Well, for me it would Fringe, The Sword of Truth novels - the whole story, not just a single novel (not the horribly and thankfully canceled Legend of the Seeker crap show), and any one of the Dresden Files novels.
After gaming with the same bunch of guys, the only rule we have is these days, is the host is given free range to partake of whatever goodies are brought. Usually, everyone does, as the group are full of big eaters and always bring way too much anyway.
With my group we fell into making food, over the old 'call for pizza/fast food'. Both as it was cheaper and better food.
Two of the group loved to cook, and were more then happy to cook each weekend. Everyone chipped in for food. And the end result was a huge feast every weekend.
I have a similar thing for encounters, its usually monsters or npcs. I have them sorted also by nature of the terrain, other things I will have set up for specific things.
Yes, these distractions can potentially wreck an entire game session, but the DM/GM needs to be able to get everyone back on track. Our group does have several of these interuptions come into play. First, we have 4 married couples in our group and 2 of them have children. Another member has to bring his kids along also. Usually the kids play amongst themselves, but we do usually have an arguement or two that has to be delt with. When these arise, we use these times to allow for bathroom breaks, getting refills of drinks & snacks, or just getting up to stretch your legs from sitting around the table.
Second, cell phones. Yep they can be a nuisance, but some people have to have them. In our case, we have many people with older parents that keep in touch so that they know everything is ok. We also have one member who is a regional manager for the company that he works for and is basically on call 24/7. Another is a manager of a restaurant and usually has to answer questions from the other workers.
Granted, every once in awhile, someone will say something that afterwards, we all bust out laughing. It just happens that every now and then, somebody says something funny. Occaisionally it may even be one of the kids that says it.
Ultimately, it should be the DM/GM's responsibility to keeping the game going forward. There will naturally be times where the game flow will get interrupted by something or other. However, I do agree with Blond Gamer Girl in that if you are getting together to game, it shouldn't be a surprise that you expect to do some gaming. If others want to be able to get together and just talk, then schedule another meeting for just that.
I was actually the main culprit in my group for this. Being the DM and having the No Free Time thing going on, I would wait until 5 minutes before our game to get the table, laptop and gaming bits set up. Not to mention if I had to print anything out! It seemed like a good hour before we would actually be ready to go, and we only had about 3 hours to play as is! I learned from that and now set everything up the night before so I can come home on Friday night and I'm ready to go without having to worry about skipping dinner!
The part about players not really playing is tough. If the group agrees to play in character and gets sidetracked by little Sally running through the room or the dogs needing to be taken out, then maybe a discussion can be had about changing the venue or limiting those distractions. If the players themselves are getting distracted it would probably still have to come down to a vote as to whether or not the roleplay should go on, or if a more laid-back game would better suit the participants. Either way, it sounds like disappointment may be in your future if the game you're playing is your favorite. Sorry to hear that. Let us know how that turns out.
This is quite common. A lot of people just don't have the will power or attention span to play a game.
The worst is when you show up to game at 6pm and everyone just sits around and hangs out until like 10 pm, and then you only get to game for like an hour before everyone has to 'run'.
And just is bad are the ones that goof off through out the game. Every five minutes or so they have to joke around or say something dumb out of character and so forth. And naturally, the GM will let them run wild.
And for the last couple years, you have the whole cell phone text problem too.
And this problem as gotten Worse as I've gotten older. As 'mature adults' most people set up their lives to have No Free Time. So the weekly game is their Only free time all week. So they use that time to chat and hang out and such.
With my home game, I did learn a good trick: plan hang out time. The easy way is to have people come over at like 1pm and then have the game start at 6pm. A bit more involved, is to step up a separate time. We used Wednesdays, where we would all get together to just hang out.
It happens alot and it stinks. It is so hard to find others who want to game on so to speak. Talking some before the game is ok and after as well but the reason we came together was to game. Now with where I live, I DM for my wife because there are no other gamers around that I know of anyway. Hey one player is better then no player. We went all old school and are playing a 1st Edition AD&D Forgotten Realms Campaign. Any way nice write up Blond.
