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The Columbia Dungeons & Dragons/Superhero RPG Meetup Group Message Board › "Sorta like dating . . .": Matchmaking for the RPG Gametable

"Sorta like dating . . .": Matchmaking for the RPG Gametable

A former member
Post #: 1
Building an RPG group - it's sorta like dating. You think you've found the right people, you've had a few decent get togethers, made characters (first base), finished an entire adventure (second base), made plans for the next part of the campaign (third base) and then . . .

Wham! People disappear inexplicably from your game table. Or, worse, one of your players throws a fit when they're told they can't switch from a neutral good Ranger to a chaotic evil half-orc Berserker in mid-campaign. Or, even worse, your game master insists on six-hour game sessions on every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Or, and this is the nightmare scenario, one of your RPG colleagues offers to take you on a tour of the private "dungeon" they're secretly excavating beneath their house.

It seems to me that so many of us looking to connect with other players are so eager to start rolling dice that we aren't always thoughtful enough about which game table(s) is/are really right for us. Wouldn't it be nice to find like-minded players - that is, those who share our basic philosophy of gaming, what we're willing to invest in it, and what we want to get out of it before we sit down to make characters?

As I prepare to relocate to Columbia from Nebraska in the coming month, I am wondering whether or not anybody in this meetup group would be interested in participating in an ongoing discussion about gaming style, philosophy, preferred settings, and overall expectations from an RPG group - D&D, Heroes, or otherwise. It seems to me that investigating common ground among players on the front end saves time, effort and - let's face it - heartbreak if things don't work out the way we'd hoped.

Much of this can be done on the discussion boards, sure - but a face-to-face conversation over coffee/drinks can be just as valuable, if not more so. If anybody's interested in general, post your reply and we'll take it from there - first on the message boards, and then live and in person once I'm boots-on-the-ground in Columbia and have learned my way around the community a bit.

Cheers!

Michael M.
A former member
Post #: 2
How very true, for years I kept away from the gaming community because of that very reason. I was in college when I first played RPG's and the group I was in then was ideal for me. We had just the right mix of players who loved to mix it up. The DM was not a Monty Haul nor was he the crazed, "My job is to kill the party" style either. The campaigns were difficult yet rewarding when the goals were accomplished.

Then I got out of college and dealt with parties where no longer was it about "hey let's accomplish the goals and all of our characters will get rich!" or I dealt with DM's who on the first adventure gave away the +5 sentient longsword of instant monster death or the DM was the "OK guy roll for initiative as the Ancient Red Dragon begins a sharp intake of breath" in the first encounter.

How I have longed for a mature group of gamers who want to play the game as a game, who want to create personalities for their characters, who allow those personalities to be molded by what happens to their characters and what happens to other characters in the game, who want to play cooperatively who want to be challenged mentally but know that with good game play will succeed and have a great story to tell. I long for the DM who will carefully balance the game between combat and role playing, who will carefully balance the treasure they give out to keep the players neither starving or swimming in treasure.

Hence the reason why I probably have not found the group I am looking for. Maybe I am looking for perfection and that doesn't exist outside of my perception of my first group, which was probably if I really studied the group not perfect and had the flaws all groups had even through I was too "innocent" to see them then and only want to remember that group for the greatness I think it had.

It would be interesting to have a group of people try and get together at a local coffee shop or maybe over at Heroes and Dragons and spend the time to discuss what they want out of an RPG group. Maybe enough people could find they are on that common ground and a group or three could form where we could have happiness and some good gaming experiences.
Albin J.
fairhand
Columbia, SC
Post #: 5
This is a thought-provoking subject and would make for a good movie no doubt. As a former Psych major, group dynamics always fascinate me. As a lifelong gamer, even moreso.

I think the challenges with gamers or 'geeks' of any genre is that you have the following going on:

1 - a person with a very active imagination and ability to suspend disbelief and keep an open mind to the point that they can be a little jaded about the rest of the world's more pedestrian beliefs

2 - a person who craves the drama of a good story and might not always agree with other people's ideas of what a good story makes

3 - a segment of society that, fairly or unfairly, has been branded anti-social or at least on the fringe of mainstream society (but I think that's a red herring - other social groups have just as many maladapts in them)

4 - a fundamental set of expectations about narratives and how characters work in them - more to the point, balance of rules/story and limitations-of-characters/hero-archetype­s

I find the best groups are the ones simultaneously hungry enough to want a good story while at the same time humble enough to see how the DM and other players want to contribute.

I welcome such a discussion. I'd love to meet for just social reasons and not necessarily gaming.

AL
Albin J.
fairhand
Columbia, SC
Post #: 6
By the way, Michael - welcome to Columbia. I hope it goes well. Count me in for dinner/coffee/round-table discussion/general loitering :)

Albin Johnson
A former member
Post #: 2
Wow, less than twelve hours since the initial post and already two very thoughtful replies. That's encouraging.

Indeed, I think that the observations from Albin and Shadowspawn show a remarkable degree of insight. Shadowspawn's comment about the pursuit of the "perfect group" and its connection to nostalgia for our early days as players resonates particularly with me. I gamed with the same group of friends from the age of 11 until 18. So, it's fair to say that we grew up together and became adults in and around the context of playing RPGs. That degree of history and shared experience meant that we knew what to expect from one another, so we just naturally "clicked" on a consistent basis both at the game table and in "real" life. Sure, we had our faults as a group - silliness would creep in on a regular basis (we were adolescents, after all) - but we were more or less on the same page when it came to what we valued in D&D as a hobby, and that made it exceptionally rewarding.

