Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Things To Do at The Table When You're Dead

If you are going to be a gamer there is going to be a lot of downtime. There is only one Storyteller and as a rule there are at least three players. As your characters are not likely to be joined at the hip at all times the storyteller is going to be running a scene for one or two of you and not the other. Sometimes your storyteller will commit the cardinal sin of having the person they are running for not be you. All is not lost. I have seen several players use downtime productively and several others not. Here are the seven habits of highly effective downtime. You can do one or all of these during a lull in play.

1. double check the math on your sheet, when you last leveled or gained exp did you change all of your derived values? When you got that last magic item did you factor its bonuses into your various abilities? if not the time to do so is now, not in the midst of combat when it will frustrate and annoy everyone as you do math in the midst of what is supposed to be a tense fight for life.

2. Actually read the rulebook, if not for the game you're playing now, for some other game that you are currently in. Believe me, knowing what your powers do or don't do can save your character's life.

3. Stat out something you have left fuzzy and vague. DO you know your familiar's will save? how about your cohort's feat selection. Do you have followers? Making actual sheets for these people can be a very very effective way of getting more in character and getting more of a sense of scale for the world in which you play and the people your character meets each day.

4. Do homework. Many if not most gamers are in school of some sort, take this time to do a few problems or read a textbook. Gameing can overwhelm the study schedule of even the strongest minds.

5. Talk with the other players who are out of the scene, if possible and if it makes any sense talk in character. This helps the mood of the game and more importantly this will help you get a better feel for the other pcs. Also helpful, the noise of talking will keep you from hearing what's going on in the other payer's scene and if you're polite and o it right you won't drown out their scene.

6. Learn a simple craft, no really. I have seen the following things learned while at the gaming table, figure drawing, painting, sculpting, crochet, needlepoint, origami and on two memorable occasions juggling. Useful skills that will serve you elsewhere, but keep in mind if you juggle, learn to juggle away from the battleboard.

7. Plot. If there are any other players out of the scene, or even if you're all alone, use this time to plot and plan what you will do against the next big bad guy, spend this time trying to puzzle through any mysteries that remain. if you can use this time to prep your battle plans or so the math for the various situational modifiers and buff spells your character will need for their next challenge. Or if its not that kind of game just plot against someone, maybe the person in the scene, preferably an npc because in many games party unity is important.

Whatever you do, try not to fall asleep. everyone does it, game narcolepsy happens a lot, storytellers stay storytellers because they have nice or soothing voices, the chairs are comfy and the game room is warm. Still nothing tells a storyteller to stop storytelling and makes them feel bad like a player falling asleep.

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