Recruiting Fresh Blood For Your Next Table Top RPG

As game masters we get a burning desire to tell stories, run games. Often it hits us like inspiration hits writers. We could be browsing through the latest at Drive Thru RPG. Or we might have finished a great book we bought off Amazon. Sometimes a simple article might set us off. Whatever the case when we get the urge, we want to game. The first and foremost problem game masters have is recruitment. How the heck do you find someone willing to play a table-top game with you? First you need to decide where you want to run the game. If you want to run it live, then below I have several suggestions for you. If you want to do it online, I can give you some tips on where to go and how to run your game.

Wiining

Recruiting live players can be difficult. A bit of extroverted charm along with a likeable smile can go a long way. But to find fresh blood for your next game requires the proper location, timing and social skills. Your current job, transportation and living location will determine who you can recruit. Availability for gaming is crucial and often it can be difficult to coordinate a schedule with like-minded players. You can learn social skills. Several techniques exists you can use to become more extroverted. and get the players you desire for your next game.

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Being in the right location for gaming is critical to ensure success in finding a group of live Table-Top gamers. Sometimes you can find someone nearby using a website like Nearby Gamers. If this first stipulation cannot be met, consider looking online for a game. Living in a great location for gamers helps a whole lot. Seattle, Washington is a mecca for people who love table-top game in the United States.  Las Vegas, Portland, Atlanta, Sacramento, Minnesota, Boston and Miami are great cities filled with geeks. If you live outside of the US, Germany has a TON of board gamers who are eager to play table-top RPGS. You can attend Spiel and check out all of the games for yourself. London has many shops catering to table-top gaming as well. Brazil has many table-top gamers if you find yourself in South America. If you work in the military, you have the best chances of finding a group of players within your company. Personally, I ran some of my best games within the ranks of my unit. Local comic shops and hobby stores are great places to find other players if you do not live in one of the geek cities. Classmates and colleges have many players just itching to get their game on. Living close to a local library, you might want to check out what transpires on the weekend. Another great place to recruit players is local comic conventions. Sometimes the small ones with a few hundred people will have those few gamers looking for a game master.

Timing is everything and this must be factored in for live player recruitment. In today’s society we work longer, odd hours which factor in to our gaming experience. Some people might not be able to game during the weekend. If you have such odd schedules, you should wait to set up a gaming event until you can clear a weekend. The best time to game is the weekend and this has not changed. Thursday night to Sunday afternoon remains the prime time to run a table-top game in North America. Only on holidays or during the summer months will you find games being ran at odd hours. This timing schedule applies for online and some international gamers. If you need help scheduling games I would recommend using Warhorn or better yet just set up a google calendar invite. Facebook groups also serve as an excellent way to schedule games for multiple players.

Gaining and using socials skills is critical to finding and recruiting live players. Here you will find an excellent article pertaining to training your social skills.In my humble opinion, you need to be a social animal in order to be an effective game master. The wonderful thing about table-top games is it gives you chances to practice skills you normally would not try. Game masters should have a good grasp of several skills: empathy, non-verbal communication skills, spoken communication and assertiveness. As a player you get to work on all these skills while playing the game. If you do not feel ready for the mantel of game master, you probably are not. That is OK. But take time to study what everyone else is doing at your next session. Take time to study your current game master. If you need some online examples, there are plenty of group sessions found on You-Tube.

Running an online game is similar to a live session with several pros and a few cons connected with the activity. The fastest growing and most popular online table-top gaming platform is Roll 20 and Fantasy Grounds  I recommend both. Fantasy Grounds has more content for paying users. Roll 20 is free to play and you can create a game quickly. It is super easy to get a roll 20 game going for just about any type of table-top game out there. The pros for running a game online is the flexibility of hours so you can find odd hour games and location is not a factor. The biggest con is not being there live. Players and game masters miss out on lots of non-verbal communication cues. Cheaper alternatives for people with established groups consists of Google Hangouts and Skype.

Finding a great group to belong to and game with is essential to a proper gaming life. Creating a great social network with many friends enriches our lives and enhances who we are. Take care on who you invite into your social circle. Make sure if you are a narrative styled GM, you keep pure mechanical gamers away from your table. If you enjoy simulations or pure gaming, make sure to recruit to your style of game.

