The Reverb Gamers blog prompts, from Atlas Games, have inspired quite a few game bloggers this month. The project offers thirty-one prompts for thirty-one days of January blogging. It’s a fine idea. Alas, without the time to devote to daily blogging, I’ve been working on the first 14 prompts slowly over the course of a couple of days. Here, then, are my first fourteen responses—some are serious, some are sass. All of these prompts got me thinking, though, and make me think I should write more about some of these topics.
Are you writing from the Reverb Gamer prompts on your site? Had any breakthroughs or realizations as a result? Point us to your answers in the comments.
On with it.
REVERB GAMERS 2012, #1: What was your first roleplaying experience? Who introduced you to it? How did that introduction shape the gamer you’ve become?
My first RPG experience was ostensibly a game of D&D. It was a birthday sleep over right before I started sixth grade, it was right around my birthday, too, I think, and the DM was the father of the family hosting us. At the start of that night, one of the other kids was, in real life, a dreadful threat to my happiness and dignity (I was an easy target). We played with sketchy character sheets and a few ability checks made with the dice. We fed inputs to the DM and he fed us back images of giant scorpions, invisible thieves, and furious minotaurs. (My fighter slew the minotaur with one shot from his trusty crossbow, without any worry about AC or hit points.) By the end of that night, that kid I feared? He and I were laughing and scheming together about ways to get our loot out of the crumbling dungeon.
I started DMing after school later that week. I haven’t stopped yet.
REVERB GAMERS 2012, #2: What is it about gaming that you enjoy the most? Why do you game? Is it the adrenaline rush, the social aspect, or something else?
Some days I game to visit other places, sometimes just to play with my friends, sometimes for the thrill of keeping a narrative aloft as long as possible—it varies.
REVERB GAMERS 2012, #3: What kind of gamer are you? Rules Lawyer, Munchkin/Power Gamer, Lurker, Storyteller/Method Actor, or something else? (Search “types of gamer” for more ideas!) How does this affect the kinds of games you play? For example, maybe you prefer crunchy rules-heavy systems to more theatrical rules-light ones.
REVERB GAMERS 2012, #4: Are you a “closet gamer?” Have you ever hidden the fact that you’re agamer from your co-workers, friends, family, or significant other? Why or why not? How did they reactif they found out?
REVERB GAMERS 2012, #5: Have you ever introduced a child to gaming, or played a game with ayoung person? How is gaming with kids different than gaming with adults?
I’ve introduced a few new gamers to RPGs, sometimes successfully. That said, I haven’t played an RPG with kids below 12 or 13 years old, I don’t think. Kids need wrangling and constant inputs—in my experience, they want new things to react to and build on at a fast pace. They want to see immediate reactions in the game world, so that every action gives back vital telemetry. And why wouldn’t they?
New gamers, regardless of age, also seem to trust the authority of the GM in a way that experienced players sometimes grow to question. For some players, this happens quickly, especially as rules are visibly engaged. “Why can that monster do that?” I might get asked. Or, “Why is the difficulty only 10?” Or a hundred other questions that suggest either a suspicion of someone else’s narrative authority or a curiosity about the wizardry going on behind the curtain of play. All that said, I think that’s more about hours logged in play and less about player age. In other words, I haven’t logged enough hours playing with kids to answer this question with confidence.
REVERB GAMERS 2012, #6: Describe your all-time favorite character to play. What was it about him/her/it that you enjoyed so much?
Seriously, I don’t know. Some of my favorite characters to play have been NPCs in long-running campaigns of mine, whether it was the pious interstellar fighter pilot with the callsign of Avarice or the laid-back underground spymaster and benefactor who’s integral to the storyline of Always/Never/Now or someone else, I can’t say.
I don’t attach as strongly to my own PCs because I feel like I have less control over them, so often. I often engage with characters by showing how they change over time and the dice (or the collision of PC agendas) sometimes work against my vision for character progression on my own PCs. I don’t get too attached because what if they die? What if the dice suddenly conspire with the GM to declare my character to be inept or lax? Often I avoid getting attached to my PCs because the idea I have for who they are doesn’t last long—they have to adapt to the circumstances and tactics of the adventure. I don’t inhabit them the way an actor might, I write for them. This gives me greater adaptability and helps me avoid fighting back against compelling but unwanted inputs from other players and the GM. Otherwise, historically, I rail against challenges that diminish my character concept or keep me from playing the persona I had in mind.
As I’ve said before, the character you create for play often ceases to exist once play begins. You have to be ready to follow the character where the adventure takes him or her. Thus I tend to make characters who are at the end of one arc, rather than the beginning of one. I don’t have to prove that this character is an ace pilot, she should be able to start off that way. The question is, what is she going to be next?
I’ll write more about this soon, I hope.
All that said, I really liked playing Mr. Fishman, my first woeful and ill-fated Fiasco character. And I had a weird Western-themed D&D sorcerer named Early who got magic powers after surviving a cannon blast; I dug him.
REVERB GAMERS 2012, #7: How do you pick names for your characters?
REVERB GAMERS 2012, #8: What’s the one gaming accessory (lucky dice, soundtrack, etc.) you just can’t do without? Why?
REVERB GAMERS 2012, #9: Have you ever played a character of the opposite sex. Why or why not? If yes, how did the other players react?
REVERB GAMERS 2012, #10: Have you ever played a character originally from a book/TV/movie? How did the character change from the original as you played? If not, who would you most like to play?
REVERB GAMERS 2012, #11: Have you ever played a character that was morally gray, or actually evil? Why or why not? If yes, did you enjoy it?
REVERB GAMERS 2012, #12: Do prefer collaborative or competitive games? What do you think that says about you?
REVERB GAMERS 2012, #13: Who’s the best GM/storyteller/party leader you’ve ever had? What made him/her so great?
REVERB GAMERS 2012, #14: What kinds of adventures do you enjoy most? Dungeon crawls, mysteries, freeform roleplaying, or something else? What do you think that says about you?