Monday, 17 May 2021

Obscurity

 
Oh the dreams of my youth - 

Fritz Schwimbeck


I imagined a book set within the crazed city of the Dero, layed out like a garbled choose-your-own-adventure book, with no index and no contents, and with at least some looping paths (the book would never tell the DM or the players when these had locked into place), some places and encounters simply images, tables, lines of text, single questions - an old man approaches and looks at you with a queer look. An automated service which would text your phone from an untraceable number, asking for information from the Dero city, which you could then text back and which would lead to new combinations of possibility. 

A character in the book whispers to the player and asks them to make a call..

Trapped inside a city of the mad, layered with conspiracies, illusions and false realities. Stage sets, brain engines. Both the DM and the Players would fall into an indescribable relationship of exploration, deception, fear and mutual suspicion. (but always with the promise, the temptation, the possibility that you could perhaps escape) "Give me the book!" a player would cry - reach out and take it, making themselves the DM, but quickly becoming utterly lost in the text. 

And yes you could turn the book upside down - differing encounters and an alternate page system, the sense of being trapped in the city of the crazed mind-wizards and the frustration of dealing with this impossible and nightmarishly obscure text, all merging into one glorious whole.

Such dreams I had of the artistic utility of incoherence

It was a different age, a time both darker and more pure, and I a different man. 





Fritz Schwimbeck


I have a strange relationship with obscurity. Its only really that stygian shield that makes something special, notable, rare; the rites of the Orthodox church, happening behind a screen so you can barely see them. Without that, we decay into Critical Role, into 5e, a system which I don't loathe, but the perceived culture around it......

In fact I need the stygian shield of obscurity, even as I try to throw it off. Peering out of the shadows before slinking in again, gesturing mysteriously with a pale finger. What a performance.

I really wanted to make books that people actually used. I fetishize real-life books and fear PDF's because I am dogged with the fear that they will become dead files simply resting in a drive somewhere and doing nothing. As I currently have a tonne of unread and unused files cast across multiple drives.

So I wonder now, if more people have actually played old DCO rather than new DCO? Probably yes - partly because new DCO is designed specifically for in-person play and in-person leafing through - and that is a situation which will rarely be occurring becasue of Corona. My imagined perfect state of play cannot take place. But even without that, what if it becomes simply a fetish book for the shelf - the physical version of the lost and hidden PDF?

In furtherance to that trouble; a querying lance of light; questions for YOU, yes YOU, the reader reading this..


Horacio Salinas Blach



1. What games are you actually running or playing in?


2. Are you playing in person or online? 


3. How many people?


4. How regular?


5. If online, how long* is each session?


>6. And what combination of digital and material tools and sources are actually being used and HOW?





*Personally I find playing online for more than two hours often sends me into what I call 'the death zone;, where I find myself making more and more self-destructive decisions. Three or more hours and, if the game has been a frustrating one, I can find myself creatively shot for the rest of the day.

If I'm playing online I now usually play with a paintbrush in my hand - strangely its easier to focus on the content of a videocall when I'm actually doing something tactile and visual-cortex-based (but not text, voice or systems-based), at the same time.

102 comments:

  1. In fact I'm starting a DCO game (from the new physical book) two Sundays from now.

    Otherwise I'm running Trail of Cthulhu from a PDF with games running about 3 hours every other week. DCO will likely have a similar length per session and fill the unused weekends.

    ReplyDelete
  2. 1. What games are you actually running or playing in?

    LOTFP

    2. Are you playing in person or online?

    Online for now but it's a poor substitute

    3. How many people?

    6 including GM

    4. How regular?

    once every 2-3 weeks

    5. If online, how long* is each session?

    3-4 hours

    >6. And what combination of digital and material tools and sources are actually being used and HOW?

    Discord

    ReplyDelete
  3. 1. Ancient Greek themed insurance investigators
    2. Online
    3. 5 including DM
    4. Every week, this group has been meeting online for almost 10 years, playing lots of different campaigns with people coming in and out, mitosis etc etc etc
    5. Roughly 3 hours, used to be longer
    6. Roll 20, Discord voice and video, GOOD DIGITAL MAPS, drives me nuts when there are not good layouts much harder to do without online we need a keyed map and an unkeyed map for the players to actually wander around on. Mostly homebrew campaigns with resources from image search used as NPC pictures, concept art used for settings and then sometimes you actually move into a separate battle map when physical location is important.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm keyed and unkeyed maps. Thank you, taken on board.

      Delete
  4. 1. Running an AD&D 2e (Queen of Spiders and Veins Mashup), playing in a 5e, and running a DCC

    2. Online, though about to transition back to in person

    3. 6 people including the GM

    4. Once a week, and once every other week alternating

    5. 4 to 6 hours on average

    6. I primarily use PDFs, though others use hard cover books and such. In person we use minatures, mats etc. Online playing does lend itself to a more disconnected style of play we dislike since it drives communication between people in a certain way, and it hard to have side bars, and resolve things quickly...it does indeed lead to frustration and i can certainly relate to the "Death Zone."

