Today was the inaugural meeting of the Superior Heights Role Playing Game club. Over the past two weeks I’ve asked interested students to create first-level characters that they would be interested in playing. I recommended orcpub2.com using the Point Buy system for stats to help ensure a “legal” character for each of them. To my surprise, fifteen students want to play.
That’s a lot.
Like, three games’ worth.
I’m the only GM available, it appears, so I don’t know what I’m going to do about that. I’m committing to spending two hours with them every Friday night after school, plus all the prep work between sessions. I’m considering rotating groups through, running two or three games on a cycle.
This afternoon there were “only” six players. Several students had other commitments or couldn’t get rides home after the game. Six was manageable, but only just.
Apart from the official game rules, I set out some rules for the club at school. Here’s a paraphrasing of them.
- Everyone is responsible for ensuring the group is having fun.
- You are not your character. In-game stuff (especially conflicts) need to stay in the game.
- No foul language. You might be okay with it, but I’m not and the person beside you might not be.
- No sex of any kind.
- No violence towards children.
The students also added a rule to my list:
- No player-versus-player (PvP) combat.
This was even more challenging than I expected. All six players were new to the game, but they had all spent time developing characters already.
My plan was to help them to build connections between characters by requiring them to answer questions about their pasts. “Sally, what serious event did your character and Mark’s character both witness?” “Jim, what is it about Jordan’s character that irritates your character?” That sort of thing.
There was a frustrating trend that began here and continued throughout the session. A player would suggest something (here it was an event in the backstory), and then another player would suggest a different and mutually exclusive idea, and then both players would be at a standstill. Both were invested in their idea, and neither wanted to work with the other’s suggestions. I didn’t know how to help them work this out, but I did the best I could. This problem slowed the game significantly.
I did my best to roll with (ha ha) the backstories the players had developed to set the initial scene. Players didn’t really know what to do, and I wished that I had forced them to develop a party before starting (instead I asked them to work at coming together in the first session).
Some characters took actions that helped the party come together, but other characters took actions that drove the party apart. Making decisions among six people was onerous.
When the session was wrapping up I recapped the major events so far to make sure we were in sync. I also talked with the players about how to play together instead of just making sure their characters did cool stuff for themselves. I guess we’ll see next time if my post-session pep talk was helpful.
Even though the game was super-challenging for me and not as successful (progressive?) as I’d hoped, it was clear that most of the players had fun. They left the classroom and stood in the hall, talking about what happened and speculating about what could happen next. They were intrigued, and some talked about tweaking their characters to make them more “playable” with the rest of the group.
Fingers crossed that I’m a bit better at this next week.