Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I Got A Question For You...

Let's collect some hard data.

So you've seen my group play*, or at least read about it.

Since everybody with the internet can watch us play whenever they want, I can use my group as a reference point, when I ask this question: How's your group different?

Not so much the rules but the style of play: More casual/less casual. More aggressive PCs/less aggressive PCs. More PCs trying to creep around the back door on the rules/less creeping. More jokes/less jokes. More ruleset-specific strategies/less ruleset-specific strategies. More tactical/more gonzo. More snacks/less snacks. More narration/less narration. More in-character voices or less?

Is there anybody in the group who rolls like one of your players? Anybody who you'd see as a menace to your game?

I ask because, honestly, hardly anybody knows how other people play. We kind of assume we do, but the Heisenberg Social Uncertainty Principle kicks in pretty fast when you sit in on somebody else's game and D&D is notorious for having people who casually assume everybody does it like them and then realize they're completely wrong. It's a social activity and we generally play with people who are familiar-so our games are familiar.

Keeping in mind, of course, that there's a LOT of editing to turn a game into a show, I'm wondering--as an experience--how's your table? Feel free to use any other podcast or videos available on the net to compare it to.

*and if you haven't...

To see them bigger--click here


  1. I don't actually know where to start here. At first glance, my group doesn't do anything even remotely comparable to yours. It doesn't even look like the same activity.

    A big part of this is that we play different games (mostly Shadowrun and various indy games, at the moment), but it's also just a very different group.

    In terms of some specific differences: More player input and less GM story-telling. More tactical thinking in systems that allow for tactics (though not all of them do). More interest in accurate representation of pre-defined characters, and less interest in "winning". (I realize this sorta contradicts the last sentence, but that's life for you.) Far fewer character voices, which is a shame. A bigger tendency for serious tone, but certainly not all the time.

    I guess the biggest overall difference is in player contribution. It seems like your players just show up to have a good time, and rely on you to bring the fun. My players tend to know the rules about as well as whoever is GMing, and several of them GM as well. They are, in general, more than willing to drive their own plots and provide their own story hooks.

    Basically, it seems to me that you have a much harder job than I do, which is part of why I love this blog.

  2. Re-reading all of that, I realize it could sound like I'm implying that my group is somehow "better" than yours. This is totally not the case.

  3. What I like about you're group, and I think this comes out of your approach to running the game, is that you constantly ground them in what's actually happening in the fiction. We're playing 4E which seems to encourage players to play more tactically within the system. That's a major component of why "old school" D&D makes more sense to me. You can always come back to that "Okay, there's a goblin with a strange weapon running toward you" element that gets removed by the more gamey side of 4e.

    I think we do a bit more of the funny voices than you guys.

    Snacks: Yes, but most of my players don't partake. I'm constantly drinking Sprite or iced tea.

    Less sneaking around. I can't remember the last time somebody was sneaking in my game.

  4. A bong is ever present and we take a break to BBQ. I often get tanked, do retarded voices, and die (in that order). TPKs happen, the humour is dark, and it's all musician/artist dudes.

  5. Fewer voices, but some. Less sneaking. Little more serious. Less...grand. My dungeons/adventure locales are always lovingly detailed, while my "world" is usually hazy and indistinct, sometimes to the campaign's detriment.

    Less gonzo, but I've been turning it up over the course of the last few years, in part due to discovering the OSR blogs (Jeff's Gameblog in particular). More controlled, probably to my players' chagrin, but I'm OCD like that.

    What else...snacks, of miniatures or props, all in the imagination.... I guess that's it, but it's difficult because it's so hard to "see" my own group, in the same way that you never hear your own voice the way others do until you hear it recorded. I feel like our style differs quite a bit from yours, but that - if someone were to record us - others, viewing both side by side, would probably think them fairly similar.

  6. @B. portly esq

    We have TPKs. Haven;t filmed one yet, though.

  7. Our group spends a lot of time doing logistics. They aren't interested in adventure, so much as insuring their survival. They want to control everything. This is good on multiple fronts. I spend most of my time designing the world and interesting things, and they hand me dozens of hooks. I do no railroading, and let the dice fall where they may. I do voices, and more importantly 'characterizations' and they stay in character.