    ReplyDelete
  5. 1) Running DCC
    2) Online
    3) DM + 3 regular players
    4) Weekly
    5) 4 hours
    6) Google hangouts, screen share of module illustrations (if any), real-time map hand-drawn with stylus by me on miro.com persistent shared whiteboard, rolldicewithfriends.com or physical dice, text chat for initiative order and sidebars. Often use physical book for me plus PDF for images to share (example: Veins of the Earth :-) . Sometimes use gridded paper, papercraft buildings, store-bought and 3D printed minis with multi-camera setup.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Damn so many people are running virtually. Thanks for the imput.

      Delete
  6. I don't necessarily feel the same way on those same topics (I'm actually very much a digital person), but I generally understand that struggle. I simultaneously produce content that I know is for a very niche audience, and then get mad when it doesn't resonate with more people :/. I guess in many ways that's kind of the opposite of what you're saying, but I guess there's still that struggle of dichotomous drives, and of wanting to create something lasting and impactful without having to water it down for mass appeal. I've had some similar ideas for arcane avant-garde kind of projects, although again, in my case leaning into the digital tooling for it, almost more like an Augmented Reality Game (ARG) kind of thing, but less meticulous and more like in a performance art way, if that makes sense.

    Anyway, wrt your questions:


    1. What games are you actually running or playing in?

    I have been exclusively running Maximum Recursion Depth and will likely continue to do so until at least the game is published.

    I briefly was playing in Semiurge's Beyond the Bizarre Armoire but had to dip out.


    2. Are you playing in person or online?

    Strictly online. Would maybe like to do in person again eventually, we'll see.


    3. How many people?

    My main campaign has three players, and I have a separate playtest going with ~3-5 players.


    4. How regular?

    The campaign I aim for every other week. The playtest I've been aiming for once a week; since the module is pre-written and I'm the one who wrote it, it doesn't require as much prep.


    5. If online, how long* is each session?

    We schedule for up to 4 hours, but usually it ends up being ~2.5-3.5 hours.


    6. And what combination of digital and material tools and sources are actually being used and HOW?

    I use a mix of the WIP book documents, various google suite tools like google docs and google sheets, my own blog posts, javascript automated tools, draw.io for diagrams, discord dice bots and various discord channels for different purposes. When I was running other settings I was more likely to incorporate other materials from other blogs or published RPGs, but it hasn't made as much sense for me lately.

    Also, regrettably I've fallen way behind on my RPG reading list since I've been working on my own game, but I hope to eventually correct that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the response. its wild to me how much of a brocolage of programmes and tools people are using to run online

      Delete
  7. 1. Stars without number dm, ose barrowmaze dm, some one shots
    2. Online for now
    3. 4 players swn, open table barrowmaze,
    4. Twice a week
    5. 2-3 hrs, would be longer in person
    6. Have source books and rules as books, use pdfs for inspiration when I remember I have them

    ReplyDelete
  8. 1. Stars without number dm, ose barrowmaze dm, some one shots
    2. Online for now
    3. 4 players swn, open table barrowmaze,
    4. Twice a week
    5. 2-3 hrs, would be longer in person
    6. Have source books and rules as books, use pdfs for inspiration when I remember I have them

    ReplyDelete
  9. 1. I'm running a 5e campaign
    2. This campaign has been ongoing for about two years now. We started off in person, but have been playing online since COVID hit.
    3. 5 including myself
    4. Weekly on Mondays. We've been very regular since the start of the campaign. In the two years we've been playing, we've missed probably somewhere between 10 and 15 weeks of play.
    5. anywhere from two to three and half hours.
    6. Digital material - I took this group through old DCO because new DCO wasn't published quite yet (I think it was in process). I used the PDF version. We are using D&D Beyond, and for tactical maps I use an excel spreadsheet made to resemble graph paper and letters denoting creatures and PCs. Most of the adventures, excepting DCO, is stuff I have written. When we were playing in person, I would print it out, but I have not done that recently. D&D Beyond allows materials to be shared across participants in a campaign and thus we've not used the printed books very much.

    I think I sent you a review of our play in DCO at one point, we had a really good time with it. I'm also very much considering using some of the ideas in Veins of the earth and most recently, I finally got around to picking up new DCO and Silent Titans. It's very likely I will lift ideas from Silent Titans. New DCO I bought mostly because I feel strongly that art I like should be supported and I've loved nearly everything you've done that I have seen. I may use it someday with a different group. The main difficulty I had with old DCO were the maps and getting players to visualize where they were and what was around them - I love the new maps and feel like the overall work has been cleaned up and you guys did a really nice job with it.

    I don't think I have posted here before, so in case I return to lurk mode, I just want to take the opportunity to say thank you for what you have put out. It's been really inspiring - your stuff has been a key factor in helping me do my best to elevate my own writing and output which has been rewarding for both my players and myself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the response! How has 5e been as they level up?

      Delete
    2. They are about 9th level now. Combat has become a challenge! From my point of view I mean. The action economy in 5e is weird. And I every now and then I underestimate their creativity. One of the big scary encounters I had set up for the last dungeon they were in was a remorhazz. They polymorphed it into a rabbit and chucked it into surrounding void.

      It has been hard to keep combat feeling as threatening as it did when they were low level. I have a feeling that's more of a me problem than anything else though and have been trying to adjust. But I've also been looking at other systems where it feels like that element of risk in combat is just a little more inbuilt.

