Tuesday, 30 November 2010

How to game on little energy

I am now ‘progressing’ into my mid-40s, and somehow, thanks to having tolerant gamers in my gaming group, am still able to game!! Admittedly, folks have been very flexible to help me (and Stuart) out in this regard….. Insane amounts of work (I teach social sciences and thus have tons of marking, and an ever shifting teaching / knowledge domain) coupled with commuting 2 hours a day....

And also wanting to enjoy Brighton and go to the occasional gig, stay in touch with non-gaming friends, see a film, play some boardgames..….

How has the show been kept on the road (for me at least)?

Flexible & nice bunch of fellow gamers
(and their wives) – who agreed (well - their wives did) to let me and Stuart shift the game to Friday so we are able to get more than 2 hours of gamage in an evening… and sometimes, somehow, from 7.30 to 12.30+...

Playing games which are more cathartic/ cinematic…. Like D&D / Pathfinder more and less heavy on the investigative games we all played when we had more energy (like Kelvin still does!!)….. (I do feel very guilty on Kelvin’s behalf – how he copes hanging around with a bunch of old fogies is beyond me. ;) If I am not jumping up and down, shouting and throwing dice I tend to fall asleep (yeah – like Father Jack – urg – is that me??!! Don’t answer that!)

Pathfinder too has helped…. I remember creating a pc for a 3.5 Eberron ‘campaign’ (it only lasted 2 sessions when the GM got distracted by Red Hand of Doom, and scrapped the campaign to run that, again for another 2 sessions or so, before quitting the DM’s shield!!)…. But to create a 3.5 edition D&D pc I was using 4 books: the Players Handbook, The Complete Adventurer’s Handbook, Eberron Core Rulebook, and Warriors of Might (I seem to remember) – Stuart used 5 since he was playing a Shifter, found in the Races of Eberron book…. MADNESS!! With Pathfinder, all you need (currently) are the Pathfinder RPG and - MAYBE the Advanced Players Guide……. And maybe the Bestiary if you are being a fussy b*gger and want to play a talking crow. ;) BUT for most folks, all you need is one book. PHEW!

Other things that help speed up play, and save on DM time:
Get tons of preprinted cardstock dungeon tiles. WotC are bringing out boxed sets now.

A battle mat – such as the Chessex one Leisure Games sell (see right)

Prepainted minis – invaluable – it is taking me ages to find time to paint my metal ones. These can include ones from eBay – as in children’s toys – which you can get on the cheap. Stuart has just got some after the last insane session where our mage, Grameer (aka Manoj) summonsed about 4 rhinos to take down ‘Owlzilla’, a giant Owlbear in mail barding, along with the other creatures in the party which included a Griffon.

Play games for which there is plenty of online support. Pathfinder Adventure Paths offer this – in the form of free pdfs of the scenarios if you subscribe; forums with tips and resources from other GMs; software tools such as ‘Free PDF Image Extractor’ – freeware – which enables you to strip a map from a pdf down to its image without any text/ labelling so you can copy and paste it into word, blow it up into a bigger size and print it off to game on.

Healthy eating! Well - sometimes - but we try! Diabetic Fridays has calmed down a little!!


  1. While I have a youthful physique, I am very much an old fogie in terms of temperament.

    One plus of being a "grown-up" group of gamers is that it's easier to stick to a regular schedule in some ways, as adults are generally more reliable than youngsters. It may be difficult to find a time which suits everyone, but when you do, adults stick to it. We've maintained a regular weekly game -- with good attendance -- for, what, three years now? There have only been the odd occasions, perhaps once a year, where we've had a break.

  2. Yeah - its been a while now!!! lol! My 2 week break from gaming is very un-Ben-like considering!! I hope you manage to work out where and what you are going!!

    I would like to regain some energy though for an investigative type game - since I know these are better .... I mean Masks of Nyarlathotep was fantastic to be part of... as were other really good Cthulhu and WFRP adventures.... as well as some more intense D&D games where hacking took a back seat.... and as for some sandbox Deadlands and Fading Suns back in the day.... oh well!! Lots of great games out there - but it has also been nice playing a campaign too.... and watching your pcs evolve etc....

    Deffo 'grown up' - let's face it - we're pretty bonkers - but yes - able to remember what day of the week we are gaming on!! lol!

  3. That's great advice for the time-hungry, and sadly ever more important as life speeds up.

    Torn on the healthy eating though, even if it's clearly the way to go. Not least, you get more years to game in!

  4. I find that it's less about the food itself, but the act of snacking, so if you replace crisps and biscuits with something like carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes, you still get that finger food aspect without all the fat and sugar.

  5. To be honest I find I'm flaking any day of the week you care to name. Mind you, I'm wide awake and bright as a button by 0600 every day. Perhaps we could game then?

  6. BUT for most folks, all you need is one book. PHEW!

    Yes... but you need to be an Olympic weightlifter to carry it! I suspect the healthy eating might help there...

    To be fair, a lot of games have this advantage (Savage World's explorer format is especially convenient) - just not D&D or WFRP3.

    Another little trick that I haven't seen many people use is to just photocopy the stuff you need for your character. The advent of easily-obtained PDFs (again not D&D) means that you can print odd pages at need - or access them on a laptop/smartphone/pad/ebook reader.

    Which reminds me, does anyone on here have any experience of gaming PDFs on one of the new Kindles?

  7. I've not tested a Kindle yet, but I've heard it's not good with images and charts, which are all-too-common in rpg products, alas.

    Ben's very good with printing extra bits from pdfs; he always seems to have a bundle of pre-printed papers for use in the game. I tend to copy stuff by hand, partly because my printer's rubbish, and partly because it gives me control over how to present it. As such, I prefer to get supplements in pdf form nowadays, and take out the bits I'll need, so I only have the core rules at the table. With monsters like Rogue Trader, that's quite enough!

  8. > I've heard it's not good with images and charts, which are all-too-common in rpg products, alas.

    Hmm, that's what I was worried about. Although I have seen a screenshot of a D&D sourcebook on the DX, and that actually looked quite good! Unfortunately, my work colleague who owns one is very protective and won't let me try!


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