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Levels of Aggression

The Heavy Metal GM

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            Image credit to velinov, who created this image for Paizo

We all know the feeling. The frustration with your player unsheathing their sword at the local drunkard who insulted their mother. When you ask them if they’re really threatening the hobo, the dreadful answer of “yes” makes you prompt the player to make an attack roll. We are all guilty of this kind of behavior at the game table. Why do we do it? Well… simply put, it’s a fantasy game and who the hell cares? It’s just a peasant, right? Preventing your players from becoming murderous fiends is certainly a daunting task that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Some GMs are lucky and get a group of players that love immersing themselves in the world, players that understand a word can’t always be met with a blade or spell. As for the rest…

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MultiQuest series: Tusk-face and Barbie Elf.

Entire Party Killed

My children have never heard of Dungeons & Dragons, nor did they understand my explanation of the game- not a word. Nevertheless, they are keen to play in my D&D campaign. Wait’ll they get a load of those funny shaped dice.

So what qualifications, if any, do my children have to play D&D?

My eleven year old son, Dan, enjoys binge-watching all six Blu-ray discs of Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition. Yep, the Peter Jackson version of Middle-Earth that has a shield surfing elf, a comic relief dwarf, a mighty wizard who hasn’t very many magic tricks, and oliphaunts the size of an Imperial AT-AT. (By Pelor! How many kilometres of forest does an Oliphaunt have to consume each day to survive?)

Character-lineup

I’m guessing Dan was thinking Urak-hai when he insisted on playing an orc and only an orc. It’s my fault- stupid me -for using…

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Self-Publishing Review of Outpost

F.T. McKinstry

SPR Banner

Outpost, Book One in The Fylking, epic fantasy woven with Norse mythology, swords and sorcery. Here’s a new editorial review from Self-Publishing Review.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

“Math is a world of cosmic connections. The Fylking, an immortal race of warriors from the Otherworld, use a series of gates to travel to and from their outposts in this realm. The kingdoms of Math, specifically Dyrregin, serve as garrisons in the Fylking’s interdimensional war with their ancient enemy, the Niflsekt. Humans are generally oblivious to the larger struggle into which their world has been involved. The Wardens, a guild of solitary wanderers, are the exception. Long ago, the Fylking made a pact with the original Wardens, in which the Wardens swore to maintain the portal gates for the Fylking’s travel and to serve as their representatives to the rest of humanity.

Both the Fylking and the Wardens are viewed with a mixture…

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Meet Virtual Reality – and Meet its Limitations

Blogging for Dopamine

With keen early adopters starting to receive the Oculus Rift today, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that we’ve finally made it into the world of virtual reality gaming.

But despite how attainable this technology might seem, and indeed it is – the first Oculus Rift was hand-delivered by its creator, Palmer Lucky this weekend – the question still remains: is this technology ready to be adopted by the masses? And how long will it be before we see the headsets as a commonplace feature, alongside our consoles or computers, centre-stage in our living rooms?

The truth is, virtual reality is a very incomplete technology. It’s a baby. Much like the early Gameboys, no matter how fun (and now retro enough to be desirable again) these consoles were, they were in no way the finished product. They were simply the first marketable step towards something bigger. Likewise, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive…

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Tips on Adding Weather to Your Story or Game

It was a dark and stormy night,

One of the best writing websites uses this line, stated to bring about a profound mood effect. A storyteller knows weather is one of their greatest tools and can wield it to vanquish reader apathy. Weather should be an important character added to your storytelling. I say should be; as often weather gets neglected and misused. Combined with environment it will anchor your story in reality. Weathers can be your main antagonist. It can also be an ally to your protagonist. The condition of your characters environments including weather creates different reader moods. Below are a few tips you can use to wield this great weapon of story.

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Filling in as Story Antagonist Countless stories take place with humans taking on nature in all its brutal strength. Stories of survival against nature’s odds gives people hope and strength. The brilliant part of using the weather as a villain is the cross genre applications for creating memorable stories. Imagine writing a historical love story set in The Great Blizzard of 1888.  Or a Sci-Fi Horror about a great chain of volcanic eruptions on a distant planet. Several movies exist for inspiration such as The Day After Tomorrow or Twister. Make sure you read up on the type of weather event you want to portray as it will be a driving character in your plot.