      This group wanted 5e when they approached me to ask me to DM, and I figured it wouldn't be too hard to learn even though most of my experience has been with 1st/2nd ed so I acquiesced. Even now, it's hard to get them to consider anything else. "What do you guys think about trying Delta Green?" Silence. "How about Mork Borg?" Silence. "How about another 5e campaign where you make 10 characters ala Paranoia because you all start off as naked slaves running for your lives in an ill-conceived revolt/breakout attempt and they die so fast?" "That sounds AWESOME! Let's do it when we finish this! What's Paranoia?"

      I am not complaining though, they have been a lot of fun and they have been committed enough to keep things going for this long - which is pretty amazing all by itself.

      Delete
    3. I love 5e, but the combat becomes SO slow at high levels. We ran a single level 13 fight that took four 3-hour game sessions. And it takes that long to meaningfully drain the PCs’ resources at that point!

      Delete
    4. Ooof! Maybe it's not totally a me problem after all. Yes, that dovetails with my findings so far - in earlier combats, the monk is out of ki fast, people get hit once and are on the verge of death etc. So it really DOES become about slow draining of resources. I want combat with even a less-skilled enemy to ALWAYS be a dicey proposition where things could go badly wrong, and I'm finding it hard to pull that off. As for the length of time - I haven't yet had a combat run 12 hours though I admit I've left my players cliffhangers a few times when I looked at the clock right before I said "roll initiative" and realized there was NO WAY we would finish even if I kept everyone an hour late.

      Delete
  10. 1. Cairn (Into the Odd, but forest) in the Dolmenwood setting from the Wormskin zines.
    2. In person
    3. Pool of 12-14, 5 per session (open table)
    4. Twice a week.

    1. Dragonslayer Adventures (custom game)
    2. Online
    3. 3-5 kids ages 8-12
    4. Once a week
    5. One hour
    6. Character sheets and handouts on Google Slides, dice roller via Google Search (single d6), Google Docs for the 3 pages of rules.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In person! And how is it with the kids online with a range of different tools? Are they more or less advanced than you with them?

      Delete
    2. I share my screen with the kids that has the character sheet, maps, and dice roller on it (not all at one time, but it works really well). I outline my setup in Part IV of this post: http://dreamingdragonslayer.com/2021/01/23/so-you-want-to-make-money-online-by-running-rpgs-for-kids/
      I control 99% of things from my end, so it makes it easy. They just have to say what they do. :)

      I share the rules with the kids ahead of time. Some are ambitious enough to read all three pages. Most don't care and I just teach the rules during play.

      It's over Zoom and the kids have taught me a couple of things, for sure. You can also use annotations if you like, allowing players to draw on the screen (useful for mapping, outlining plans). Players can also use the text chat if a lot of players are talking at once. I usual ask that video cameras be on, but I'm not pushy with it. Some kids are just shy.

      Delete
  11. 1. AD&D 1E, 5E, Traveller, Pulp Cthulhu
    2. Online, though usually 1 other player is physically present
    3. Varies from 5 - 8 (including me)
    4. Usually 2-3 sessions a week
    5. Varies from 5.5 - 9
    6. Discord, some webcams, email are the electronic resources. The rest are physical (books, dice, figuers, hexmats, papers, pemcils)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Two to three a week!

      I've only tried Discord a few times and it was very unstable...

      Delete
  12. I'm running a homebrew about brave barbarians looking for treasure and religious experience in a freshly conquered decadent empire.

    We play online, GM plus 2-4 players,, once a week (!although we miss one session in four or so), for 2-3 hours at a time.

    Character sheets and rules are on google drive and we use owlbear rodeo for dungeon maps and rough doodles.

    The player characters are likely to end up exploring the DCO at some point.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. “brave barbarians looking for treasure and religious experience in a freshly conquered decadent empire.”
      I love the possibilities here

      Delete
    2. Now I know what Owlbear Rodeo is. Thank you.

      Delete
  13. 1. Running UVG using DCC/MCC/UVG/cobbled together pile of garbage. Previously, was running DCO (from the new pdf) using OSE.
    2. Online
    3. 4-5
    4. Every week
    5. ~3 hours
    6. Discord for voice chat, dice rolling and sharing images. PDFs for all books (had a physical Rules Tome for the previous campaign). Spreadsheets for tracking characters and other info. Pen and paper for note taking and combat tracking. No maps, all theatre of the mind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. How did the new DCO PDF work out?

      Delete
    2. Very well. I only noticed the directional links about halfway through the observatory, but they were quite helpful. Don't remember the other features, but it was all good.

      I'll echo others and say that having un-keyed maps that can be shown to players is very helpful. Or if something can be done with layers in the pdf? I don't know how that works. Numbers are fine, but room/feature labels spoil things. Blurring those out on the DCO maps was easy enough.

      Delete
  14. 1. A more science-fantasy leaning Eberron 5E game since late February of 2020.
    2. We had been in-person (outside) until the weather turned wintry, then we moved to Roll20; we're all vaxxed, so we're looking to shift back to in-person again.
    3. Including me as GM, up to 7 at a time. More commonly, it's closer to 4 players and me GMing.
    4. We had been doing every-other-week, then we shifted to every-week because folks' schedules allowed, and for the last month or so schedules have NOT allowed. Hopefully this week breaks that stretch.
    5. We generally go from 7-10 PM.
    6. We're using a good number of official WotC books, and I'm using older 1e modules (had the players get stuck in Castle Amber while they mucked about in the Mournlands) as well as Adventurer League 5E stuff; mostly adventures that seem to mesh well with what the group has stated they're looking to do as a party.

