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A New Broom Sweeps Clean

Posted By Kurt "Telas" Schneider On January 12, 2012 @ 12:00 am In GMing Advice | 5 Comments

It’s official, the next edition of D&D is in the works, and those Coastal Wizards are asking for help in crafting the rules. But you probably knew this; heck, it was in the New York Times. Perhaps you’ve volunteered to help out and put your stamp on the next iteration of Gygax & Arneson’s creation. Good for you.

But this article isn’t about D&D, or crowdsourcing, or editions. A new game is an excellent opportunity to make other changes at your table. Perhaps it’s a chance to try out something new, or change something that’s been bugging you. (And if you’re not playtesting D&D, you could run a new game this year.)

  • We don’t know how electronically-friendly (or mandatory) the latest version will be, so you might finally want to adapt to a laptop at the table (or a tablet, or a number of them). If everyone will be internetworked, then it’s probably time to revisit the “pay attention to the game, not the LOLcats” aspect of your game charter (or social contract).
  • While we’re on the topic of chips (the silicon kind), take a look at software and apps, and online campaign management tools, like EpicWords (review a bit dated), and Obsidian Portal (review not so dated). Don’t forget Phil’s digital toolbox.
  • There’s a good chance that the rules will be electronic (see: D&D Insider), but if a laptop or tablet isn’t mandatory (or even if they are), there’s always room for index cards!
  • Did the spotlight-hog root his way back to sitting right next to you? A new game is a great time to try assigned seating, and see if it works for you.
  • Since you’ll be playtesting a new system, maybe it’s time to ditch the GM’s screen and expose yourself to your players. (That didn’t sound right, did it?) Or maybe it’s time to try out a screen and see if it works for you. Martin’s got your advantages and disadvantages of a GM’s screen right here.
  • Is one or more of your players less than enthused about playtesting the next iteration of D&D? Find another one and ensure they fit. Make sure your old players understand that this isn’t a break-up; we gamers can take things like this personally!

Is there anything else you might like to change in your group when you change your game? Sound off in the comments and let us know!

About  Kurt "Telas" Schneider

Kurt Schneider played D&D in 1979 at summer camp, and was hooked. He lives with his wife, daughters, and dog in Austin TX, where he writes stuff, and tries to stay get fit. Look for his rants under the nom de web Telas or TelasTX. Quote: “A game is only as balanced – or as good – as the GM."

5 Comments (Open | Close)

5 Comments To "A New Broom Sweeps Clean"

#1 Comment By Razjah On January 12, 2012 @ 9:34 am

I like to try to change my group’s natural habits. In a role play intensive game such as the one I am planning to run in about two weeks. I don’t want the players doing a lot out of character. I am going to stress the role play, paying attention to the game, and staying in character.

My last game was fairly hack and slashy, and it showed in the player’s. Hopefully a few changes (smaller group, no battlemat) will help.

#2 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On January 12, 2012 @ 10:12 am

@Razjah – As always, my stock reply is to talk to them about it, but a technique that I’ve used (and had used on me) is “everything you say, your character says”. Use some kind of hand signal (crossed fingers, etc) to indicate when out-of-character conversation is happening, but I find it cuts down on the Monty Pythonisms when speaking to the mad fire mage.

#3 Comment By Volcarthe On January 12, 2012 @ 11:04 am

The primary reason I got a Kindle Fire was to facilitate gaming at the table, and it’s been useful so far without me even running a game. I have about ten games in PDF loaded up for rules on the go and a handful of useful websites set. All I need is to find a non-crappy digital dice roller.

#4 Comment By Razjah On January 12, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

@Kurt “Telas” Schneider – I have had that used on me. It works well. But a group of players who are not very interested in playing out their characters will be using the OoC methods to talk far more than it should be. I a, talking to the group about what to expect. Table behavior is going to come up very soon.

#5 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On January 13, 2012 @ 1:55 pm

@Volcarthe – I don’t know if it’s for the Fire yet, but I like Dice Bag for Android.

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