Where, Oh, Where Can He Be?

Hey, all, 🙂

Yeah, it’s been a while…

Basically, this last trimester has been hard on my time, what with all the work, but especially, all the gaming. Seriously, these past few months, I have taken Tuesday nights off to specifically not game.

Sunday night is board game night. Monday and Wednesday are ASL nights. Thursday, Friday and Saturday are RPG nights. Heavy! 🙂

And then, there’s work. The life of a freelancer is somewhat chaotic and unpredictable, but this is ridiculous. From October on, a number of different projects fell on my lap, every single one of which is “vital, and must be completed before the end of the year”. Of course, I could turn some down, only, I really shouldn’t… 😉

But mainly, the reason I haven’t written in a while is that, frankly, there’s nothing to write. True, I did fall out of sync with most blogs I’ve been tracking, not to mention Story Games, which means my ear isn’t exactly on the grapevine. Mostly, however, my own gaming has been on the money, so there’s really nothing new to say.

Still, just so I don’t get out of the habit too much, I thought I’d take this opportunity to recount my more recent RPG exploits.

The Shadow Of Tomorrow

Currently, I’m playing in two Shadow of Yesterday campaigns, one of which as the Story Guide. I’ve posted at length about the other one, both here and at the Forge, so I’ll lay off of that one for now, but the other one bears some note.

A few months ago, a friend from work came up to me and said, “so I hear you do RPGs and I’ve always wanted to know what that whole shebang was about, can you show me”, so I said, “right, let’s put together a group”. So, I got him and two of his friends together with me and Rogerio, the Story Guide from the other campaign and my gaming partner for like forever, and we sat around trying to figure out what we could do to “show these kids what RPGs are all about”. (And when I say kids, I mean grown men with jobs, every last one of them.)

So Rogerio says, “hey, we should do TSoY, cuz, you know, I want to be a non-SG player some more”, and I say “right, I’ll be the SG, then”, and my wife Ana, who is watching TV in the next room, overhears this and pops in with a “hey, if it’s TSoY, I want in!”

And that is how I ended up heading a TSoY campaign with six people at the table (including me), and let me tell you, it’s been a blast! I have, however, reached an interesting conclusion: the more inexperienced players you have at the table, the better the whole TSoY experience will turn out to be. Funny, eh?

(Actually, that’s not exactly right. I should amend that to say ‘the less players there are who happen to be very experienced in the so-called traditional form of role-playing but who happen to have little to no experience in other forms of role-playing’, but that’s a mouthful, so there.)

In any case, I do believe those three guys are sold to the concept of RPGs forevermore, which is a Good Thing(tm). We’ve already discussed winding down this TSoY campaign and moving into other game modes, just to get them to see other things, but either way, they’re in and the future looks bright! 🙂

Donjon-eering With The Kids

Godinho and Isabel (who comments here as Elora, from time to time), two of the players from the other TSoY campaign (the older one, not this newer one) have a ten-year-old kid named João (like me). (Yes, they are married, and yes, it’s to each other, so there!). It just so happens that João took an interest in our TSoY sessions, and it also happens that his father, one day, sat the kid down at our table with a blank TSoY char sheet and proceeded to probe the group as to the posibility of his son joining the game.

Now, personally, I was delighted that the guy wanted his kid to play, and I was delighted that he wanted his kid to play with him. Furthermore, I’d been on his case before, about getting his children to play some RPGs, and I was looking forward to playing with João and Godinho together. (Sofia, the younger sister, is likely to need a couple more years before she’s ready for this, not to mention that João is likely to need a few more years before he’s mature enough to play at the same table as his sister.)

But, I mean, Shadow of Yesterday? Really, is that the most apropriate game for a ten-year-old? Everyone quickly agreed that it was not. And so it was that I found myself yet again at the head of the table, playing Donjon with the kid and his father. Ana and Rogerio volunteered as well, whereas Isabel decided to sit this one out.

Playing this game has taught me a thing or three about children, which is presumably a good thing when the time comes for me to have my own. First off, there’ the attention span thing. If someone else is trying to think of what to do, or trying to come up with an interesting fact to inject, João’s mind will start to wander very quickly. Second, there’s the impatience thing. Seriously, not more than two minutes go by without the kid wanting everyone to pay attention to him and his latest wild idea. Thirdly, he doesn’t have a complete grasp of the rules of the game yet, which means we still have to repeatedly explain to him where the limits of his facts are.

But, those are the bad parts, and as far as I’m concerned, the good parts far outweigh them. For one thing, he’s young and he’s bright and he’s learning, so things are getting easier with each session that goes by. Mostly, however, his facts are always fun and his solutions are consistently the most creative at the table. In fact, he’s our top dude when it comes to twisting his facts to suit his character’s MO, then using them to tackle the next problem. Great stuff.

Not to mention that Isabel walks in once in a while and catches the kid doing something new. A few sessions ago, for instance, she was drooling over the fact that her son was reading in English (which, as you may or may not know, is not entirely trivial, seeing as how we’re in Portugal and all).

Also, in this age of television and game consoles, I can’t get enough of seeing fathers and sons doing stuff together, especially when I get to be a part of it, so that’s just too cool! 🙂

Tradional? Who, Me?

