All RPGs and Storygames by Tod Foley are now available at DrivethruRPG and RPGnow. Bring these games to your table!
Do you have too many games just collecting dust on your bookshelves?
Is it a struggle to get your players to try something new?
Are you just too busy to finish reading that new tome of a game book?
You are not alone.
As Convention Coordinator for the Indie Game Developer Network and as a self-published game designer, I travel to monthly conventions to sell and run role-playing games. I’m always asking what games people are playing, running, and are interested in. And, let me tell you, there are plenty of others who feel the same as you. They face the same challenges, the same struggles.
You don’t have to go it alone.
Together, I think we can build/borrow a system to help solve all of our (current) problems. It won’t cure them overnight, but it will treat the problems and help to create a foundation for other like-minded locals. Together, we can unite to build more than a gaming group. We can create a movement! One to tackle the difficulties of having too many unplayed games, of luring players to try something different, or the reoccurring learning curve of each new game. First things first, we start by building a community. To meetup and game together, we’ll need a pool of potential players and Game Masters. Thanks to social media, this is surprisingly easy to start, however, difficult to master.Build a Community?
We need a place for people to gather in order to build interest in our idea—our movement. With the utility of social media, we can easily recruit, message, and share ideas (posts) at times that are convenient for one another. A community can be fostered in something as simple as a Facebook Group. You could start today. Add the people you game with, the people that you know game locally, and the Game Masters that run events at local stores or gaming hangouts. Most game stores have their event schedules posted on a website or community board in their store. Take advantage of these to help you find where people are gaming and who is facilitating these games. Talk to your local game store owners about what you’re working on and who else they think you should talk to. Don’t assume that every game played will be publicly posted. Also, dig around for other local gaming groups on Facebook. Search the name of local game stores for groups that share their name. Search for groups that prominently state your city, town, or region’s name with the keywords RPG, Tabletop, Geek, or D&D. You may be surprised to find how much is already going on right under your nose.
How Will This Solve My Problems?
A model that I’ve adopted in Northwest Indiana is that of Games on Demand. You may have heard of their work or participated in a game with them at Gencon, Origins, or Pax. Their model consists of several Game Masters, each offering up two or more different games per time slot. Players that attend the event(s), pick from the games offered in a first come, first served basis. They generally select from table tents that give a blurb of each game with a picture. As games are selected, the choices begin to narrow, and focus shifts to filling the games selected.
To solve your problems, you need to foster an environment that builds demand for new games and that attracts players who want to be involved in those games. Share1Tweet1+11Reddit1Email To solve your problems, you need to foster an environment that builds demand for new games and that attracts players who want to be involved in those games. The Games on Demand model is attractive to players and Game Masters looking to play and run new games. It has an easy to understand structure that clearly defines what a Game Master needs to prepare for (two different games, two different one shot sessions, expect new players). Not to mention, with other Game Masters sharing games, you can learn more of them without having to read or research them one at a time.What Do I Need for This to Work?
- Game Masters: With the help of another Game Master or two, you could offer up to six different games for a game night. Each Game Master already has games they know how to run and games on their shelf they are just dying to put to good use. Creating a community with game nights and a Games on Demand model provides the opportunity you’ve all been waiting for. Give yourself and other Game Masters the opportunity to share all of the cool games you’ve been collecting.
- Public Places to Play: Potential players need to feel safe before they will join you for a game. Playing with strangers can be very intimidating, especially if it is at a private home where you don’t know anyone. Reach out to your local game stores or anywhere else people are gaming in your area (coffee shops, tabletop friendly bars, churches, the local library) and schedule a time for 2-3 free tables. You may be asked to institute a rule that everyone buy their drinks and snacks from the establishment. That’s only fair, besides, you want the opportunity for there to be foot traffic. Shopping customers and regulars can be recruited to play and invited to future events. They may even have friends…
- Game Day Events or Meetups: What good is the community if we have nothing to rally around? Create events to attract people in your local area. Ask your friends to share the events with their friends and families. Spread the word on Facebook in your local groups with similar interests. If you have the skills to make a flyer, put some up in your local school and game store bulletin boards. It takes time for people to understand what you’re doing and also to carve out time to attend. Don’t be discouraged! Some people will need time to find themselves in a situation where they are also looking for new people to game with or new games to play. I have had more than one Game Master tell me, “I’ll be there when I’m no longer running two games a week.” That’s fair!