    I think the biggest problem with "I Hit It With my Axe" is the bullshit 10 minute run time. How about 30 or 60 minutes weekly, huh? ;-p

  8. Hiya, I posted on here before about player deaths as "Rob."

    Anyhow, when I thought about your questions I had a kneejerk reaction of, "My first group was all guys, so naturally they were different like this ..." But that train of thought stopped cold when I couldn't think of any differences that were actually gender based. So I guess I learned something there.

    At first we were more gonzo than your group and just hacked away at anything that moved. Over time though we got a lot more strategic and more into the role play. One of my favorite sessions around then wasn't an "adventure" in the normal sense but a trial. Our thief had gotten himself in deep and my paladin ended up as his lawyer. Of course everyone fondly remembers sessions when they had a starring role, but that day had intense role play and strategizing all around with hardly any dice rolling. Maybe I'm misremembering, but I don't recall an episode where extended in-character debate and dialog was the entirety of the game.

    Unfortunately there was also recurring real-world tension during that first campaign when play styles clashed. It never got beyond rudeness or snarly comments, but we still got on each other's nerves a lot. While some of us simply wanted to mess around and enjoy the game, others were uptight, pompous pricks. I won't say which side I was on, but ... I was the paladin.

    I also remember a LOT of farting. Don't know how much of that you have to edit out of the episodes though. We certainly had more cigarette smoke, which may or may not have been a blessing considering the above.

    So let's see, that's:

    * More initial gonzolity
    * More in-character role play eventually
    * More tension periodically
    * More haze
    * Unknown odor ratio

  9. My group's play style is very much like yours, regarding to joking, sillyness, player driven action, dungeon/wilderness/town adventure ratio etc...


    No girls. :-(

    More alcohol & smoking, some members are usually getting drunk at the end of the session, which means, that they sometimes want to revise their actions afterwards...

    After character deaths they usually go to a church for resurrection. They are at higher levels though (4-6).

    We play ad&d 1st ed. I want to play btb, they want to play 3rd ed., so there is a lot of whining, and I feel that the level limits finally have to go... Generally they like the system though, just can't understand some clearly superior rules... :-)

    Music: black, death, doom, but not always, there is silence at times.

    Generally everybody is just enjoying the mind state of a high school kid, though most of us have jobs, and above 25, but at game nights...

  10. I love 'I hit it with my axe' (and this blog) both have given me plenty of ideas for my own campaigns and a fascinating insight into different playstyles, although my games tend to be much more linear than yours seem to be.

    I have on suggestion for the show, although maybe not for 'i hit it with my axe' but someone should do a partially animated version of IHIWMA, I think there'd be a source of humour and interest in visual aids to what is being discussed - a la the animation in 'The Ricky Gervais Show'.

  11. Less "My character goes & uses charisma on the guard & pick his pocket" & more "I go up to the guard. 'Wow, you must be a big important guy. Are YOU in charge of all THIS?' & I try to grab his key."

    Also, as a DM I like to keep target numbers secret-- I wouldn't say "roll a 14 or better" I'd say "roll!" & then tailor my response to their result-- whether or not I actually had a target in mind.

    Less snacks. A meal break is preferable to snacks, if you ask me.

    I don't know how much booze you consume. We usually stick with a bottle; occasionally two, rarely more. My players like to reminisce about when I get drunk & try to DM: "The mountain...turns into a throne! & this giant white...angel-robot sits on it!" (Well...yes, that is what I meant to have happen, but with some POMP, you know?)

