Friday, November 4, 2011


Look out, people! It's another RPG blogosphere meme! I'm actually going to participate in this one, since it's pretty short. This one is the brainchild of noisms at Monsters and Manuals. It's called "Things Role Playing Bloggers Tend Not To Write About" or TRPBTNTWA!

So, here goes:

Book binding: overall I've been pretty lucky with book bindings holding up well. Then again, I am a book snob and treat them like human babies when handling them. Plus, apparently a lot of recent RPGs have some binding problems. I am not encountering that, because for the most part I've been getting PDFs and having them spiral bound. It's so much better to be able to have a book lay flat, being able to fold it this way and that, etc.

"Doing a voice": despite having a lot of acting in my background, I don't really like to do voices. I usually like to describe how an NPCs voice sounds and let the player's imagination take over. I also like to change how I phrase things, alter my syntax and sentence structure, etc. in order to make an NPC's manner of speaking sound unique, rather than rely on some weird voice. However, there are times when I'm inspired and will do a voice. This is especially true if there's some comedic effect I'm going for (these go over much better than me trying to do an intimidating voice, which I am not sure I can make believable). Then there's times I like to do some gruff voices for grizzled warriors or haughty voices for wizards or nobles. But there's not much beyond that.

Breaks: These are usually just spur of the moment. If a player's had too much Dr. Pepper at the table and has to go, they usually just pop up for a quick pee. I've been considering calling breaks half way through a night's session, though. Just to stretch the legs, etc.

Description: This depends on the situation. It's all about context. If you're just entering another tavern, then there's not much need for description. But entering a specific NPC's lair, or some other place that's destined to be an important "set piece," then that calls for me to pull out the stops and slather on the details like only a true B.S. in English can! ;-) Simply put, there are places where you need to evoke a mood, and places that you don't.

Where do you strike the balance between "doing what your character would do" and "acting like a dickhead"?: This is a weird one for me because I play with a really great group of nice people at the moment, so there's not a dickhead to be found! But back in the day, as a kid playing the game, there were one or two guys who were dicks, DM and player alike. Those guys, we just stopped playing with them. Nuff said.

PC-on-PC violence: I think this goes hand-in-hand, more often than not, with the dickhead thing. Only dickheads tried to abuse fellow player's characters. Thus, we stopped playing with those guys. If I ever get into playing at conventions with strangers, I might start running in to more dickheads. But at the moment, I've got my small and close-knit band of like-minded gamers, who are a blessing!

How do you explain what a role playing game is to a stranger who is also a non-player?: I try to explain it simply for the most part. I say "It's board gaming without the board." Or I say "It's cooperative storytelling." Or "It's like acting, and our imaginations are the stage." Usually it's a combination of these. That's how I start out, and then try to explain the basics quickly, just a summary. Sometimes I feel like being glib and say "It's the adult version of playing pretend." But I usually try to not say that, because it might help to spread the anti-gaming stigma. I think that people who would never want to play an RPG will never be able to truly compute the concept, because it's something they would never want to do. So they don't try hard to understand. That's (sadly) how many people approach a lot of things in life, I think.

Alcohol at the table?: I wouldn't mind trying it. I think I've done it once, and we didn't have enough alcohol to get truly drunk while gaming.

What's acceptable to do to a PC whose player is absent from the session?: When I start a campaign, one of the things I do for the players is outline my ideas for what to do when a player is absent. I usually give them these options: when you're not here, I can A) use your player as an NPC and promise not to kill him/her or B) have your character become somehow indisposed for the session, either by falling unconscious, disappearing mysteriously, etc. This second option usually lends itself to some interesting plot developments and side quests once the player returns to the game in a later session. Either way, though, the character earns no XP for the session. I've tinkered with the idea of offer another option: if a player allows me to use their character as an NPC that could get killed, I will allow them to earn XP. But I'm still on the fence about that. Now, if during a session another player is willing to play another player's character, and the owner of said character is ok with it, that's another way that a character can earn XP (but the stand-in player needs to make good use of the borrowed character during the session).

So that's what I've got to say about that! What about you? Come on, everybody's doing it!


  1. I also like to change how I phrase things, alter my syntax and sentence structure, etc. in order to make an NPC's manner of speaking sound unique, rather than rely on some weird voice.

    I'm interested in your thoughts on this, since you have a lot of acting experience. I would consider all of the above to be part of a character's 'voice'. Do you define voice as pitch and timbre only, independent of speech patterns? Normally I don't vary those much for NPCs, but I try to change my manner of speech and my tone of voice a lot.

  2. I, as you know, love to do voices.