Managing a Gaming Group

By Game Master Mike

So you want to be a game master, huh? All you have to do is spend hours preparing and set up and run the game, right?  Not so fast there skippy! You also must be prepared to manage the expectations of a group of gamers. And these expectations are as varied as there are numbers of players.

According to Wikipedia  “Herding cats is an idiom denoting a futile attempt to control or organize a class of entities which are uncontrollable or chaotic.”  This is a very good description of what it can be like to manage a group of tabletop gamers.  We all have our ideas about what makes for an enjoyable gaming session. Gaming is a hobby and as such is to be played for fun.  But when you are the person in charge you have to balance having fun with keeping the game in motion and the story progressing.

How is this accomplished? It is kind of ironic that I am writing this as I fail more often than I succeed in trying to balance fun with keeping the game moving. The good news is, even if you fail, it can still be a great, fun experience.  Just keep in mind, you aren’t going to be able to please everyone.

The problem usually comes when you have people in the group with wildly varying ideas about what the gaming experience should be like. You may have some people who just want to have fun and keep it light. For these people, it is social gathering with some gaming thrown in there somewhere.  Mixed in with these fun lovers are going to be people who are more serious about playing the game and driving the story forward. This is where the herding cats metaphor comes in. The group may be looking for different things from the game and the game master has to try to find a balance that suits as many of the players as possible.

Sometimes you may feel like a middle school teacher trying to keep the kids in line. This is something with which I struggle. We are here to have fun, so it doesn’t feel right to act like the teacher with the yard stick swatting hands and scolding people. However, if you aren’t careful things can get a little out of control and the game will suffer. Balance in the word of the day. But, balance will not be the same for every group or for every gamer.

So I guess this is point where I am supposed to give you specific points on how to handle these situations. But the specifics depend on your group and you as a game master. You need to balance the desire for fun with pushing the game forward. Reel the group in, but do it in a way that is fun and brings the focus back to the game. It may require some finesse to do this without upsetting people. Ultimately the game should be something you enjoy as well. Don’t spend so much effort making sure everyone else enjoys the game that you don’t enjoy it.

Here are some recommendations:

  1. If you aren’t good with being the heavy, seek out an ally who will help keep things on track.
  2. Keep the group small enough to manage comfortably.
  3. Keep yourself on track.
  4. Have a clearly defined plan for the gaming session.
  5. Allow for some tangents. These can be a lot of fun.
  6. If there is a particularly troublesome player, take him or her aside after the session and speak to them diplomatically about your concerns.
  7. There may come a time that you have to remove a person from the group. Any time this has happened in my game, we have all known it was time for someone to go. There are probably going to be hurt feelings from this, but sometimes it is unavoidable.
  8. Be flexible and able to make adjustments as you go.
  9. Don’t sweat the small stuff. If it seems like everyone is having fun, just roll with it. Things will usually work themselves out.
  10. Ask other game masters how they handle these situations

So how do you handle herding the cats in your game? Share your thoughts and ideas.

 

The Best and Worst Games We Have Played So Far

We have been podcasting for a little over a year now and have reviewed several games and scenarios. Some we have really loved and others….not so much.

According to the Rollin’ Nerds, the best game we have played (excluding all versions of D and D and Pathfinder) is Numenera! And the worst is Unbelievable Macho Bullsh*t.

Here is the full list of games we have reviewed with their scores:

Numenera 14.0000
ADGNEPSSF555 13.0000
Dresden Files 12.6667
Everyone is John 12.5700
Savage Worlds 11.0000
Microscope 10.5714
All Flesh Must Be Eaten 10.0000
Fiasco 9.6667
Swift Saga 7.7143
Call of Cthulhu D20 6.0000
Unbelievable Macho 5.4286

We have also reviews four scenarios/ playsets for various games. Here are those games and scores:

We Cannot Hallow This Ground (Call of Cthulhu) 16.8000
Twang Town  (Fiasco) 12.0000
Throwdown at the North Pole (Savage Worlds_ 11.3330
Dragon Slayers  (Fiasco) 9.6667

Please feel free to express your opinions on any of these games/ scenarios or suggest a game you would like for us to play and review.