  12. There are two major differences between your game and the ones I run/play in.

    1) We are very informed by different systems, namely White Wolf, Earthdawn and Fading Suns. Not the mechanics, but the atmosphere. The PC's are dangerous, the world is not a threat to them, they are a threat to the world, and this sensibility has affected our thinking and play style. Sort of a noir D&D. While danger is everywhere, physical harm and personal combat(which the PC's are capibul of handling) are only one of the many threats that they face. In our games Dragons know that humans can, and will, slay them, and act accordingly. Using your vocabulary we run a narratively driven clockwork simulation sandbox. The clockwork simulation kicks in every-time they interact with npcs, most people just live their lives and try to get by, paupers and prices both. The PC's are killers who hone their bodies and minds to lash into combat with the very abyss. No one forgets that, least of all the NPC's. And the PCs need each other, because despite their differences, they have this in common.
    2) Were into this kind of play, so we write back stories to launch ourselves into developed characters. So, ironically, the moment in this new episode where Gia said, “I was a vampire…” and everyone was aghast, “to start?!?” That would totally fly in my games. Because someone over here has an idea for a veteran of many military campaigns, and this person is an up and coming wizard among the leadership of the mage community.
    I’m glad you asked the question, because I never thought about how influenced we are by those other systems, thematically. Also, we often do this with new players, some completely new to gaming at all. I usually tell new players about the world, and ask them to bring a character idea, before seeing a rule book. Shinning moments of this include a friend who wanted to play a “Filth Monger.” Huh, “What’s that?” “Well she roots threw filth, with a team of apes, and finds long forgotten things and sells them to antique dealers.” Awesome, we settled on Sorcerer with the leadership feat, for the apes of course. Full-grown male chimpanzee monk for the primary henchmen. I would never take back an experience like that, but I wonder if we rob something from new players by denying them the “character background is what happens levels 1-6…” concept, which I like very much.

    Also, what happened to The Sword?

  13. My players often exhibit a form of attention deficit where they are distracted in the middle of a quest by some bright, shiny object. The episode with the snow leopard reminded me a lot of my own game. KK's attitude of "sod you lot, I'm going fishing" would fit in well, too - they split the party at the drop of a hat.

    The other key aspect of my gaming group is "unintentional evil", where they try to do the right thing but it ends up backfiring spectacularly. I haven't noticed a lot of that in your game, except perhaps for burning down the tavern at the beginning.

  14. We play much more tactically than you guys. Which isn't to say that your players aren't tactical at all, but we really go overboard: if more goblins or whatever are coming, we don't run away, we pile up a few corpses, douse them with oil and light them on fire to create a barrier, or leave a torch just around a corner to create a ruse. My players would also never have fallen for the bridge ambush in a million years, and if they did I'd have to come up with a convincing explanation for how an entire detachment of armed and armored goblins, apparently on foot, made it to the bridge before the beetle-riding and pig-floating PCs. Individual play style (narrating vs acting, etc) varies from person to person and everyone tends to be okay with that.

    In games I run I try to have a good mixture of gonzo, weird, majestic, and realistic (which sounds contradictory, but I've put a lot of effort into creating the world so it can work like that). My proudest accomplishment is a 1st-level spell called Transmute Salt to Salt, which randomly changes an amount of any pure salt to another pure salt, from sodium chloride to lead acetate to a parchment detailing a weapons treaty between to unidentifiable powers.

    At the table there's a lot talking, but I think less interrupting—everyone has such detailed plans it pays to hear everyone out. Plenty of jokes, though I try and steer away from cliché Monty Python references. Lots of snacking and a little bit of booze, though that's partly just because those are my preferences. We also have hot drinks sometimes, since high doses of caffeine make everyone super frenetic. A few minis for people who care, paper cutouts or tokens for those don't, and the map is acknowledged as not necessarily to scale.

  15. First time with a group is always a blind date. I had to try pick up games after a change of address, and it was not that enjoyable.

    The group I play with now is pretty good, and similar to groups I have played with in the past. It seems there is always that one guy/gal (typically a guy in my xp) that you really wish would take up Pokemon, or checkers, or anything and get away from your game. As soon as you lose that guy it is inevitable you replace him with someone just as bad.

  16. Hmmm...

    We don't have a KK. There's no one with that sort of barbarian rage (as a player!) with us. We don't really have a Frankie either.

    Satine seems like the kind of player who plays partly to get into the story behind her character, and we've got one of those. He likes to play characters with long histories, much of which are secret.

    I see a little of myself in Mandy, particularly when she's trying to organise the team and get things going. The irony is that as a GM, I'm the opposite, and I find myself abandoning the plot just to sit there chatting away as an NPC. For some reason I've never been able to work up the courage to do voices though. As a player, I tend to be very cautious and over-protective of the character, although I'm trying to change that a bit in our current game.

    We've got one guy who's always playing for advantage. He's not a rules lawyer as such (I tend to have a better recall of rules than anyone else in our group, again, unless I'm GMing, when it tends to go to heck), but he's got a very keen eye for how to get the best out of a situation. He tends to play quiet, manipulative types, but did play a very effective dragonborn fighter once.

