Having my druthers

Roll the Bones: Role Call 25: The ideal group:

“What qualities would your ideal group possess?”

Honestly, I think I’ve been blessed in this regard throughout almost all of my gaming ‘life’. When I was in high-school, my group suited me right down to the ground: lots of hack, lots of slash and the sort of group that found going through all fourteen Dragonlance modules to be an eye-opening venture into ‘real’ roleplaying.
Ahh, youth.
In college, I went one very dry year without really playing anything, then got into a really great group where we alternated between a DnD game run by me and another one run by Lonnie Kruse — the first game where I went through an entire session without drawing a weapon or attacking anything.
(Actually, that was perhaps the first game I ever PLAYED, as opposed to GM, which was cool.)
I met a lot of gamers during college (due in no small part to starting up a collegiate-sanctioned student organization for role-playing gaming) and I enjoyed a lot of what we did back then immensely, although a few of the games still stand out in my mind. Back then what I was looking for was enthusiasm and a willingness to try anything that wasn’t DnD. This finally culminated in two of my favorite games: Mythus Fantasy and my first campaign of Amber Diceless (Keys to the Pattern, for those keeping track at home.) Two game systems more dissimilar you could not imagine, but I enjoyed both of them immensely.
These days, I look for group compatibility. If the players don’t seem like the kind of folks who could enjoy hanging out with each other in some other social situation, then I have to wonder if it’s a good idea to include them in the game. With very few exceptions, all the people I game with now are people I spend time with when I’m not gaming.
The other big one is creative commitment. I put a lot into the games I’m running, and I always respond better to a player who puts a lot of effort into their characters as well. Show me that you’re putting time into your character and I will reciprocate — if you aren’t, I’ll try a few things to get you into that active frame of mind, but if I still don’t get anything back, I disengage. The one problem I have with DnD is that it puts players into a Passive state of mind where they are merely responding to what’s happening — the vast history of the game itself encourages you to sit and wait for someone to hire you.
Bah, I say. Get out and do something — make up a personal project for yourself: start a school, build a monastery, buy an Inn. If you’re just showing up to roll some dice and kill whatever monsters I pull out of the book, then I’ll try to make you happy, but I guarantee that I won’t be.
The people that are writing up journals and plans… those are going to be the people that the story is going to be about… everyone else is going to come off as supporting cast. I try to work around that, but sometimes I’m simply wired that way.


  1. I think that’s really the only ‘problem’ with d20: regardless of the system, that tie to DnD makes people start to think in passive terms.
    Everyone should play at least one game where they are some of the most important people around — doesn’t matter if it’s high level DnD or Amber or global-scale Unknown Armies or whatever — they should be in a campaign where, when the Duke kicks his shoes off, grabs a scotch and stares moodily into the fire, you are the person sitting in the opposite chair.

  2. Not that every game as to make you important to make that kind of self-motivated story — it does, however, make it easier to do the first time.

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