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Quit Trolling and Start Rolling

Posted By Kurt "Telas" Schneider On July 22, 2010 @ 12:31 am In GMing Advice | 8 Comments

Gamers love a good bull session. Conjecture and discussion are as important to us as Cheetos and Mountain Dew (or Dr Pepper for the Texans among us). Hell, the very core of tabletop RPGs is playing ‘what if?’. And one of our favorite topics is the theories behind RPGs

However, this love of theory can actually detract from your GMing, especially if endless discussions of theory distract you from getting down to brass tacks, and actually working on a game.

In order to become more than just talk, theories must be put to the test. To have any value, all this conjecture must be brought into the real world. And the only way to do that is by running a game.

So step away from the bull session every now and then, and run a game. Put some of your pet theories in the crucible, and see what happens. At the very least, you’ll get some more data points for your next discussion.

The classic pinball game Eight Ball Deluxe would taunt and annoy nearby (video) gamers with the catchphrase “Quit talking and start chalking!” Perhaps we should modify that phrase for tabletop RPG use: Quit trolling and start rolling!

Agree? Disagree? 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."




8 Comments (Open | Close)

8 Comments To "Quit Trolling and Start Rolling"

#1 Comment By Roxysteve On July 22, 2010 @ 11:12 am

Agree. Nothing more argumentative on a forum than a would-be gamer.

Wonkhammer 401k is particularly prone to this beast, but some of the biggest rows in the comment section of DM of the Rings (a subset of the D20 game blog) a few years ago were over D&D theory, held between people who rarely played the game.

The phenomenon is seen in any hobby e-board though.

#2 Comment By evil On July 22, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

No, we definitely should not modify that phrase…it was bad enough hearing it in the game.

#3 Comment By BryanB On July 22, 2010 @ 5:50 pm

I have to say that it is easy to get caught up in the blogoshpere noise so much that you have trouble finding the time and energy to be working on your next game.

As useful as blogs and discussion boards can be, they can also be a huge distraction and a cause of launching a GM off on other ideas before the original idea was fully developed or prepared for.

So maybe the phrase we use isn’t as important as realizing when it’s time to focus on what your actually trying to accomplish.

#4 Comment By Sunyaku On July 22, 2010 @ 9:55 pm

As an aspiring DM preparing for a campaign with a completely new gaming group (myself included) I brainstormed a main plot, read the books, made tons of notes, dove headfirst into the best that the DnD blogosphere has to offer, made more notes, stole ideas, and now I can definitely feel I’m at the point where all of these pieces of fabric need to be sewn together into my homebrew campaign.

Enough reading. It’s time to get down to business. Fortunately campaign start isn’t until October. :-)

#5 Comment By Katana_Geldar On July 22, 2010 @ 10:14 pm

You’re only ever as good as your last game, and if you’ve never Gmed you have no idea what it’s like until you sit behind the screen.

#6 Comment By Scott Martin On July 23, 2010 @ 12:02 am

I don’t know– I enjoy running games, but I benefit from reading and thinking about how to improve. Maybe that’s more concrete than airy theorizing– it’s still thought, not practice, but useful.

#7 Comment By farfromunique On July 23, 2010 @ 3:08 pm

@Sunyaku

speaking from experience: Don’t plan your plot TOO strongly, especially if you’re new as a GM with people new to playing. Having a very tightly knit plot is great, until your group deteriorates or decides to follow a will’o'wisp.

#8 Comment By DjKen On July 27, 2010 @ 11:29 am

I agree to it has taken my group like 5 months to clear a simple temple area at the start we would only do one encounter in like 5 hours of game time and that gets on my nerves a little yes the discussions is an important part of the game but that is why now we come in an hour early do all are talk then get down to the good stuff so instead of 4 months for the last bit of it it will only take us probably 1 or 2 nights.


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