    We've got another chap who's very quiet as a player, and tends to fade into the backdrop, but is a very manic, confrontational GM. When he runs a game, it's all very much about our characters versus his, whatever the actual story might be.

  17. As a player, I tend to be very cautious and over-protective of the character
    Okay, maybe our group does have a Frankie.

    I should also say that nothing makes me want to play more than watching these videos. Luckily, our game night is on Fridays, so it's not too long of a wait.

  18. @menace:

    "I'd have to come up with a convincing explanation for how an entire detachment of armed and armored goblins, apparently on foot, made it to the bridge before the beetle-riding and pig-floating PCs."

    There was a pretty obvious explanation--if you watch the episode before you'll see that the girls took an hour-hour nap underground after escaping the palace.

  19. My group is decidedly different from yours in that there is no table. I live in NC, my best friend lives in GA, we've got on guy in TX, my best friend's son, his dad (who actually lives 5 min from me) and occasionally a couple of other guys who are also in NC but in a different city from myself. We use Ventrillo and OpenRPG to be able to get together to play Palladium Fantasy or Rifts as often as possible.

    As far as gaming style, it's pretty casual. We all joke, or make reference to gaming sessions past (when we all actually lived in the same city and were much much younger). I've seen us play the cautious, sneak around or the Fuck It Let's just kill them method pretty equally depending on situation and mood :-)

  20. As far as rules, your game is just like ours. We AD&D'ify the 3.0 ruleset. Precision of movement, attacks of opportunity, all that doesn't matter. Tactics aren't controlled by a lead mini on a grid.

    We tend to follow the rules moreso than your group, in that our players seem to have more rules knowledge than yours, so we scrounge for all we can get, within our houserules framework. That being said, I see a similar scrounge-in-training in Frankie, so once she learns the rules, watch out. :)

    As far as rules interpretations, or houserules, if they aren't written down, we go back to how me and my brother used to play when we were teenagers as a guide to whether something seems like bullshit or not in terms of the spirit of the game we play.

    One difference is we almost never use minis or grids. The only time we do is to keep track of numbers and general location in battles with a huge number of people. It's never to scale, or set up in a way that they can be used for some tactical precision movement type thing. Zak, did you use minis and the 3-d terrain stuff before you started getting them as promo items? Or are they new to your game?

    We also have music playing the whole time, as well as maybe a TV in the background being watched, or a video game being played, depending on who else is over but is not playing. Do you play music normally, but not during taped sessions because it would screw up the audio, or because you would run into copyright violations?

    One thing we do have is much alcohol, as my brother's place has a keg with some sort of seasonal brew always on tap, as well as a fully stocked bar. We also play on a large pool table, so we are more spread out. We also have a massive amount of snacks, and also eat dinner through the early part of the game, usually everyone brings Subway or something.

    As far as playstyles, we have intergroup conflict...meaning we get in a lot of fights over it. No matter the alignment or class, all my characters do what I would do in every situation to maximize winning the game, getting the treasure, and ruling the world, if I were psychotic and had no moral conscience. I prefer the sandboxey approach where I tell the DM what I am going to do in order to carry out my mission to gain power and rule all of creation. The DM (my brother) and another player only do what would be within their character's personality to do. Very much a story approach. They like to do things for the greater good and all that bullshit. Another guy does what maximizes his chances with the numbers on his character sheet. His only background other than playing with us was Magic the card game, and he is an engineer in RL, so he approaches DnD in the same way. Basically, I am a first ed. player, my brother and friend are 2nd., and the last guy is 3.x/4e in style.

    We have way more tangents than you guys do. We can go off for like 30 minutes at a time, over and over again, on some discussion or another while playing. It's pathetic, really, and the reason we stopped playing. It became a waste of time.

    More if I think of any more differences.

  21. Zak, you play another D&D game, right? Is your videotaped game different than your regular games in any way? Stylistically or otherwise? Has doing the IHIWMA changed the way you DM or the way the ladies play in your regular game?

  22. Oh yeah, we don't do funny voices either, neither for DM nor players.

  23. Differences:
    My players are less sexy. We all drink and some of us chew tobacco. Food may or may not be present, but we play on Wednesday nights so everyone has usually already had dinner.

    We play 1e AD&D in a pretty BtB manner.

    I use the minis a little more strictly, and use a whiteboard for combat.

