The thing abut hobbies is that you do them for fun. It is fun to scrap book, paint, garden, play bridge, play sports, and play role playing games. And if something is fun, you don’t have to be good or great at it. Now some hobbies involve something competitive, so there is an urge to get better, if only so you can play more or longer. But that is if the hobby is competitive, and not all of them are. Role playing games by their nature are not inherently competitive, you can be competitive, but the measuring stick is so subjective that it is difficult to prove someone is the best. But that does not mean that someone who plays these games cannot strive to get better. This week I plan to write about some things that I work on or think about in my quest to be better at role playing games.
There are a lot of pieces of advice on how to get better at role playing. Especially running games. There are a lot of blogs out there on how to get better at running games. And there are a number of podcasts out there as well. And if you asked me to name one thing a person could do to get better at role playing, and running role playing games it is to never stop reading or listening.
I devour these various blogs, and occasionally listen to the podcasts (I don’t have a lot of time where I can just sit and listen to something.) Now it is important to not focus on any one source. Because everyone brings a different perspective on the games. And you may want to work on a different thing, which one blogger might not get into.
For example, I frequently cite The Angry GM here. And his articles are very good. I would like to think that they have been like a Tome of Clear Thought for my own GM skills. Reading all those articles have increased my skills. And have helped me think through things. But he never discusses what it is like to play the game, so I never improve those skills. And he brings a very clear perspective and point of view, that may not match what I am capable of doing (like he says, nothing is preventing me from running my game any wrong damn way I please.)
Another example, I have been listening to the Stories of the Fifth Age Podcast. And it has brought a very different perspective. Not just from how to run the game. But it also really digs into how to play, especially in 5E. I am planning to apply some of what they talked about this week when it comes to using my characters skills.
And I keep finding new sources, new blogs. And then there are books of course. Not so much for developing skills, but as a source of inspiration. Certain series are better than others. For example I cannot read the Malazan series without pondering how I could apply what I am seeing to my game.
And of course it never hurts to re-read the books themselves. For example I had been running the boys game for a while with one rule, and recently re-read the section and realized how wrong I was getting it. That makes a huge difference. And not a week goes by without my pondering some ruling in Pathfinder or wanting to use a monster in a different way.
I was listening to a podcast yesterday where people were joking about how the internet searches they made for their games could result in them ending up on several watch lists. And I get what they are saying. Because there is no rabbit hole I won’t end up exploring when I am thinking of something I can apply to my games.
All of this gets back to my answer about how to get better at playing and/or running a role playing game: have an open mind, and act like a sponge. Because there are just so many resources out there. Good advice, bad advice, different perspectives, inspiration, it can all be found as long as you look for it and are willing to embrace it.