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better gaming through chemistry

Joshua Randall

Adventurer
jdrakeh said:
I addressed this in Formless, going so far as to incorporate the drafting of a social contract into the game's rules. While the examination of social contracts in Formless has been simplified to reach as wide an audience as possible, there's really a lot more to it - that said, it boils down to exactly what you've said above.
I would like to too my log on the fire of social contracts. Too often, they are left implicit when they should be made explicit.

I have toyed with the idea of making my players sign an actual contract, but that seems a bit off-putting, so I haven't actually done it.
 

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DamionW

First Post
A lot of times a book like this is important when you don't have the option to be picky about who you game with. I'm in the military and am stationed in a town with a small gamer base to select from. I've done EVERYTHING to mobilize the gamers in this area so we can communicate, but it isn't happening. So if you're answer to someone who has some antisocial behavior that only manifests itself in gaming is just "boot him," that's not always optimal. I think there is merit to finding ways to improve team effort to make an enjoyable game. I disagree with KM that each player enjoying themselves equates to them being a proficient player, because there is a higher goal: create a communal experience where everyone can share fun. If you are solely interested in personal enjoyment, there are other hobbies to pursue.
 

The Shaman

First Post
LostSoul said:
How about this: "I was a farmer. Today I went home and saw my wife being taken by orcs!"
DM: "Okay, you're going to hunt rats in the sewers."
Player: "That's lame, but if I don't follow his plot like this book says, I'll be doing something wrong."
Earlier you made an excellent point, LostSoul, about creating adventurers with a reason to adventure. However, in the examples you cited above, I would say you've created characters who's reasons for adventuring are too narrow - you are creating a character who is really a one-gimmick pony rather than a character who is likely to be engaged by a number of adventure possibilities.

This is one of the reasons I think the whole "character-seeking-revenge" is really a poor character motivation, especially for introductory characters - let the revenge motif come in after the character has experienced an adventure or two and an enemy escapes, or a particular monster does something heinous enough to arouse the character's ire.

One other thought - you've created this character that wants to pursue an ogre mage or orcs or whatever...but what if the other three or four players in the party want to hunt rats in the sewers? Are you expecting the other players to buy into your revenge-driven character just because that's what you want to play?

The idea that character motivations must include a reason to seek out adventure should be printed in gold letters on the cover of every player's handbook - at the same time, motivations that are too narrowly construed may leave a player feeling frustrated. There needs to be a balance.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
and player's need to know why that's not okay, without crying foul that the DM is out to get him or her.

But no manual will do this any better than "Rule Zero" already does. The rules already state that the DM has the final say. If you're not comfortable with that, you're obviously going to have to find some other way to play, because D&D hinges on one person being different from the rest. And if you *are* okay with that, there's no reason to cry foul. This is why I think the book as you have it now tends to be self-congratulatory: it makes those who already play this way feel like they're doing the right thing, and it does nothing to stop those who don't already play that way from throwing a fit. So it's not adding much to my game.

the process here is NOT to say one way is better than another

Fair enough, but I don't think that's coming accross in the way you describe what the book's about.

the book is about
a) making sure EVERYONE has fun
b) the DMs work doesn't go to waste

The Core Rulebooks already do this.

c) the DMs time isn't devalued and disrespected by gamers who think, "they got fun coming to them."

Which says that gamers who don't think that way are better than gamers that do.

d) making sure EVERYONE has an equal vote, equal time playing, and equal investment in the game

Which the Core Rules do.

e) making sure the styles of play mesh (if the DM is a munchkin and the player's a munchkins... they don't need this book)
f) if all these conditions are met, can we elevate the quality of our game?
g) okay. i'm not 14 anymore... what sort of characters, campaigns, challenges can i create/be involved in?

All of which says that gamers who are munchkins, who don't think in terms of evaluation of quality, who are 14 or who play like they are 14, are worse than gamers who play otherwise.

and so on.

does this make sense?

the book is about putting some responsibility into the hands of the players for a change.

