Knoxville, TN

Being a Better TTRPG Player part 4: Take People Problems Out-of-Game

December 28, 2023

RPGs are traditionally a game enjoyed by the socially awkward. For many of us, that means we don’t like interpersonal conflict.

I suspect my experience is common: in college, I thought mastering the rules of D&D 3.5 would give me the ability to make peace between killer DMs, power gamers, and other ne’er-do-wells by holding them accountable legalistically.

As a 40-something, that sure looks like conflict avoidance.

Don’t underestimate the power of pulling someone aside and diplomatically telling them they’re being a jerk. (And you don’t even have to be the gamemaster to do it!)

Furthermore, don’t underestimate the power of refusing to play with people who continue to be jerks after that.

For a lot of us, this seems unconscionable. Usually, you’re playing long-running games with your friends, after all. (And here the Five Geek Social Fallacies come into play, distorting how we think about those concepts.)

But life’s too short to play games with people you don’t or can’t trust. You can’t build strong enough mechanical guardrails to fix a lack of trust.

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Being a Better TTRPG Player part 3: Read Between the Lines

December 21, 2023

(Read part 2 here)

This is going to sound like metagaming, but if done in good faith, it isn’t.

When you get engrossed in a game world, it’s easy to forget that it’s not a real place–it only exists in the game master’s head. You don’t get information from that world like you would from the real world, or even a video game world.

The GM has their own incentives for how they present information to you.

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Being a Better TTRPG Player part 2: Actively Share the Spotlight

December 14, 2023

(Read part 1 here)

A good gaming experience is one where every player gets to do something interesting. (And not every player will define “interesting” the same way.)

As a player, you can have as much control over the spotlight as the gamemaster does, for good or ill. It’s important to use it wisely, and not just expect the GM to manage it.

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Being a Better TTRPG Player part 1: Read the Table

December 10, 2023

Over the last several years, I feel like I’ve hit a second wind with tabletop gaming. An obvious factor is the trend towards lighter, more storytelling-focused systems that remove friction–which has even shown up in newer editions of popular games like D&D 5th Edition.

But so much of it is simply being more emotionally intelligent than I was in my teens, 20’s, or early 30’s.

There are a lot of tips on being a better Dungeon/Game Master out there, but I’ve also really enjoyed moments that have taught me how to be a better player. This is a series covering a collection of those observations.

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Ludum Dare 46: Procedurally generating potted plants in Unity

May 11, 2020

For Ludum Dare 46, I created a very simple tamagotchi game called “Potted Plant Simulator” in Unity (you can find the code here). We kicked around this idea for “Keep it Alive” at the Knox Game Design online meetup, but it was more or less a joke.

However, brainstorming brought me back to the idea because I started wondering about how to procedurally generate a plant in Unity. I speculated that Unity’s hierarchy system (which localizes position, scale, and rotation to the parent node) would let you chain together branches, and I had to test that hypothesis. (Spoiler: hierarchy does not seem to be the best way to handle this.)

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Running a Board Gaming Event: Games You Might Not Have Tried

August 11, 2019

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Running a Board Gaming Event: Cards Against Humanity

Yes, a single game merits an entire post, because there’s a pretty good chance that this game will be your event’s problematic fave.

I’ll be honest, I liked Cards Against Humanity. Liked, past tense. When it first came out, all the expressions of bigotry and cruelty and general horribleness felt like “punching up”–making fun of people who actually believe and say all that stuff for reals.

I now believe that’s a rationalization, or at least it was on my part.

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Running a Board Gaming Event: Intimidation Factor and Name Recognition

This is a bit of a tangent on something I touched on in the “Scheduled Games” and “RPGs” posts.

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Running a Board Gaming Event: Running RPGs

August 2, 2019

Successfully running an RPG at a convention is an art form (one I haven’t mastered). It’s loud and everyone’s under tight time constraints. (Dire Bear Adventuring Co. did an excellent job running D&D at the last few Hamacon events, if you want a good example.)

Here’s a few quick rules I use when running games at cons:

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Running a Board Gaming Event: Scheduled Games

One of my main goals for Hamacon analog gaming was running events. This is typical when you’re talking about CCGs (tournaments) or RPGs (one-shot adventures), but I wanted to extend this to board games. Specifically, I wanted to introduce games that were fun or interesting, weren’t necessarily popular (i.e., you wouldn’t find on Tabletop or similar shows), and weren’t necessarily easy to learn (i.e., not Cards Against Humanity or Love Letter).

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