1963 Only A Test.

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I remember talking about a DM that did a similar thing before starting any serious campaign with new players, and some of the other rules he imposed, and someone lost their shit in the comments over it. I’ve been in situations where only a couple of participants were invested in the process at all. When part of a group isn’t willing to at least commit to the premise of a situation it ends up being a bad time. I can understand how a person might want to institute a few rules before going all in.

The DM I mentioned before made you roll for pretty much everything. You came into the world as random as you did to this one. His players were fine with it. If anyone objected they didn’t have to play. The group agreed to the rules before and that’s how their table worked. A little too restrictive for me, but I might have liked to try it once just to see what happened. Sometimes having limits can be part of the fun.


My table tends to be more about simplifying rules and rolls rather than making lots of rules. Combat should be fluid, characters should be able to roleplay, and skills being soft-locked to class never made sense. For my games, all you need are a d20 and whatever your hit die and damage dice are.

You want to do something? Bam, make a roll with the associated ability score modifier. Is it something you would have had to study for? DC gets higher. Keeps the game moving without constantly having to meta. It helps that I’m the sort of DM who is REALLY good at dealing with campaign derailment.

If you like that kind of freestyle, have you tried Tunnels & Trolls? It was originally developed as a protest against the “hard-and-fast” D&D system.

..and is almost as old. Is it still a strictly d6-only system?

Though I’m a 4th ed. kinda guy, I believe the 7th edition came out recently. And OF COURSE it’s still d6-only, silly. Bell curves have better granularity and much finer control over probabilities than simple 5% steps. And old-school game for old-school minds.

Hubbahubba o,o

And yeah, a start-game definitely is a good idea. A lesson I’m still learning in some cases. But yeah, there’s a reason I love short campaigns.

I mean, if you want to do it the hard way…

Solving exactly this problem is where the concept of Session Zero comes from; it’s a discussion about table expectations and social contract, game style, house rules, boundaries & consent, and any other relevant minutiae, and I consider it a mandatory and indispensable part of starting a new group expressly for avoiding the friction that arises from mismatched expectations.

The more typical Session Zero format is great for games where you’re dealing with people who’ve done roleplaying before and you’re just trying to work on group cohesion and expectations. Here, though, you’re dealing with the full gamut–experienced players, intermediates, people who’ve never done anything like this before and so have no idea what they’re really in for. With that, the pregen approach isn’t bad at all–among other things, it lets the GM know precisely what abilities they’re going to have to explain to each player.

If I’ve got experienced players and a new system, I often do a soft pre-game discussion with each player where I sound them out about the ‘what’ of their character–someone who’s played D&D before will be able to grasp, “This is a space setting, you guys will be crewmen on a hyperspace pirate ship, what’s your specialty?” and then I can get them from there to the ‘how’ of the character–all the numbers and special abilities and so forth. Once they’re more comfortable with the system, I let them tweak if need be to better realize the concept.

But here, well, some of these folks have literally no grounding for what they can do as concepts. Analysis paralysis is a big thing. So her approach here is quite smart–get them into the idea of playing something they ain’t, then let them decide what they want to play next. Often, I’ve seen players opt to take and either keep-as-writ, or just tweak their pre-gen a bit and go from there. Most recently, my wife opted to keep her pre-gen from the TORG Day One Pan-Pacifica game, and just adjust the stats. “Support Psychic”, in that system, can be a very powerful build, it turns out.

I tend to do a Session Zero sort of thing, sort out the details with the players and pitch the various ideas for campaigns I have available, see what they’re into. Then I’ll usually run a short 4-6 Session Tutorial adventure where I let the players experiment a bit with the rules and character design. Kind of like a Bethesda game where you get to respec at the end of the first area.

My Living Campaigns based on Horror by Gaslight were something like this right from the start. First Living Death followed by Fellowship may they rest on the bookshelf to be fondly remembered.

Every new player was encouraged to first play an Introduction Module where pre-generated characters were provided. It was a great way to get new players familiar with the rules for the setting and allow established players an opportunity to mentor and/or step away from their established characters in the campaign. You could then continue with that character as is, change up the name [once] backgrounds, create a completely different character archetype from scratch etc, up until you reached 3rd level. This way players could find a role they felt comfortable playing and having fun with for the long term.

