Today, we answer three quick questions about making your games and characters just a little bit more special.
Dear DovahQueen: The last session of my campaign is coming up in a couple months. What can I do to make the ending celebration extra special?—Fighting Lane
Dear Lane: Ending a long-running game is so bittersweet, isn’t it? Going into the last session after a good run really deserves something extra. As humans, we have a few solid go-to’s that are never the wrong choice—food, music, and drink. Obviously, you could go get fancy cheeses and KFC takeout, but that’s not really the spirit. Consider a locale that your players experienced the most and think about what kind of local foods they might have encountered there. Try to find something from the Foreign Foods aisle at your local grocery, or order a small smorgasbord to-go from that Mediterranean place down the street. If you have the time, money, and skill, consider making something out of one of those cool recipe books like the Skyrim or Fallout Cookbook. Then, invite the players to recap some of their favorite moments in the story while you feast.
This is a good time to bring up music. Consider picking a handful of songs that you feel really fit the tone of the game well and play those while you recap. I’d personally have the recap and feast before you start the session to really put some weight on the play to come, but there’s nothing wrong with having it afterwards as well.
Lastly, and this might be the least easy to pull off, consider changing the venue to somewhere really neat. We have this local place called Flying Axes, and you can rent time to go drink booze and throw axes. I think it’d be neat to see if they’d let me rent a room or something to set up in and have the last session there. Of course, that only works if they rent a private rooms and I can afford to get one.
Dear Dovahqueen: Do you or anyone else you know take alot of other playthroughs for inspiration into your games at your table? My friends all recently got into Fantasy High on Dropout.tv, and we find the GM is just simply awe-inspiring—Lacking RP Ability
Dear RP: I have seen Dimenson 20 on Dropout, and I was not prepared for the quality of that show! Brennan does an incredible job!
Lemme assure you that not only have I drawn influence from things that I’ve enjoyed, but that I’m 100% certain that everyone who’s ever created anything has done the same. Mark Twain once said, “There’s no such thing as an original idea.” And he’s right. I think that instead of trying to *not* draw inspiration in an attempt to be original, we’re better serving ourselves and our creations by seeking to learn from the things we enjoy.
At the tabletop, we’re constantly trying not to meta-game by using knowledge our characters don’t have that we, as players, do. In terms of the creative process, I think it’s important to attempt the opposite. Think of one of your favorite characters from any medium. Now think at the meta level of *why* they appeal to you. What writing style, or what about the way that character was created makes it worth your appreciation? In terms of Fantasy High, what is it, specifically, about the way Brennan GMs that game that you enjoy? Can you learn from it; can you emulate it? One of my all-time favorites is One Punch Man, and I’m always looking up literary critiques of the way Saitama was written to understand how to make fresh-feeling characters in my own stories. Look for ways to improve as a writer from your inspirations.
Dear Dairy Queen: I am terrible about remembering my fellow Pc’s names, is there anything I can do to not refer to them as their player or by their class?—Conjurer Today
Dear I’m Just Going to Assume that’s an Autocorrect Thing: Quick and easy answer: write them down. Get ready for the less quick and less easy answer.
You mentioned referring to them by player or class. “By player” I get because you’re looking at a person and their real name falls out of your head. That’s regular ole human psychology 101. “By class” is what’s telling to me though. Can I encourage you to try to start thinking about TTRPG without classes? Like, when you introduce a character, have you ever been like, “George is a fighter with long hair and a blah blah blah”…? I think that we tend to think about characters in game terms because its such an obvious and natural fit. But when you think about some of your favorite characters from movies, books, and tv, you’ll probably have to spend some time figuring out which class/classes they would be. This won’t always be true, but at least a lot of time it is. Well-written characters rarely fit an archetypical game-class, and that’s by design. They’re made to be interesting examples of a person that can stand on its own.
“But Loren, how’s that help me remember PCs’ names?”—You, maybe
Well, I’m glad you asked. Try to start looking at the other PCs in the way you might look at or visualize Jon Snow or Han Solo. Try to see them for their quirks and ideals, trials and tribulations, or their flaws and merits. Also be thinking of this when you make characters too. Have the idea of the character before you pick the class that you wanna use to try to represent them. Well-made characters are easy to remember too.
Or just print off a table tent with name and character portrait for everyone to set in front of them. That works too.
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