    I think any of your players would fit in at my table. Nobody really gets too serious about the game, but everybody is into it. One of the reasons I like your show is that the style of play is very comfortable. Silly voices, KK calling the others 'a bunch of dinks' (my favorite show moment, by the way), naming the beetles after the Beatles, and in character alcoholism are all indicative of the things I see every week.

  24. @Joe

    I like to use minis if I have them or pennies if I don't--just to make combat more complicated and involved, so we used them before.

    We play music all the time--We DO play music about half the time during the TV game, but we usually turn it down and put it in a place in the room where the directional mikes on the cameras don;t catch it. We always use The Sword or something else we have copyright to.

  25. also @joe

    the off-camera game is very similar, except sometimes one or two guys will play, too.

    Also--I tend to save many of the weird home-made monsters for off-camera since (on TV) I enjoy the novelty of getting to actually use miniatures which exactly resemble the thing they're supposed to be representing. So the off-TV game's a little more bizarre.

  26. Everybody in our group (5 fairly steady players + 1 or 2 on special occasions) is in their mid-thirties to early forties and has a strong grasp of the rules. Everybody DMs their own campaign on different days, so any player can usually come up with a particular rule whenever needed. This can lead to some lawyering, but all of us are getting better at nipping that in the bud once it becomes obnoxious. DM has final say. Almost all DM dice are rolled in the open unless it would tip the players off about something secret.
    As players we've got some power-gamers and some role-players... sometimes both at the same time. When combat happens we tend to get very tactical and use the rules religiously. It gets like chess. Some fights can last for multiple sessions. Outside of combat things can be a little more loose... we try to use the rules as much as possible, but good role-playing can sometimes get you just as far or further than a good skill roll. Quite often players will come up with cool ideas that are incorporated into the DM's setting.
    Campaign-wise we seem to generally prefer a sandbox scenario, but an occasional story-driven adventure helps spice things up. (This might just be my personal preference.) While I like to have an overall adventure arc in mind when DMing, I also like to let random dice rolls change the course of events. The more I am surprised, the more challenging and fun it is! It also seems like most of our adventures start out with sneaking and end with full on frontal assaults.
    Some of us like to drink beers, some of us like a bit of ganja, some of us like to be cold sober. Late in the game a little whiskey might make its way out. Occasionally we will have a game that is a little fuzzy in the memory, but we try to keep that in check as much as possible... mostly because the sober folks don't find it as funny as everyone else! Music is almost always being played. Sometimes specific things are played to generate a certain mood, but usually after we get rolling we just play whatever we feel like at the moment... rock, hip-hop, metal, electronic, industrial noise, etc.
    Its funny... while most of us at our table would probably consider themselves pretty rational and scientific, everybody-and I mean everybody-believes in "dice karma' to some degree or another. Never let the DM touch your dice as a player! (Or even another player who is rolling badly that evening, for that matter.)

  27. Thinking of my past gaming groups, I've had four groups that played campaigns for any decent length of time. Going over the play styles of those groups:

    They tended to all be about as casual as yours, there were exceptions for individual sessions.

    The predominantly male groups tended to be more aggressive and combat oriented.

    All of my groups tended to be made up of mostly experienced players. There tended to be no more than one or two newbies at a time. Due to this I think my groups tended to be more proactive than yours. In the sense of, "We go here, what do we see?" as opposed to "You guys are now here, what do you do?" if you get my meaning.

    Stuff like narration, sneaking, tactics and voices all depended on the group. Some more some less. I've had a couple GMs big into voices, some that did none.

    As far as food, all the groups had food, but the time and length of play also made a difference. With the shorter evening sessions, we tended to either bring food, or order something like pizza to share at the beginning and then eat first or as we started. Longer weekend sessions tended to have lots of snacks and then having a meal toward the end or sometime midway through. Many of them ending with all of us heading out somewhere to eat.

    To sum up, the main difference in my experiences have been primarily due to playing with more experienced players and due to this them being more assertive in their play styles, whether they be munchkins, role players, combat monsters, or whatever.

  28. Looks broadly the same -- there's nothing that popped out at me as "oh my god, I can't believe they do that".

    My players might have more rules knowledge, and fewer instances of resisting turn-structure and need to roll for success (but not entirely). I think you work from a lot sketchier notes/maps than I'm used to as DM.