NOTE: Living Campaigns are a cross between a stand alone convention module/scenario designed to play withing a fixed time frame and a home Campaign where you play the same character from session to session. Living Campaigns can go in for years as long as the central staff survive to support a solid player base.

In my very first game, (back in the ancient time- back when Gygax was still writing the rules:: Grayhawk, Chainmail, … that stuff, and dinosaurs ruled the earth) my first character roled a three charisma, and a four beauty.
The DM had him beaten to death on the elementary school playground, and insisted that I role up a new character.
I got over it very quickly once we got out of the tavern.

Turns out that dwarf maidens can be a lot of fun as NPCs, it was a great campaign, except for the “Blob of glup” that made the rabbits squealing noise. That was a tough monster. I think the DM was a fan of Thurber.

Beauty was never an official stat back in the old days. I do recall it being put forth as an option in a Dragon magazine article. That way you could have ugly charismatic characters or beautiful clods.

We always played what we got. One of our greatest characters ever was a complete loser in any real, functional way, but loads of fun because of how he was played.

It was put up as an “new” stat in the original Unearthed Arcana, where it was called “Comliness”. It never really got much traction and disappeared soon after.

The only system I played for any length of time outside of DnD was Palladium Fantasy and that one had PB – Physical Beauty, which was totally independent from MA – Mental Affinity aka Charisma.

My longest running characters in that campaign was an Ogre Paladin later Diabolist – very eloquent if given a chance to speak, ugly as sin once the helm is opened.
The other was an Elf that had goddess like beauty and a personality like nails on a chalkboard.

Arneson had “looks” as one of his BlackMoor stats. If I remember correctly, it was Strength, looks, cunning, looks…and a couple other I don’t remember right now. They were rolled on 2d6.

I’d like to thank you. I’ll be watching the next few comics and treating them as a a tutorial of a good idea for DMs/GMs. Now, any advice for when a player begins spouting communist rhetoric to seize the GM role from you before character creation? Group fell apart after that.

How does someone “seize the DM role from you”? The guy who starts the campaign runs it. If somebody wants to start their own, let them. We alternated DMs on a regular basis, and if they sucked we didn’t play in their campaigns any longer.

How does someone “seize the DM role from you”?

“You try to seize the DM role. (roll roll behind screen) You fail.”

I’ve seen people who slowly turn the group against the DM. Not in the first session, but I watched a group my friend was playing in perform a DM coup for no other reason than the guy who had a grudge against the DM fabricated enough garbage to get everyone to hate the DM with him.

They asked me to DM after the DM punched the guy who started the coup. Knowing what had happened, I said I’d run the game as long as Mr. Coup Starter was not part of it.

“Anyone who tells you that the U.S. is a Christian nation is ignorant at best. It’s a secular government because only a secular government can attempt to fairly govern a people of multitudinous religious or atheistic beliefs.”

There are only two words I’ll ever need to spout when any U.S. citizen gets on their high horse and calls the United States a Christian nation or the greatest Christian nation on the planet:

Las Vegas

*mic drop*

“only a secular government can attempt to fairly govern a people of multitudinous religious or atheistic beliefs.”

Not true.

Ah, this takes me back to the 80’s and the weekly dinner and D&D night. It can be difficult keeping your objectivity as a DM. Each semester we would organize around school and work schedules. This ran well for a couple of years until the DM got into a snit and killed off the whole party right at the climax of an adventure. There was some thought that it was due to his fiancee playing a paladin and the rest of the party were neutral/chaotic good characters. Some members felt that she was staking out her territory and influenced him outside of the game. I’m still friends with some of those people but the circle was broken and D&D night was dead. The point is, a DM who forgets that their job is to keep the game engaging and entertaining is a game killer.

There are two sorts of problem characters in a game: the DMs character and the DMs girlfriend’s character.

(Also the guy who insists on always playing a chaotic evil thief/assassin. So make it three.)

Also the “My character tries to seduce everyone around” player. SO make it four.

Lol, I never met one of those and don’t think I could have handled it. I guess we were just straightlaced guys around a table.

Those people – yeah not always a guy – never made it past session zero in any of my groups.
Mind you there was always a chance of innuendo or “scene-change-while-things-get-frisky” but only when there were no younglings or anchients in the vicinity.

