I’m not sure how common a practice throwaway games are, but I know I’ve played in one for sure. Sometimes a group is doomed from the start and finding that out before you actually start playing is worth the time put in to make sure. I knew a couple of guys that just hated each other from the second they met for no reason at all. Well, apart from one of them was arrogant and secretly afraid of people finding out he wasn’t as smart as he thought and the other was tactless and prone to constantly correcting others. They could not, would not, get along. So the game ended and was put together without one of them, and one of me but that was unrelated. My understanding is that the game that started after they sorted out that power dynamic is still going on to this day in one form or another.
Every DM is different, every group is different, and anything thing you do with other people is going to fall prey, to one degree or another, to all the things that anything to do with groups of people do. Which is fine, but some people don’t realize that right away. Experienced DMs tend to be the kind of people who are good at deescalating problems and tolerating the constant nonsense associated with other humans. I’ve never met a successful Dm that couldn’t just let stress just wash over them like water over stone. It wore them down like anyone else, but at a much slower rate.
I’ve never known a group to successfully play a throwaway game. Either it bombs because they really weren’t a viable group together, or they end up attached to the characters and extend the throwaway into a full campaign instead of discarding it.
I’ve found that Pathfinder society it works great for throw aways. Not everything is allowed but most of the time u can find a way though. Even if it is very sub optimal
I think the only throwaway games I’ve played that have been successful by that definition are Paranoia games, which tend to be one-shot by nature, because usually at least half the party has burned through all their clones by the end of their first outing (and sometimes before the mission briefing is over). The last one I played in ended when one of the other PCs fired a tactical nuclear weapon. At another PC. In close-quarters battle. Aboard a space station. She managed to simultaneously vaporize everyone’s last clone and destroy the adventure setting, which made it the most thorough complete party wipe I’ve ever seen.
IME, Paranoia needs a really good GM and a party that Gets It to function properly, though.
Yeah, the last “throwaway” game I played in in college was intended to be a single or maybe a few sessions if we didn’t finish the first night.
It wound up lasting for three years.
It was a one-shot throwaway to familiarize the players with the Spacemaster system, so I let the ultra-cute girlfriend of the really big guy choose an otherwise forbidden OP character class. Big mistake. Am spending the rest of the (now) campaign finding ways to reign in her OP-ness.
Rock falls. Everyone dies. ; -)
My group successfully did a throwaway game. But only because the DM decided that the treasure we had recovered for our employer from a group of goblin bandits was actually part of a stolen dragon hoard, and said dragon promptly party-wiped our group of 6 leveled 2-3. We ended up making different characters for our actual campaign, because while we enjoyed our predesigned but personally named characters, or at least I enjoyed my Robin Hood-like dwarven ranger (rest in peace Brarin Dwalinson Bugmann), we wanted to design our own characters. And thus was born Anghash Rakothurzhi, the Chaotic Neutral (eventually Chaotic Good through character development) female Uruk-Hai (homebrew race based on the LotR movies) shaman. That was, about 17 months ago. We’re also running a Shadowrun campaign we started recently with my female Hobgoblin Rigger called Lugdash “Rook” Rukdugi. Yeah, I really like playing Tolkienesque goblinoids. Screw elves.
Many of the games I’ve been involved in mainly needed a DM who could rein in all the joking and side conversations. Which is part of why I’m a terrible DM.
It’s hard to balance the game versus the fun sometimes.
Especially because the whole point of the game is to have fun.
Wait… what? Any DM who chooses a character for a player needs to stop being a GM unless the player wants a character picked. I started playing DnD last year with an experienced GM and a completely fresh set of players. The GM has given us a story and the freedom to move away from that story if we decide to do so. Basically, our GM trusts us, which is a pretty big deal. If my GM railroaded me into playing a specific character I’d have dropped the game immediately. This storyline is sort of insulting to new players since you’re treating them like idiots. I’m sorry for the ramble, but this really bugged me. If you’re going to portray an experienced GM they should be done right and not come off as a railroading asshole, which, thus far your GM character is.
It’s just supposed to be a one off practice. Since this is a new group they just want to get more familiar with each other’s play styles. I can see how just reading the panels may have given you that impression but you should really at least skim Jackie’s comments at the end of each update. He generally posts his thoughts about the comic, his perspective on it and then diverges onto whatever random stuff is on his mind.
Ah ha ha ha ha ha! What a magical world you must live in. I’ve known hundreds of GMs that all had wildly different ideas about how to run their games. One of them made their players play the opposite sex at least one time just so they’d have a fuller perspective about the world. What good is roleplaying if all you ever play as is your dream version of yourself? If you don’t like the story that’s fine, but pretending like your narrow view of how things should be is the only one that should be is deeply angering. You don’t get born into the world as whatever you want, as far as anyone knows, who says you should always get to be who you want in you little distractions?
