My Top 5 Gaming Moments

Well, as promised yesterday I have returned with a list of my top five roleplaying moments. I do hope that this two part blog has caused you to think about your favourite moments over the weekend and at least given you a smile. I hope some of you will share those moments in the comments here as well so we can all share in them. You do not need to share your critical reflections but I would like to see some of your favourite moments through your eyes. Anyhow, without further ado, here are my top five moments in role playing.

My all time favourite role playing moment

It does not matter which system you use, fun can be had in
any of them 🙂

The best moment I have ever had roleplaying was (and there will be no surprises here) running a game. It was a game of Shadowrun that I ran in Hobart many years ago (I was around 20 so about 20 years). I had been playing with a few ideas of running a more “horror” themed game for Shadowrun as the system seemed to lend itself to the genre in a few ways and touched on it a few times. I ran the game “of my life” with simply an idea that I had come up with just before the game started. There was no preparation, no long look at the rules I might need, just the genesis of an idea in regards to a haunted mansion and the reason behind it. Just as a side note, I had two Shadowrun groups separated by about 200 Km of distance and I ran the same game the following weekend with the second group. In this instance I did a fair bit of preparation and it fell completely flat. Very little enjoyment was had on my side, or by the players.
Let us now pull this apart and ask the hard questions about why this particular game has stayed with me all these years.

  1. This was a creative game with a premise and a solution but very little in between. I love creativity and this was almost all pure creation. There was a lot of material in the game that Shadowrun had little rules to handle so I had to make them up on the fly. The story was pure creativity also and revolved around lost love of two seemingly “evil” meta-humans. The other side of the coin was that I was turning a largely action based game into a horror game. Why is creativity so important to me? I have always felt that as a person I am a bit bland but through my creativity I can entertain others so when I am making up most of the game and it goes off really well (as this one did) I get the best feeling.
  2. It was the first horror style game I had ever run/played in. I have always been a lover of being scared and I had always wanted to play in a horror setting but had never had the opportunity to. The realisation that I had where I could run a horror game through another system impressed me greatly. It was the first time that it dawned on me that the system you use could be separated from the setting. It seems so obvious to me now but it was the aha moment that I had at the time. Before then I was always wanting to do horror but thought I had to wait until I got Call of the Cthulhu or GURPS to do it.
  3. It was also the first in depth game that I had run which had at its heart a tragic romance story. It was something I had always wanted to try but never had the courage to in a group of all male roleplayers. I have since found that tales of tragedy, or tales that you begin with one assumption but make a large realisation just prior to the end are the stories that seem to garner a great deal of favour with players. I am not talking any huge twist, but just a story that causes the player to think about their initial attitudes to the situation.

My second favourite gaming moment of all time

This event occurred quite recently to me actually. This year in fact. It was without a doubt the conclusion of the Serpent Skull adventure path from Paizo for the Pathfinder game system. It was one of the all time highs for me. I had always wanted to play in or run a game that took a character from first to twentieth level. While Serpent Skull took them to 17th level it was still the idea of a game that was designed to be a complete campaign. In other games I had played in our characters tended to hit a glass ceiling for levels at 8th – 9th level and this was frustrating for me.

I have spent some time considering writing an all in one adventure that took the players from 1st to 20th level when 3rd edition D&D came out and I had purchased the Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil module for it (that we never played). I liked the module BUT it was all dungeon crawl and I get very tired of games where it is dungeon crawl after dungeon crawl (don’t ever ask me to review the Shattered Star adventure path from Paizo!). I had the idea of writing a book that started with an initial premise and was designed for all 20 levels of the characters at that stage.

First five of the six modules in the adventure path

I moved away from the D&D scene after 3rd edition though and got back on the bus at 4th level and began to muse the same idea when a friend of mine showed me Pathfinder. After spending a bit of time researching Pathfinder I found the concept of the Adventure Path which is essentially the same idea broken down into modules. I still would like to have a game that lasts to 20th level but without a doubt the Serpent Skull adventure path is the most complete adventure I have ever run.

Why did I enjoy this so much?

  1. To me this style of game is the epitome of what roleplaying is. I struggle to find enjoyment as a player in a one off so I seldom run them also (conventions are the obvious exception). I think to me, as the games master it is the commitment to the game that is the reward to me. There is so much preparation and perspiration that goes into a game of that style. The game took a little over a year of (on average) a game a week with a few extra super sessions involved and it took my entire gaming focus for that period. I think this satisfaction comes from me being able to say to the players “See what we have achieved” at the end of the game. There are intentions on continuing the game in follow up games to get to the magic 20th level but we will have to see what happens.

Number three was a complete accident

So much fun packed in such small things!

The first of my experiences top five experiences that feature me as a player (kind of). It is also very recent (after me discovering Google+ Hangouts) was my introduction to the Fate Core system through my C-Team mates. It was another awakening moment as I had never been exposed to Fate before (although I had a near miss once). The idea that I found revolutionary about Fate is the character generation concept of aspects over statistics. It is the first time that I had ever come across a true RPG that did not have a statistics base for the character. It is also the time that I realised there was a lot more going on in the industry than I was aware of and a raft of “new wave” games that were changing the way our hobby currently looks. In particular of this experience it was the experience that I had during character generation for Derek Schnapz, my vehicle specialist in the C Team game.

