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Old 09-02-2014, 01:01 PM   #11
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Default Re: Doing Things Better #1: Entertaining your fellow-players

It is, unfortunately, too easy to slip into socializing and goofing around and not playing. One of my friends had one of their gaming nights end due to this. Having a regular social time can be fun, but not if you're expecting to game.

Both of the campaigns I was in earlier this year (one running, one playing) decided to focus on the game more and it definitely improved them. Instead, we started having a defined food and socializing time and clamped down on the socializing during gaming time, which worked pretty well for our groups.
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:47 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
I'm going to go one level higher in abstraction that Brett is, because while I don't disagree with him, I think he's making a mistake most of us make in misunderstanding what an RPG is (or, perhaps, just assuming that everyone else already knows and it can go unsaid). I have seen game after game that failed to follow all of his advice, but were HUGE hits anyway.
Well naturally. I wasn't putting forward my advice as a list of fundamental or essential techniques for successful role-playing, I was suggsting them as advanced techniques for doing better than usual in the very specific area of entertaining other players when you are playing a character, not GMing.

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It took me awhile to grasp it, but I have my grand unifying RPG theory, and it is this:

An RPG is a social event, an excuse for friends to gather.
I think you might be over-generalising from your own experience, because your grand unifying theory of RPG does not describe my experience or preferences. If that were an adequate description I would not design adventures and run them for strangers at cons. I would not seek out roleplayers specifically to befriend and play with, rather I would be content to sit around with my neighbours and relatives, drink beer, and talk about sport and talkback radio.

I enjoy RPGs specifically for a special quality that they have. I go to considerable effort and some expense to prepare for them despite having purely social opportunities that are easier and and cheaper. I seek them out in preference to easier social opportunities. I play them with strangers and find that rewarding. Your theory is not adequate to describe my experience of them.

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An RPG follows all the same rules as a party:
  1. Have a set time, invite everyone in advance, stick to that time. RSVP.
  2. Avoid inviting people you know will clash with one another, and prefer people who tend to get along well without any additional effort from you.
  3. Have plenty of good food and drink
  4. Have an inviting space for your social event
  5. Have something fun to do, or to faciliate talk among your party attendees

EVERYTHING you see in advice for RPGs is really just an attempt to improve that last point, but the fact is, you can get a ton of mileage out of hitting the other points.
That's true enough, but not responsive to the the question in the OP or the topic in the thread title, since those all seem to be prescriptions for the host of a party and not things that a character-player in an RPG can do to entertain his or her fellow players.

And obliquely, I'll point out that although all the things you suggest are helpful, I have run and played in enormously enjoyable RPG sessions that are fondly remembered decades later (a) with no snacks or drinks at all and (b) in crowded and uncomfortable student accommodations, classrooms, and cavernous unheated function rooms.

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Even if people just shoot the breeze and drink your beer and eat your pizza and make jokes and completely fail to connect with the game, if they have fun, they'll consider it a success and will want to do it again.
Perhaps many will. But not all, and not me. Nor, apparently, whswhs or sir_pudding. If I'm invited to an RPG and no RP occurs, I get disappointed. If a regular RPG session is cancelled in favour of a birthday party or some such, I get disappointed. A successful roleplaying session gives me a feeling of satisfaction and closure that I don't recall ever having got from a beer-shooting, breeze-guzzling session — though I have got it from seminars and academic conferences. Hanging out is not, for me, a satisfactory substitute for a role-playing game.

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I'm not saying anyone is wrong-headed for worrying about things like pacing and good character design and descriptive skills. I worry about those too, but if we're going to start somewhere, start HERE. Understand how to throw a nice party first, how to be social first, and build everything out from there, because it's too often neglected, and it can cover your bases when the rest fails.
Fair enough, but off-topic. None of that advice is responsive to the OP's question, feasible from the position of playing a character in a game, or relevant to the issue of playing a character in an entertaining fashion. Those are things worth working for if you are the host or convenor of the game, but not when you are just one of the character-players, and though they will promote an enjoyable evening they won't make your character-play entertaining to fellow players.

I read you as disparaging the question and dismissing the premise of the question. Trying to play your character in an entertaining way is not worth discussing, you seem to say, because roleplaying games don't matter; just pop a beer, turn on the football, and shoot the breeze.