    ReplyDelete
  15. 1. Running an Old-School Essentials game set in Dolmenwood.

    2. Playing online.

    3. 1 DM and 6 players, although we usually only have 4 of them (it makes it a lot easier to schedule sessions if we're ok with not having everyone)

    4. Theoretically once a week, although we have taken a month-long break due to finals. Before that we did every week.

    5. 4 hours

    6. I use Discord for videochatting (I find I hate DMing with just audio), Owlbear Rodeo for sharing of maps, Die Rolling via a Discord bot (some players use physical dice), google drive for character sheets (they're all just word documents) and sharing PDFs with my players.

    ReplyDelete
  16. An online game of esoteric enterprises with entirely online resources from about 3-4 hours of play once a week. It's pretty neat, though I do find myself longing for the more tactile use of books sometimes, the searchability of a PDF is a huge asset.

    ReplyDelete
  17. 1. Running a GLOG game in personal setting that I had been describing as "like Narnia but awful" until one of the players who remembered the books better than I did reminded me that there was more to them than just having another world inside/beyond a piece of furniture. This is the one maxcan7 mentions above.

    Playing in surreal modern horror game & caveman fantasy game.

    2. Online voice. Have tried text but found I can't.

    3. 2-4, depending on group and session.

    4. Weekly.

    5. 2 hours for mine, 3-4 for the others, prefer to keep it on the short and sweet end myself.

    6. Rules are pdf, rolls are with dice bot, pictures posted to chat, setting prep and everything else in notebook.

    ReplyDelete
  18. 1. What games are you actually running or playing in?
    Playing: OSE, 5e, and Star Wars (FFG)

    2. Are you playing in person or online?
    All games online and I hate online gaming. We'll be resuming in-person play next month.

    3. How many people?
    Six in each game except OSE, which has three people (of course, this is the only game I enjoy)

    4. How regular?
    All games once every two weeks. Which I also hate.

    5. If online, how long* is each session?
    Four hours each.

    >6. And what combination of digital and material tools and sources are actually being used and HOW?
    (Discord for voice, chat)
    OSE: DM running Foundry VTT. Shared PDFs and the OSE SRD for reference.
    5e: DM running Fantasy Grounds. DM purchased all game materials, which we can freely use within his generous license.
    Star Wars: No VTT, GM runs it theater-of-the-mind on Discord (using a dice rolling bot). As the game started pre-Covid, we have physical books, but we use relevent scans as needed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Four hours for a six-person game online, unf. A lot of people have been saying 'Discord for voice', is playing via voice but not camera a common playstyle I was unaware of?

      Delete
    2. Majority of games I play is this way, I think this is just naturally comfortable format.

      Delete
    3. Nobody wanted cameras on, so we don't use them. But having played with cameras in the past, it's night and day. Cameras help keep attention focused and the participants are more sociable. Voice only tends to bog down into silences, and there's a lot of wandering attention, etc.

      Delete
  19. 1. Running a Mothership Game, playing through Gradient Descent
    2. Playing Online
    3. 3 other people are playing.
    4. We play weekly.
    5. We usually play 2.5 hours, usually a bit less. I find it hard to play online much longer.
    6. I wish I had my Gradient Descent hard copy, because it seems well designed to use in play. I have my notes on my computer. I have the actual mothership rules zine in Toronto, but I usually don’t have to consult that.

    ReplyDelete
  20. 1. AD&D (1E), but strongly considering moving back to OD&D
    2. In person*
    3. Three
    4. Weekly or more
    5. N/A*
    6. N/A*

    * I just canNOT do on-line. Tried it...not my cup of tea. My son is running an on-line AD&D game for three friends using Zoom (they roll their own dice and just trust; no battle map garbage needed).

    ReplyDelete
  21. 1. Running a game of Mothership, using the Pound of Flesh module, and a Stonehell campaign using OSE. Same group so we alternate a few sessions on each game, then switch.

    2. online

    3. 4-6

    4. 2-3x/month

    5. 3 hours. I'd prefer longer but some players have babies which forces us to both start later and wrap up earlier than I'd like.

    >6. Dungeon mapper online, Google video chat or Zoom, physical copies of the game books (eg physical copy of stonehell, Mothership, etc.), some ose books still pdf because the hard copies haven't arrived yet,but typically I'm always using a physical copy.

    ReplyDelete
  22. 1. Just finished running Blades in the Dark.

    2. In person.

    3. 8 people, each session has 4 players in it. Players rotate around.

    4. Weekly.

    6. I set up World Anvil to keep track of campaign information but almost immediately stopped using it. We organised sessions on a facebook page. I used a laptop to keep track of notes and play atmospheric music. We had a physical book for the rules themselves. I had a whiteboard near the table which I used to draw important info (maps of the situation, notes, clocks, etc).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In person! REported!!

      Its interesting how almost no-one fully uses lore-sites set up specifically to catalogue lore

      Delete
    2. Haha, we are fortunately in Australia where restrictions have been removed.

      I think lore sites (at least, anything more complicated than a notebook) are only useful when you have multiple GM's who need to collaborate. Otherwise it's like writing up a process doc for a business when you're the only employee.

