Suffering For His Art

Apart from the occasional Discworld game I think most of our games have always been based on epic fantasy/scifi stories and so nine times out of ten humour would have been really out of place in game.

One game really stands out however.

Caution Tape
Picture Perfect Pose on Flickr

I would never call our World of Darkness games dark gothic horror or whatever the classic WoD games are usually described as. They are dark and they can be horrific but in all honesty they are usually on par with the Blade trilogy of films. We had however just gone through a couple of sessions where we had been going up against a Sabbat pack and in all honesty the game was starting to turn me off WoD. I’m not a gore and horror fan. Unfortunately a few of our players met their final death in this last session and so were due to bring in new characters for the next session.

This is where it gets a little weird. One of our D&D GM’s had been playing a bad ass Ventrue who had been wasted and decided it was time to lighten the game up a little. We never did find out just what clan his new character was from…

Picture the scene. It’s a Saturday night and I’ve just pulled a 12 hour shift in the supermarket stacking the shelves with beer, wines and spirits. A few of my friends had been in the pub beforehand and the game was due to start at 10pm sharp. With my shift ending just as the game was due to start I jumped in a taxi with a few cans of beer and arrived not long after the start time. I walked into the living room expecting to see everyone worked up and ready to play and instead everyone was sitting in deathly silence staring at the fireplace. It was at this point our friendly D&D GM walked into the room from the kitchen with our WoD Storyteller in toe.

Now before I go any further you should probably have your mental image of the aforementioned GM. Think of a guy around about six foot four inches tall that is overweight and has a beer gut. In fact think of the Tron guy and stick a creepy unshaven face onto him. That is roughly our man. Now dress him in a gold lamay dress, a blonde curly wig and makeup. Think of the worst transvestite you’ve ever seen and you might come close.

This guy sauntered into the room as if nothing was up, sat down and proceeded to get his gaming materials out of his handbag. He played the entire game dressed like that and no one said a word about it. It didn’t take long to work out why he was dressed like that once we found out what his character was like. We never did find out if he was a Malkavian or a Toreador but either way he suffered for his art.

It was certainly a break from the gore of the weeks before but I think it provided it’s own horror’s for us to work through.

A Butterfly Dreaming is hosting this months RPG Bloggers Carnival. Although you might not pick it up from my entry it’s topic for this month is actually Humour!

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Weird Gaming Moments

It’s been a slow weekend here at The Dice Bag. I’m off to Sweden for a few days this coming week so I’ve had a lot of prep for that but every time I thing about roleplaying I keep getting the same image in my head and I have a slow chuckle to myself.

I’m told everyone has moments like this during games but I swear I’m sure it’s only me that gets hit with them.

The prime example is the memory that keeps coming back to me this weekend. It was a Saturday afternoon, I was 15 and and staying over at my friend Frank’s house. We didn’t have a game planned for that weekend so I was working out a quick single-shot game based Terry Pratchett’s Discworld that had been published in a short lived RPG magazine. The plan was to get some characters drawn up and run the game once one of our other friends turned up later that night. Anyway there was a knock at the back door and who should enter but Frank’s cousin who had been our first DM all those years before. He was on leave from the army again and had heard we were about and so he’d brought his Rolemaster books and our characters along to see if we fancied a game that night. We settled down with our bottles of juice and our sweets and waited for him to start the game.

Jim Morrison

Frank’s cousin always played with the strangest music playing in the background. This night we were in for something different though as he put on his most prized possession. He carefully placed the tape into the player and when he pressed play Jim Morrison was giving us a spoken word tour of his drug addled brain. Several joints later our DM was struggling to keep the game from becoming real in his head and constantly stopping mid-sentence to let us hear his favourite bit of the tape. Usually when our illustrious DM was in these states we enjoyed the ride as we usually ended up with homosexual dungeonmasters from the cartoon that could chop their head off and heal it back up without magic or other weird and wonderful things that only drugs could produce. In this case we just sat staring at each other as he worked himself into a fever over the meaning of every second line on the tape.

We were just getting to the point in the game where you would usually start tooling up and getting ready for the final monster when the sound started to break up. Our DM sat bolt upright, spun around to the tape player and burst into tears. The machine started to eat his precious tape and he was in tears as he tried to press the eject button with little success. Frank tried to help and after a few more minutes they both just gave up and our DM collapsed onto the floor in the foetal position crying to himself. There was nothing we could do for him so we left him to it and went through to watch some TV. We were two 15 year old boys that spent our weekends playing Dungeons and Dragons. We had no social skills so I’m not surprised we left him to it. We went back through to the kitchen about 30 minutes later to find him asleep on the floor so again we left him to it.

About an hour later Joe turned up so we retired to Franks bedroom and started the one-shot game I’d been writing. It was great fun and when you have skills such as ‘hang upside down from chandilier and swing axe’ you can’t go wrong. About half way through the game our dopehead DM came and joined us. You would never have thought that a few hours previously his world had ended. He was laughing away and really enjoying the game and to this day I do not think anyone of us has actually mentioned the tape incident to him whenever we’ve came across him.

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Dice Politics

We all have them and I can guarantee during at least some point of a game the players will get distracted by them. Have you ever sat down and ‘player watched’ during play and seen just what they get up to with them?


Creative Commons License photo credit: cal_harding

Every group will have a player that brings along five times the amount of dice needed for the gaming system and before play will systematically go through every die rolling each in turn several times and only using those that give good results that day.

Anyone that is lucky enough to roll the max on at least 5 dice in one go will be congratulated with a cry of Yahtzee from another player. No one will ever own up to shouting this however and despite best attempts to track them down they will always remain a mystery.

Two words. Dice Jenga!

The oldest member of the group will sit down with the youngest to pass on the secrets of spinning D4. They start with a D20 and gradually work down in die size until that small pyramid can spin for what seems like an age. Stories are even passed in a whisper amongst the other players that the seen the group elder spin the D4 that well it hovered in place over the gaming table.

Recreating Crossbows & Catapults over the gaming table. Walls built with D6′s, towers topped with D4′s and all the D20′s you can find to use as your ammunition.

A small group of players will insist the GM has a set of loaded/lucky/unlucky dice. Just watch them inhale sharply as you reach for them during a game. Have some fun with them by rolling group perception checks behind your screen with them and watch the paranoia set it.

Every so often The Crossbows and Catapults game will escalate into a full on dice war. It’s a this point that you can separate the men from the boys or rather the anally retentive diceaholics and those that think of them as just little bits of plastic that you an buy more of. Watch as one group dives to cover their dice from grabbing hands whilst the other tries to get as much ammo into a clenched fist as possible so that the fight can move off away from the table once the loose dice are used up.

You’ll always have the players that arrive with their colour co-ordinated dice set for each system or for that matter those players that have cannibalised their dice set from all the available board games in their parents house. Just watch though when one day someone brings along a limited edition sparkly set in its own presentation box. Make sure the mops handy to wipe up the drool. Then watch the mayhem when someone pulls out the D6 they recieved in a magic set as a child and attempts to use it in game.

Every group has it’s own quirks. What have you seen your players get up to during a session?

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