe, Darrenn E. Canton, a couple dudes by the names of Chuck (I have the business card) and "D," then finally WEB showed up-- If I missed anybody, please let me know. Though Bill, WEB, lectured me on the expensive drinks, at the Park Plaza lounge, I loved the place. I'd talk Beckett and Cram into "second location"ing it to stalk WEB down at his fourth or fifth location. Still finally saw the hotel room that I would be living in for the next five days around 1:15 am. I wasn't staggering too much.

A monolith from 2001? I _was_ holding a bone.
Happiness, at last
The J.W. Marriott is not only very far away from most of GenCon, it is actually a very, very big complex in and of itself. It was far from the hivemind of the majority of gamer dorks (BOARDGAMES), and it is here where the indy role-player ghetto was. The farthest room at the 400 meter long north hallway was where the PeryPubber clique dominated things (the exotic location Room 209). But the room had four tables, and most of the other GMs in there were truly independent gamers. The Pubbers took up three out of the four tables for a couple of time slots, quite a proud moment for me.

After the first fifteen minutes of running the first game, "Big Foot Hunting" for JerryTel's Stay Alive, I was in my element. Now the great group with me didn't hurt. But even by the last game on Sunday, "The Easter Bunny, the Holy Day Horror" for my on Crawlspace, I was really enjoying myself.  Even the extremely large groups players for my midnight games and the lack of air conditioning after 11pm, couldn't ruin any session. By the way, thanks to a player complaint, thank you Matt and Leslie, a manager has promised me, or other folks, fans for next year-- it was verified at 91 F degrees in the corner I did my last night game in at 2:13am.

The convention around me
Even evil has to wait in line.

 Wednesday afternoon, I noticed GenCon has finally put up large maps of its Exhibitors Hall outside the exit. Since I wasn't running a booth, I only walked into it twice. Once on Friday AM-ish, to see how big the crowds looked (a very good time to do so BTW, without the clusters, clumps, and clueless of Saturday) on the way to a game. Sunday afternoon, I found where I wanted to go on one of those maps, Palladium Publishing, walked in the closest entrance, got there, bought my stuff, and left. The clusters, clumps, and clueless were just rocking out still. Sorry to a couple folk about that.

I noticed a lot more prettier younger folks running around this year, more so than other years. I actually watched a "Hard Gay" cosplayer techno-dance down a hallway with a boom box on his shoulder. I wanted to see if he had any disco on the CD then he'd learn how to really dance, but I had a game to get to. Turn it up to 11, I say. To be clear, the man's music wasn't loud at all.

Speaking of loud though, one of my midnight games was almost crashed by a group of idiots basically looking for a room to squat in for a party for kids too cheap or too broke to have their own party spot. The group I was running didn't mind the silliness, nor the squatting, but they started coming over and interrupting us with drunk cleverness. This ticked off a couple players, and I was jealous, so I chased them out of the room. One got officious with me asking "What is your event number?" I threw a program at him and told him to look up the RPGs running after 11pm that night and then narrow it down. For another hour, he and his friends would hide around the corner in the hallway, sneak up to peek into the room, and take pictures of me. They got sleepy and went to their nap-nooks within 40 minutes.
I bring up this tale, not to bitch about the partying, amateurs, but a detail about GENCON operations. While I am checked throughout the day by volunteers, in the middle of my events, to make sure that everyone has their badges and that they have given me tickets; those same volunteers were gone by about 8:30pm every night from the desk they were working at. This sort of 9-5 attitude makes strict policies about what table GMs can and cannot do somewhat hypocritical. Either be in control or get off my back when you're not tired dudes.

Some personage- personal times

After my afternoon T&T game, "Yetis, Yet Again," I grabbed David from Toronto for a get together. I actually had enough time to meet and have dinner with Brad McDermitt at High Velocity, the sports bar at the JW Marriot. That establishment has some awesome house-made corned beef for reubens. LinZ and Joe found Batman and me hanging out at Loughmiller's Pub about 90 minutes later. It was Saturday and I was on the downhill part of my scenario running. I had a break between 5-11pm that evening. Heck, I was even able to spend an hour or two with my beloved Peryton and the Boy. JerryTel was running the auction this year, so he was actually busier than I was for our comparative vacations.

It wasn't until Sunday, that JerryTel, Batman, Cramm, Peryton, the Boy and I could spend some real time together. Nicely the Bourbon Street Cafe had room for three of us. Sadly the Sci-Fi channel had only sucky movies on for the rest of the night. I think there is a show called American Ninja and Pirates or something these days. If there isn't, there should be.