What’s up, y’all?

It’s been a while.

It has only been a few months, but more than a few things have been going on, but luckily I’m back and ready to continue the regularly scheduled RPG whining and rants.

This time, I’m happy to announce that I start to run a new game for a whole new group! Starting next week, I start running a weekly game for a family of RPG nerds at my local game store, but there is one thing…One small detail that may shock some of those that know me…

Brace yourself…

It’s a 5e game.

I know it sounds made up, and no, I’m not being held against my will and being forced to do this. 

I noticed recently that people think that I hate 5e, but the opposite is true. I don’t think it is the best RPG out there, and it’s definitely not my preferred game, but it is perfectly serviceable. My dislike if for the midset of many of the members of the community.

Don’t get me wrong, 5e needs a lot of work and a better editor and playtest community, but it’s not the game’s fault that some of its community sucks.

But Rusty, why do you say that they suck? I have so much fun playing 5e with my group!

That’s great! As long as you’re having fun, who really cares?

Buuuuuuut, I do draw the line when people start trying to give advice or talk about their games like they are the best players/GMs ever. When someone tries to hand out advice or talk about their games in an open format, it is fair game to judge and discuss those points and stories accordingly. 

For example, one of my first interactions with another GM when I first got here to Texas:

I was waiting for some friends to show up to the nerd store to play a game when someone sat down next to me. Having plopped down several composition notebooks, too many pencils, and a stack of D&D books, it was fairly easy to guess they were a GM. While we were sitting there, they were making frustrated noises and talking to themselves like they were analyzing possible solutions to an intense problem. Being the nosy, closeted extrovert I am, I asked them what they were working on, which struck up a conversation about D&D and the issue they were trying to solve.

It turns out, during their group’s last session, they went out of town to check out some plot thread, but the GM wanted them to run into an encounter before getting there. The encounter he was making consisted of a Displacer Beast ambushing the party of low-level characters, but he was worried that it would kill them. He was planning on having a group of elf hunters tracking the creature kill the beast in the middle of their fight and using it as a way to introduce the local elf faction.

So I asked if I could give him a suggestion:

To address the possible issue, I suggested that he have the Displacer Beast show up wounded with arrows sticking out of its hide, causing grievous wounds. Then during the ambush, have it’s injuries affect the narrative, making the Beast stumble or have issues performing its normal arsenal of badass moves. Using the creature’s weakened state, lowering its power level to that of the party, he could give the party a solid shot at bringing it down and feel like badasses for the task. Then after the kill, have the elves show up, seeing their hard tracked mark get poached by some adventurers. This would put the party in a narratively interesting and more dramatic situation.

If the fight turned sour, simply have the group of elves that were hunting the creature to crest over the hill and take it out. Then have the elves interrogate the party about why they were trying to poach their kill. 

Rather than consider my suggestion, he shrugged me off and mumbled to himself about why he doesn’t want to do that, giving me lame reasons why.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first or last time this has happened when talking to people in the 5e community. I know that those people exist everywhere, but I have personally seen a lot more in the 5e community, making me not want to associate myself with the group.

But I’m not one to sit idle and complain. So rather than just sit there and whine about the community, I decided to try to do my part to change that perception. I’m trying to play a bigger part in not just my general RPG community, but be more of a familiar face in the larger 5e community too. To start this initiative, I found and put together a group of newbies to play their first non-family run game. My goals for the game:

Blow their expectations of a clunky, standard intro D&D game with a face-paced, heavy narrative game.

Not starting them in a fuckin tavern and, instead, have them start in medias res at the end of a job gone bad. Then I plan to have them fill in how they met or know each other during their escape and first arch in the story to avoid any of the awkward first session nonsense.

Have them help create the world by asking them a ton of questions about the setting and their backstories while we journey through the world. I hate the idea of having them lecture each other about their long-ass backstories or me telling them about the world as opposed to experiencing it and creating it as they go. I would instead have us tell the tale together, rather than having them play through the GM’s story.

Lastly, show that their choice of class won’t affect their overall experience negatively. I let them pick the classes they wanted to play, but this left some party roles open. To combat this, I will adjust the game accordingly to give them an appropriate challenge and avoid punishing them for playing what they want to play.

I am excited to show more face in the community and change it from the inside out by contributing my GM experience and knowledge to whoever wants it. God knows that I love getting GM tips, so I am always open to advice. After all, how do you get better without critique?

Wish me luck with the new crew!

Until next time,

– Rusty