  29. I played in a game with some older dudes. Big on the tactical drinking and combat, low on the character story development. Lot of low brow humor and good times.

    Recently though, DM'ing a game for my younger cousin and some of his high school buddies. A lot more light hearted fun and comedy. Not to mention his mom hooks it up with that good home cooking.

    In the game I played in, I think we had quite a few KK's, and I feel everyone had a bit of in-game tactical experience similar to Mandy.

    The latter game, I'd say there's bits of everyone in there with a couple touches of Carlos the Dwarf.

  30. Hmm, good question. A lot of similarities. We definitely have a Frankie, for example. Some things that seem different are that our group has:

    1. More rules focus, though we're trying to get out of that. Too much 3.x warped our minds.

    2. More "first person" IC roleplay. I notice a lot of your group doesn't really feel comfortable just up and talking in character, often instead talking "about" their character. And they talk to each other (as opposed to the GM/an NPC) in character less. We do a lot more of that.

    3. No music. We always go with silence, it gets loud enough in there with us!

  31. I think you work from a lot sketchier notes/maps than I'm used to as DM.

    Long ago, I would agonise over GM preparation, writing everything out in detail, drawing extensive maps, and so on, but I found they were bogging me down as much as published scenarios were, so now I just go with very light notes. They're almost triggers rather than notes, there to prompt me to create something on the spot, but something in keeping with the original idea for the character.

    This is probably why my plots get ignored, as I tend to get carried away with the freestyle NPCs.

    But to bring things back to the point, my notebook is bigger than Zak's, but it's of a similar organisation.

  32. After years of D&D 1st & 2nd edition, we now play GURPS exclusively, with the attendant rules complexity and genre freedom. We play high fantasy, and Old West, and near-future special ops, and Fireflyesque space operas.

    There's a kegerator in the room, but not everyone partakes.

    Our ladies might not be quite as hot.

    We always have music, and have a bunch of ripped Radio Rivendell tracks categorized by mood, and switch them up when the "ominous" exploration erupts into "battle music" when the orcs rush in.

    The music-controlling laptop also hooks up to a monitor on the table, which the GM uses to display visual aids, and/or, occasionally, Skype a barbarian druid in from Alaska.

    Most of the people at my table care a lot more about character backstory and roleplaying. GURPS characters always have Disadvantages (such as Stubborn, Curious, Impulsive, Bad Temper, Code of Honor, Honesty, etc), and we share these OOC at the start of the campaign to be sure that we can all help enforce the roleplaying required of these traits. Yes, most of us at least try to use accents and funny voices.

    We maintain an expansive wiki of all characters, places, cities, NPCs, campaign notes, which is really helpful and valuable for developing a historical tapestry over years of play. It's the current GM's job to maintain everything except PC pages.

    We use a raised 3' x 4' hex map on top of our home-made 4' x 8' table and minis for all combat (and the 'tactical combat' rules for GURPS).

    Sometimes, we play fast and loose with rules (like in our cinematic shoot-em-up campaign), and sometimes we pause for 20 minutes and several people consults the books to try and reach a consensus decision on how something should play out. Of course, GM's ruling prevails.

    Love the show, keep it up.

  33. I fudge rolls more often than not. For balance, I stick to the rules for the players, but NPCs are never what they read like. I tend to not plan any game out till about ten minutes before we start. I have a story arch thought out but tend to change it around depending on the players and the more they grow into their roles. I've been an off the cuff GM since the 80s. Current group wants to use that obsidian portal thing, but it's almost to committal for me.

    I hate using battle mats and stuff, but have had to since the group now are all d&d 4ed players that have never played anything else. At least the combat to them is getting dull so we can switch games. Soon to change into Shadowrun 4th with random games of Unknown Armies and Call of Cthulhu thrown in as one shots.

  34. My players are all girls, (well for now I am left with both of them. They are more but they didn't all show for the first game.) It is a little different though because they are all new to D&D. I mean completely new. Your players have a little more experience. However, I do seem some qualities in them that are akin to your guest stars. They like the role playing character aspect and take the rules little by little. For example, my girlfriend plays her elf as a pacifist. When they encountered a bugbear, she would only shoot it in the ass to distract it while the magic user charged it with the intention of plunging her dagger in its eye. Yes, you read that right. The 1st level mage charged a bugbear... and thanks to some amazing rolls survived, (of course it was tense when she was down to 1 HP, though.) They thought of roles and ran with them. They even created their own back story together.

