Thursday, June 2, 2016

Getting Back In The Game

First I want to apologize for a lack of content recently. Between potty training a 2 year old, normal dad duties, and life in general I've both not had the time or energy to do much writing. The last few weeks I've noticed an influx of new readers finding both this blog and the Facebook Page, but sadly there hasn't been anything new to check out. I'd like to say this will change soon, but its likely to stay a bit light on content for the next month as June is the month of my b-day, my wife's b-day, our anniversary, and father's day making it possibly the busiest month of the year for me, but do not fret my brain is still slowly cooking up articles and even some new adventure modules for once I have some real time to sit down and get some work done.

Now on to what I really wanted to talk about. For the last few YEARS the only gaming I've been able to do has been online. I have a solid group of players all of whom I've known for years and some for the better part of a decade that are spread all over the world that I run games for and play games in over Roll20. It's been great and I don't plan on abandoning them (that's right those few of you that actually read my stuff, I am still here I've just been too bust to be online more than a few minutes at a time), but I'll also admit I forgot how different it is to run games in person. Early in the blog's life I did a whole bunch of articles on running games online both on why its awesome and tips on how to do it better so if you're looking for info on that just check the archives. It's weird but the quirks, advantages, and disadvantages of online gaming have become the norm for me and I didn't truly notice it until the last few weeks when I got to run not just one but three in person games.

Yes despite being busier than ever I've also lucked into starting to form an in person group which include my wife (after years of trying tog get her into gaming), one of her long time friends, and friends of friends. In the last 4 weeks I've been able to get them to try D&D 5e (the ones playing D&D were sadly still rooted in 4e), FF Star Wars (which I now realize I NEED the proper dice for an in person game), and my all time favorite ETU (using the Savage Worlds system). All of these games I've run before most of which for full campaigns, just online. The thing is in person they all had a slightly different feel in person. Some I enjoyed more while others felt "off".

To no big surprise D&D felt almost identical both online and off. It might be because lately its the game I've been the most plunged into and it's become almost second nature, but something about 5e just "feels" like D&D every time you play it. I will say having to teach an entire table the game again made me re-appreciate just how simple and user friendly the new system is.

Star Wars
This one was like a completely different game this time around. Part of this might be that for the most part my regular group picked up on 99% of the system without my help while my newer group needed a lot more explaining. When actually breaking the game down for new players I started to realize just how complicated this system really is. Yes once you get the hang of it the game runs fairly fast and very smooth, but to RPG newcomers it is a LOT to learn. Both online and off I used digital dice rollers for the custom dice as I have books, but can't seem to get a hold of the beginner box I want and $15 for dice  (not even enough to really play the game without rerolling the same dice as part of the same check) just doesn't appeal to me. Playing online a digital dice roller is just part of how you do things so it didn't effect the game, but in person it just kind of sucked. Everyone had the roller on their own phone so it was as close to everyone having their own dice as it gets, but it just made the game feel like we were playing a co-op video game in person. Plus in a game about building dice it resulted in me saying how many of what compared to just tossing dice across a table to someone which I feel like will really enhance the kind of game they are going for. Needless to say I'm not running any more Star Wars until I get actual dice for it.

Like I said it is my favorite game. Savage Worlds and D&D 5e are neck and neck for my favorite system, but the setting of East Texas University (which is basically Buffy in college) is hands down my favorite setting. That said no one else at the table had ever played it (or any Savage Worlds games) before this night and even then 2 out of the 3 players I had that night said they LOVED it. On top of that while our first session didn't have a lot of combat or high action (I'm running the plot point campaign and it starts VERY slow) I can still tell how much more fun it is to physically deal cards to people and toss bennies around the table. As much as I already love Savage Worlds I think for in person play it might end up taking back the number one spot for me in gaming systems. That said I did forget how long character creation (even just filling out premades) can take for new players. It wasn't anything horrible, but I do think I've taken for granted having players that can make characters in their sleep. Explaining the rules also wasn't instant, but picked up a lot faster than most games. We haven't really gotten into to many of the combat options yet, but because of that I can just ease those rules in as we play.

In the end this bit of rambling is just something I felt I needed to share because I really feel like getting back into in person gaming has really changed my outlook on the whole hobby. My transition to online gaming happened in a way that I actually didn't even notice I was running games differently. This might be be from a combination of not getting to game AT ALL for a couple years before gaming online, then gaming using the program Game Table which is bare bones, but was free and did the job, all the way to when Roll20 came out and to my already conditioned brain I was being given everything you have for an in person game. I still love gaming online and I hope I will have the time to get back to it soon, but it took running a few games in person to realize just how different the two are.

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