      Delete
  23. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this so I think you’ve got something if you can still access that place. I understand if it’s not possible now, you mentioned being a different man, plus Dave McG had it right in his momentum post. The driving current of a concept can fade if you don’t continually refresh it up until the point where you finish it. Find, fix, finish...

    ReplyDelete
  24. I was going to comment anyway to say how very, very much I want that dero book! Then you asked for answers and now in my mind it has become transactional: I answer your questions and then you will write Deropocalypse Now. Right? Right.

    1: doing a lot of oneshots, so quite a few different ones. Troika, WFRP1, Delta green, mothership. We're having quite a bit of fun with the buffet style.

    2. In person

    3. We have a group of ten-ish people, when someone feels like running something they explain the idea and those who are interested put their hands up.

    4. Irregular. Roughly once every six weeks I'd say.

    5&6 are not applicable to in-person, but I personally get a physical copy of something I'm going to use - even if I'm just stealing ideas - or just if I really like it. It could be the idea, the mechanics, hell - even just the design.

    I've got almost all of your books. Have I used them directly in a game? No. Are they 'dead files'? Absolutely not. I've read them cover to cover; yes, even fotvh. In fact I'm re-reading veins right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In person again. Reported to the glowing eye. I MADE NO DEAL WITH YOU. Thank you for the comment.

      Delete
  25. 1. What games are you actually running or playing in?

    Playing Call of Cthulhu

    2. Are you playing in person or online?

    Online

    3. How many people?

    Five players and a Keeper

    4. How regular?

    Basically once a month

    5. If online, how long* is each session?

    Nominally, we play from 1pm-4pm, but about the first half-hour is usually taken up with socializing, waiting for late players, getting the tech working, etc.

    6. And what combination of digital and material tools and sources are actually being used and HOW?

    Most of the tools are digital: Roll20's CoC character sheet and dice rollers, the digital assets from Chaosium's Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign, and so on. In addition, one of the players takes physical notes in a notebook and writes them up for a game summary.

    ReplyDelete
  26. 1. Running an OSR-inspired 5e campaign (In an earlier adventure in the same setting I ran DCO in 5e, it helped get my group into OSR-style play.) Playing in 2 5e games and an occasional Savage Worlds game.

    2. Online.

    3.The main game has 8 players, at least 5 of whom tend to make it on a given night; side games both have 3 players.

    4. Weekly for the main game, biweekly or monthly for side games.

    5. 3-4 hours, typically.

    6. Almost all digital, at least on my side. I steal from PDFs, run using Roll20, talk over Google Meet, store campaign info in gdocs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am a river to my people. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  27. 1. "2070 or so", my own creation. It's cyberpunk-vampire-hunting but the vampires own everything.

    2. Used to be in person but it's been online ever since The 'Vids hit the world.

    3. One GM (me), four players.

    4. About every other month is all we can manage, most of us having children and jobs.

    5. Two to three hours plus sometimes up to two more hours of just talking.

    6. Physical: I use a set of D10 for all dice rolls. I also use pen and paper a lot.
    Digital: We have a google spreadsheet that includes all character sheets, informations on NPCs, weaponry, known in-world locations and images. I use Paint to draw on battlemaps (which are usually floor plans of actual places I grab off the internet). We talk and share my screen via Discord.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Once a month is harsh dude. Thank you for the comment.

      Delete
  28. 1. "2070 or so", my own creation. It's cyberpunk-vampire-hunting but the vampires own everything.

    2. Used to be in person but it's been online ever since The 'Vids hit the world.

    3. One GM (me), four players.

    4. About every other month is all we can manage, most of us having children and jobs.

    5. Two to three hours plus sometimes up to two more hours of just talking.

    6. Physical: I use a set of D10 for all dice rolls. I also use pen and paper a lot.
    Digital: We have a google spreadsheet that includes all character sheets, informations on NPCs, weaponry, known in-world locations and images. I use Paint to draw on battlemaps (which are usually floor plans of actual places I grab off the internet). We talk and share my screen via Discord.

    ReplyDelete
  29. 1. Swords & Wizardry (Does this system suck? It's the only old school system I've used, since it's free)

    2. In person

    3. 6 players, 4 regularly present

    4. Weekly

    6. One of the players fiddles around on his phone a lot?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. S&W - I honestly have no idea. There is a whole tag on my blog saying "I am not a rules guy". Thank you for the comment though! (Also reported to the glowing eye for in-person gaming)

      Delete
  30. 1. Running B/X campaign 'City of Spires', 70-odd sessions and counting.

    2. Started in person, shifted online due to the pandemic.

    3. Seven people - six players plus myself.

    4. Weekly.

    5. 3 hours, but about 20 minutes of that is usually pre-game chat.

    6. Webex for video chat, Roll20 for character sheets, dice rolls, handouts, maps, and online whiteboards.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seventy sessions! You absolute fucking madlad!

      Delete
  31. I am, in fact, running new DCO on roll20! And it's working just fine.

    ReplyDelete
  32. To be more specific:

    1. I am running the New DCO in LOTFP

    2. Online

    3. 4-5

    4. Every Sunday

    5. 3-4 hours

    >6. A desktop PC. Roll20 with a discord channel on the side, the pdf of new DCO open in a pdf reader, and a shitload of chrome tabs open including: the LOTFP rulebook, tenfootpolemic's house rules, whatever online resource I might spontaneously google for.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. How is the new pdf holding up?