New Long Running Campaign

Coming soon the Rollin Nerds will embark on a new long running campaign. We will continue our Dungeons and Dragons campaign and we will continue to play and review RPG’s. This will be an additional continuing campaign in a non-fantasy genre. I (Game Mike) am currently looking at Stars Without Number as a possibility. SWN is a sci do game which is designed to be sandbox style and uses rules similar to 1st and 2nd edition D and D. If you have any experience with Stars Without Number or would like to suggest an alternative game for us leave a comment on this post.

 

Pokemon GO and Pretending as Adults

By: The Angry Nerd

danny@rollinnerdypodcast.com

It seems that lately I’ve been either reading about, hearing about on the radio, or seeing on the TV about a game called Pokémon GO, and I must say that most of what I have read has been negative. What I mean is that I’m not hearing very much negative about the game, but about the adults that are playing the game. I have heard about those people who are trespassing on other people’s property, catching them in graveyards, Arlington to be exact, and even one instance where someone’s child had knocked on a stranger’s door to come in and catch a Pokémon that was living in their house. I’ve even heard of people playing while they drive and even read unverified reports of accidents caused by this game. For all of that I say the grownups should know better than to do something like that, and the kids need to be taught better, but that is not what this post is about.

This post is about the negative posts that I see online or hear on the radio about adults (grownups) playing this game. About how someone can’t figure out how a grownup can play a pretend game or that how can you pretend and still be a grownup. This concept just boggles my mind, when does being a grownup stop you from pretending, or even playing a game? Hell if you play a game with your child or grandchild, don’t you pretend then? Does that now make you no longer a grownup? The sports radio station that I listen to was really giving it to the adult Pokémon players, calling them losers and the like. My question to them is what is the difference between someone playing Go and someone “managing” a fantasy football team. Both are pretend, you don’t really own the team or the players, you are just pretending to be the owner. The only difference I really see is that the GO player is actually getting up and getting outside, while the fantasy player is still sitting behind their computer, and on Sundays watching players on their team.
Being a “grownup” doesn’t mean you stop pretending. Hell I bet some of you pretend every day. Some people pretend to be something they’re not at work or at church. Some people pretend to be somebody else in the bedroom, or pretend that their spouse is someone else. I even know of some of you who play a game called Farmville where you pretend to be a farmer, or some other Facebook game where you pretend to be a detective or super hero.

I am an avid table top gamer. Now when I say table top gamer, I am not talking about Monopoly, Life, Chutes and Ladders, or Clue (all of which are great games). I’m talking about role playing games. Games like Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, Star Frontiers, and many more. Once every two or three weeks I get to gather with a group of adults and pretend to be a Halfling thief. We get together and go on grand adventures of the mind. The group of people I game with incudes a City Council Member, two engineers, a warehouse worker, a HR supervisor, a DCS case worker, a psychiatrist, a student, and a business owner. Each of us an adult, several with children, all with bills, and real grownup issues. Our pretend time is our break from the real world. Some people read, other play video games, and still others watch TV to escape from reality. Heck, I’m even a member of a Podcast that covers gaming and the games we play. I guess what I’m trying to say here is don’t judge. Just because you don’t like it, or understand it, don’t belittle it. These GO players, as long as they are fallowing the law, are not hurting anything, in fact if this gets them out of the house and exercising, I don’t really see a problem with it.
Now for the GO players. Be respectful, thoughtful, and be smart about this game. Don’t try to play this game and drive, don’t park where you’re not allowed, don’t trespass, and stay the hell out of the graveyards. Now let’s roll some dice.

Fiasco: Dragonslayers Part 2

In this conclusion of our Dragonslayers Fiasco, things really start to go awry. It seems like everyone wants everyone dead and for some pretty strange reasons. Imps, and bunnies and dragons, oh my! What the heck is going on around here?

Who, if anyone, will survive? And on the Dragonslayers episode of The Jerry Springer Show: “My Imp Familiar is My Lover!”

They don’t call this game Fiasco for nothin’.

