Things Bloggers Don’t Post About Until Lately (Lately They Have Been)

I’ll bite.

Book binding: RPG rulebooks are used as reference materials frequently. They’re left propped open. Things spill on them. They should all be 3-ring-bound with laminated pages for all the damage we gamers do.

“Doing a voice”: I like to do voices. I don’t do them very well. I especially like to do voices for animals and plants and rocks and stuff that people talk to with Speak With X spells. It helps a lot if I imagine myself looking like the speaker, and assuming a posture.

Breaks. How often do you have breaks within sessions?: We don’t really. If you need to get up and pee you just go do it, or nuke some food, or whatever. We play for 5 hours once a week. Now that I think about it I guess we have marvelous constitutions (in one sense).

Description. I like to get descriptive, but I don’t go into precise detail unless someone asks about something specific. I want to give enough so everyone can envision, but if you give too much they get lost. In King’s “The Gunslinger” the titular character was described at one point as “the kind of man who straightens crooked picture frames in hotel rooms” which I think is just peachy.

Where do you strike the balance between “doing what your character would do” and “acting like a dickhead”?: Your PC has an alignment. If you violate your alignment enough you shift over to a different one and lose a level (as in 1E D&D DMG). You might lose access to class abilities or intelligent and aligned magic items because of your new alignment. Henchmen may desert. Your diety might not grant your 3rd level and higher Cleric spells.
But any alignment offers a justification for doing something lame. If the PC victimizes NPCs, he will eventually experience some backlash (for example, mugging folk in town naturally results in manhunts and magical investigation and bounties). If the PC victimizes PCs, the other players will get upset (see question below).
Example: Lawful Neutral PC finds out the other PCs are forging documents. He turns them in to the authorities. The other PCs go to jail (shenanigans ensue). The snitch is not likely to rejoin the group, so he gets his reward and then skedaddles. Player of the snitch needs to roll up a new character, probably with fewer magic items, wealth, and levels because it’s a new character instead of one developed through play. The player of the snitch needs to think about this: is it really worth losing your character over this bit of roleplaying? As a DM, I would not have the other players roll up new characters and have them form a group around the snitch, as that would effectively be an incentive for the snitch. The game focuses on the main group, not an individual attached by a filament. In the above case, I would focus on the escape or trial or offer of pardon for the imprisoned PCs.

PC-on-PC violence. Players tend to avoid it. I think they realize they’re special in that they are the only ones in the whole wide world who they can count on, that is, an NPC may have some nefarious motivation, and can steal or lie or whatever, but the player-scoundrel will end up losing his character (either because the other PCs kill him or drive him off or else he flees with the loot) and the game will continue to focus on the rest of the PCs. I have played in groups where players had little self-control or cooperation. We had one where a player insisted on leaping into any treasure and filling his pockets, party treasure agreements be damned. My cleric and another kept a full complement of Hold Person spells so when the group walked into a room with treasure we could Paralyze the punk and everyone could divide treasure fairly (including him, of course).

How do you explain what a role playing game is to a stranger who is also a non-player?:On one hand it’s like a board game where you roll dice and move your piece around. Imagine you have a board game where your piece is an action-adventure hero, like Indiana Jones. You can have your piece use his whip to swing across a hole in the floor, or shoot a dude, or solve some puzzle. D&D is a lot like that, except all the players get to play a hero like Indiana Jones. Have you ever watched a movie and thought, “wow, he’s doing something stupid, DON’T GO BEHIND THAT DOOR”? In D&D, because you choose what your guy does, you can decide for him.

Alchohol at the table?: Sometimes someone has a beer or a cup or two of sake. Nothing big. Tipsy-goofy is too much.

What’s acceptable to do to a PC whose player is absent from the session? Is whatever happens their fault for not being there, or are there some limits?: Absent players are just “not there”. I think not getting to play is enough of a downside for not attending. You don’t need the risk that the PC could die with some other player or the DM at the wheel.

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