Playing The Game

For the last few months, I've been playing in a White Wolf game - a system where I know nothing about the rules, very little about the setting, and wherein my character sheet has dots, not numbers. It's great. Part of the greatness is getting to play, knowing that turning up on the night with my character folder is all that I have to do, that someone else is handling the rest of it. It helps, of course, that the guy running the game is an excellent gamesmaster ("Storyteller", in White Wolf terms, if I recall correctly), and very patient with my lack of grasp of the rules.

It's making me think about a few aspects of tabletop gaming, and my experience of them. First and foremost, I've a tiny amount of experience with actually playing - I haven't played in a main-edition D&D campaign since I was 16, and the DM at the time was my 11-year-old brother. A few isolated games with friends, a brief Warhammer campaign, an ever briefer Marvel Super Heroes one, and a short bout of a Basic D&D campaign about seven years ago - and that's my player experience in a can. I'd really like to play in a good 3.5 D&D game at some stage, but it looks like that's not going to happen for some time. I'll get the chance to play in a Warhammer game soon though, new edition and all.

That aside, I've noticed a definite difference in the campaigns, some working well, some not, and I've finally worked out what makes the initial difference for me. If I'm not sitting at a table, it's not going to work. Armchairs, sofas, beanbags, the floor, they all seem fine for other folks, but unless I have a table under my elbows, I'm not going to be able to concentrate on the game properly.

Notes. Notes are essential. If I hadn't my notes, I would have no grasp of the continuity of the world, and I'd completely forget what had happened from one session to the next. Some of this is due to the games happening at two-week or more intervals - but show me adults playing a game anywhere where that's not the case. Work schedules, other games, and so on, get in your way, and the notes are the things that hold the game together. I'm not going to go so far as to require that my players keep notes (although two of them in particular keep excellent notes) but I'm going to recommend it more strongly hereafter.

Winging it. I've always thought that it was pretty clear when I was departing from my notes into "make it up and take it down on the run" territory. I'm starting to doubt this, as the Storyteller who's running our game says we've been away from his notes for the last three sessions, and I for one definitely did not notice. It's a much smoother experience from the player point of view, and while it's not going to make me prepare for games any less obsessively, it helps to know the cracks are not evident.

More discoveries from the player trenches as I make them. Stay tuned!

[Technorati Tags: ]

Posted by Drew Shiel at October 5, 2005 10:35 AM

AddThis Social Bookmark Button