Fiasco: Dragonslayers Part 2

Top 100 Role Playing Games

By Michael

michael@rollinnerdypodcast.com

To prove just how nerdy I am, I decided to compile a list of the top 100 Tabletop RPG’s. (I left D&D, Pathfinder and FIasco off the list).
The list was compiled using the opinions and sales stats of: Learn Tabletop Games, Ranker, Listverse, List Challenges, Best in Tabletop, Drive Thru RPG and RPG.net..

Some of these are systems, some are games, and some are supplements for games or systems.

Here are the results:
And the winner is….
1 Call of Cthulhu
2 Savage Worlds
3 Fate
4 Gurps
5 Mage the Ascension
6 Eclipse Phase
7 The Burning Wheel
8 Microscope
9 Apocalypse World
10 Chaosium Role Playing
11 Shadowrun
12 The One Ring
13 Star Wars
14 Paranoia
15 Legend of the Five Rings
16 Dungeon World
17 Ars Magicia
18 Exalted
19 Dogs of the Vineyard
20 Traveller
21 All Flesh Must Be Eatern
22 13th Age
23 Vampire: The Requiem
24 Aberrant
25 Carnage Among the Stars
26 Doctor Who
27 Shadow of the Demon Lord
28 Warhammer RPG
29 Dungeon Crawl Classics
30 Mekton
31 Battle Tech
32 Dread
33 Underground
34 Atlantis: The Second Age
35 Tunnels & Trolls
36 Godbound
37 Atomic Highway
38 Battlelords
39 Seventh Seas
40 World of Darkness
41 Blue Planet
42 Gamma World
43 Mutants and Masterminds
44 Mutant Chronicle
45 Werewolf
46 Heavy Gear
47 Sprawl
48 Brave New World
49 Gods of the Fall
50 Cyberpunk
51 Cadillacs and Dinosaurs
52 Dragon Age
53 Firefly
54 Godlike
55 Numenera
56 Castle Falkenstein
57 Masterbook
58 Champions
59 Pendragon
60 Fantasy Age
61 Chill
62 Dark Heresy
63 Ehdrigohr
64 Rifts
65 Hero System
66 Invisible Overlord
67 Conan
68 Cepheus Engine
69 D20 Modern
70 Flat Pack
71 Middle Earth Role Playing
72 Gangbusters
73 Lady Blackbird
74 Dark Conspiracy
75 Chronicles of Darkness
76 Hero Kids
77 Hillfolk
78 Icons
79 Legendary Adventures
80 Interface Zero
81 Dresden Files
82 Everway
83 Iron Kingdoms
84 Fading Suns
85 Feng Shui
86 Michtim Fluffy Adventures
87 Mindjammer
88 Mini Six
89 Hackmaster
90 Misspentyouth
91 Champions
92 Fudge
93 Monster of the Week
94 Mutant Year Zero
95 Changeling: The Dreaming
96 Diaspora
97 Marvel Superheros
98 Night Witches
99 Ghostbusters
100 Night’s Black Agents

To see more about any of these or to order one go to RPGNow.com

Fiasco: Dragon Slayers Part 1

We had a great time (again) playing the group storytelling game Fiasco. Our session is from the viewpoint of regular folks and gamers playing the game Fiasco. In Dragon Slayers the nerds are a group of adventurers who have just rescued the village from the great dragon. The adventurers are still in the village accepting the accolades of the villagers and apparently plotting how to destroy each other at the same time.

There are several podcasts out there which feature professional actors, writers and improvisers playing Fiasco. One of my favorites is called The Tilt. Look for it in itunes or stitcher. They have not published a new episode in a couple of months, but they do have several episodes available now.

Fiasco: Dragon Slayers Part 1

 

Welcome to the Rollin Nerdy Podcast website

Thank you for visiting the Rollin Nerdy Podcast website.

We recently complete our first recording. We played the group storytelling game from Bully Pulpit Games, Fiasco.

The post will be up soon along with our review of the game as well as the play set we played: Dragon Slayers.

Leave us a comment about what you would like to see on this page or something you would like us to discuss in the podcast.

 

Our first actual play podcast… Fiasco

Fiasco2

To order your own copy of Fiasco click on this link:

Order Fiasco from RPGNow.com