My local contingent is called the Tales of the 219. Yep, that’s our area code! Northwest Indiana Story Gamers just didn’t win over the hearts and minds of our founding members.
On January 31st, we mark our one year anniversary of running events at local game stores on a monthly (and more) schedule. Setting out, I found other Game Masters interested in diversifying the games that they play and struggling to find players for their games not named D&D or Pathfinder. Sharing my vision for a more vibrant, inclusive, and variety rich gaming community, I reached out to local game stores. To their surprise, we didn’t want money or to sell attendees something physical. We just wanted to grow the community of role-players in Northwest Indiana, to bridge RPG enthusiasts beyond their favorite game store, gaming group, or routine game of choice.
I remember speaking to Matt and Jared, two of my friends and early adopters of our vision.
“This (Tales of the 219) is probably going to be like four of us running games for each other for a year or two. But, one day, there will be others, and they’ll talk fondly about how they found the Tales of the 219. We’ll be like forefathers that paved the way to make a more vibrant and diverse role-playing game community possible. This will work. We just need to be persistent and deal with the inevitable trying times that will come with the occasional successes.”
I’m happy to inform you that it never did end up being just the four of us playing each others’ games. We’ve hosted events at six different game stores and one local convention for a total of fifteen events in 2018. Attendance varies from 5-15 individuals with an average of 8-9 folks attending per gathering. At our local convention Arcticon, we held eight games seating over 40 players! It’s a good feeling to not only play more games but to help others experience brilliant games they never knew existed. It’s a good feeling to not only play more games but to help others experience brilliant games they never knew existed. Share1Tweet1+11Reddit1Email
Some things I’ve learned so far:
- Meetup.com was an excellent tool for engaging and managing a growing role-playing game community. It isn’t anymore. Some Meetup accounts are doing very well and holding strong to the format, but they are mostly groups that have been around for years. All the action is on Facebook these days, even if respondents ARE flaky. If you aren’t familiar with people checking interested instead of going for your events, get used to it. Phone based Facebook users really gotta dig to find the illusive going option. So, don’t be too hard on those that mark interested. Searching Meetup for other gaming groups in your area can be very useful, though. You can reach out to them and talk about consolidating efforts.
- D&D can be a powerful tool for recruiting and finding new players to join your burgeoning RPG community. It can also lead to exactly what you may have been trying to avoid—people only interested in D&D(or Pathfinder). I’ve spoken to a few of the larger role-playing game Meetup leaders about using D&D as a gateway for players. It will inflate your community numbers but may not convert many people over to trying out new games. People like to like D&D in this day and age! Experiment at your own risk.
- Going to where the people are is worth it. Finding your people takes good word of mouth, a little luck, or consistency. Hopefully, you can find two of the three! Sometimes, it takes several events at a location to find the people who will become a core part of your new community. Most of us have busy adult lives and might skip a few of these events until it fits nicely in our schedule.
- A lot of role-players choose not to be on Facebook or social media in general. Form an email list to keep them in the loop. You may be stunned by how many people that is. I certainly was!
- It’s a win-win for game stores, you attract RPG enthusiasts to different stores and show them new games to purchase and run for others. Don’t be afraid to approach them. Also, don’t be surprised at how many still want telephone calls to schedule or are bad at email conversations. I like reaching out with Facebook Messenger as that tool trains businesses to reply timely. It has been very effective, for the most part.
- Giving prizes to first time attendees and Game Masters for running games has been far less of an incentive than I had hoped for attracting players. I’m always giving away full games to new players and it doesn’t seem to really sway whether they return or not. Convenience seems to be king.
Don’t have a game store nearby? Can’t find role-players locally? Have you thought about building an online community or joining something like the Gauntlet? An earlier conception of this idea, this movement, was to build a role-playing game group with a rotating Game Master dynamic. On G+, we called ourselves the Janus GM Project. The members would announce games they wanted to run for the next round of games (like 3 rounds a year) and then we would vote on our favorite titles per Game Master. Each Game Master then knew what game to start reading with months to prepare, read up, or research the game. We’d play each game every other week for a 3-5 session story arc. It was a ton of fun and very effective! We played over twenty-five new games in about two and a half years.What Are You Really Doing This For?