How? By making them think they're playing like they're supposed to because they're not fourteen year old munchkins who think they deserve fun when playing a game?

People don't need a book to tell them how to enjoy themselves.
 

DamionW

First Post
Kamikaze Midget said:
Which the Core Rules do.

I don't think the Core Rules do address equalizing fun for all players nor for making sure a player respects the effort a DM has to make to create the environment that enables their play and their fun.

Kamikaze Midget said:
People don't need a book to tell them how to enjoy themselves.

I see where you're going in that the good players are already good and the bad players just shouldn't play. But I think there are certain antisocial behaviors that COULD be targetted with a book like this. If your enjoyment arises from you being the star of a game and driving the plot with your character's actions alone, maybe some light reading on cooperative plot development could be helpful. Maybe some of these people really don't know HOW to give up some of the spotlight to the other players and still enjoy themselves. There ARE methods out there, but maybe they don't know them. This is one example of a person who is enjoying themselves at the expense of other people at the table's play. So there needs to be other options than "Cater to their enjoyment and let them steal the show." and "boot them they're just a selfish person and no book can change that."
 

Uller

Adventurer
The Shaman said:
Earlier you made an excellent point, LostSoul, about creating adventurers with a reason to adventure. However, in the examples you cited above, I would say you've created characters who's reasons for adventuring are too narrow - you are creating a character who is really a one-gimmick pony rather than a character who is likely to be engaged by a number of adventure possibilities.

First off, I completely agree with LostSoul's point "I don't want the DM to tell me a story. I can go to the library to get that, or turn on the TV." When I play, I HATE it when DM has some "story" in mind and wants to pigeon-hole my character into it.

However I agree (sort of) with what The Shaman says here. At the start of a campaign, one of two things needs to happen: 1) The PCs have to have generic reasons for adventuring or 2) The DM and players need to agree upon their reasons.

In my current campaign, I told all the players they work for a certain NPC and gave them a few example reasons why they might be working for him. One player came up with he was adopted by him because his father was an associate who died mysteriously, another came up with she stole something from him and was caught and is working off the debt. Others had interesting reasons too. One guy (the power-gamer in the group) said he just wants to walk the earth and have adventures....whatever.

I consider it my job, as the DM to work in the interesting parts of PCs backgrounds into early plot hooks. Then things go from there. If you came to me and said your PC is hunting a specific monster, I'd probably use that as a hook in the first adventure or two. Otherwise, I'd probably ask you to find another motivation (the former really is the most likely unless it was something really odd or unworkable).

I don't think you need a book for this...

As for a book to tell the players to learn the rules: If they haven't read the PHB, what makes you think they'll read (much less buy) a different book?
 

NCSUCodeMonkey

First Post
Dr. Awkward said:
My advice to players is always this: go read a manual on improv theatre. Improv theatre is essentially dialogue written off the top of one's head using a few key concepts (sometimes provided by the audience). There are rules that have been developed to help make it work, because if you aren't any good at improv, you'll end up standing around like a doofus going "um..." while the audience snores.

The big rule I always double-underline is "don't block," followed by "yes, and..."

Don't block means that when someone hands you a hook, even if they don't know it's a good hook, you take it and work with it. When the DM says that a group of gypsy merchants are selling their wares, you decide your character happens to have spent time travelling with gypsies and knows some good stories to tell to ingratiate himself to them. Not only have you helped to flesh out your character to make him more interesting and realistic, but you've provided a good way for the DM to pass on rumours and other information that he might have wanted to share (with or without skill rolls, as the group prefers). You might then use the gypsies as a source of hooks that catapult you into future adventures. In essence, you're helping the DM by giving him a footing on which to build some interesting NPC interactions and adventure hooks. Blocking, on the other hand, is when you say no. When you decide you don't care about rescuing anyone, or solving any mysteries, or talking to any townsfolk, or when you want to be chaotic evil so you can sabotage the party for no reason. It's just bad form.

