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I’m back

When I started this blog, I did it for a class. I was in my first semester in a new Master’s program, and I had to make a blog. The teacher wasn’t too specific about what the blog had to talk about, so I went with what I knew, what I liked. And I liked role-playing.

Fast forward a semester, and the same teacher was teaching a class on board games (I never like the term the teacher preferred, “analog games”). And they assigned a blog again. Hey look, I already had one perfectly suited for discussions of board games. And, thanks to that class, this blog moved away from role-playing games and towards board games. But that was still fun.

Then I went and graduated and my output slowed. Well, not so much slowed, as stopped completely.

But now, I find myself feeling the need to write, to discuss the games I love. So I’m back. I’ll be moving back and forth between board games and role-playing games, and maybe even try my hand at some video content. I’m hoping to keep updating fairly regularly, but who knows for sure how well that will work?

In any case, I’m back in action. Is there anything you think I should start with? Leave a comment if you’re interested in more discussion on role-play storytelling or board game reviews. If there’s any specific board games you think I should talk about, tell that, too. We’ll see how it goes.

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Posted by on April 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Resource Review: TableTop

TableTop is an online web series hosted by Wil Wheaton and created by Wheaton and Felicia Day. Every episode focuses on one or more tabletop games, giving a brief explanation of the game and then playing it with a number of guests. These guests are often web or television personalities. The gameplay footage is intermixed with asides from Wheaton and his guests, discussing their experience in the game, their strategy, and other related things. Debuting back in 2012, TableTop has now completed it’s third season, with a fourth season scheduled to begin production in the spring.

It’s important to know that TableTop is not, and does not try to be, a tutorial for games. While Wheaton goes over the basics of the games at the beginning of episodes, and you can see the mechanics of the game in action through play, time is not taken to explain all of the rules in detail. In fact, on more than one occasion, there are mistakes – sometimes major ones – in how they play the game (I’m looking at you, Forbidden Desert episode). So TableTop is not a resource you should turn to if you’re trying to learn a new game, or looking for some clarity on how to play.

If not instructional, then, what is TableTop? At it’s core, TableTop is entertaining. Wheaton and his guests are often funny and enjoyable to watch. The show is careful to be very accessible, too. The basics of the games are explained clearly, without using too much gamer jargon (or, at least, with good explanations of the jargon they use), so it can be watched by people without any pre-existing knowledge of gaming. They also explore many different types of games, including board games, family games, RPGs, and card games, so whatever your preference, they’ve probably shot an episode on a game you’ll enjoy.

Personally, I think TableTop is an excellent resource for getting a feel of a game, or learning about games you might not know otherwise. On his blog, Wheaton has said that the ultimate goal of Tabletop is “to be entertaining, to introduce people to boardgames, and to get people excited about playing games.” I think it’s fair to say that the web series succeeds at those goals.

It’s also important to touch on the impact that TableTop has had on the gaming industry and community. Allegedly, after a given game is featured on TableTop, sales of that game get large boosts. More importantly for gamers, though, TableTop has helped to promote the resurgence of board games, most notably through International TableTop Day. Started in 2013, International TableTop Day is a day-long celebration of gaming, and many gaming stores have special events every year. This year’s International TableTop Day is April 30, 2016.

In all, TableTop is an entertaining web series that anyone, from experienced gamers to first-timers, could find some enjoyment in watching. While it doesn’t always explain the rules of a game adequately (or correctly), it does manage to capture the feel of the games and give a fairly good idea of what sort of experience the game provides, including basic mechanics and themes. Unsure about whether you should pay $50 on a new game? Try finding a TableTop episode on it. If nothing else, you’ll come away knowing if the game looks like fun to play or not. On the other hand, if you’ve already got the game and are just looking for some information on rules, maybe you should try Watch It Played instead.

The entire series of TableTop can be found at http://geekandsundry.com/shows/tabletop/.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Welcome

I have a confession to make.

I’ve been playing role-playing games since I was eleven. As of the time I’m writing this, that’s sixteen years of doing this. That’s not the confession part; I’m quite open about the fact that I game. I started with Dungeons and Dragons 3.0, and moved on to 3.5 when it was released. I’ve tried D&D 4.0 and even a quick round of 5e. My personal favorite is Pathfinder, which was adapted from 3.5 and is still being updated today. So no, it’s not a confession that I game.

I’ve ran D&D games since about a month after I first played. Back in grade six, out of the group of us that played, only one friend and I were willing to try running the games. So we took turns. I learned more mechanics and rules of the game while I ran the thing than I ever did when it was first taught to me. Admittedly, the first few (ok, the first many) adventures I ran were a bit heavy handed, a bit cliched, and not that strongly attached the the rules of the game. Really, there’s no reason fourth level adventurers should be meeting gods. That was a mistake (sorry, grade six gaming group, but it really was). But that’s not the confession, either. I imagine most first time DMs (that’s Dungeon Masters, the people who run the game, for those of you who don’t know) make similar mistakes. All of a sudden the world is yours to create… Why wouldn’t you go all out?

No, my confession is much, much worse.

In the sixteen years I’ve been playing and running the game, I’ve never once read a rulebook.

Oh, I’ve used the rulebooks, certainly. I’ve skimmed through them. Looked up answers to specific questions. Opened a random page and glanced at it. But I’ve never read them all the way through. The truth of the matter is, I’m still learning rules to games I’ve been playing for more than half of my life.

And you know what? I think that’s ok.

Ever since I was young, I put more focus into the story of the games I created and ran than the mechanics. Oh, the rules are important. After all, without knowing how to play the game, how could you explore the story? I like to think that my story-focused approach to learning the game (and to teaching it to new players, something I’ve done a lot) makes me a fun DM. Maybe not the best DM. Maybe not the most true-to-the-game DM. But I make a fun game.

After all, isn’t the point of games to be fun?

Welcome to Another Worldsmith, a place where I will explore and share my ideas on role-playing games. My hope is that I might give new players and DMs some different ways to think about the game, some new ideas, and some resources to use. Even if you’ve been playing games like this for years, maybe I can spark some new ideas in you, too. A fair warning to you experienced players: things I say, things I advocate, might not follow all the rules of the game. Heck, there are times when I think, for the sake of a story, the rules need to be ignored entirely. But there’s nothing wrong with that.

Because it will be fun.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2015 in Uncategorized