Maybe, you’re a Game Master overloaded with games that just need to be played. Maybe, you’re a game designer and want to build an audience that will playtest and buy your game(s). Maybe, you are a new player looking for the game that is uniquely your fit, your niche.
Don’t settle for the status quo. Build a Games on Demand community where you live! Grow the community YOU want to be a part of. Build something for the future players of your neighborhood.
I’ll be there for you. Together, we can build a network that communicates and shares best practices. You just need to be persistent and share your love for RPGs with those near you. I believe you can do it, and this is a fun way to grow the hobby we love so dear.
Special thanks to the crew at the Tales of the 219 (Sout, Matt, Jared, Adrienne, Pedro, Tom), my local game stores (By the Board Games & Entertainment, The Librarium Cafe, Galactic Greg’s, Tenth Planet), and the RPG enthusiasts of the region! Thank you for the added joy to my life!
I want to know:
How have you brought people together in your local area?
How do you attract new players or sway your gaming group into trying something new?
Where do you game and who else could you invite?
An Endzeitgeist.com review
This expansion for the Assassin base class clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Assassins with the sanguinity tree gain the blood pool feature upon taking the first sanguinity technique. This pool begins play with 0 points, and has a maximum capacity of thrice the assassin’s class level. Whenever a creature within 60 ft. takes damage from an ongoing bleed effect, the assassin gains 1 blood point for each point of damage taken. This pool resets upon resting.
Unless I have miscounted, the pdf contains 15 different techniques, with 2 of them being passive: Off the Top, available as soon as second level, adds + 1 bleed damage to the first weapon attack executed each round, with 7th level and every 6 levels thereafter increasing that by +1. Bleed damage from this ability stacks with itself, and the ability notes a Heal DC to quench the bleeding. The second passive would be blood sense, which nets you blindsense 60 ft., but only for the purpose of detecting creatures suffering from bleed damage and objects they’re interacting with.
As far as active techniques are concerned, we have e.g. “Bleed the Self” which has a presence required of 0 to 3 and nets a +1 presence change. The ability is a standard action or may be executed as a part of a full-attack action. The technique basically adds bleed that deals 1 ability score damage to an ability score that is randomly chosen each round. Interesting. Blood tithe decreases presence by 1 and requires presence 1 – 4; once more, it’s executed as an attack, providing a +2 bonus to Strength and Constitution that increases by a further +1 at 7th and 13th level. This buff ends when the target has not bled for one round or died. Upon executing this technique, you must spend blood points of up to class level, and the effect otherwise lasts for 3 + blood points spent rounds. This technique has an escalation option that modifies presence required and presence change, but if you opt for this iteration, you also penalize the target of your attack, essentially leeching the ability boosts.
Bolster the Blood allows you to expend blood points to enhance a target within 30 ft., providing temporary hit points that last for a round. Due to being activated as an immediate action, it also clarifies interaction with technique per round cap. Bolster the Self is the self-only version of this one, but interestingly, it’s NOT a prerequisite for bolster the blood. Cauterize causes fire damage to a bleeding target at presence change 1, and while there is no save, this does end any ongoing bleed damage of the target. Yes, ability bleed is properly codified. Crimson Font has a range of 60 ft. and targets any number of creatures – the ability inflicts 1d3 +1 piercing damage per class level, divided however you wish among the targets within 60 ft., with a Fortitude-save to halve damage. At -4 presence change, it requires some setting up, though. For each point of piercing damage you inflict, you also inflict a bleed damage…which makes this a great combo-finisher.
Enfeebling strike is easier to set up: At just a presence change of -1, enfeebling strike temporarily penalizes Strength of the target hit by 1d6, +1 per two assassin class levels, with 1 being minimum. Fortitude save halves, and the duration of the penalty is governed by the amount of blood points expended. Exsanguinate the Self nets a -4 presence change, and thus must be considered a combo finisher of sorts. You expend any number of blood points, up to class level, and inflict one point of random ability bleed damage for each blood point expended, to be distributed among any number of targets within 60 ft. A single creature can’t take more ability bleed than half the number of blood points expended, which helps make this avoid being a dragon-slayer. Fort-save negates.