Yes, and... essentially this is the opposite of blocking. Not only do you want to take the hook, but you want to make it more interesting than it was. In improv, when someone says "I see you bought a new hat," you reply, "yes, and it's one of those new musical hats!" In roleplaying, when a plot hook wanders by, not only are you waiting to pick up on it, but you're also ready to do some work to make it your own. Not just grudgingly going off to rescue the princess because "it's what we have to do for the plot, obviously." No, your character wants to rescue the princess so he can marry her, regardless of what her parents think. Surely his charm and wit can win her over, and if he can get her favour, what must he then do to impress her parents? If you're the hack-and-slash type, maybe they'd like some exotic trophies to hang over the fireplace. If you're the deep-roleplayer type, perhaps just laying on the charm real thick will do it. There's a lot of room for multiple solutions to the same situation, but you have to try to arrange a situation before you can solve it. Maybe there's a rival suitor, or maybe the girl decides she wants to elope. Maybe she turns up pregnant and your PC is suspect #1. Suddenly it's not just a plot hook, it's a story with your character in it. It's more engaging, more interesting, and it'll end up being more fun.

This isn't about telling players, "It's my way or the highway." It's about telling players, "Look, we're in this together. We can cooperate and make a fun game for all of us, or we can piss off and do our own thing alone and not have fun playing a game with each other. I think that the former choice would be the better one." People who are playing the game to win, or playing to crush the other players, or playing just to be a nuisance (whether they know they're doing it or not) are not good players, and a book to teach them how to play might help both them and the people they play with by making them more like the sort of folks we'd all like to game with.
That, sir, is pure and utter genius. All of it. I've never seen it said quite so well before.

NCSUCodeMonkey
 

NCSUCodeMonkey

First Post
Uller said:
I consider it my job, as the DM to work in the interesting parts of PCs backgrounds into early plot hooks. Then things go from there. If you came to me and said your PC is hunting a specific monster, I'd probably use that as a hook in the first adventure or two. Otherwise, I'd probably ask you to find another motivation (the former really is the most likely unless it was something really odd or unworkable).
I agree, and would add that I also think that the DM should work with the player to integrate their background into the setting. A player came to me last week with a new character and his background was unworkable for the setting. So, I made a few suggestions and he wound up with something that was exactly the same in spirit (i.e. gave his character the same motivations), but was actually in sync with the setting.

NCSUCodeMonkey
 

Jim Hague

First Post
So here's a question - directed at Uller and LostSoul - what do you consider 'story'? Are you speaking of having a GM that's got a specific beginning, middle and end in mind, with the PCs just sort of being dragged along, or are you opposed to story in the larger sense?

By larger sense, I mean that a GM's got plot arcs and the like as an organic structure that acts and reacts to the PCs' actions or even inaction. Neither one of you strikes me as the sort to look for a campaign where you just wander about and put the burden of keeping things interesting entirely on the GM, but I've been wrong before...

As to the 'why' of any sort of guide - because knowledge is never wasted. Never. Even lousy advice can be educational, at least in showing you what not to do.
 

Radiating Gnome

Adventurer
Okay, another .02 . . . .

I tend to think that a book like this will struggle -- not for most of the reasons that we've mentioned (which are mostly from the point of view of the people posting in this thread, who are, as far as I can tell, mostly DMs, not players . . . but that's conjecture, I could be wrong).

To begin with, the worst players won't read it, won't learn from it, and won't appreciate being handed it. This isn't a new idea in the thread, but it's true as true can be -- the people who might read this are good players. We can make them better, but they're good already.

The DMing guides and pointers spend some time talking about player archtypes -- looking across the DM's screen at the players, who they are and what they enjoy. But what does the player see when he or she looks around the table?

To begin with, any discussion of player archtypes should be presented as a discussion of the OTHER players at the table. But much more interesting is the player's guide to DMs.