Since then, my attempts at finding a group with compatible personalities, goals and general outlooks have been less than successful. Usually, I ended up sitting in on games where the participants were far too invested to accommodate a player like myself whose first obligations were to family and career. In other cases, I found myself among people who really enjoyed playing out-and-out evil characters, and derived a bizarre satisfaction in slaughtering innocent NPCs, other player characters and that sort of thing. Definitely not for me.

Said another way, I suppose my position is that the best groups form when the players share at least some degree of social/emotional commonality inside and outside of the context of the game itself. Sure, it's not hard to find folks who share one's interest in a particular style or mode of gaming - but it's one thing to have a common interest in RPGs, and another thing to invite said persons into one's home and spend 4-6 hours together in creative play at a single sitting. I point this out not because I take an "elitist" or exclusionary position on group composition - variety is the spice of life, and all that. But it seems to me that the most rewarding groups are those in which the participants meet under a broader sense of mutual respect, empathy and (dare I say it?) liking. I want to connect with the folks I game with as people first, and as players second.

That's enough soapboxing for now. Looking forward to hearing any and all responses.

M
A former member
Post #: 3
Oh my! I have insight? Don't tell my wife!!!!!!

Anyhow just to continue the discussion and keep the topic active, when are you arriving in Cola? I might be persuaded to set up a meetup so we can see who might be interested in determining if a "regular" group or three might be able to spring up in the Midlands.
A former member
Post #: 2
I'd be happy to meet up somewhere to discuss such topics as well, and might be able to bring between 1-3 other people who currently are not a part of this meetup group. (most likely 1, possibly 2, not likely on the 3rd, but I'll try), again, let us know when you will be arriving in town/settled in and I'm sure we can arrange to run into one another somewhere.
A former member
Post #: 3
Again, it's gratifying to see that there is some lively interest in pursuing this line of discussion. I will be arriving in Columbia in the first week of June. It'll probably be a few weeks before we've got our household organized and a routine established, so I'd probably want to look at late June/early July as a potential time to schedule coffee/drinks/whatever. In the meanwhile, I'd welcome the opportunity to continue exchanging ideas over the message board.

A little more about me: 39 years old, graphic designer/layout artist, married w/ one son, age 3 1/2. I focused on Medieval and Renaissance Literature as a graduate student, although I did not end up pursuing academia as a career. Most of my gaming experience has centered on Basic/AD&D and Traveller from '80 to '91 or so, and a little Call of Cthulhu in '93-'94. My D&D group favored homebrew campaign settings as opposed to commercially produced materials such as Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms. We did, however, do a lot of adventuring with TSR's Lankhmar supplements - some of our best game sessions, in fact. I DM'd about 80% of the time, but really enjoyed playing as a PC as well when the opportunity arose. My short time with Call of Cthulhu was entirely spent as a GM, which I enjoyed a great deal. Literary influences on my campaign design style include Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, Jack Vance, and - more recently - Garth Nix's "Old Kingdom" series and David Anthony Durham's Acacia novels.

Lately, I've gotten more and more interested in homebrew rulesets for fantasy gaming, particularly rules-lite varieties that are designed to focus on character and story development instead of number crunching. Jared Presler's PORTAL system is a good example of what I mean, and I'd be interested in pursuing collaborative work with others in this vein. I'm particularly attracted by game settings in which magic is used relatively conservatively - not absent, of course, but uncommon enough to make its appearance (spells, magic items, deities) special. I don't oppose that element of the fantastic in RPGs; it's more of a reaction to the over-proliferation of magic in most games that I've played, rendering it stale, mundane and, well, unmagical.


Anyway, that's it for now. Thanks again for the continuing discussion.
A former member
Post #: 3
Or, and this is the nightmare scenario, one of your RPG colleagues offers to take you on a tour of the private "dungeon" they're secretly excavating beneath their house.

See, you hit the nail on the head with this one. My thing is...I guess I am nervous about meeting up with new gamers. I mean, I am not socially challenged at all, save for a healthy fear of what is out there.

I like nice things, and nice settings. I want to meet up. Dang, I would love nothing more than to join in on the new DnD campaign prepping for starters, but how can someone be sure about who they are meeting or where they are going?

Which opens up the conversation to:
Things that would make me uncomfortable

1. Geeks and their personal hygiene. It's called soap, use it. Make yourself look nice when you are going to be meeting people. I am not shallow, I like to take care of myself and prefer for others to do so as well. I guess I just don't have a very healthy opinion of other gamers due to not meeting up much yet, and when I have being let down a little.

2. Excavating dungeons. Some people can be scary but I don't want my fears to keep me from meeting good people with interesting stories to tell. If I feel like someone is a criminal I guess I would feel a little uncomfortable. I just don't want to fall into a situation I can't get out of.

3. Attitude. I have been DMing so long I have forgotten what it feels like to play. I want to play. The last person I played under was a complete ** of a DM. I don't want to experience that again. Both DMs and PCs, don't be a little B* with your chitchat. If you are a DM then don't downplay your characters or their actions. PCs, the DM's word is law, and don't question it unless you have dang good reasoning to back it up. DMs, don't powermod. Let's all just find something like a perfect balance. If you commit to a game then MAKE IT A PRIORITY TO BE THERE, and respect. Respect is good.

4. Setting. I don't want to park my car in the ghetto. If you are having people over, clean out your kitty litter and fold the laundry. No I do not think what is growing in your refrigerated casserole dish is cool. Oh, eff, your child just hid my keys and I have no idea where.

Comfort.

How can I overcome these prejudices, become comfortable enough to actually go and meet up at someone's house for a campaign, and overall have a better opinion of the gaming world?

Signed,
RoRo
A former member
Post #: 11
idea # 1 for Roro, loosen up.
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