DM’s Corner: Involvement & Investment

 

A formidable challenge can come in the form of keeping players involved in your campaign. It’s one thing to be able to keep an audience as you tell your story, it is quite another to have your players actively involved in the telling of that story. Finding ways for your players to contribute directly to an adventure is a good way to increase their involvement, and investment, in the gaming experience.

 

To start, when your players create their characters, have them connect their backstories to your world. This could be as simple as a few sentences describing the character’s homeland or relation to the region, or as elaborate or complex as you and your party care to be. By making a players character a real part of the world, and not a mere generic Fighter that has magically teleported into the game, you add the first layer of investment for your party to experience.

 

Now, as your players explore the world, allow them to aid in the descriptions of the region. While your role as storyteller and referee means you will be setting the stage for major and important locations, let your players aid in describing areas of less impact to your plot. When the party arrives at the inn, have each PC take a sentence to describe the building or the patrons. This allows the players to help create a part of the world that fits their imagination, and lets them contribute to the world building in a noninvasive way.

 

Note, however, that this is never meant to be an exploit. A player should never be able to say, “I enter the bar and see the King sitting along on a chest of gold, unguarded! How convenient!” Rather, let them describe the meals, the atmosphere, the quirks of the place. It’s okay to let these descriptions impact your story, so long as the main plot is not derailed in the process. For example, a player may describe the odor of a particular variety of tobacco in the inn, and you can choose to allow that to be a hook, or just a unique descriptor. The important point is player involvement.

 

Taking this a step further, if your party is encountering a generic NPC, have the players name and describe the character. For your purposes the party has met a traveling merchant; For your party, it is irrelevant to the plot who the merchant is beyond his existence as a vendor, so let them have some fun! Let your layers give him a short description and even story for why he’s a merchant here. Then, take a few notes, and have that same merchant return later! Players will care immensely more about a region if they know the NPCs, even more so if they have an investment from having aided in their creation.

 

Lastly, allow your players to do some Extra Credit. This can take many forms, so let your players tailor their extra work to their personal talents. Perhaps one player is artistic and sketches or paints his character, reward that! Perhaps one is a writer and delved into a side story his character went on. Reward it! Perhaps your player is a musician and wrote a baric ballad, or is a businessman and designed the guilds of a city, or a math wiz and came up with the economy for a region. Encourage this, and give small kickbacks in the form of gold and experience points, or even items, based on the amount of work done. Now, you should not unbalance a game when rewarding Extra Credit, but you should encourage and reward a player’s work. A good rule of thumb is to reward an encounter’s worth of wealth or experience for an amount of work that an encounter’s worth of time to complete.

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What are some ways you have contributed to a DM’s world? In what ways have you gotten players invested, or invested in a world yourself? How much work have you put into developing a character’s backstory? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Every Wednesday is RPG Night at Pawn & Pint! Not only do DM’s and GM’s play free, anyone who spends more than $5 triggers our House Rule and earns a Token worth a dice Re-Roll! Mention this article and you’ll receive an additional Re-Roll Token to use in your game! As you play your favorite RPGs, don’t forget the golden rule of all gaming…

Have Fun!

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Dungeon Master Minute: Pacing & Immersion

We shall be doing a daily feature every day this Month. Some Features will be new games revealed, some will be short write ups, others will be descriptions of games we have in our collection. This feature is a bit of content written by Donald the DM! 

The crux of any good role playing experience is to maintain immersion. Nothing will break immersion quicker in your game than pausing the climactic battle to spend ten minutes flipping through charts and rereading the exact particulars of abilities in the rule book. To minimize this, it is your job as the Dungeon Master to keep the story flowing without getting hung up on particulars.

Continue reading “Dungeon Master Minute: Pacing & Immersion”

Let the Whiskey Win – Introducing Pawn and Pint’s Next Star Wars X-Wing League

The time is coming soon, when beer and liquor shall be available at the Pawn and Pint – and as such, the next league at P&P shall be slightly alcohol themed.

 

The league will run from January 31 to March 7. [6 Weeks]

Participation in the league will be free for members at Pawn and Pint and simply cost the $5 Pay to Play for non members.

Continue reading “Let the Whiskey Win – Introducing Pawn and Pint’s Next Star Wars X-Wing League”

Twitter Quest: Volume 2

 

Every day on our Twitter Feed, @DonaldTheDM, our resident Dungeon Master Donald Lewis will post a One-Tweet Dungeons and Dragons Adventure! Anyone can Tweet a response, from which he will choose the best reply to continue the story. The idea is to play a communal Choose-Your-Own-Adventure RPG experience, a story that unfolds one day at a time, one tweet at a time. In the spirit of comic strips like Dick Tracy and Brenda Starr, together we see the adventure unfold one line, one decision, one epic moment at a time!