Last edited by Agemegos; 09-02-2014 at 03:52 PM.
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:58 PM   #13
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Default Re: Doing Things Better #1: Entertaining your fellow-players

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Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
If a regular RPG session is cancelled in favour of a birthday party or some such, I get disappointed.
From my 21st to my 23rd birthday the following occurred:
"Hey Cole, what do you want to do for your birthday?"
"Game."
"No, that's not what you want. You want to have a party and not play any games whatsoever at it!"
"No, I'm fairly sure, I'd rather just game."
"Okay, so we are going to have a party! Yay! Who do you want to invite?"
"Just my gaming group, because I'm going to run my game."
"I don't like half of those people, so I'm going to invite the half I do like, and some other people you are mostly acquainted with."

The weird thing is it was a different person that did this too me each year.

Note to Malinka: I did not consider any of these as successful game sessions.

Last edited by sir_pudding; 09-02-2014 at 04:10 PM.
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Old 09-02-2014, 04:02 PM   #14
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Default Re: Doing Things Better #1: Entertaining your fellow-players

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I read you as disparaging the question and dismissing the premise of the question. Trying to play your character in an entertaining way is not worth discussing, you seem to say, because roleplaying games don't matter; just pop a beer, turn on the football, and shoot the breeze.
I'm not expressing it well, then. What you're describing is a more detailed element of a larger picture I am describing. It's like getting into enormous detail on choosing a location. That's important, but it's a detail on a larger picture.

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Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
Fair enough, but off-topic. None of that advice is responsive to the OP's question, feasible from the position of playing a character in a game, or relevant to the issue of playing a character in an entertaining fashion. Those are things worth working for if you are the host or convenor of the game, but not when you are just one of the character-players, and though they will promote an enjoyable evening they won't make your character-play entertaining to fellow players.
Except that everything I described ultimately matters. You need to carefully choose who you play with. For example, if I picked a group of people who are going to get distracted and make constant pop-culture references and largely just hang out and teamed them up with you, you would have a bad experience. I've already made a mistake, even before I've tried to run the game. If I fail to choose a proper time, if everything fails to get scheduled, you won't have your gaming experience at all. If everyone gets cranky because they're hungry, or distracted because of loud, inappropriate music, then your game doesn't happen either.

This is why I call it a larger picture. This has to happen before the stuff you describe, which is also important, can really happen. It's not a case of one or the other, or that shooting the breeze is more important than having a good game. It's that knowing how to construct a proper social event predicates having something interesting to do at the social event (having something to do is still important!)

You say that I'm drawing this from my larger experience, but I'd say the opposite is true. You argue that my approach wouldn't serve you. I disagree! It would serve you excellently, because it would involve tailoring the social event to your particular needs. That's what a good host does, and being a good host is the foremost job of a GM. My approach involves a flexibility yours does not. Deep roleplay, for example, will not appeal to everyone. Many people really do just want to kill monsters and take their stuff. Before you even start your session, you have to know what you're running and for who and how their social dynamics are going to work. And then you need to work on creating an environment appropriate for the experience you want.

It's a higher order thing. You're talking about how to write a book, I'm talking about how to create a final product.
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Last edited by Mailanka; 09-02-2014 at 04:06 PM.
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Old 09-02-2014, 04:13 PM   #15
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What you're describing is a more detailed element of a larger picture I am describing.
Right, because that's the topic of the thread.

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You argue that my approach wouldn't serve you.
No, I don't. I say that it is all very well in its way, but off-topic.

It's like a writer asked for a discussion of advice on writing dialogue and you're talking about setting aside time to write regularly and how to engage an agent.
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Old 09-02-2014, 04:15 PM   #16
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Default Re: Doing Things Better #1: Entertaining your fellow-players

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Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
Right, because that's the topic of the thread.

It's like a writer asked for a discussion of advice on writing dialogue and you're talking about setting aside time to write regularly and how to engage an agent.
The topic of the thread is "entertaining your fellow players." "Making sure they have good food and good company and a good environment" is absolutely a legitimate part of entertaining your fellow players.

Are we really going to get into a nit-pick definitional argument, or have a discussion?
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Old 09-02-2014, 04:17 PM   #17
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Default Re: Doing Things Better #1: Entertaining your fellow-players

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Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
Except that everything I described ultimately matters. You need to carefully choose who you play with. For example, if I picked a group of people who are going to get distracted and make constant pop-culture references and largely just hang out and teamed them up with you, you would have a bad experience. I've already made a mistake, even before I've tried to run the game. If I fail to choose a proper time, if everything fails to get scheduled, you won't have your gaming experience at all. If everyone gets cranky because they're hungry, or distracted because of loud, inappropriate music, then your game doesn't happen either.
That's along the lines of how I rewrote your five rules. Your actual rules won't result in any gaming except by accident.

