If you are not familiar with #RPGaDay, then please read this page first. For the 27th day of #RPGaDay the question is:
What are your essential tools for good gaming?
My tweeted answer is: #RPGaDay 27, #RPG imagination, time, health, space, players; good mood helps.
This is another one of those questions that I feel I want to answer in many different ways, depending on which word I focus on. I am not trying to give an imaginary perfect answer, just overthinking things. Since I’ve mentioned imagination, I’d say that’s an essential tool. I am sure we’ve all played with people that say the weirdest things, so imagination alone does not necessarily lead to good gaming.
Since ‘tools’ is plural, I’ll add that other people as essential to me; whilst I can role-play by myself, it really isn’t the same. I was apprehensive about correlating people with tools, but I’m going with the positive spirit of RPGaDay questions 😉 Since other people are involved, then communication is essential.
Having the time to play is crucial, and of course so is health; something I’ve had problems with not too long ago. I’ve gamed in awful places, but at least we had a location to play in, so I’d include space as important.
Players who are proactive, and ideally in a good mood, really help to make a good game; although I’ve still had good games with players that weren’t. Having played a lot of sessions with no dice being rolled, or cards, etc., and with the existence of Amber and other games, technically dice are not essential for good gaming for me. Nor are notes or character sheets vital for me. I appreciate for many players, these tactile things are a core part of the gaming experience, but with some of my players they aren’t. These days I do prefer to use them, since they make things flow easier.
The same goes for other approaches to role-playing, there are so many extra things that I like to do, but I don’t recognise them as essential, even for good gaming. Whilst I could talk about downtime, PBM support, good notes to help with recapping plot and double-checking details, I don’t feel they are essential.
This question had me overthinking it for a while, was the meaning more along the lines of: What tools are essential to elevate a game from okay to good? I am sure that would have been the question, if that was actually the question. I do actually like this type of questions, even though at first I tend to find them irritating 😉 Even if that was the question I’d still give the same core answers, since to maintain a constant high level I think the players need to be invested all the time. With minimal non-game distractions, then the players will find it easier to stay in character, and with a gripping relevant to them plot, to be proactive. Having run different games in different ways, and been told they were good sessions, it’s hard to pin down what was essential about them, beyond my list above.
The main game that I am currently running is designed to utilise software I have been working on. As the game is still in the early stages, it all works easily without computer support. I am sure I could still run it in the later stages without software, so I am sure if this would count as essential, but it will certainly be easier to run. I have been working on this for years, and this has partly come about because I want something substantially more complicated than even the long-term games I normally run.
I suspect I’ll keep pondering this question, as well as rereading the answers of other people in the future 🙂