19 May 2013

Skeleton Puncher: First Session Postmortem

I played online with a new group last night. The game: D&D IV.

Here are a couple of things I noticed (as well as some things I need to work on).

  1. They aren't used to being self-motivated: One of my favorite techniques is to let the players decide where they're going based on their characters' motivations, as well as their personal preferences. If they want to seek out a death-filled crypt, then that's cool, or if they want to find work with the town guard, that's neat too. But, none of them knew. The thief wanted to pick pockets, the cleric was hanging out at his Inn, the sorcerer was silent (and the fighter was having connection problems.) Only the Bard, with whom I've played before and who knows my style, was actively looking for adventure. I'd gotten spoiled playing with my brother (and wife) who generally have fairly strong opinions on what sorts of adventures they like to be on, and who are not afraid to get highly engaged.
  2. Don't be afraid to be ham-handed: When your players won't engage with the hook (but want to) there's no reason not to make something happen. This is really more of a new-player thing; I could feel that they all wanted something to happen, but didn't know how to make it happen. So I made it happen for them. Problem solved, and everybody's happy now.
  3. Give them a direction: Next time I'll probably tell them what they're doing and have them start there. I'll make it clear in advance what their group is bound by; maybe they're all dungeon plungers, maybe they're bodyguards, or mercenaries, or fugitives, or whatever. I was toying with the idea, but I didn't want to impinge on my players' creativity.
  4. Don't be afraid to shout: One of my players in particular has a very strong authoritarian streak. He also is the youngest. Luckily, my military background means that I am both tolerant of people in general and I am firm when people fuck around. A firm "stop doing that" is generally enough, especially when you combine it with a constant friendly tone. I'll have to watch to make sure that he doesn't overtake other players with his domineering, but I'm completely unworried, as it stands.
  5. Get some minis: It's a pain not to have cool minis in advance. Since it's digital, it just means that I have to hoard them on my computer. One of my players is very into the traditional "here's your mini, here's the map" thing, which is fine. It's 4th edition, after all, and that's kind of the assumption. I'll make sure to have a small stockpile and also doodle up some maps in advance, probably using geomorphs if they go into a dungeon.
  6. Have fun! : This is the easy part. Everybody enjoyed playing, when we actually got to playing. Luckily, we stopped in a place where it's easy to start up again without too much kibitzing, and I've got some real fun stuff planned for in the future. Like, the immediate future.
All in all, I'd say it's fun, and next week can't come soon enough. Now that I've got an idea of how the flow of the game works with Roll20 (and the personalities of the players), everything's going to be a lot easier.

1 comment:

  1. "I'll have to watch to make sure that he doesn't overtake other players with his domineering" - I admit, as a player, I have this problem. That's why I'm usually better off DMing.