And then, there’s my D&D campaign. Seriously, whenever I start to pontificate on the merits of GNS or on the different roles of the GM or whatever, someone somehwere always pipes up and says, “hey, D&D is fun too, you know”, and I always have to say, “yeah, I know, that’s why I play it!”, which generally surprises the hell out of them.

Little do they know that in my college years, I was known among my gaming buddies as Johnny D&D, all because I once said that “system doesn’t matter, you can do anything with D&D”. Oh how wrong I was, how naive. And yet, at the time, the people that laughed at me and pointed towards all the “different and much better systems” were actually pointing at games that were exactly like D&D from a structural standpoint. Today, after having played TSoY and DitV and PtA, I get to have the last laugh.

But I digress…

Seriously, we’ve been playing the game for almost two years, now, and while I can’t claim that it’s been perfect, all in all, I feel the experience has been positive. I know a lot more than I used to about what makes a particular game session tick and, let’s face it, D&D is all about the fightin’. So, I try to come up with interesting excuses to put the PCs in fights, then I try to come up with hard, hard fights, and then I try to come up with interesting ways of bringing them to the next excuse for a fight, and so on and so forth, all the while keeping a few Deus ex Machina devices handy so I can save their butts when it turns out that I went too far on that “hard fights” thing.

As a gaming mode, it’s fun enough, though it has an interesting consequence. Because the game world and its problems grow with the players, so as to keep a good balance, and because dying always gets you ressurrected, with the consequential loss-slash-delay in XPs, really, the only actual reward at the table is for dying less often than everyone else. Which is why the one guy that hasn’t died yet is at 10th level while everyone else is still at 9th.

On the other hand, the campaign now boasts 6 PCs, which is a tad too much for a GM to keep track of, so I hereby give you DM Genie. Seriously, no matter how experienced you are with D&D, there’s just no way you can manage all the details of a 16 on 14 combat, together with attacks of opportunity, grapple rules and all the other nightmares, and still keep track of potion effects, spell durations, and who did what to whom. If you’re serious about big fights, I can’t recommend this enough. Not to mention that it’s good for keeping track of all the campaign details. Plus, I like the weather module. 🙂

Still, having six players at the table means tons of scheduling hassles. The campaign is supposed to play every other Friday, but the reality of it is that it’s much more of a monthly thing than I’d like it to be, and still, it’s a rare session indeed when everyone is at the table! 🙁

Ok, then, so now you know. Hopefuly, come next year, things will quiet down some and I’ll be able to post more (and I’ll have more to post about).

By way of parting, I leave you with a link to the Category page of that DM of the Rings thing. You’ve been keeping up with it, haven’t you? No? Shame on you. Go to it! 🙂


7 Responses to “Where, Oh, Where Can He Be?”

  1. Rui Anselmo says:

    Hey, nice to hear from you!

    Just let me point that Little João played some sessions of Mutants and Masterminds some two years ago. 😉

    Anyways, drop by Abre o Jogo, to see what me and the guys are up to. You might be surprised. 😉


  2. RedPissLegion says:


    Good to see your time is full with RPGs, so now I can impose on you s’more hehe.

    I really loved that night were you, me, João (another one) and Bruno played Dogs In The Vineyard, and I would really liked to explore some more of the game expecially the hole town-iteration concept with my character from that night, I really liked it and want to see how he would develop in future stories.

    Do you think it would be possible to impose on you a couple more sessions of DitV (I’ll even find a group for it if you like hehe).

    Another thing, If it’s ok with you and the rest of your D&D group could I impose watching one of your sessions?
    I’m curious about two things:
    1) To see how you guys play, since you’ve played a lot more than I have, expecially how you GM;
    2) To see that wonderful piece of software in action!

    I’m really starting to get an urge to GM a D&D campaing (just need to finish the GM Guide) and I think that would help me a lot in the future.

    Also I’m getting an itch to try some reasonably constant Capes game, to wich you are obviously invited to play, but more on this when I finish my PTA game.

    No more imposing for now, if I remember anything else to impose on you I’ll let you know hehe.

    God gaming.

    P.S.: DM of the Rings is still melting my brain with laughs, brilliant!

  3. RedPissLegion says:


    Read “Capes game, to wich you are obviously invited to play” as “I want you there or I’ll hurt you and everything you hold dear”.

    Best wishes.

  4. Welcome back into the internet fold, old friend!!

    Great “war” stories, thanks for sharing, as always! 🙂

  5. Elora says:

    My kid rules! Beijinhos e obrigada, adorei ler sobre o meu filhote e concordo com tudo o que disseste.

  6. RedPissLegion says:

    Hi again,

    “So, I try to come up with interesting excuses to put the PCs in fights, then I try to come up with hard, hard fights, and then I try to come up with interesting ways of bringing them to the next excuse for a fight”

    Do you take it exclusively upon yourself to come up with those excuses or do you have some sort of player input to develop them?

    Also what specifically has changed (if it has) in the way you run a D&D campaing in the last two years.

    Best regards.

  7. Guy Shalev says:

    So long you’re content man!

    Also, feel free to playtest CR 😛