      Delete
    2. Wait, you already answered that above. Apologies butif you had more to add I am here for it!

      Delete
    3. It's great so far! All the hyperlinks are very helpful, and the layout works for me. When I run stuff online, I use a PDF editor to extract images of monsters etc so I can show them to players, or add the maps into roll20. It would be convenient if there was a package you could download with all the art as separate images. I wonder why no one does that with PDF releases.

      Delete
  33. 1. 5e-based homebrew for the "Degenerates' Art" setting from your dungeon poem challenge. Was supposed to be a one-shot, now approaching its fifth session.
    2. Online
    3. 7 including the DM
    4. Once a week with occasional breaks
    5. 2-5 hours, including an invariable half hour of faffing with tech and waiting for latecomers before we start.
    6. Zoom and a screenshared PowerPoint, though in our normal campaign it's Roll20 and Discord, with some people rolling physical dice and others doing so online. With UK restrictions being eased we may soon go back to physical sessions, though in a way it's a bit of a dilemma. We all miss meeting up in person, but we've got accustomed to the nice detailed maps our regular DM makes in Roll20, and in the interim one of our party has moved back to America. They could still call in for a session, but we've found it creates a bit of an unequal dynamic if most people are there in the flesh and one is only there on screen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PowerPoint! Its been long since I heard that ancient tongue.

      Delete
  34. Such dero book would be the thing of dreams for me.

    1. playing and running UltraViolet Grasslands, Pathfinder, superhero (?) game on FASERIP (?) Shin Megami Tensei-like game running on Esoteric Enterprises.

    2. Online both because COVID-19 and also because distances.

    3. Usually about 3-4 people, rarely higher than that.

    4. Most of games are rather irregular, but on average right now it is 2 per week (it might change next week rapidly to four or zero)

    5. 3 hours on average, plus-minus half hour.

    6. This being online, it is difficult to avoid digital tools, so (aside of things like discord voicechat and zoom) things like jamboard and such are used to show pictures and quickly quibble on maps. I use Esoteric Enterprises as printed book but also as pdf for quick search if I cannot find it quickly in a book. I certainly try to read everything in paper first.
    With Pathfinder, due to how dispersed information through the books is, it is almost impossible to use books and not online SRD because SRD affords quick search and books don't. As DM I mostly use my own scenarios, but for other peoples' work I would prefer print version (with pdf for quick search and pulling quotes from) unless it is terribly inconvenient (see Pathfinder, which I use only digitally). Dice rolled both digitally and manually. 90% of my notes and half of my character sheets are in paper. For Pathfinder Roll20 is used for maps and dice throws, because of its reliance on the tactical grid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks K. Its interesting how many people use a mixed digital/irl system when running online.

      Delete
  35. 1. Running a semi-orthodox weekly game of B/X using modules from the B series. I play in an ACKS version of Dyson's Dungeon. Intermittent other gaming but time is short.
    2. I play offline, I run online for 4 hours on sunday 18:00. If 3 or more players show up, you run.
    3. I run for 3-5 people, I play with 3 other people.
    4. I run weekly, I pla7 1/month on average.
    5. I run for 3-4 hours. I play 4-6.
    6. My rig is Microsoft Teams, with updateable character sheets available to all, a wiki where I store my play reports, and an inventory. I hate the diceroller so I just roll on my desk and inform the players of their success or failure. I play using pen and paper, dice and physical books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Microsoft Teams! I didn't even know that existed. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
    2. What are you playing threads are essentially a testing of power levels. Yours is a mighty host.

      Delete
  36. 1. Two running:
    -A 5e west-marches-style game with a pretty heavy focus on exploration.
    -A hacked/simplified original Traveller game (with many elements taken from SWN). Big focus on investigation so far.
    One playing:
    -The new wh40k rpg, "Wrath and Glory". Pretty linear series of set fights game, with a sort of zero-to-hero thing going on with progression.

    2. All online.

    3. Two games I run are usually 4 players (sometimes 3). Game structure is set to where changing players out is pretty simple. Game I play in is a steady 5 players. (It's a group of friends I've played with for several years.)

    4. All weekly.

    5. Games I run are a bit over three hours, and usually pretty strictly. Game I play in is from two to three and a half.

    6. For the games I run, I built everything in google docs. I keep a shorthand gamelog for myself online, but most GM notes are on paper. The games happen over Discord video call, with a dice roller bot in the chat.
    5e game: Players are probably split 70:30 between talking to eachother / me and hunting through their character sheets. I wrote a semi-automated character sheet, to help with the bolted-on encumbrance / hireling system and with making my weird experience system fully player-visible. If combat comes up, I draw everything on a google jamboard, which also handles marching and watch order on a separate sheet. For my more complex dungeons, I have online keys to accompany paper maps, so I can use both screen and paper in my hand at the same time.
    Traveller game: Players are probably split 95:5 between talking to eachother / me and looking at the single shared character document (each character gets a little page in one shared google doc). In this system, an entire character fits on an index card with room for personality / physical description notes. (It makes it so that all my players can just change eachother's sheets if they are trading around gear or something, which is nice.)
    The 40k game: Discord for voice. Roll20 for the "tabletop", which is where we spend most of our time, since it's basically all combat. Our GM makes and sources maps for each battle location.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The shared character sheets thing is a neat innovation. Thank you for the comment.