Keep it focused on the player's side of the screen, though. Don't fall into the trap of writing about the herculean work that the DM puts in to preparing the story, plots, cut scenes, NPCs, and everything else. And don't spend too much time on the basics, the things that all players good enough to read this book would already have down (know the rules, bring your books and a pencil, be respectful of other players and the DM -- give everyone their time on stage, take notes and bring your old notes to each game, etc).

Discuss some archtypes for DMs. Is your DM a wargamer at heart? Is he a screenwriter? Is he first and foremost a judge? What are the characteristics of those archtypes? What makes a good or bad DM (someone whose game is worth playing in). Help them understand the challenge and view from the other side of the screen, but not from the point of view of "this is what a DM wants to tell his players."

And think about a structure for the book that answers player how-to questions. How do you identify the things that you need to enjoy your game more, and what are some strategies for getting that out of the game? How do you make combat more interesting? How do you find more opportunities for role playing? How do you help the DM shape the story arc of the game?

In the end, I'll bet we would all agree that the players that will read this book are the players who are already good players -- they're our allies at the table, the players we depend upon for one thing or another in the game.

OHHH, and another thought -- something I've been talking about with a player in my current game. What about some chapters on being a good PARTY. Something for the group, not for the individual. The conversation with my player has me thinking a bit about paranoia, which (at least, in the old days when I played the original version) gave every character a position, an office to perform. There are obvious roles that players and characters should fill, and the players ought to be encouraged to accept the roles that suit their characters and themselves, to rotate those around as necessary, and to respect the roles that other players and characters will play. I mean, a party will need a healer, a tank, a scout, a faceman, and often it would help if there were a leader. A table of players needs to have a bookkeeper, a notetaker (historian), a mapkeeper, etc.

Wow. This post is too long. All I'm really trying to suggest is that it will help to shift the focus of the discussion away from what the DMs in us would like to tell our players (or would like to beat into their pointy little heads) and towards a presentation that is much more focused on what the player sees from his or her side of the screen, and how the player can do more to enjoy his or her own game experience, and the game experience of the rest of the table.
 

LostSoul

Adventurer
The Shaman said:
However, in the examples you cited above, I would say you've created characters who's reasons for adventuring are too narrow - you are creating a character who is really a one-gimmick pony rather than a character who is likely to be engaged by a number of adventure possibilities.

I agree with you. I think that players should come up with a number of NPCs with whom they have some sort of relationship. That gives the DM a whole lot to work with.

I'd also let the players come up with new NPCs after the game has begun. That will help allow the scope of the game to grow, so you're not always hanging around the starting town where all your NPCs are.

Let's say you're travelling to the Keep on the Borderlands. You're still on the hunt for the orcs, or their leader, or the Ogre Mage. But that's about it. So you say, "How about I once met the lord of this place. He didn't like the way I looked at him, so he gave me a scar to remember me by."

The DM might agree, or he could say, "No, he's a nice guy, he wouldn't do that. How about you had an affair with his daughter, and his master-of-arms caught you two together, and he gave you the scar. And the master-of-arms was reprimanded by the lord. So now he really hates you."

The player says, "Yeah, cool, I can dig it."

Then the DM has the daughter (who was just made up on the fly) a captive of the cult in the Caves of Chaos. And the master-of-arms, who was in love with the daughter until she rebuffed him, he was the one who betrayed her to the cultists.

That sounds pretty cool to me.

The Shaman said:
One other thought - you've created this character that wants to pursue an ogre mage or orcs or whatever...but what if the other three or four players in the party want to hunt rats in the sewers? Are you expecting the other players to buy into your revenge-driven character just because that's what you want to play?

I think that the DM should try to work in whatever he can into the game. He might have the wererat who's leading the rats in the sewers have something to do with the orcs, or the ogre mage, or whatever. And he can tie in whatever else to the other PCs. He might not be able to work in all the PCs, but if he tells the players that, it's not so bad.