You don’t freak out your players OR any mundanes, “ever”, if you are planning running a campaign that you want to last.

I remember the last game I ran had one of the ‘flirts with everything’ types in it. The guy always wanted to be the centre of attention by being the ‘best’ at getting the information – which he could then dole out at his discretion…

Because it was a group of all guys playing, the flirting was generally reduced to dice rolling because it made some of the group uncomfortable after a minute or two.

Eventually (after being screwed over by not having all the information a time or two) some of the group started to complain about the situation in private. The game was in serious risk at that point…

My solution was just as risky. I informed the group that I was trying something new and that all roleplaying interactions would be completed in full rather than by dice rolls. The next time this guy started his flirting, I advised the group that this may take a while and they were free to take a break if they wanted. (Code for ‘this may get awkward. Excuse yourselves if you don’t want to see it’!)

And then I proceeded to unleash my charm on this poor guy who was in no way prepared to deal with it. By the end of the interaction, my NPC had enough information on the group to become the next Big Bad!

Lol, one of the girls in the group slept with at least three of us irl. Actually there were several flirtations/romances within the group but it tended to stay out of the game with the exception of the above issue.

I can run just about anything I am handed, even someone else’s pre-generated character… I’ve done it before when joining a new group and the GM wants to get a handle on my play style.

But my own experience with the GM that insists on making chrs FOR you was… He essentially made everybody play themselves as a fantasy archetype of *his* choosing.

As I said to him later, If I wanted to play myself, I don’t actually need to play. I do that every day.

Similar complaints were had all ’round

I’m actually playing in a RPG session right now that is totally random like you described. I got to choose my race… But nothing else. All random. We’re using the old Warhammer Fantasy RPG. I got assigned a random profession as well. Grave robber. Sure, I would have chosen things differently, but having everything random has made me play so far outside my normal comfort zone it’s been ridiculously fun. My character has a personality it never the would have had if I’d created it from my own designs. I love it.

That’s always been the drawing power of the WHFRPG, if anything. The random character generation.

I was an elf physician, for lack of a better term. I had no combat skills, but I could identify and treat disease. Which was a blessing in disguise that I didn’t think about until the GM tried to Nurgle us to death.

I think that was one of the primary reasons that I loved and excelled at playing classic events at conventions even after the introduction and explosion of what became Living Campaigns.

Yeah, I was an early member of the RPGA, two digit non US number here.
I had made Paragon at both sides of the table so I do have some experience playing the various systems.

Mind you there are some I remember playing or just play testing but don’t have to rules for and nobody seems to remember their existence. WotC Dumpstering of the TSR library was a tragedy and a crime laid down at the feet of Hasbro.

I’ve played D&D, or versions thereof, since ’76, though not much lately. In all that time I’ve never known or even heard of anybody real who played the tabletop version in costume. That’s the kind of thing we used to see in TV shows written by people who didn’t understand the game. Not talking about LARPing of course.

I understand the strip is a visual medium and certain liberties are to be expected. I would also presume that Jackie actually knows what he’s writing about. I expect that will be proven with time.

I’ve been playing it about as long, and there were people who used hats or some kind of prop to stay in character. (I tend to make playlists and listen to the music before playing to get into character.)

That said, maybe Rue prefers to wear the robe to give a greater sense of suspension of reality. Or she just likes wearing it – my late friend who GM’d many games over the years wore a suit to GM (he became known at gaming cons for wearing it to run games at cons), because he liked how it made him feel.

It is as good an excuse to wear a robe as you will get outside of halloween. And I firmly believe that it is always halloween in your heart and you should take any opportunity to dress up without drawing society’s wrath… well, no more than being a nerd that plays D&D already draws it.

I’m in your camp. I’ve been playing since the 70’s and I’ve yet to have anyone wear any sort of thing to symbolize their character in a game.

Now, silly voices? The best games I’ve had have been when people make weird gestures and use their “character” voices. In AD&D, I was a gnome wizard that would continuously end every spell cast, “and stick that in yer pipe and smoke it, bwee hee hee.”

I used to do voices for the characters, both as DM and player. Everyone remembered the NPC medium with the smoker’s voice who sounded like one of Marge’s sisters from the Simpsons. I also played a dumb troglodyte (yes, the smelly, Monster Manual kind) who basically did the “Der, which way did he go, George, which way did he go?” thing. And snooty elves, among many others.