Make it flow is a swift action with a 60 ft. range, and causes 1 point of bleed damage, which, at 0 presence change still makes for a good kick-off. Puncturing blow changes the weapon’s base damage die to bleeding damage instead, at presence change +1. It lasts for 2 rounds, and increases twice at higher levels. Transfusion has a -1 presence change and lets you touch a creature. Expend up to assassin level blood points, then roll d8 for every blood point. The target regains hit points equal to the amount rolled, and the assassin takes a penalty to maximum hit points equal to 1/4th of the rolled amount, rounded down. This reduction ceases after resting. Transruption, which, like Transfusion, is a presence change -1, lets you bind two creatures together. Whenever one of the bound creatures takes damage of the three physical damage types, then half that damage is siphoned off to the second target. When a bound creature takes bleed damage, the second creature does take the full bleed damage as well, but unlike the physical damage dispersion, this propagation of bleed damage may be resisted with a Fortitude save. Duration is governed by blood points expended. Finally, vermillion blade, at -2 presence change, is a melee touch attack with an empty hand. On a hit, you draw a fully formed blade of blood from the target. The weapon begins at +1, and increases its potency at higher levels, allowing for the use of some weapon special abilities.
There are 3 different feats included in the pdf: Blood Focus increases the maximum amount of blood points you can expend on a technique by +1. Bloodbonder Adept nets you 2/day an additional immediate action for bolster the self or bolster the blood, provided you did not perform them already this round. Odd regarding verbiage here: Does this mean that you lose an additional round worth of swift actions in the aftermath? If not, then why not simply allow for the use of these techniques sans requiring an action or building on free actions, with the appropriate not-your-turn-caveat? Anyhow, Transfuser, the final feat, nets you a transfusion pool with points equal to your assassin level. This pool acts basically as a buffer for transfusion, allowing you to expend its points instead of accepting the maximum hit point reduction that the transfusion technique usually requires. Nice one.
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level, juggling complex and intriguing concepts. Layout adheres to Interjection games’ no-frills two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.
Bradley Crouch’s sanguinity tech tree is pretty cool – a blood-themed warrior angle for the assassin class? Heck yeah, why not. The concepts are varied and interesting, and there are some cool tricks here that reminded me of one of my own designs. The finishers are deadly, the minor healing welcome, and many of the attacks have neat visuals as well. All in all, an inexpensive, fun expansion well worth owning, though one that could use a sequel to build on it. The concept and theme are strong, and I couldn’t help but feel like there is more waiting in the wings here. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars. Definitely recommended for assassin-fans!
This week's highlights include a look at NASA's new commissions in the video game space, the crunch-free development of Slime Rancher, and a very offkilter procedurally generated dating game, among other things. ...
Microsoft says the experience it's gained through its Xbox dealings gives it a potential leg up on the competition.Â ...
The Rise of The Influencerâ - âAnd Why Epic's New Store Approach Is Huge - by Meredith Hall
I’ve written about the agony and frustration of organizing a gaming group before, offering advice on how to coordinate schedules and expressing my frustration when the rest of the group isn’t on the same page. Recently, I was talking with a friend about this subject again and we were commiserating on how hard it is to get a group’s schedule to line up and how frustrating it can be when it isn’t the same level of importance to everyone involved.
Over the years, I’ve seen how groups live and die based on scheduling and how much the group respects that scheduling. My first group that started in high school was a loose collection of people the GM would wrangle. It all revolved around him and because of the nature of what we were playing (usually super lethal 1e and 2e D&D) there were rarely campaign concerns that needed a consistent group of players. The folks I found in college were much more static about who was involved, but there was still only one GM and he often had difficulty maintaining a commitment to any one campaign. Eventually, we all stayed close friends, but the gaming faded away as adult lives got in the way. Today I have a local group that has been going strong for well over a decade, but that has taken a lot of determination from a couple of us that are too stubborn to fail. I also have a couple of online/remote groups, but scheduling is still tough and though our campaigns are wonderful, they’re sporadic.