      Delete
  37. 1. What games are you actually running or playing in?
    A Pathfinder/exalted mash up campaign that's been running for like, 3 years at this point? Maybe longer. (player)
    A periodic Delta Green game of interconnected 1/2 shot adventures. (player)

    2. Are you playing in person or online?
    Online

    3. How many people?
    5 or 6 people in each set.

    4. How regular?
    Pathfinder every week like clockwork, Delta Green very intermittently probably average one session every couple of months.

    5. If online, how long* is each session?
    Both games run about 2.5 hours, with about a half hour flex based on situation.

    >6. And what combination of digital and material tools and sources are actually being used and HOW?
    Pathfinder: We use zoom for communication and video (of our faces) to try and keep a little of the inperson feel and then "shmeppy" as a low effort mapping / token tool for running combat. Campaign notes live in google docs which we all have edit access to, but is mostly me secretary-ing. Rules etc we just use the d20pfsrd website, "Pathfinder Sucks Real Dick" in the local argot. We also have a slack channel for image sharing for scene setting + any between session coordination (a lot of the "tone" art made with art breeder for locales)

    Delta Green: Three discord channels, one for voice, one for sharing diegetic resources, and one for out of character discussion, character sheets etc. Post session / home scenes are done over email or in private discord messages with the DM.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment Gardner. The sheer range and diversity of the online support ecosystem is slightly mindblowing to me. Everyone seems to use different programmes for different things.

      Delete
  38. 1. What games are you actually running or playing in?
    I run a homebrew campaign in 5E. I also run homebrew 5E one-shots using various sources, including DCO and The Stygian Library. I don't care much about what system we use, but my players seem fairly attached to 5E. I don't really use any WOTC content. All my monsters, magic items, etc. are homebrew.

    2. Are you playing in person or online?
    We used to play in person, but have been online for the last year.

    3. How many people?
    Five players and one DM (me).

    4. How regular?
    Every two weeks. On rare occasion, more.

    5. If online, how long* is each session?
    A typical session is 4 hours. On rare occasion, more. Never less. I don't hit the wall until about 6 hours.

    6. And what combination of digital and material tools and sources are actually being used and HOW?
    The video call is Google Meet. I maintain my notes on the screen next to the video call (which I rarely look at). Sometimes I print out a few pages of monster stats so I don't need to scroll in combat. Combat varies between theater-of-the-mind and grids. To run a grid combat, I present a simple PowerPoint slide with a grid and simple geometric shapes for creatures and obstacles, like a chess board, and I move the 'pieces' as the players direct.

    (Old and New DCO are excellent. More please.)

    ReplyDelete
  39. 1. What games are you actually running or playing in?
    DMing an AS&SH campaign and an AD&D 1E campaign

    2. Are you playing in person or online?
    Online for both

    3. How many people?
    AS&SH 1 GM and 4-6 players a session
    AD&D 1 DM and 4 Players

    4. How regular?
    AS&SH Weekly (up to session 64 now)
    AD&D Semi-weekly (can go up to a month or so between sessions - campaign started in 2014)


    5. If online, how long* is each session?
    3-4 hours is the general length for both


    6. And what combination of digital and material tools and sources are actually being used and HOW?
    Use Zoom for voice and video (have also used Google Hangouts and Skype); Roll 20 for map sharing and open dice rolling. I usually draw up maps an sometimes landscape type sketches for the Roll 20. Players have their own sheets and notes offline.

    ReplyDelete
  40. One maybe another, online for now still, 3-5 people plus me running, intended weekly but in practice semimonthly, between 2-3hrs, and I use strictly game documents, note documents, and voice chat.

    ReplyDelete

  41. 1. What games are you actually running or playing in?
    I am running a modified LotFP campaign. We're at about Session 49 right now.

    2. Are you playing in person or online?
    In person

    3. How many people?
    Me, plus four core players and a smattering of guest stars that pop in and out.

    4. How regular?
    Usually 2-3 times a month

    5. If online, how long* is each session?
    Not online but the real life sessions tend to be about 4-6 hours.

    >6. And what combination of digital and material tools and sources are actually being used and HOW?
    I don't have any physical sources - I run everything homebrew or from PDFs on file somewhere. I ran the original DCO four years back from the PDF. It kind of became the centerpoint in which I've built the last few campaigns around - in what world would this place exist? The entire meta-plot of my whole campaign essentially became 'Why did they bury this place?', so even after they've long left it, it still comes up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Session 49 is pretty impressive. Good work!

      Delete
  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I run 2 Fantasy Games in the tradition, roughly every week, each one lasting 2-3 hours. We played in person for the first time this week. I also run a play by mail (Post,letters requiring stamps!) Call of Cthulhu campaign, and fantasy or SF role playing sessions of 1-2 hours for teens with learning disabilities or other issues biweekly or monthly.

    >6. And what combination of digital and material tools and sources are actually being used and HOW?