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You say that I'm drawing this from my larger experience, but I'd say the opposite is true. You argue that my approach wouldn't serve you. I disagree! It would serve you excellently, because it would involve tailoring the social event to your particular needs.
My needs include that gaming had better actually happen, and it really ought to be the main activity.

This:
Quote:
Even if people just shoot the breeze and drink your beer and eat your pizza and make jokes and completely fail to connect with the game
is a problem, because if that happens I won't find this to be adequate substitute for gaming, even if I try to make the most of it and have fun, and especially even if you have decided against my wishes that I'd rather do this instead of gaming.
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Old 09-02-2014, 04:24 PM   #18
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Default Re: Doing Things Better #1: Entertaining your fellow-players

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That's along the lines of how I rewrote your five rules. Your actual rules won't result in any gaming except by accident.
Nice claim. How can you back that up?

Here's what I think: If you can't schedule a game, then no gaming will happen "except by accident." If you can't get the right people together, you won't have a game except by accident. If you can't have a location for your game, you won't get gaming except by accident. And if you don't have a proper game (that would be the last point which you're decidedly ignoring), then you won't have a game except by accident.

How would you propose that my points are invalid? I suppose you could get by without having any snacks and it wouldn't instantly torpedo your ability to have a session. But having good food never hurt.

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My needs include that gaming had better actually happen, and it really ought to be the main activity.

This:

is a problem, because if that happens I won't find this to be adequate substitute for gaming, even if I try to make the most of it and have fun, and especially even if you have decided against my wishes that I'd rather do this instead of gaming.
Here's the actual quote:

Quote:
Even if people just shoot the breeze and drink your beer and eat your pizza and make jokes and completely fail to connect with the game, if they have fun, they'll consider it a success and will want to do it again
If they don't have fun, they won't consider it a success.
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Old 09-02-2014, 04:32 PM   #19
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I'm not expressing it well, then. What you're describing is a more detailed element of a larger picture I am describing. It's like getting into enormous detail on choosing a location. That's important, but it's a detail on a larger picture.
The point is that you are describing what you regard as necessary conditions. And some of them may be necessary conditions. But you went on to say that they are sufficient conditions; that is, that if you get me and four or five of my friends together, and we sit around and eat and drink and shoot the bull, that that's a perfectly good evening and fulfills all the essential functions of a gaming session. And I'm saying, and I'm pretty sure a couple of other people are saying, that no it doesn't.

Those things may be pleasant, and they may be desiderata, and they might even be essential (though I don't they all of them are); but if we don't actually game, or if we have a vague, poorly focused game because everyone is too busy chatting, or the game just isn't very good, then I won't have gotten what I came for and I'll be disappointed. And I may not come back.

Necessary is "you must have X or you won't have a good game." Sufficient is "if you have X you have a good game." Those are not synonyms.

And to go back to the original topic for a moment, the point is not simply to entertain your fellow players; it's to entertain your fellow players by playing the game. See the difference?

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Old 09-02-2014, 04:34 PM   #20
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Default Re: Doing Things Better #1: Entertaining your fellow-players

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Nice claim. How can you back that up?
If I set up a party, and not a game session, then a game will only happen if the guests spontaneously decide to game.
Quote:
And if you don't have a proper game (that would be the last point which you're decidedly ignoring), then you won't have a game except by accident.
Quote:
5. Have something fun to do, or to faciliate talk among your party attendees
If you show a documentary, or serve a meal, or have cocktails, or whatever, you are providing something fun to do, or to facilitate talk, but you aren't running a game.
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How would you propose that my points are invalid?
I don't think they are invalid just not focused on the desired result. The version I proposed hit all the same points, except that a game and not some other random party then happens.
Quote:
I suppose you could get by without having any snacks and it wouldn't instantly torpedo your ability to have a session. But having good food never hurt.
My point (3) also has food and beverages.

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If they don't have fun, they won't consider it a success.y
If I set up a game session and people come over and "just shoot the breeze and drink my beer and eat my pizza and make jokes and completely fail to connect with the game" then I won't have fun and I won't consider it a success. Isn't my enjoyment of my own free time relevant?
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