Look, I’ve been a long time reader, I just never comment. The character irks me, so I’m sorry that it came off as harsh, or narrow minded. Good roleplaying comes from being able to develop a character with a history, with flaws and quirks, with motivations and objectives. Going into a power fantasy you’ll never be challenged in is just as equally bad as being railroaded. At least in my opinion. So, you have my apologies. While I’m not a huge fan of this DnD story line I do hope you continue your good work. Regardless of if I’ve learned not to comment anymore.
you say you’ve played D&D for one year and you’ve had how many DMs? Your experience is very limited but you feel qualified to say “this is what is good” “this is what is bad” how can you say its not narrow? I get it comes off as harsh, but jackie is quite right here. She is approaching a game plan that works for her given her experience, because its not your experience, you’ve determined this is wrong. Why? Have you truly put into practice what she’s suggesting? Why is it you are qualified to say what makes a good or bad DM? Your decision to comment or not is yours, however declaring yourself an authority on any subject and shooting down anything you disagree with is just immediate red flags in my mind.
Hey easy on the newb, just because “they” think a year is the height of experience so they are an expert doesn’t mean they need to be roasted ….. aw who am I kidding.
I bet most posting here on the subject have played or are playing DnD or it’s variants and offshoots for far longer than they have been alive.
Warning – this poster is an old fart covered with cheeto dust, cola running in their veins and armed with enough polyhedral dice to start a small war.
I’ve done this before when testing a new system/group. Especially when dealing with inexperienced players, it’s more important to find it what they’d have fun doing than throwing them in the deep end of trying to figure it out without having played ever. Part of the GM’s job is to ensure everyone at the table has fun, which can home on knowing the group dynamics. In addition, a preliminary game (or so) playing a generic adventure like the box set stuff or short modules can help players find what things they enjoy doing the most and what type characters they like playing without being locked into characters or adventures while getting used to the system.
If you have ever in your life played at a convention and especially at a tournament – the characters are all pre-generated and if you are really lucky you might get a small blurb or at least a class to pick from.
In such a situation GM consistency is derigure or you get blacklisted by the organizers.
Man I miss the RPGA and the Living Campaigns. (le-sigh)
Okay, enough harshing on the Mad whatever. They gave their apologies.
To be honest, some of my D&D games have been you play with what you roll. And that’s not only for your attributes, that’s for your character class, race, gender and gear. The only choices I had was my character’s name, what they looked like and how they acted. While one or two of those games were totally throw-away-never-finishers, some were the most fun to play.
Lately, I’ve been taking the position of “I’ll play whatever character we need to fill in the gaps in the party.” Now, I dislike playing dwarf characters, because the stereotypical dwarf bias always bleeds into the games I play. However, in my recent game, I played a dwarf cleric who believes everyone who dies an honorable death reincarnates as a dwarf. He even tells the other characters often about his belief. He tries hard to meet all the requirements of being a dwarf to appease his god so he can be reborn as a dwarf and not a ‘lowly halfling.’
Because we need a non-squishy cleric. And dwarf clerics are as non-squishy as they get in most games.
I spent several months in a Shadowrun game playing a pixie rigger known as Spark.
Yeah, I’m a foot tall and have phosphorescent butterfly wings. I also control with my mind a swarm of drones armed with automatic weapons and grenade launchers. Wanna call me “Tinkerbell” again?
I once accidentally released Human-MetaHuman Vampiric Virus in downtown Seattle. But that was okay, because, as I pointed out to the rest of the (panicking) party, I wasn’t a metahuman.
(I was also as strong as and tougher than our (human) Rat shaman. I think I made a better mage, too. I wasn’t a mage.)
I once played a sprite illusionist with an owlbear mount. That was a lot of fun.
Currently a female Hobgoblin Rigger who goes by “Rook” and may have just become a ghoul. We accidentally killed a MegaCorp VP and turned our employing MegaCorp’s CEO into a Fomoraig by accident. Our “Sewer Gator” Shaman (who’s a troll) found out his totem spirit is apparently invisible to some weaker dragons because the spirit is so specific and recent so now we’re being employed to test out a new security by said MegaCorp’s 51% stockholder who is, of course, a rather small, rather young dragon who turned most of his hoard into stocks and bonds. Either way we get a nice lump sum of nuyen and the Fomoraig incident gets swept under the carpet, but if we successfully steal anything from him he’s going to personally patronize us in further missions. Which is good because our elven decker has a nasty crack, meth, and heroin habit he needs suppsidized (he put all his negative qualities into addictions), our hafling street Samurai is trying to turn himself into a cyborg, the dryad has a strain of potato blight bioengineered to target dryads, and our vampire “face” needs some expensive medicine because she accidentally drank blood with a new HIV strain that was apparently being developed to target the HMHVV population in order to milk Ghouls and Vampires of their nuyen for treatment. It turns out the VP we killed was in charge of that MegaCorp’s bioweapons department. Dick.
It’s amazing what you can do in that game in five months if you meet every Saturday at 1pm and don’t stop until 6pm at which point you switch over to your D&D campaign until 11pm.
We might all have a tabletop addiction now that I think about it.
