Several things I want to say before I get onto the topic of the journal ... like this is a surprise to many of you who have been reading these crazy-assed ramblings for a while now:A friend is someone you are lucky to have walking with you throughout life. Others talk about Friends with benefits which is a term that makes me want to throw up. If you have to have a friend with benefits, then you have someone to be tossed aside when you are done with them, sort of like a sheet of tissue. I consider all my friends to be a treasure to have and a blessing to be sure!Happy Birthday to my two very good friends, The Mask and the Quiet One! Since we missed the Mask's birthday (and I blame myself for this!), I decided the Saturday Night RPG Group would celebrate their birthdays together. With our group, we give the birthday person one wish: whatever they would like to do (to a reasonable point) the group will do. The Quiet One has been wanting to fight an Ancient Red Dragon in Pathfinder so to that end I have been working on getting this together. More on that in a moment.
I haver been with this group of gamers (with some coming and going over the years) now for about fifteen years now, as of this month. I have been consistently the Dungeon Master, Ghostmaster, or Gamester during these years. Now, I'm guessing from the fact that I'm still doing it that I must be doing something right ... Slowly but surely I have been trying to get back to work on my own stuff. The artwork and stories of Israfel Vincent and her friends has for far too long been put on the back burner. Granted the gaming has helped, but it's kind of disheartening to only have verbal stories (and a few text ones) to share. Hopefully with the cooler weather might help. I have been so tired at the end of the week to do much more than game on one night and do a bit of online RPing.Slowly but surely ... once again ... things are being put in order with the family estate. My Big Sister has been sending me a lot of stuff to work through and sign as well. Mom's books are coming back and starting to slowly bring in more money which we have been putting into keeping the place in Bonifay, Florida paid for. The main thing was trying to keep Mom's legacy alive. Now, on to the main part of the journal:
From the days of me playing with the cats in the monkey grass back on the first house my folks owned on East Beach, I have always loved high adventure. From exploring the beach for Blackbeard's treasure to running from the giant snapping turtles (some as big as a pizza pie dish!), I have done my best to keep myself amused with lots of action. These were the days before the internet and before the Nintendo (we had Pong and game systems like Atari, Intellivision, and the Commodore 64.) The days of Capture the Flag
, Tree Fort Building
, and the freedom of being a kid.
When Dungeons and Dragons
came on the scene back in the late 1970s, I had just met my friends from Atlanta who's grandparents lived behind my house. Their kids were interested in the swimming pool my Pop owned and I was always happy to have friends. Athena was the girl's name and we became great friends back in 1979 and I got to meet her older brothers. Getting older and switching from Star Wars
figures ... I think the lads boxed it all up and put it into some sort of collection (they took really good care of their stuff!) ... they changed over to this wild system of Let's Pretend!
where you ran around, killing monsters, saving kingdoms, and raking in the gold which was used to build your characters. I was hooked right away. The lads were my first two Dungeon Masters
. As most of you know, the Dungeon Master
is the storyteller of the game. With fantastic powers of the imagination and sometimes with the help of the creators of the game, the Dungeon Master
would spin the tale of high adventure. For the summer of 1980 when they came back and Athena's brothers introduced me to the game, we worked with a few basic models, some home brew and some bought from the store. I'm not sure if it was 1980 or later we went through the Village of Homlet
, but we also did the A Series one summer and a few others. During these summer, we also were introduced to Villains and Vigilantes, Gamma World, Boot Hill,
and Top Secret!
With all the other game I have learned, Dungeons and Dragons
stayed of the top ten.
Just a note, I still play these games regularly when able: Villains and Vigilantes
(which is thought of as my game among the group!), Ghostbusters,
and Teenagers from Outer Space!
Now, going back to the past ... the troublesome trio (as their grandparents called them) would go back to Atlanta after summer or any of the long holidays and I would be left to my own worlds. But not for long. We had other people step up in the neighborhood to discover Dungeons and Dragons
and even Villains and Vigilantes
. These two we will call The Monty Python Wannabe
(or just Wannabe
and The Spoiled Brat
. Both of these lads were Dungeon Masters
, but in my opinion troublesome storytellers to be truthful. The Wannabe
had a sense of humor I never understood; sort of a mixture of Monty Python (which I never understood), Warner Brothers cartoons, and a bit of the Three Stooges thrown in for good measure. He often ran games which made no sense and yet could be fun if you could swim through the thick stream of incompatablity and insanity which only seemed to make sense to him ... and he got even more amusement out of it on the fact that the humor was lost on me. Now, The Spoiled Brat
had a slightly different take on his games. Often he designed them not just to kill characters, but to humiliate the players ... often demanding the character sheets so he could eat them. Yes, you read that right! Eat them. It was disheartening to me because I would put so much work into making them look good and this kid would demand them and eat them. I fell for it one time and then left in a serious rage. My mother almost forbade me from going back, but when The Spoiled Kid
came back with a few of my other friends, my mother got the Sad Eye Attack!
from me. It worked a few times. Pop finally ended up kicking this kid out and then marching over to his house to get kid's dad, The Professor, to give up the character sheets he stole from my friends. Granted, Pop never understood this, but he did understand the hard work we put into the character sheets ... keeping up with the experience points, treasure, and cost of training the characters, not to mention the artwork.