My first exposure to costumed play and overacting craziness happened simultaneously when I was invited to a friends club meeting in the late 70’s. One thing I was not told was that all the established members were also part of the SCA. Robes and silly hats is one thing, Full plate and wielding a greatsword is something else all together. Add some fermented grain distillates and things got – rambunctious shall we say.

Mind you there are costumed events mostly based around LARPs but some tabletop campaigns hold an annual LARP as a social event.

Yeah sometimes the randomness of the stat rolls can work for you or against you.

I play and have played in a few groups over various systems. All the GMs use different play styles. 90% of them are valid. I’ve had one that was basically “oh yeah this race is treated as a second class citizen” right in the first session and they knew that I was creating a character of that race and didn’t think to tell me before the session. Guess who was glad when that broke up over some IRL shenanigans with the GM and their bootycalls and never came back?

Some of my most interesting characters come from “restricted play”. For example with the Friday D&D 3.5 game we roll our stats (4d6 drop lowest). Guess who got an 8 and put it into int for shits and giggles? I did and it’s fun to play a simple but by her god can she sense motive and insight you out the wazoo cleric (no she is not a healbot I refuse to wedge myself into that shitty role). It kinda fits her background as a barmaid too.

Another interesting one is the Wednesday night Pathfinder game where the characters were given a race and a backstory/background but otherwise given freedom to do as they pleased (with 20 point buy). I made some additions to the backstory like the fact that my character had 2 missing sisters, a missing brother, and an absent father that her recently deceased mother wouldn’t talk about. The missing family work as another reason for her to go wandering and as a plothook for the GM to work with.

So yeah sometimes restrictions can be effective as long as everyone knows about it beforehand and are ok with it.

As with many things, communication is key.

I’m currently playing a ranger who got a 8 in Charisma (which became 9 when I took human and the +1 to every ability trait). I also randomly rolled for my Favorite Enemy and got humanoids – orcs and goblins.

So technically, with random creation, I have created the Goblin Slayer. And I play him as thus. Everyone loves him, because they are trying to get him to talk/be more social and not be so greenskin killer centric.

I once was trying to play with a group where the game master was running his own system. It was a lot like D&D but had differences. I rolled up my character and ended up with a reasonably high intelligence but low constitution and low strength. Really low. I don’t remember exactly how low, but what I do remember was that his system gave me: 1 hit point.

I said “Well, I might as well start rolling again, this isn’t going to work.” And then he started lecturing me about how I should give it a chance; consider Elric from the fantasy novels, my character was sort of like a first-level Elric. (Elric was weak and took magic potions to increase his strength; then he got a major artifact sword that magically made him very strong.) I took the game master’s comments to mean “I’m the game master and I won’t just kill you off.”

I chose to make the character a mage. We had a large group and I stayed firmly in the middle of it. Then some denzien of the dungeon shot a fireball at our whole group. I took more than one damage, and was dead.

It really wasn’t a good experience. I felt like I had been herded into a trap.

As you might guess, I’m a fan of the rules systems where when your hit points go negative (and not too negative, like if you fell into a volcano) you are unconscious and if someone heals you or even “binds your wounds” you don’t die.

That reminds me of a GM I knew, who I think- set his players up to fail, so that he could laugh at his players…when they failed.

I played a game of Cyberpunk with him.
He equipped my character with a grenade launcher…which is totally useless in close combat, or Lone Ranger-like gun battles.

So, later on, I’m in a dangerous situation, and I’m killed by a deadly guard dog.
[ The grenade launcher couldn’t have been used on the dog, since its ammo, if fired at the dog, the dog who was close to me, would have also killed me, with the ammo’s blast].

I left his game, soon after that.

This is why my group prefers Dark Heresy over D&D mostly (other than the fact that we love Warhammer), unlike in D&D where you can more or less do whatever you want so long as the DM allows it.
Our group benefits more from having a world with pre-defined dos and don’ts, when you are members of not only the Imperium, but acolytes of the Imperial Inquisition, there are some choices you can make that will only result in you being executed, by your own people no less, for heresy. Burn a fate point (like lives in the game) and try something else, no exceptions. I understand that won’t work for everyone, but it helps keep is grounded without getting carried away.

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