I think that PCs should not be created in a vaccuum. At best, you'd want to have a session dedicated to creating PCs; or at least deal with it via email or over the phone. Then everyone can make a group that gels well together, and get the PC that they want.
 

LostSoul

Adventurer
Jim Hague said:
So here's a question - directed at Uller and LostSoul - what do you consider 'story'? Are you speaking of having a GM that's got a specific beginning, middle and end in mind, with the PCs just sort of being dragged along, or are you opposed to story in the larger sense?

By larger sense, I mean that a GM's got plot arcs and the like as an organic structure that acts and reacts to the PCs' actions or even inaction.

I think that, as long as the choices I get to make are meaningful (in the here and now as well as down the road), and I get to make a lot of choices, it's good. The "story" is what comes out of play.

When the DM has a beginning, middle, and end, you can't make choices. You're playing through what he's already set up. It's his story, and you don't have any impact on it.
 

Janx

Hero
LostSoul said:
I see your point. But you need to tell the player that he doesn't always have to follow the DM's plots if he's not interested in them. There's a limit to that sort of thing. Give the DM some slack to see where it's going, sure. Always following his plots, no.
...snip....
And sometimes the best advice is "Quit".

No disagreement here. I think the next quote hits on our difference in expectations.

LostSoul said:
How about this: "I was a farmer. Today I went home and saw my wife being taken by orcs!"

DM: "Okay, you're going to hunt rats in the sewers."

Player: "That's lame, but if I don't follow his plot like this book says, I'll be doing something wrong."

I'd say that it's the player's job to start the story. That's what his background is for.

I think we're getting closer to the crux of the matter (and it's a good idea for a section of the book, creating backgrounds and what to expect out of them). Basicallly, LostSoul has a different expectation of what a background contains and is for than I do (and perhaps at least 3 other people agree with me).

I don't expect a background to contain an immediate plothook. There should be nothing in it that says the PC's next thing to do is XYZ. For example, LostSoul's background of "I was a farmer. Today I went home and saw my wife being taken by orcs!" would be vetoed by me. I don't want PCs providing me with anything immediate. I want background to consist of references. Such as, who trained you, how did you get your skills/class ability? Describe your family. What are your interests? What's a long term goal? I also tend to limit the kinds of pre-game events you can describe, basically nothing too specific or recent that would drastically set anything up. I want backgrounds I can ignore or use, at MY discretion. Some backgrounds will hint at great plot ideas to use, some won't. I don't want any backgrounds that implicitly force me to do stuff (that's kinda like reverse direction railroading, and I think that may be a key factor on what DM's don't want in backgrounds).

Now, LostSoul, if you built a background for your PC to my method, can you see how my statement "Another way to look at adventures is this: The DM's job is to START the story, provide a few hooks to an interesting adventure." would make sense? I don't expect a player to provide me with an immediate plothook. The reason is that some players get too ambitious in their backgrounds, putting in things that don't fit or aren't appropriate. A 1st level PC has no business hunting down an Ogre magi. Additionally, what if that immediate goal (which is rather short term) has to compete with a whole party's worth of individual immediate goals.

There are exceptions, some players have some pretty good ideas for stuff that will jump start the campaign. But I absolutely don't want a player dictating exactly what and how my campaign will start.

As someone else pointed out, the backstory of "A bad guy killed my wife, I shall hunt him down and kill him" is rather limited. How exactly do I hook in the other players? I want a more open background, so I can encourage the party to team up and pursue a series of short term and long term goals together (as well as personal ones on the side). Generally, most players don't do good backgrounds and planning to make a party that will logically be able to meet up and work together on something.

Ultimately, this is why the archetype story for D&D is meet in a bar, get a map, goto dungeon, kill stuff, take their stuff, go home, do it again next week. In order to tell that style of story, I need player backgrounds that would ENCOURAGE that kind of behavior.

