Pulp Gamer Out of Character 97 is a shorter that usual podcast. It is focused on rpg’s and about social dynamics, leadership within the gaming group, and character leadership. The crew was Ron, Don, Derrick, Jason, and Dave. There was much discussion about alpha players – players who take the leadership role naturally. Almost every game group will have one of these people. This is a good and sometimes bad thing. Personally, the role moves around with each session depending on how people are feeling. Alpha gamers will drive a game forward, keeping it from bogging down. But they can have the group chasing rabbits or fulfilling their character’s agenda. A careful balance is needed. The key word is Trust, group trust.
The crew talked about character leadership too. In particular when passive players end up with leadership characters. This one is near and dear to me. I’m somewhat of a passive player. At least with a new group or at the start of the game. Or both. Recently I played 3:16 – Carnage Among The Stars. It was my first time playing the game and the first time playing with most of the guys in the game. And some of them were guys I admire in the gaming world. So I was nervous to start with. My character’s main trait was cautious. Then we rolled for roles. My character was the Sargent, the leader of the strike team. I was double nervous. I was in a high responsibility for making sure everyone was having fun. I could have opted out but I wanted to extend myself, try something new outside my comfort zone. The first mission was rocky. One of the guy’s character was the anti-authority type and challenged me at every turn. I was trying to play cautious but it came out as indecisive and wishy-washy I think. We got through that mission successfully thanks to the group. The next mission was smoother as I relaxed a bit and I think the guys perceived that I was having some trouble. Several people died due to some stupid Marine regulations that I should have just ignored. But all in all it was a fun game. I talked to the GM and another guy later on and they gave me some advice and reassured me that the game went fine. Although afterward my neck and shoulders were sore and cramped from the nervousness I had. I’ve learned from that game and am not as passive a player any more.
The show went on to discuss GMing and how often it is taken on by the leader of the group. That is kind of the case in my group. I tend to GM, mostly because I really like the creative side of it. But I like directing the game to some extent too. I’m trying to move away from railroading the characters like I used to do by adding in some ‘hippy’ gaming ideas. A couple of this were discussed. Firstly was ‘roll and describe’. By this they mean roll the dice and describe what happens vs. tell me what you are going to do then roll to see if it happens. I like roll and describe. It allows the players to react to situations in a more real way in my mind.
Another technique is spotlighting – focusing on one character for a period of time and addressing their issues or agenda. This one is more difficult and I have a hard time integrating it.
That was about it. I missed Jess and Ron is correct that the Panthers are crappy this year.
Go Forth and Game,