    Your game itself fascinates me. I am a tinkerer. I am a contributing author to some RPG products, (Castles & Crusades, OSRIC, Basic Fantasy RPG to name a few.) I am completely enthralled with your mesh of Original AD&D, as Gary Gygax called it, and 3rd edition. My current game rules are based on the D&D Rules Cyclopedia, with some blatant theft from Tunnels & Trolls, AD&D, and 4th edition. There are so many questions I want to ask about play but find it more fun to figure them out while viewing the video.

    Mandy is my favorite player. I am a lot like her as a player, except I probably joke a little more but otherwise I am just as serious about plans of attack and such.

    Minis: I wish I has as many as you guys do. I have a bunch of lead that I have had since the early 1980's and late 1970's. I LOVE that you don't use a grid. I prefer a string marked off with inches in the event that precise distance is needed.

    I love that they make their maps on plain paper, not graph paper. That blog entry about arcaneness... mapping on a clean sheet of paper falls into that realm.

    Overall, I am hooked. Good work and I look forward to every Wednesday.

    Oh, and I have LOVED The Sword since I first heard "Age of Winters" a few years ago. Great pick for music.

  35. My players are more moralizing than yours. I have one player who will push someone from the orc's harem into the fire pit or nail a circling hawk with a sling shot. He'll get bitched out for picking on the innocent. I'd be fine with just having in-game consequences like the orcs plotting revenge.

    Your players are more personally aggressive toward the DM than mine -- nobody says "fuck you!" or "if that's the decision, I boycott." KK and Justine would make me nervous that way.

    My players help supply reality more than yours, perhaps because I need it more. I'll get stumped on how an NPC should react and they'll say, "They're not going to agree to that, they're afraid of going back to prison." Or "Didn't any of those stampeding oxen get hurt, running through the gate?" expecting me to narrate some realistic consequences.

    My group definitely uses more ruleset-specific strategies. You will not find them throwing blankets at people because blanket-blinding is not in the rules. We get stuff like clerics choosing Enlarge Person and Improved Unarmed Strike so they can be grapplers. We have alchemist's fire (1d6 + 1 splash damage), not the all-powerful flaming oil I associate with AD&D.

  36. I realise this post is about 3 years old and you've likely lost interest, but I figure I'd like to put this somewhere.

    My (main) group generally meets up once a week. We play on university campus, because it's fairly central to most of us. My group composition is 4 guys (including myself as DM) and 2 girls. 2 of the guys joined late, one who was a friend of mine and another who no-one knew. Most of the group was relatively new to D&D when we started (3 had played once before, 1 never before, leaving 2 of us who had a fairly good grasp of things) so it made the introduction to the game gradual, but interesting.

    Details as to the game itself: we're playing D&D 4e, that's been house-ruled to the point that it might as well not be 4e. We started roughly 12 weeks ago (though have only been able to play 7 times in that time) and I've made a point of not using any battle maps, tokens or miniatures, because I feel that seeing the board limits the players' creativity, i.e. it entrenches their minds in the rule-based tactics of 4e. In this sense it helps a lot, but the major drawback is longer encounters (approx. 1-2 hours), which was already an unfortunate feature of 4e.

    The setting is Eberron and the party has been stationed in Sharn since the beginning, delving into the politics and underbelly of the city. I started off trying to plan out sessions beforehand, but I got to busy and basically just improvise it now, which has been working really well. It really helps to create a campaign shaped around the PCs and their actions.

    Most of the players really like interacting with NPCs, but I think they've felt discouraged lately, as their rolls have been awful, so they've had trouble having a successful conversation with anyone. However, to make it so that they don't just seek combat encounters, I've been trying to do two things: scare the shit out of them with combat and give them different kinds of encounters. Occult-type stuff is great for this (moreover, level 13 lamia vs level 2 PCs - what of it?). Having sentient artifacts is wonderful. Nobody is fond of a mind-controlled PC, especially when the artifact designates one in particular as its target. I don't consider myself especially apt at description, but it's the little things - those which the players can vividly imagine, even if they've seen it a million times before (sometimes precisely because they've seen it a million times before) - which really bring the party together and/or immerse them in the game. For example, a mind-controlling idol possessed one of the PCs and when he spoke, I said, "He speaks with that freaky double voice," to which everyone responded along the lines of "Oh, fuck."