Now, as the game progresses past a few sessions, my style shifts to bring in more NPCs and incorporate elements of PC's past (both pre-campaign, and post 1st adventure), as well as to have more complex topics like "an ogre magi killed my wife while we were out in the dungeon, will you guys who have adventured with me for so long, aid me in my quest for vengeance." Ultimately, I think my version of getting to the "ogre magi killed my wife" storyline is better AFTER the campaign has been running, than it is for a 1st level PC to try to get a bunch of nobody's together to help him.

Now, for my PC I just built, I had a fairly basic plan:
Backgroun for 1st level halfling rogue under a new DM
a few years ago, came from halfling community that had been overrun by orcs and such (couldn't name the place because the DM hadn't built all the world)
His goal:
do some adventuring
get money
collect weapons and armor from dead monsters
get bag of holding
buy shop stall and sell used weapons and armor (cutting out middle man of normal weapons shop), increasing profit margin
develop good reputation in community
get involved in local government (election?)
Build a stable and nice home

That goal doesn't imply anything HAS to happen, merely that the halfling will try to follow the plan. Initially, he has immediate hooks into being willing to follow any plot hook that leads to money and getting loot. It calls for an event that happened in his past that isn't too dramatic and doesn't really change anything (halfling villages get overrun all the time...). In this example, I didn't even come up with any names or such. I may do so later, but for the first adventure, the DM had enough to go on, and could count on me to tackle the most common plot hooks. That helps, because it gives the DM experience, so he can write more complex adventures later (which my background implies he is interested in).

Janx
 

Jim Hague

First Post
LostSoul said:
I think that, as long as the choices I get to make are meaningful (in the here and now as well as down the road), and I get to make a lot of choices, it's good. The "story" is what comes out of play.

When the DM has a beginning, middle, and end, you can't make choices. You're playing through what he's already set up. It's his story, and you don't have any impact on it.

So it's rigid, linear stories that irk. Having been stuck in more than one game where that was the case - player choice meaning very little - I can certainly see where it's just no damn good...which brings me to my next point.

People at the table who're only concerned with their fun, and everyone else be damned. The GM with the rigid, linear story is an example of this, as rae players who don't cooperate with the GM and fellow players to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone. Reliquishing the spotlight doesn't mean that you get nothing to do; it simply means that someone else gets to shine for a moment. Without that cooperation at the table (instead of compromise per se; IMO, going for compromise instead of cooperation is a quick way to dissatisfy everyone), you end up with a lopsided experience, and who wants that?
 

The Shaman

First Post
LostSoul said:
I think that the DM should try to work in whatever he can into the game.
This sort of collaborative world-building approach is one that some gamers like - personally I'm not necessarily one of them.

I agree that characters shouldn't be created in a vacuum, but that's not the same as your NPC example above, which I wouldn't be comfortable with as GM at all.
 

LostSoul

Adventurer
Janx said:
I don't expect a background to contain an immediate plothook. There should be nothing in it that says the PC's next thing to do is XYZ. I also tend to limit the kinds of pre-game events you can describe, basically nothing too specific or recent that would drastically set anything up. I want backgrounds I can ignore or use, at MY discretion. Some backgrounds will hint at great plot ideas to use, some won't. I don't want any backgrounds that implicitly force me to do stuff (that's kinda like reverse direction railroading, and I think that may be a key factor on what DM's don't want in backgrounds).

I think that's where we disagree. As a player, I wouldn't want the DM to ignore whatever he wants. It's my game too! I'm telling the DM through my background what I want in the game. If he ignores that, I wouldn't like it.

I think this is a big difference, and we'll never see eye-to-eye on it. No problem.
 

Barak

First Post
Here's a few things I'd like to see in that book, with examples!

-If the DM allows something out of the ordinary for you, don't whine about your choice afterwards.

