An Introvert's Conversation With Himself (silentclarity) wrote in roleplayers,
An Introvert's Conversation With Himself

Jeff's GM Blog #1: Choosing Players

I'm gearing up to run a game. I've settled on doing D&D 3.5 set in the Iron Kingdoms. Specifically I'm going to run through the Witchfire Trilogy.

My reasoning? It's been ages since I did D&D (5 years or more) and I want to see if I can make a functional game out of it. My friends and I are big into Warmachine, so playing in the Irong Kingdoms will be neat.

This post is specifically about choosing players.

Once upon a time I wasn't at all picky about who I gamed with. I was new to the area and paying rent for the first time (and not so smart about my money) so gaming wasn't only the sole hobby I could afford, it was also the only real social outlet I had. It wasn't atypical for me to be gaming four or more nights per week, often with vastly diverse groups. What's more, some of these people are folks I would never have hung out with if it weren't for the fact that we gamed together.

Fast forward nearly a decade. I've got friends, I've got money and I've got hobbies. Gaming's not something I do as a social outlet any more - it's an activity I enjoy with my friends; it's no different to me than catching a movie or going out to a bar or whatever. If I game less the games I'm in are far more satisfying.

What this is a long way of saying is this: I'm picky about who I game with. I don't like to game with total strangers. I don't like to game with people I can't at least picture myself hanging out with. It means I don't game nearly as much as I used to, and honestly not as much as I'd like. However it also means that when I do roleplay it's a lot more enjoyable and satisfying.

So finding players is hard. Gone are the days where I could cast my net far and wide. Not helping matters is the fact that in the past year over half the folks I really enjoyed playing with have scattered to the four winds. A few have moved about 90 miles away and aren't much for making the long round trip for a few hours gaming. One went out of country for school... you get the idea.

Combine that with the fact that I'm being pretty anal about who I want to play with. D&D is an odd duck system. Out of the box it's amazingly incoherent; it's a bizarre combination of a fantasy world simulator and a tactical combat simulator. It's got like thirty years of expectations and assumptions layered onto it which means that it's basically a totally different game to each person. I think the game can work functionally, if your players all approach it at the same level. If you've got a group of hardcore number crunchers who build their characters like they're optimizing a Magic: The Gathering deck that's perfectly OK - so long as everyone is on board with that style of play. Likewise if you've got a bunch of people who want to just have a beer and pretzels good time, share some laughs, and maybe kill some Orcs that can work too. The problem arises when you mix the two - then you get stuff like the hardcore guy bossing around the party in every fight while the sofcore players act like wimps. Just no good, nobody has fun.

In any event, I've got three players - all are guys I play Warmachine with so that's cool; they'll grok the Iron Kingdoms' unique steampunk setting. We'll also get that thrill of exploring the setting - of seeing stuff and being able to say "hey I recognize that!" which is enjoyable as all heck. I'm going back and forth over adding a fourth player - I realized that the scenario I'm running is written for four players but on the other hand the choice is pretty difficult. That, and I'm a newb GM for D&D (or may as well be; it's been half a decade!); I don't want to overwhelm myself. On the other hand a fourth player would really add to the dynamic I think...

Anyway, next blog will deal with the nitty gritty of the game I'm running, the experience I'm looking for, and the guidelines I'm going to use for GMing it.

Topics for discussion in the comments (aka stuff I'd like to hear about):
- how do you choose the people you game with?
- have your gaming habits changed over time (specifically in a metagame sense; I'm less interested in things like how you prefer RIFTS now but used to like Shadowrun and more interested in tsuff like preferred group composition, game length, session frequency, etc etc)

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