Thank you very much. I especially loved the train minis and ghetto-tastic miniatures. Miniatures are very expensive. I've found some on clearance sales and bought just to represent PC and NPCs in combat. The other miniatures I've bought were in the toy department - little green soldiers.
I went to a guy's house a month or so back to see how he runs his games, and he had a boat load of stuff he used. He bought a Halo board game at a garage sale because it had these cool 1'X1' square plastic playing boards. They were gridded off into 1" squares and he used them as dungeon room tiles.
He also had a bunch of other little props to help the visual part of his game, so that got me thinking. What do I have lying around my house to use in my game? The answer....legos. They're great for constructing raised platforms or archways, and the newer sets have all sorts of neat little pieces that go beyond your basic 6 sided blocks.
Another cool thing to try is toy train elements (trees, bushes, etc.) I saw a thing on Penny Arcade where Mike made an encounter for his group that occurred on another plane and he used styrofoam balls to indicate the various planets the players were hopping to and from.
Lastly, since I don't have any money to buy a ton of minis, I've invested in minis for the PCs and print all the other minis onto a sheet of card stock so that I can stand them up. It's ghetto style, but my son loves having the visual representation of a dragon or other monster sitting on the board.
As far as non-visual aids, I think you do a great job with coming up with games/rewards the players can use to enhance their playing experience. I especially liked your suggestion to read some text to the players to get their imaginations going. Maybe expand on that to get them to think of more interesting backgrounds for their characters or give their PCs interesting habits/nervous tics/needs.
That is completely brilliant and I should have thought about it as a costumer. You're right. They do have some excellent props at inexpensive prices. Thank you.
Libraries often have old copies of magazines like Better Homes and Gardens, that have all sorts of neat homes and gardens and landscapes in them
The craft store(Jo-anns, Pat Catans, Minnesota Fabrics, etc!) This place is a gamers dream store. First they have all sorts of graph paper in all different sizes, plus all sorts of pens and markers and clear plastic sheets.
Then they have the miniature stuff. Tiny treasure chests. Tiny gold coins. Tiny book cases. Tiny books(I got a dozen tiny books for 99 cents). Not to mention paints and brushes.
And they have all the craft stuff so you can make all your own items. Can't find a good dragon, you can make one with a clay kit.
And to top it all off, the craft store stuff is a good 50% to 80% cheaper then the same thing you'd buy at a Game Store.
loving these blogs of yours, very refreshing and this was a hoot to read
let us know how it turns out
BGG, this is a great tool. I really appreciate good role play. I like doing it as a DM because I feel that it's my game. I find that in the few instances where I have played that I am a little shy to do it unless the group seems amiable toward it. Good show!
Thank you both for your comments to my little blog. I' appreciate it. I adjusted the adventure log to 1 xp per 500 words. That adjustment works for non-D&D games where one gets 3-5 pts per session. D&D I guess would be different.
I like the in-game XP awards as well. That's a great idea. The concierge is always a tough roll to fill. Since I usually DM (I would love to try playing some day) I end up getting stuck with this. I usually can find people to bring the snacks but I'm always a little put out if they make me pay. After all, I did put the whole thing together!
Hey BGG nice blog post
I like your thoughts on this and wanted to add a bit for the Scribe.
We currently do this -- well I do, and pester the other GMs to as well -- and they run closer to 2,000 words per session (our sessions range from 6-10+ hours for comparison)
I never thought about in-game awards however... Something I'm going to implement and see if it improves participation -- I also try to get all the players to do write-ups as well.
Knowing how much work this is, I would probably raise the "pay rate" to something a little more in line with the hours it takes to write these things... say 5-20 xp / 100 words maybe -- depending on the system it could even be Drama, Fate, Luck or skill points
The others positions I'm liking too and will be talking to my group about to see what they think of them