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Helping/ Hindering your Protagonists Often in conjunction with the environment, weather plays a role of aid or hindrance to the story protagonists. Adventure stories use weather elements constantly to create weather events leading to the next scene of the story. Weather can also help your characters as a tropical storm can mean a break from a famine ravaging the land. When the sun shines after a torrent of rain, this signals a transition to a new part of the story. Subtle uses of weather, such as fog or sleet can challenge your story players in unique ways. Be sure to read up on the different elements of weather. Here is an excellent link for additional resources to help you write about weather elements.

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Creating Story Mood In addition to helping out your characters, the weather can and should help set the mood. In correlation to the environment it can give readers many different feelings. If you are looking for dark and brooding, throw down some drizzle on a late Sunday night in a major city. Need to liven up a reunion of two characters? Part the clouds and send down some sunshine in a countryside setting at a critical point. Looking to create the feeling of isolation and loneliness? The aftermath of a snowstorm and over four feet of snow in the wild parts of North America can bring this feeling on, even in a large suburban area. Figure out the types of emotions you want your readers/ players to experience. Then let the weather do the talking for you.

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Accenting Environment Setting Often a storyteller will send the characters off to another place with new challenges in mind. Harness weather to emphasize the new location. A humid summer with temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit reinforces reader’s thoughts on a swamp scene in New Orleans. Cold sleet and foggy streets help to bring the reader to Seattle, Washington in the fall. When you think of a new setting, make sure to include what type of weather happens during that time of year. Do your research if this is a historical fiction story.

Creating New Story Elements Weather effects in your story can lead to new elements for your heroes. If you introduce a blizzard into the beginning or middle of the plot, it should lead to other events. Think about hungry wildlife looking for food, possible dead minor characters and other new elements. Suppose a rainstorm happened along a major road in the beginning of your story. Is there a possibility of a mudslide hitting the highway? Think about what types of consequences the weather, severe or mild will have on your story. What kind of effects can happen with your plot? Always try and read on what types of effects weather may have on your plot and characters. Natural new story elements from the weather can flow into your work, giving gravitas to an otherwise unnatural situation.

Weather happens and should have a deep impact in your story. As a part of the setting it can turn into a character or be an accent to an already packed situation. Use it as a great tool to bring your stories to life.

Bow and Arrow

Amazing Bow and Arrow made from hand using NO modern tools.

I made a bow and arrows in the wild using only natural materials and primitive tools I’d made previously from scratch (as usual). The tools used were a celt stone hatchet, a stone chisel, various stone blades and fire sticks.

The stave began as a small tree about 5 cm (2 inches) in diameter which I cut to a length of 1.25 m (50 inches) using a celt hatchet. I don’t know the name of the timber but it’s very common here and is the same type I use for axe handles. I then split the stave in two using a stone chisel and mallet. Selecting one stave, I began shaping the bow. The stave twisted slightly along its length so using the chisel I split off wood at the ends of the stave but on opposite sides. This then gave a straight, flat stave. From this point I began…

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Outpost: Terms and Places

F.T. McKinstry

Outpost Glossary

Welcome to the Glossary for Outpost, Book One in The Fylking. Here you’ll find names, places, creatures and terms, including illustrations and references to relevant entries and posts.

Place names can be found on the following map. Click to zoom. Realm of Dyrregin Realm of Dyrregin (click to zoom)

For your convenience, links to the map and glossary are included in the Table of Contents in the ebook editions of Outpost.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Aegir Sea: A large sea south of the Njorth Sea beyond the borders of Skolvarin and Fjorgin.

Ageton: A captain in the King’s Rangers. Commands the North Branch.

Angvald: King of Dyrregin, House of Merhafr.

Annalis: A Warden of Dyrregin from Olsc Amathin. See also Wardens’ Order.

Anselm: Eldest son of Damjan, the Master of House Jarnstrom. See also Jarnstrom Forge.

Aoneg (ah NEG): A vast, forested realm five hundred leagues west of Skolvarin over the Aegir Sea.