What was it about this in particular that I found particularly memorable? 

  1. Sitting in that character generation session taught me that I did notknow all there was to know about roleplaying. I literally was a little scared at how much of a newbie I felt even though I have had almost thirty years of experience gaming. I love to be challenged and this one session changed my mind forever. I can never go back to the way I was before Fate and it really has heavily influenced the way I think about games. It has already changed the direction of my own game and has also caused me to buy as many alternative games as I can and read them. I am keen to see the “new” direction of the hobby.
  2. Learning a new system is always a great thing and in this case it openedso many doors. I am always keen to learn new things and find new ways as I realise that I am conditioned to think in a certain way. That is the reason that this event has resonated me so well, due to something that to me was completely new. Also, going past this I have done some further research and found other games where this new material has stemmed from and I realise that it is not as new an idea as I thought. It is just I have never been so totally confronted by it before.

My fourth and fifth favourite experiences were in the same game world

I have grouped together numbers four and five as they were both under the same Dungeon Master (Philip Cottrell) in 2nd edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. They were two separate characters but in the same game world so I decided to group them together as the reasons behind them (critically thinking wise) are likely to be the same.

The first of my experiences was in my first ever games with this system. I had made a female thief named Sam who began her career in a little hamlet. Her exploits were pretty much driven completely by me and involved some pickpocketing, burglary and other small time stuff. Does not sound remarkable does it? Well it was, the DM built up a living, breathing world in which each little piece of petty larceny I would discover something new and exciting about the hamlet Sam lived in. Little secrets that the populace would prefer never arose in the light of day. My character spent all six levels of her career (it was notoriously hard to get a game out of the DM) in the hamlet and was well on her way to setting herself up in a position of power due to all the little secrets she knew. She never left the original hamlet that she began in. Less than 300 people in that place and it kept me totally mesmerised for six levels.

The second character I had in the campaign was a half-orc fighter/cleric named Amphora. He was strong, hale and stupid but loads of fun to play. I was playing Amphora in a game with my DM’s new girlfriend and it was the first time I had met her. She had been playing her character a while and I knew little about it other than she was playing a Wizard. We were investigating something in a town (I forget exactly what) and we moved into a warehouse. Amphora detected magic and got a hit on a crate. He moved toward it all ready to open it and the crate spoke to him! It whispered to him that it was in fact an intelligent weapon that had been polymorphed into a crate. With a little bit more discussion the “weapon” convinced Amphora to take it with him with the promises of glory in battle.

 I can not believe I fell for the old imp prank…

Battle came soon enough and the crate told Amphora to wield it in battle so that the blood of the enemy may restore it to its true form. Hook, line and sinker Amphora ran into battle with (I believe an ogre) and swung the crate with intent. The crate of course splintered and it was at that time that I found out the new wizard’s familiar was an imp. An imp that had been impersonating a powerful intelligent crate shaped weapon. I found out a lot about imps that day (it was the first time I had come across one) like they don’t need to breathe (after killing the ogre I trapped the imp in a barrel of water and sat on it for 10 minutes in an effort to kill it), they are immune to fire (after it burst out of the water I doused it in oil and set it alight) and they can turn invisible at will. I never did get to kill that thing.

So, let us get into this. Why are these amongst my favourite moments?

  1. Sam’s story impressed me so much because it all occurred in one very
    small location. I enjoyed the fact that I got to know the people in the hamlet and that every action Sam made had an effect on the setting. This works to me from the realm of control, and the fine tuned way that the DM had of making every action I took seemingly important. This gave me the feeling that I was in control and especially with the fact that my character was learning little secrets that gave me power over the townsfolk.
  2. Amphora’s story is reminiscent of the idea of discovering something new. After you get over the fact of how funny the prank was (it did not just suck Amphora in, it had me believing too) at the heart of this was the discovery of something new. I was very unfamiliar with the creatures of AD&D so I had no idea what it was. In fact it did not even dawn on me for a moment that it was a prank. Admittedly I was a little suspicious but what other explanation was there? Plus it was hilarious too. I should tell you more about Amphora as he probably takes up slots six to eight of my favourite moments too 🙂

Why have I asked you to critically reflect on your favourite moments? It was not just for amusement. It was not (believe it or not) just so I could get you to read my blog. It was so you can consider some of the things that go into making a successful game! Some of the things that you have found enjoyable may not be the things you would expect go into making a good game. What you should do (straight after writing one of your experiences into the comments 😉 is to talk to your GM if you are a player about some of what you have found that you like and would like to see more of! If you are a GM it is likely that if you have found something particularly enjoyable in a game that others will too so see if you can inject more of some of this style into your games and see if they generate a buzz when you do.

Overall, keep gaming and be open to the new and surprising. Oh, and keep rolling! 

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