I really want to play Shadowrun tabletop after reading your post. :D
It’s been forever and seldom since I played, and that was 35 years ago. We played a modded version of the first cut of AD&D, and if anyone ever finished the last game, it’s news to me. For all I know, the Dungeonmaster is still hunkered down behind that little folding screen in his parents’ basement…
Heh, my old DM ran away to the west coast and is tormenting fellow players and designers over there ever since. Last I heard he is now referred to as TEBG [The Evil Bald Guy]
My last was about 30 years ago–we played a homebrew mix of 1E AD&D, mostly core books, mixed with the best parts of Holmes Basic. (Started in jr. high with the Holmes as a Christmas present and added the rest as I became more addicted).
The best one-shot I DM’ed was freshman year of college, with a mixed group of freshmen and high schoolers, 5 male, 3 female (two girlfriends and a friend).
The group decided to play all Evil-aligned, and about halfway through the adventure, the boys, who were playing Chaotic and looking for an excuse, fell out over division of spoils, and turned on the Lawful girls. The girls, without DM collusion, teamed up and escaped under the cover of a Darkness spell. While the boys were recovering, looting, and getting ready to come after them, their unfortunate quarry ran into a band of Gnolls (wandering monster–bad rolls on my part).
I figured a couple of relationships had finished right then and there, but it turned out, unlike the boys, the girls had actually read the rulebooks and were prepared–they knew a variety of monster tongues, including one who spoke Gnollish, and with the aid of bribery, high Charisma effects and a bit of surreptitious magic on the remaining members of the band, the girls led their small war party back, defeated the boys and sold the survivors into slavery, before setting off for a life of adventure with some well-paid Gnollish henchmen.
The girls really wanted to turn the game into a campaign, but, needless to say, the boys sheepishly refused to ever play evil characters again, and the girls eventually stopped bringing it up anytime the others needed to be taken down a peg.
Hackmaster reference! I clapped! I clapped when I saw it!
I’m glad someone noticed.
My friend chance is a russian communist pixie druid. It’s epic.
one shots with pre-generated characters are quite commonplace at conventions – both D&D and Pathfinder thrive on it for new people, and every month our FLGS has Savage Worlds which does the same.
it’s funny – Wizards of the Coast just had 24 hours of streaming over 2 days to celebrate everything they’ve got going on. Almost anyone can find a game, either live or online, nowadays.
About the only RP I do anymore is when I run demos of Jedi at conventions. And the last one was unique in that, while it was a smuggling scenario, nobody chose the undercover cop character. That had never happened before, and made the entire thing run so much more smoothly. We got done in only two hours instead of the usual 3. (The shortest game was when the undercover cop found the bomb hidden in the cargo, and just left it there. Self-inflicted TPK.)
Being a DM is a lot like being a teacher, IMHO.
Whew, that’s rough! I’ve never played seriously, so I’ve never known any of the intricacies of having to run the show. Granted, I already know the pitfalls, since nearly all of us were new to it! Our first campaign, while fun, ended mostly because our DM didn’t know all the rules (and neither did we) so we got some major monsters thrown at us that killed our constitution….which no one realized ALSO kills you. Regardless, it ended up a fun romp, though since none of us were totally serious (and one dude we added refused to stop smoking in that dank little basement) so every game we started got simpler and simpler until we just stopped.
Major annoyance, for me, was all the dice rolling and work you had to do just to attack something, find out you missed, and then wait through everyone else’s rolls and calculations just to get back to me so I can miss again. Not my kinda speed, I guess. Either that or, since we were all new to it, we were doing a million things wrong.
After you get familiar with the rules and trust each other, players can tend to make all their die-rolls together and sort out the damages simultaneously. So yes, familiarity can speed things up.
Well, she has this well organized. How long until the “drama” Thomas talks about emerges?
I like this woman. This one knows how to be in charge. I see a trend…
Ah yes, short to see if the random group of people can actually function together as a team before investing heavily in them. Now if only the places I work could figure out this basic concept.
I cannot wait until the session starts, because I want to see who’s part of the game and how they react to role-playing. :D :D :D
Hmmm….. Now I am wondering if Jackie will take this as an opportunity to do something similar to Table Titans and illustrate the characters they are playing as he narrates their adventure from the characters perspective?
If Jackie does = woot,
Jackie if you do plan on doing such, don’t burn yourself out doing it because we are a selfish lot and want to read your stories for a long time to come.
Not sure if I like this set up. When introducing a group of new comers to RP I think a good GM should go with an established campaign so the players have an easier time grasping the rules and game structure. Picking generic characters is a good method to use with new players and party so everyone knows their role in the party and no one is competing or tripping over everyone else. but also a good GM should above all else make sure the players are having fun. My SO has played under several GMs some were railroad GMs, He also had GMs who are obsessed with TPKs and of course the players hated and the GM hated the players when they survive the TPK encounter. then you have the complete sandbox of ‘anything goes’ which drives me crazy, because I like to have a clear vision of what I am wanting to accomplish.
I played a pixie druid in a game where druids needed constitution and strength… :D That was a MUD though.