Now, why mention these two lads? Well, they did teach me a few things about what not to be when I'm Dungeon Master:1 - Never Forget The Players!
Understand that the players put the trust and fun of the time spent in you not only to tell a good story, but to be fair in your judgement. That means to adhere to the rules as best as you can, but also not to be afraid to say I don't know!
and ask for help.2 - Give The Players Plenty To Do!
This is one that can be difficult for the larger groups. I have been lucky to have on average five to six players on any given session ... and they have all sorts of personalities. Some want to be the center of the stage, others get bored easily and play on their computers or iPhones. Others have wives who need constant contact with. And then there are the ones who are easy going and easily amused (That last one is me to a T!
) Give them a simple mystery to solve, have them run an errand (only one or two! Pathfinder
is horrible about using this to fill an entire adventure book!) ... I often have the NPC they help give them a good bit of gold or one magical item (upgrade!) ... challenge their class skills or passions, whatever you have seen that they love.3 - Make The Game Worthwhile!
Now, for me, these are my friends and they are because of their differences, quirks, and whatever makes them who they are. I need not know anything more than they are my friends. In that end, when I spin a story for gaming, I do my best to make it entertaining. I do my best to make sure all players are heard, their points of the adventure are recognized, and even manage the flow of the conversations when needed. This can make it like hearing chickens with a toothpick (which often makes me want to get the flamethrower!), but the best times are often given to allow them to go where they feel they need to go and make the mistakes (which aren't often) as needed. Besides, the best thing for these games is to listen to the idle chatter. As the Bearded Lantern has said before, "What did you say now?!"
often said in the car on the way over. I get some of my best ideas from the chatter of the players. 4 - Be Flexible!
Making sure that you can think on your feet is a great skill or ability to have for a Dungeon Master!
Often with Pathfinder's
games, you have to make up or add information to the game to answer questions. Sometimes, they do a fantastic job of giving out the information you need, but with this creative group, I have had to be able to add extra stuff to make sure the game goes along smoothly. Two such incidents are done with the help of the Mask: negotiating a peace with the Sahuagin King which the party would help free any captive sahuagin and in return would get the ability to have the sahuagin to come to their aid. The second was the negotiation and free passage from two monstrous Shemhazian Demons who were working for Captain Harrigan to build a fleet to take over the Shackles.5 - Be Willing To Learn!
Since I started gaming back in the summer of 1980, I have been learning. Especially after 35 years of gaming, I still feel like I'm learning not only how to put on a great performance in telling a good story, but the little details that's helped make the game sessions fun. With this group, the three people (including myself) have a total of over 100 years of gaming experience with the Bearded Lantern easily being the champion Dungeon Master
in my eyes. Her's dealt with all of the personalities from the extreme buttheads and chuckleheads to the timid and shy ones. He's taught me so much that I feel like each time he runs something I either am reminded of something of noteworthiness or something I had never thought of before. The rare times the Bionic Forearm runs, he shows me how to keep the game fast paced and fun ... his stories I have always appreciated. But that is why I still game with these guys: they are fun and there is still so much to learn. Now having said that, from the newer members of the group I have relearned the value of details, patience, and consistency, but also not being afraid to mix things up a bit too.
Gang, within my opinion, if you can tackle at least three of these points per game session, I have faith that your group will have fun.
Now, you might ask why talk about this? Well, I have been asked by the Quiet One who is also known as
as I mentioned earlier about fighting an Ancient Red Dragon for her birthday wish. Among most of my friends, I'm not known for making the grind house games or scenarios (killing characters sucks!) and I would rather make it challenging. The Bearded Lantern often suggested that if the character has to die, then make sure within the room or area there is something to bring the character back. "If the character is dead, then the fun ends. Keep the player in the game so he or she can die again."
With this in mind, I'm bringing in some tricks and plot settings to make this game coming up on Friday night super. I hope. I will do my best to follow my own words without stepping into the areas of trouble that the two other Dungeon Masters
did when I was growing up.
Hopefully I will write a journal on this adventure ... so stay tuned!
Love and Kisses,