Bare with me there is a point to this e-mail...
Way back in 1992 I went to the Gen Con gaming convention. That was back when it was still held in Milwaukee. I was just a young, fat, annoying kid who got to play D&D alongside adults. I was handed a pre-gen and I played a Lawful Good Elven Ranger. On the back of the character sheet was a short description of the character's traits and history so I could get an idea of how I was supposed to play him. He was sworn to fight goblins at any chance, and during the adventure I played that to the fullest. Looking back, I think I must have been really disruptive as I ignored some of the party's goals to chase down goblins. At the end of the session everyone at the table filled out questionnaires. You ranked your fellow players on their "in character role-playing" "contribution to the team" and other things. You also ranked the DM and his adventure on certain aspects. Turns out I won "Most true to character" and got a free magazine, wow!
Organizing this meetup is like managing one gigantic continuously running convention. Now, a convention usually has a huge calendar with blocks of entertainment. At a convention the judges or GM's get awarded special perks for running games. Judges get admission waved, or priority registration in much-desired games. At conventions there are usually a very high number of RPGA games that get run. Simply because it's an easy system that allows you to take your character from game to game. Plus, there are tons of published RPGA adventures for DM's to choose from.
Currently, our RPGA points system is working phenomenally. LINK HERE.
You can play RPGA twice a week, and sometimes even more often than that. Now, I don't know how many of you are like me... I have a serious Love-Hate relationship with the RPGA. One time I can go take part in an RPGA adventure, have one of the best times ever, and leave glowing from all the awesome people I played with. While the next time I go, I sit next to the powergamer who shows up and refers to his character as a "build" that obliterates every encounter. Or I sit next to a guy who already played the adventure and just wants to run his other character through it to pick up the loot. Those bother me so much, I vow to never-ever-ever return to the RPGA again! For some reason, I always do, probably because it's so available.
The thing our meetup is severely lacking is the "non-RPGA" gaming availability. Currently there is little incentive for a DM to run something for the meetup. We never charge any money, so unfortunately I can't use monetary incentives to get DM's. I have to get creative...
So onto the meat of this message:
I'm going to start a new test program, paying homage to the old-school D&D tournament post-adventure questionnaire. Instead of a good score earning you prizes, the only reward our group has to offer is priority-seating in future adventures.
The system will be optional. If there is a game being offered within the system though you have to agree to take part in the system, by giving feedback, and receiving feedback. After the game each person checks boxes for the DM and every person they played with, reflecting a positive or negative vote on a short number of categories. Feedback will be anonymous. The scoring will award points which will determine future seating priority. It is essentially Peer Review something universities and large corporations use to great success. This system will allow someone to be a player only. DMs, of course, will earn way more points for running games. They will get a multiplier to their positive feedback.
I also want to increase the value of those points by enabling a way to "spend" those points. People with an abundance of points can offer their points to "pay" them to another DM who fills a special request for a specific adventure. Say I always wanted to play through "Slave Pits of the Undercity" or try the brand new "Bark At The Moon" and was more than willing to run "Orcs of Stonefang Pass". Instead of finding a DM and arranging an elaborate exchange, I'll just offer my points and put the request out there to the group. I hope this incentivizes DMs enough to run adventures for the meetup.
It will be in direct competition with the RPGA. There are certain draws to organized play. One huge draw is the ability to grow a character from level 1. We won't offer that, if you want that, maybe the RPGA is for you. We will have house-rules for character generation at different levels, and I will encourage people to penalize powergaming and disruptive players with their feedback votes.
What I hope to offer is the chance to play longer adventures with people who are in it just to share the sense of challenge and adventure with other people. At first, the adventures that will be run are the published 4th edition adventures, from Dungeon Magazine as well as the stand-alone modules, "Seekers of the Ashen Crown" and the like. Longer ones will be split into smaller sub-parts. There is a huge list to choose from. LINK HERE.
I hope that different length adventures will be offered, from one-shots to longer multiple-session adventures. Relying on WotC might be a big mistake, so eventually I'll add converted AD&D and 3.5 edition adventures or custom adventures written by our own meetup members.
Since I hope that longer adventures will get run, scheduling and locations are an issue. It will take a lot of communication and coordination, but i think it will be worth it. There will be major penalties for no-showing. We really want people who sign up for an adventure to be committed to finishing the entire thing, DMs included. I know many of you are running home games. I hope that this entices you DMs to come back and run adventures for meetup people who won't flake out, and are rated well by their peers in a flexible system that enables player swapping.
Now, I know this sounds complicated and probably difficult to put into practice but, we have access to a website rpgconnect.org that is completely customizable. It can handle scheduling, and the mechanics of whatever system we come up with. We also are lucky to have multiple flexible locations, as well as potentially hospitable meetup members. This email is already long enough, so I won't get into exact details and logistics. I hope to have something workable in place by New-Years. Maybe even the January 8th meetup will have games offered.
Happy Holidays from the NYC D&D Meetup Group.
Are there any NASCRAG
members out there? It sounds nice.
In character Role playing
Contribution to the team
Best played their role (good defender, good controller, etc)
Table time hog
Power-gaming or upset the challenge level
Ruined atmosphere with outside talk
Disrespect of DM or other players
Showed up late
Contributed to the atmosphere and fun
Described scenes very well
Role Played NPC's well
Played monsters with good tactics
Too slow, caused game to drag
Seemed to not care
Showed up late