Continue reading “Twitter Quest: Volume 2”

Sex Can Sell Somewhere Else: Why the Pornification of Nerd Culture Helps No One

We’ve all seen it – a video game with a half naked girl on it. A picture of a barbarian holding her up, as she looks suggestively at the viewer, in distress. Whether it’s a chain mail bikini or a slave girl outfit, it’s a well known fact – there are a lot of books, tv shows, games and movies which seem to cater to what is perceived as the typical “gamer” – single heterosexual cisgendered Caucasian males.

I, the author, am one of these people, a heterosexual cisgendered caucasian male – and in the following article, I will present 3 concrete reason why it is better for EVERYONE that we ditch this almost comical sexualization of our preferred medium of enjoyment.

Continue reading “Sex Can Sell Somewhere Else: Why the Pornification of Nerd Culture Helps No One”

The Kingdom of Cavaliers: A Red Raven Inn Campaign Setting

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There is an island in the Kara Sea that has long stood against the rising Tides of Darkness. A breakwater to stem the hordes of barbarians, raiders, pirates, brigands and even maritime Empires that would threaten the Congruity of Nations. Here a consanguinity of many nations stands firm, built of stone and risen from ashes. Here the King’s Black Flag flies, a sigil in gold leaf defining a common people’s valor, courage, heroism and stalwart resolve. Knights with armor inscribed with Mithril Runes, clad in tabards of finest samite, ride these shores ever vigilant. When the Storm comes here is the Haven. When a Need arises here is found a Duty. When the Darkness falls here is found the Dawn.

Welcome to Xenia, the Kingdom of Cavaliers.

Continue reading “The Kingdom of Cavaliers: A Red Raven Inn Campaign Setting”

Winning Quickly in Chess

Hey everyone, this is Dylan Mize with my second blog post on chess. Seeing as how the first one was a bit dry and lengthy, I figured I’d give the people what they want with this one by providing just a few introductory tips and tricks for achieving a quick and satisfying victory against your less prepared friends or family. Disclaimer: While the quick mating ideas I’ll show you may or may not work against a weaker opponent, they surely will not against anyone who has been exposed to chess in any formal capacity. Therefore, these ideas can be fun for beginners, but are often unsound. However, I will be also be covering a general principle that can be used at any level – the f7 weakness (coordinate on the chess board, for those unfamiliar), which can often be used to form a swift attack, especially against unsuspecting players. While viewing the diagrams below, keep in mind white always has the first move, and checkmate occurs when the king is in check and has nowhere to run nor pieces of his own to block the attack.

Fool’s Mate (below): With that out of the way, lets start with the fastest possible checkmate. It is quite a rare occurrence this checkmate lands on the board even for beginners because it requires your opponent to make two specific moves, and has less to do with an active plan by you. Note that if black had made a normal developing move such as knight f6, it would have prevented white’s queen from invading altogether. Having pushed two of the king’s key defending pawns two spaces already, he has no way to block the upcoming checkmate. Any other combination of legal moves prevents this outcome, which is why this is an especially embarrassing way to lose and a quick way to win.

Scholar’s Mate (below): This takes a close second place for the quickest way to win with mate on the 4th move. It combines the powers of the bishop and queen to deliver mate on the f7 square (on black’s side), or the f2 square (on white’s side). Again, this way of developing is not so subtle and most players who have seen this idea once or twice will not be caught off guard. However, this is a more promising try for a quick win than fool’s mate because it involves a specific plan by white that black must prevent. These moves can occur in slightly altered move orders, but the main idea is the same – to use the queen and bishop to prepare mate on f7.

Attacks on the f7/f2 weakness: Having just seen the two most famous cheapo checkmates, let me expand a bit on one way to form a potentially strong attack, which can easily catch a beginner off guard if they’re not careful. The reason this square is often considered a weakness is because from the starting position, only the king defends it, making it a tender spot which you can often attack. If your opponent neglects it for long enough, you can bring a bishop and a knight to attack it from an early stage in the game with strong effect. In the position below, white is already winning with his attack on f7 because there’s no good defense to either 1. bishop taking with check, or 2. knight taking- attacking the queen and rook simultaneously (a fork) and winning lots of material. In either case, white has created an advantage that should be enough to win.

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Below is another, fancier example showing a tactical way to take advantage of the f7 square. There are plenty more ways than what I’ve shown, so I encourage you to be creative and find your own as well!

If you enjoyed this, let me know in the comments, and if anyone has any specific chess-related themes or concepts you’d like me to cover, also let me know so that I can make these posts as relevant as possible. Thanks! See you in a couple weeks!

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