I had a player who wanted to play a Watcher. Really badly. That's some dumb half-gargoyle-half-dwarf race from some book. I looked it over. It was alright. I warned the player "Fine. But you -do- realize that it's a +2 ECL race, right? Your Hit points are gonna suck bad." Player said yes. Two game sessions later, he's whining that his character has too few hit points, and should get 4d8 more Hit points, because gargoyles have Hit Dice. Ugh. Next time you ask me for something weird, you're getting a no, buddy.

-If the game is ongoing, and requires something specific to get your new character in, take that into consideration.

I'm running the WLD. In that setting, the characters don't get out. They don't visit towns. When a character dies, the player's new character will have to go/be on the dungeon on his own. So if you make your character, and I rack my brains to get your character where the party is, don't tell me "oh no, my character would -never- go there." 'Cause, well that won't work.
 

DamionW

First Post
Radiating Gnome said:
Wow. This post is too long. All I'm really trying to suggest is that it will help to shift the focus of the discussion away from what the DMs in us would like to tell our players (or would like to beat into their pointy little heads) and towards a presentation that is much more focused on what the player sees from his or her side of the screen, and how the player can do more to enjoy his or her own game experience, and the game experience of the rest of the table.

Good post Gnome, and not too long. Had some good points in there, particularly identifying DM archtypes and dealing with them.
 

jdrakeh

Adventurer
LostSoul said:
When the DM has a beginning, middle, and end, you can't make choices. You're playing through what he's already set up.

That's not true - all stories, whether thay're pre-scripted or generated extemporaneously have a beginning, middle, and end. Every last one of them. Decrying unavoidable structure as a shortcoming of the GM is a cop out - it isn't true and it avoids the issue of player responsibility.
 

DM_Jeff

Explorer
>>One thing such a book should discuss is what the players can do when it's not their turn or the GM is giving long periods of attention to other players. After a fw minutres of just sitting there looking at my character sheet, even a good GM's descriptions begin to sound like droning.

1) Listen in for future reference. If the DM thinks it’s okay, and it’s reasonable the lone PC would later tell everyone what happened to them anyway, listening in might be fun. Just be careful not to interfere with advice or anything...after all, you’re not there!

2) Look up game materials. Check player D&D game books for some obscure ability your PC might get soon, or new ways to use the skills he or she already has. If the DM says it’s okay, he may ask you to look up something for him.

3) Be the prop master. If your group plays with miniatures and terrain, perhaps now is a good time to clear the table of accumulated houses and shrubbery and reorganize the party miniatures. If the materials are on hand, why not even paint a miniature.

4) Keep a party log. Now’s the perfect chance to scribble notes for your party’s log book, or your own notes.

5) Write in-character notes. Develop your PC by passing role-playing notes between players. Ask questions, resolve old debates, and explore your PC’s depth and further the richness of the game all at the same time.

6) Play a creature. Maybe that lone PC encounters a creature or two. What a hoot if the DM asks you to play a monster! Volunteering for this task may make a DM very happy!

7) Draw. You don’t have to be Larry Elmore. Draw a map of the area your characters are in. Try a character sketch or two.

8) Be the bar keep. Get your comrades-in-arms some soda or chips out of their reach. Or collect the money and call for a pizza.

9) Nature calls. Go to the bathroom or call your non-gaming spouse or significant other. After all, better to do these things now than when the whole party is knee-deep in combat!

10) Read Dragon Magazine. It is a source of continued useful gaming ideas and inspiration.

11) Roll up another character. One of the best ways to learn the D&D rules is to create Player Characters due to the research involved in the creative process! Besides, you never know when your current character may give up the ghost.

12) Upkeep the treasure list. Divvy up some of the recent loot, appraise some of the gems, or discuss who might make best use of an item.

13) Up keep the kill sheet. While it doesn’t have to necessarily have to just log kills, traps overcome, NPC’s tricked or bypassed will aid your DM keep track of rewards at the end of a session.

-DM Jeff
 

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