D&D Summer Camp #4: At The Grown Folks Table

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01 Jul 2019 18:42 #299127 by Michael Barnes
My longest standing game group - folks I've played with...

Failing a DC 20 adulting roll.

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01 Jul 2019 22:49 - 01 Jul 2019 22:59 #299128 by Jexik
My first foray into DMing 5e was with a mixed group of adults and one child. We used the pre-gens from the starter set. 5 year old took the melee Fighter, Mom took the Rogue, Grandma the Wizard, and Grandpa the Cleric. With the exception of Grandma, who was ex military and had played AD&D ages ago, they were all new to role playing, and relatively new to gaming outside of Chess and Monopoly. They all had a blast and finished Phandelver. We started a second campaign that didn't last as long, but that was likely for other reasons.

I agree that sometimes having less board game experience is better for something like this. I played it very much theater of the mind though... no grid. I'd sometimes put dice out to explain relative positions of skeletons or whatnot. I think I'll try a grid the next time I run a game. There's a fine line I guess. I always think it's kinda weird when people want to optimize their Pathfinder dudes like spreadsheets.*

*Which is probably the type of gamer I was when I played in High School (High school for me was 3rd edition). I kept daydreaming about making an ambidextrous fighter with two bastard swords.
Last edit: 01 Jul 2019 22:59 by Jexik.

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01 Jul 2019 23:14 #299130 by Shellhead
I've never run Saltmarsh, but I used to have U1 in my collection. In hindsight, it's probably a very good choice for a bunch of Warhammer players because it was the first TSR module from their UK team. Pre-Warhammer, but probably comparable style plus the Saltmarsh setting has such a distinctive yet familiar texture.

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02 Jul 2019 09:54 #299148 by san il defanso
It's easy for roleplayers to forget that when you play a lot of board games, playing without the same kinds of parameters is disorienting. Being told you can do "whatever you want" doesn't make a lot of sense, and it definitely takes some practice to have expectations.

Youtube D&D shows have been a real boon for the hobby, but I do think they tend to set expectations for what the experience will be like. You really do need to figure all that out for yourself.

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02 Jul 2019 10:09 #299151 by jason10mm
"A mysterious banshee was determined to be sad because she didn't want to see the Paladin expose his abs."

Whoa, was he trying to use his...ahem...holy rod on her or something? :)

RPGs can be tough, especially if someone just hands you a character sheet full of stats you dont really understand. What am I good at, what cant i do? What is my goal?

I think noob rpg players should try to create a character very similar to themselves, or at least one with straightforward and well defined capabilities (the classic fighter, rogue, wizard, cleric for example) so they can rely on rules and mechanics that make sense until they warm up to the roleplay aspects and more oblique play styles.

Hopefully your kids get the chance to tutor some more adults. Kids (at least mine) love being the teacher!

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02 Jul 2019 18:24 #299177 by quozl
Interesting that you think half the table didn't really dig it but they all want to do it again.

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02 Jul 2019 18:52 #299178 by Michael Barnes
It was kind of a grudging “I guess we can finish” thing. We are trying to get together this week so we’ll see how it goes!

The pregens I used were from the Starter Kit, so they were really simple. They also have kind of a “how to play” section on their sheets. But that is correct, the free form aspect flummoxed a couple of folks who just didn’t get it. I had to prod one player in particular, he just had no clue what to do. Another was the lone wolf that decided to just run around doing whatever...which was fine because I got to slap him with all kinds of fun stuff- yellow mold, collapsing floors, etc.

Re: the YouTube/streaming D&D scene- I actually watched a few videos back when we started playing, I wanted to see what the “trends” were in running a game. A lot of it is that same as it has ever been, but there’s also a looser, more conversational style than there was in decades past. Some of this is because 5e promotes this style of play, but I also get a sense that the really hardcore “you are in a room, WHAT DO YOU DO?” tone is definitely out. The streamers I’ve watched are very charismatic and extroverted, which is completely contrary to that stereotypical DMs of days gone by. I’ve tried to adopt this more accommodating, flexible, and collaborative style and I’m really enjoying it.

The Matthew Mercer thing with Stephen Colbert was really fun.
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02 Jul 2019 20:32 #299181 by Gary Sax
I think part of it is that 5th is different, part of it is that the younger roleplay crowd on youtube, real play podcasts, etc is into very storydriven indies and that has bled into even mainstream D&D folks.

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02 Jul 2019 21:08 #299184 by Shellhead
It's tough to DM for a larger group, because you are more likely to get a mix of players with very different priorities. Robin Laws wrote a decent analysis of several gamer types years ago, though he may have overlooked some:

img.4plebs.org/boards/tg/image/1393/55/1393556080320.pdf

The buttkicker, power gamer, and tactician seem pretty similar, with minor differences in terms of goals and methodology. But they are all likely to be incompatible with the method actor, who is more interested in expressing his character, ideally through role-playing of social interactions with NPCs and other player characters. Meanwhile, the storyteller wants to know what happens next, and may get impatient with the other player types if they slow things down. According to Laws, the DM should try to identify his players by type, and then try to balance the desires of these players so that everybody is getting something out of the game. That's the most crucial goal of the DM.

There is also a good section near the end about how to avoid letting the focus of the game get stuck on something that isn't entertaining for most of the group. Rules arguments may need to be resolved, but crush them before they de-rail the game. I like to make a ruling after a fairly short discussion of pros and cons, while inviting people to email me with some feedback after the game. One campaign group of mine got frustrated by a method actor's insistence on "long conversations with shopkeepers."

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02 Jul 2019 22:47 - 02 Jul 2019 22:49 #299188 by Sagrilarus
When I first started playing years back it took me a while to realize that I didn't need to roll a die to walk down a hallway. It seemed so counter to everything I had played up to that point.

I usually recommend that a new player play someone different from themselves, because it prevents them from investing too heavily into that one character, and being someone different can be a nice change. The key is to break their desire to build perfection, to get them to put a foible or two into the character. It makes the game more interesting and gives the player a scaffold to hang the rest of the character off of. Something as simple as "laughs like a donkey" helps flesh out the character's personality.
Last edit: 02 Jul 2019 22:49 by Sagrilarus.
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03 Jul 2019 02:11 #299191 by panzerattack
Running a game for a large group is difficult and more likely to be a miss for some of the players. It's difficult to get everyone feeling included all the time and it's more tricky for the DM to intuit when someone's feeling a bit left out or getting a little bored. The DM's role in a smooth running game is obvious but it's often over-looked how big a role the players have in a game running well too and if even one player isn't playing ball it can be a drag on the whole session.
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03 Jul 2019 11:01 #299204 by quozl
I find that some of the players who don't know what to do start to get it when you tell them how to get bonuses to their roll.

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