Monday, June 28, 2010

So what about game mastering experience?

This is something that kinda came up in the comments to Wednesday's post, but I thought was interesting enough to go after on it's own: Would you rather have a new game master/dungeon master/referee, or someone who's been playing for ages? Are there any advantages to having a new-ish game master, or does experience and expertise always equal better play?

Does it matter to you how long your game master has been running their current system of choice, or is overall refereeing experience really what counts, and pretty much transfer over between games? Is someone who has experience with a lot of different styles better or worse than someone who's pretty much one run one system, or a handful of closely related systems, for their entire gaming career?

And it occurs to me that some of the difference, if there is any, could have as much to do with age as with actual experience. Are there any relatively new game masters out there who aren't in their teens? How do they stack up?

How much experience has your current game master had? How much had the best game master (assuming you keep score that way) had?

How much have you? How much better of a game master do you think you are now than when you first started? Are there any areas where your first game(s) were better than the ones you're running now?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Who Would You Rather Play With? Response & Recap

I got some great responses to Wednesday's question about whether you'd rather play with brand new or experienced gamers. My own preference fits pretty well with what several of you said, in particular: I like to get new players, so they can pick on my obnoxious habits without anyone else's to get in the way. I also like to get a mix of old and new, when possible; knowledge plus fresh enthusiasm brings out the best of both types, I think. I've had some . . . not bad experiences, exactly, but less than optimal ones with people who came into my games with a lot of pre-conceptions about how gaming "should" work, has made me kind of prejudiced towards new players. On the other hand, the most fun I've had has been in a game with people who had a lot more experience than I did, which means I need to try to keep an open mind.

Will and Mr. Gone each brought up a different side of an extremely important angle on this that I hadn't considered. With new people, there's the opportunity to teach, which is one of those things that's just fun. Likewise, learning can be a lot of fun on it's own. And when you're playing with gamers who have more experience than you, or simply a lot of different experience, you can get the opportunity to see people who know what they're doing and what kind of gaming they really enjoy to perform, in a way that you maybe aren't up to on your own, or didn't realize before could be done.

Of course, my favorite comment came from Yoo-Hoo Tom:
I'm actually running the Encounters season at a book store, even though there is a game store across the street. All of the players (minus an occasional ringer) are complete newbs. I find their enthusiasm very refreshing. I tell people that I am recruiting my next gaming group. To be honest, I was quite tired of some of the gamers I was playing with. Some of which were only playing so they could "break" the newest edition.
All I can say to that is -- rock on! This is absolutely the kind of thing I was hoping to hear come out of D&D Encounters.

(Of course, this was not the smoothest comment. That distinction, as always, goes to Doc Rotwang. But c'mon! New players!)

So yeah, pretty happy with how this turned out. I'm probably going to do something like that again; I've gotten to the point with this blogging business where I've got some really fantastic commentors, and I want to take advantage of that.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Who Would You Rather Play With?

So, I'm curious. If you had the option, would you rather play with people who you introduced to gaming, or would you rather play with folks who had been around the dungeon a time or two before you met them? Or a mix of both? Does it matter what kind of experience they've had?

When you think back to the people you've most enjoyed playing with, where they people who had already played a bit before you met them, or were they newbies before you met them? If they were brand new, were they your first group, or part of your first group? (That is, when you were new too?)

This is a less important question, but what about the people you've least enjoyed playing with?

(A somewhat tangential additional question: If you'd rather play with new folks than old hands, do you like playing with new people just for that new kid enthusiasm? Or do you like new people, but like them even better after they've played with you for a while?)

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Next Game

So it's coming up on a year since I last ran a campaign, even a short one. And I'm pretty happy with that, honestly. Playing 2-3 times a week continues to be pretty rad. Being a player is just fun, and it's given me a lot to think about in terms of how I'm going to run the next game. I'm also enjoying the opportunity to get some time to really think about what I'm going to run next, and for whom.

I still really, really want to run my own chat game. The format really clicks with me, as a player, and I'm not going to master it until I run my own game. I've got the player base. And I've got some ideas and inclinations that wouldn't really work except in chat. I know that if I were to run a tabletop game, I'd spend at least some of my time thinking, "Man, if this were chat, then we could..."

And yet, I've got this gentle, persistent nudging that my next game should not be the intimate, 1-3 player online chat that I'm really digging right now, but open, anyone-who-shows-up tabletop. Some kind of crazed LL/S&W/LotfP WFRPG/"you want to play a centaur? sure!" megadungeon sandboxy thing, just to get that all out of my system. The game itself wouldn't be quite as good, not quite what I'm grooving on at the moment, but the game isn't everything.

In short: My social life revolves around gaming. A lot of this is just because people I have other things in common with tend to be gaming-curious; partly it's because I make a conscious effort to be "out" about my gaming, and to bring my non-gaming friends into the fold. The overall effect is that, since seventh grade, about 90% of the people I voluntarily interact with on a regular basis (as opposed to classmates and such) have been people who I'm actively gaming with, or people who I'd gamed with in the past but for various reasons wasn't at the moment. Which means that, at the moment, a great deal of my social life is online.

I should probably be more worried about that than I am, but I'm actually pretty happy with that right now. Skype is an awesome thing, I'm weird enough that "mostly online" means "fits my strange niche interests," and a lot of it is that I'm using the 'net to keep in touch with the people I hang out with at college, now that we're scattered across the state.

However, what mostly gaming online does mean is that I don't have a whole lot of influence on my local social scene, and that's going to be even more true once I get back to college. I'd like for there to be a little more communication between the different groups of gamers I'm in touch with at school. I'd like for there to be a reliable group of people around for me to hang out with, who understand how to socialize without getting as drunk as they possibly can, as quickly as they can. I worry about some of my friends who, when I'm busy with my online gaming, often end up hanging out with people who drink more than said friends are really comfortable with. Running a game isn't necessarily going to have the effect that I want, and it's obviously not the only way to create that kind of environment, but it's a tool that I'm comfortable with, and fairly good at using.

So there's that. Plus, like I mentioned before, the kind of "anyone can show up!" old school exploration game I've been curious about running for a while is going to be a lot easier to wrangle while I'm still at college, and have a handful of people bugging me about running some variety of old school D&D already, than it will be once I graduate and have to start over cold in a social environment. I'm not quite convinced that's the kind of game I want to run, but it's enough that I've started (once again) scribbling down notes and maps for something of the kind.