    Google meet. Paper and pencil. Physical books & dice. Players use either physical books or pdfs for reference but paper character sheets are easiest it seems. We use Google drive to store scanned maps, found documents, etc, but I also hand draw and make physical artifacts of each (little books, scrolls, maps, etc) so players can touch everything. That materiality is important. I don't tend to use or buy PDFs.
    Lately I have been making dungeons with one index card per room or space (using graph or dot-grid cards). These are handy online since I can quickly take and send a picture to the group and also work at the table since folks can pass them around quickly.

    Some of these approaches are due to my extreme low vision, which inhibits me from using most of the online apps and programs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting and inspiring. I would love to see some of the artefacts you make on your blog.

      Delete
  44. 1. What games are you actually running or playing in?

    Actually started running Maze of the Blue Medusa in Electric Bastionland. Fits amazingly well, at least for me.

    2. Are you playing in person or online?

    Started online, slowly started altering between online and offline as more people get vaxxed. Grabbed some players living out of the city where I live during the online period, so probably won't go full offline for this one.

    3. How many people?

    Group of 10 people, but we are playing it semi west marches style, with no more than 3-4 players per session.

    4. How regular?

    Usually once a week, sometimes we get a 2 week gap.

    5. If online, how long* is each session?

    Between 3 and 5 hours, mostly depends on how early we start. On weekdays we start late and have to wrap up soon.

    6. And what combination of digital and material tools and sources are actually being used and HOW?

    Discord for voicechat, organization and cool "dungeon encyclopedia" slowly compiled by players. Roll20 for character sheets and map (photoshopped bare bones version of the book map and use fog of war feature to reveal rooms one at a time. Saves time drawing and players still need to track a map or get lost), discord bots for occasional music. I make my dm notes in excel (stat blocks, current notes, light status etc. tabbed separately), MotB and EB pdfs on the other screen, small tablet opened directly at random encounter and I search the body tables.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahh the book that doesnt exist. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  45. 1. I'm finishing up DM'ing a ~12 month published 5e campaign, and am 3 months into another as a player.

    2. I use discord for voicechat/handing out player info and roll20 for maps + dice.

    3. 4 plus the DM.

    4. Once a week.

    5. 2-3 hours.

    6. I DM a first-party underdark 5e campaign that was purchased on roll20 because it comes with tens of hours of prep time already done (similar rationale for buying roll20 compatible digital bestiaries). I get a lot of statblocks and plot hooks from third party sources. Before starting I was very disappointed with the flavor in the published campaign and ended up purchasing Veins of the Earth and using it as a statless bestiary and source of plot hooks.


    ...as an aside, Roll20 appears to have a LotFP character sheet system that should theoretically be compatible with their marketplace, but I have no idea how many actual games of it have been ran on the platform.

    ReplyDelete
  46. To respond to your first question, I much prefer physical objects over PDFs, and I have used many parts of second edition DCO both remotely through the pandemic, and just this week in person. Stretching your question past DCO, Veins of the Earth has seeped into many corners of my campaigns and world, from direct transfer of creatures, to the evocative and highly scary falling tables, to, hopefully, the attitude or outlook or perspective, whatever it might be called.
    I also use the cave generation system pretty extensively, as well as your suggested icons and shorthand. It is an elegant solution, so thanks for that!

    ReplyDelete
  47. 1. Running two 5e games, a Pathfinder 2e game, Trial of Cthulhu game, and a Savage Worlds Only War mashup.

    2. All online currently, but the 5e and Pathfinder games started in person before COVID.

    3. 4 players, 5 players, 4 players, 2 players, and 4 players.

    4. One of the 5e, the Pathfinder, and the Trial of Cthulhu games are once a month. The other 5e is every other week. The SW/OW game is every few weeks when we can get everybody lined up.

    5. The monthly 5e and Pathfinder game are usually scheduled for 6 hours. Trial of Cthulhu is 3-4 hours. The other 5e is 3-4 hours. SW/OW is scheduled for 4 hours but we often end up playing 5-6.

    6. Foundry VTT for character sheets, maps, dice rolling, etc. Discord for voice and some handouts for all but one. The every other week 5e games uses Microsoft Teams as the players all work together so they chat about the game during work. I use a mix of Word, Excel, Publisher, Miro, PDF, and physical for my notes and prep. The games that started in person most of the players purchased the physical books. I think all of the players in the Savage Worlds game purchased the SW book, mix of PDF and physical. I prefer to have a physical copy of the book to read and a PDF to help me with prep for games I'm running.

    ReplyDelete
  48. 1. Playing in a couple of OSE games and running two - Pathfinder and B/X.

    2. Online only at the moment. My Pathfinder game is in-person but currently on the back burner for about 10 reasons.

    3. How many people? Varies from game to game. 3-7

    4. I play every week or two, I run my online B/X game bi-weekly. The in-person game was maybe monthly at the best of times.

    5. The online games I play in are 2-4 hours per session. When I run, it's usually 4-6 hours.

    6. The games I am a player in use all kinds of VTTs and things but they really fuck my computer up. I hate them.

    When I run I use combinations of print game materials, PDFs, handwritten & computer notes. My DM screen is on my computer for example. We still play on Google Hangouts (or whatever it's called now). Instead of a VTT, I just screen-share photoshop to show a map and general information (roughly the look you would get from a classic TSR map). It's mostly theatre of the mind.

    ReplyDelete