Over the years, to maintain my own sanity, I’ve had to accept that not everyone is going to rank their commitment to a game group as high as I do. Gaming means a lot to me and it’s a hobby I have obsessed about for literally decades. I mean, I do write for a blog about this stuff after all. Not everyone who enjoys gaming is going to hold it to the same lofty pinnacle that I do. Many of these folks are still totally worth gaming with, but they’re not going to be the ones to initiate organizing and wrangling a group into playing. There are also of plenty of folks who love gaming just as much and will do it whenever they can, but simply do not have the right temperament or skills to be good at organizing. The struggle is real.
If you’re organizing your game group:
- Be patient but persistent. When you’re trying to herd cats, patience is a virtue. Even if you’re working with a small group of gamers, it can be trying to try and balance everyone’s schedule and make the timing work. Finding a time that everyone can make requires patience or it will drive you insane. You also need to be persistent that a decision is made. So many groups will debate things endlessly and never actually decide on anything. Or worse, some folks will think a time was set, but the rest didn’t get that same message. Your persistence also helps in making sure everyone stays on the same page. Even though my group has a nominal ‘every-other-Friday’ agreement, I still send out a reminder at the beginning of the week to make sure everyone remembers what, when, and where.
- Find the method that works for you. This should go without saying, but if you’re in charge of keeping the group organized, you have to find a method of organization that works for you. Honestly, if you’ve stepped into the role as a group’s organizer, you’re probably pretty organized to begin with, but everyone needs to start somewhere. My group uses a shared Google calendar, but relying on only that doesn’t work. At the end of every game session, I check in with folks about the next session. This helps remind folks to bring up things like vacations, cons, or special events, and it lets us potentially reschedule which night we play on if necessary. There’s also that ‘week-of’ reminder I send out.
- Don’t burn yourself out trying to accommodate everyone. This is important. As I said above, not everyone will or can rank gaming at the same level of importance as you or I do. This doesn’t mean they’re not fun to game with, but their priorities may be different for a wide variety of reasons. Be honest with yourself when you’re struggling to coordinate and one person is consistently the problem. Maybe it’s worth it because you love gaming with that person, but maybe they shouldn’t be part of a weekly group. If the problem is they often forget about the game or have to frequently cancel, it might be time to say goodbye. Find the people that are at least in the same ballpark with your priorities. I accept that not everyone in my group will be as dedicated as I am, but they’re all willing to try and maintain our schedule.
If you’re agreeing to join a game group:
- Respect the efforts of the organizer. I don’t say this just because I am an organizer, but you will absolutely frustrate and burn out your group’s organizer if you’re dismissive of how much work they do to keep things going. Or, if you constantly brush off gaming because something else came up, you’re disrespecting the time and effort of not only the organizer, but the rest of the group. If you’ve agreed to be part of a group and agreed to a time to game, you owe it to them to do your best.
- Give as much warning as possible if you need to cancel. Life happens and things do come up, so it should be common sense to let everyone know as soon as possible when you have to cancel gaming. Unfortunately, I’ve seen the last-minute cancel that shouldn’t have been last-minute way too often to not bring it up. It’s incredibly disrespectful to the group as a whole and to the GM of the group. Do you know how much it sucks to be the GM who planned an adventure with a focus on a particular character only to have that character’s player not show up for game?
- Be realistic about your availability. Folks really want to game, so they sometimes agree to games that almost immediately fall apart because no one could admit they really didn’t have the time for it. Recognize when you’re the one consistently making scheduling difficult and take a moment to think about whether or not this group is going to work. Sometimes difficult scheduling is okay because everyone is on board with it, but sometimes it’s just getting in the way of everyone else’s fun. I have one online group that has difficulty with scheduling, but we generally still make it work. Another fledgling group I was part of last year died essentially on the vine because we as a whole weren’t realistic about what our time commitment could be. Understand your own limitations and find the group that fits that.
I think this is a pretty universal struggle for all of us who try and game regularly. There’s a reason there’s a ton of memes out there about the impossibility of game scheduling. I’m curious about your struggles and what you and your groups have done to get past this issue. I’d love to hear your advice on the subject.
Online tutoring company Byju'sÂ announced yesterday that it hasÂ acquired Osmo, developer of educational games for children, for $120 million. ...
SuperData's end-of-year report lists PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds as 2018's top premium earner on console and PC, beating out Fifa 18, Grand Theft Auto V, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. ...
It's the conclusion of a week-long public back and forth between the two companies, one that both began and ended with changes to Unity's Terms of Service. ...