Apex:…

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Dragon Gods Rising: World of Naalrinnon Book 1

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Artwork by Pay Loboyko

So, I have my second novel done in first draft. Currently beta readers/ proof readers are looking over the work making sure I do not contradict myself. Or horribly break the rules of the English language.

Dragon Gods Rising is the final name I am sticking with. It will be the book following Mad God’s Gambit (a short story you can find here). It is one heck of an adventure and this book is something I have worked on internally for many years.

Writing this novel took courage. I did not feel I could do it. Heck, I had to write another novel first. But it will be on Amazon as a KDP select book.

What is this new book about? Dragon Gods. The beginning and struggles of Humanity on Naalrinnon. The conflict of Elder Gods and elemental species. A look at hope and despair. Dealing with power given to a reluctant ruler. That sums it up for now.

On the front cover is a brash and bold Dragon God, Xenthi. He fights within the city of Jaash during the Battle of Dragons, a major event at the end of the book.

A full teaser write up coming soon.

Stay on Target: Keeping Distracted Table-Top Gamers Engaged

If you ever played a table-top role-playing game you understand about distractions. Endless diversions hampering plot, game play and flow. Sometimes you get together and it seems as if you might as well meet at a bar and get it over with. The game master and several players might enjoy a few straying conversations. But often too much conversation not related to game will dampen everyone’s fun. Lighthearted conversations and off topic jokes CAN kill game sessions, ruining the fun for everyone.

I have a few suggestions on how to keep everyone on target and working towards a fun night of gaming.

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(The fantastic Larry Elmore)

Set a time limit for players and game masters This can be controversial in some groups. Combat and non combat encounters are different beasts. The game master (dungeon master) must be flexible and know what type of players he has. My suggestion for combat is to set a 2-4 minute timer for each player IN COMBAT. Game masters must interact with each player in a ten minute period in a combat setting. Non combat portions of the game heavy in role-play should have limits as well. Set a max time limit of ten minutes per player. The game master should speak with every player first before going back to player 1. This time should be agreed on by everyone. Stress the emphasis of flow and getting in fun for everyone. No one wants to sit around and diddle their thumbs in boredom.

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Make sure everyone has something to do!!!! Sometimes you will run a game sessions and a character dies. No backups are available and now you have a good friend stuck out of the game. What the heck are you gonna do? Give them something PRONTO! Often I would pull in some extra NPCs and let the player run them. This way the player has something new to do and can be a boon in most cases. Make sure you run with extra characters to compensate for any deaths in the party. If you are running a dangerous situation as a game master, make sure you have back up plans and ideas for a party wipe or a few deaths. The worst thing you can do as a game master,leave someone out of the party. After all it is a party and we all want to have fun.

Wiining

(Armando Gil)

Keep your party’s goal in mind as a game master This does not mean railroad the party. It means to read your players and see what their goals are. Your goals should be their goals. It is not a competition. When you create or use a dungeon, make sure the final treasure is something the player has in mind. Know the characters and make sure you understand how the player is interpreting their role in the party. Your goal as game master is to see their efforts come to fruition. If the part sets a goal, make sure they stick with it. When the party wanders aimlessly, this can lead to a joyless, soul sucking session. Talk with your players, directly or indirectly through NPCs (non-playing characters).

Ensure everyone gets involved, directly or indirectly in non combat encounters The dreaded shopping session can suck the joy out of any group. Players will get super bored waiting for that one friend out to get the best armor and equipment. It can drive people batty. This is a difficult task but one the game master must ensure does not bore people. If one player is shopping for new armor, give the other players something else to do. Let them participate in the gladiator pits. Wizards should go off to a local college and engage others of his profession. Clerics should have small encounters at a local temple. Thieves should be trying to rob local marketers. It is hard but not impossible to keep track of everyone. But the game master must balance time between each character. Do not allow more than 10 minutes max to go by without engaging every player.

Staying on target, keeping players involved in a game session is crucial to running memorable games. Being a game master is no easy task. But the great thing is, learning and using time management skills can make the difference in dungeon mastering. Learn to pay attention to each player. Sum up their goals as a character and make sure you can get everyone to agree on a destination. Never let a player fall behind. If a player dies, give him something else to do, even if you reincarnate them as a ghost! The main mission is to have fun and play together as a group, creating memories.