    Also, almost all of them are daredevils who will just run in without caring for their surroundings, so... traps.

    It might sound like I take on the role of a DM as the PCs' enemy and that we take the game seriously, but that's not the case at all. Before starting every session, my group just chills and chats about everything: the game, their characters, TV shows, music, etc. For even the ones who didn't know each other, it's really helped to bring everyone together in real life. The players mostly like to play over-the-top characters and are horrible when it comes to teamwork and trusting one another (though that's gotten a bit better recently). We've only had indirect TPKs, like when the barbarian swung his greataxe at a bugbear who used party's bard as meatshield, displacing the lower half of the bard's body. Also, the team's ardent charged the other PCs for every time she healed them. One of them died because they refused to pay. The general animosity between the PCs has been gradually decreasing though, as they find that they live longer with teamwork. The scare tactics have really come through in this aspect. Surprises all round.

    Ah, character limit.

    1. The banter and metagaming is plentiful. I'm not a big fan of metagaming and will sometimes tell players that they can't do something because there's no way their character would think to do that, but for the most part I allow it, because it helps everyone develop their play-styles and innovation. There are a lot of DM vs player 'logical/realistic reasoning' discussions pertaining to situations, which generally pertain to crappy rolls and NPC psychology. The banter is what keeps the game fun in a social sense.

      One of my house-rules, pertaining to banter and in-game antics, is the story point. I got the idea from another friend as well as a few other games. Basically, whenever someone does something particularly innovative, something I think is cool or just generally makes me/everyone laugh, they get a story point. This allows them to make a free re-roll on any roll they want. e.g. The party were stuck in an illusion created by an imp (I make up a lot of things on the fly). Detecting that the imp was inside a girl within the illusion, a PC took a quill that she'd stolen in the second session and started tickling her with it, dispelling the illusion (because she was essentially tickling the imp). Story points have really encouraged the players to think and, because I don't penalise them for anything, there isn't really any pressure forcing the group think outside the box.

      Something I'm really thankful for is that my players love trying to get into character. The gnome bard was quite the ladies man and made a major NPC fall in love with him with a song and a natural 20. It was interesting to see the female player really getting into it with the seduction of an NPC who was of questionable age. The group loved it when I told the girl to roll to see how good the bard was in bed. He was adequate, but the NPC expected more. Another player, who has a short attention span and feels the need to respond to everything with wit, made a Genasi swordmage that is pretty much a stoic samurai. It's hilarious watching him struggle.

      Seeing as we play at the university, starting at around 4pm, we do all bring snacks to eat, though some people will get their dinner beforehand. Pringles and peanut M&Ms are popular.

      I think one of the reasons why I like 'I Hit it with My Axe' so much is that I see a lot of similarities in the group dynamic. Even though the play style is different, the way in which the players interact is very similar. Lots of light-hearted swearing directed at the DM, group discussion that ultimately amounts to nothing and awful rolls that ultimately bring everyone together.

      I feel that there's an interesting dynamic in the group due to the beliefs of the players. Though not particularly devout or anything, I was brought up as a Christian and I often enjoy having theological conversations with two of my friends in the group. The other 3 all happen to be part of some atheist society in the university and so there'll always be this kind of tension when my 3 make some sort of real-life religious reference/joke. However, it's the 3 atheists who seem to be the most immersed in our latest religious cult arc. Just thought I'd throw it in there after hearing Frankie's 'power of the will' spiel in IHIWMA.

    2. Lastly, (I realise this has been somewhat lengthy) my game probably differs from most based on my faults as a DM. I often will slip up when saying things or things I say will be misheard, which result in new plot elements for my campaign. For instance, one time I accidentally said, "Look at here," and the player assumed I was talking about an NPC named Here. This resulted in a 3 ft. humanoid creature with a gigantic ears named Hear. I have yet to decide what creature he should be exactly, but he spits acid, apparently. In another example, I told the party that they see a manhole in the alley and one of them mistook 'manhole' for 'manwhore', so there the party suddenly was, staring at a manwhore lying down across a manhole. I've promised that he will make another appearance.

      I can't really think of any other group of people I'd rather play with. The way they develop together as players is really awesome to watch and the interaction is always amusing.