Inspired by Smalerie’s post about her lessons learned as a D&D newbie and our upcoming Try an RPG day, we are inspired to look back on our first time at the gaming table and our first or favorite (because Lady Diceacorn has run so many games she can’t remember her first one) time as a GM (this means game master, it is the generic form of DM). We hope you will read our stories and, combined with Smalerie’s inspiring post, want to try roleplaying games. Believe it or not, there are more RPGs on the market today than there have ever been and there’s a system for everyone. We hope that through the Try an RPG day you find a game that you like and share it with your family and friends. If you would like to volunteer to GM, we have a handy fill out form and would love to have the help on April 29 from 12-6.
Gaming has become a part of everyday life in our house. We run all sorts of different games for all ages.
My first game was a game at a convention. I was 25 years old. A friend of mine needed an additional player to round out his game at Anonycon in Connecticut and invited me to join a group of our friends at this convention. Like Smalerie, I was nervous but it was something I had always wanted to try. This was also my first taste of convention life, which is deserving of a post of its own some day. Spoiler alert: I loved it.
I arrived at the table for my game – a game using the Savage Worlds system set in a fantasy setting. (Savage Worlds is a great game system that allows you to use the same systems in many different genres. It is great for convention games because it is so easy to learn.) I played an elf who had a magic trick – she would turn into a giant spider. The arachnophobic in me was not feeling so great, but I pushed on and I am glad I did. I got to the table with no dice…I had no idea what I needed to play. Luckily, my GM was prepared for anyone forgetting anything. It is an important lesson that I make sure I remember when I run a game. The rules were explained and each player received a rules cheat sheet. Savage Worlds is a system where the rules you need for the game can be condensed to one page.
My love of tabletop gaming was sealed in the first combat. We were on a steam-powered train heading for adventure when we were attacked by assassins. My character grabbed her sword and went to work and I rolled a critical hit with maximum damage. This is the best thing you can possibly roll and pretty much instantly killed the assassin. The GM looked at me smiling and said “Want to describe what you do?” I described my super sharp sword cutting the assassin in half from head to toe. I loved it. The nerves were there but the story was so engaging, I forgot about them after a while. When the game was over, I ran to the dealer’s hall and bought my first set of dice, a dice bag and 2 Eberron campaign guides. (I would buy the rules the next day when I realized my error.) I was hooked and it was step one to rediscovering my geeky side, which was hidden during the last year of high school and most of college.
I ran my first game shortly after that at a convention. I don’t remember what it was about, but I am 100% sure it was a Savage Worlds game. It is one of my go to games when I need to prepare to run in a rush. Seeing as I can’t remember what I ran my first time I am going to tell you about my two favorite games I have ever run, because the thing I loved about the first one led me to have the confidence in and run the second. I will say this – I believe that GMs are just as nervous the first time they run. I get a little nervous before running even after years of GMing.
The first game was at a house convention at a friend’s house. I knew I had a great table of players and I was running the superhero system Mutants and Masterminds. The game was set on an alternate planet where it was still the time of Victorian England and the player characters were all famous literary sidekicks who team up to show everyone that they were actually the real heroes of their stories. They were chasing down Jack the Ripper to see what his motive was. As they investigated, the players zigged where I thought they would zag. It was really the first time I was not prepared for a twist, but I improvised and we had a great time. And I love a thing that makes people gasp at the table. So I had my Jack the Ripper be Mary Shelley. She was upset that her work could not have her name on it because she was a woman. (Frankenstein was published anonymously.) She was taking the parts off of her victims to make her famous literary creation real.The players loved it and soon they were taking on Frankenstein’s Monster and the Bride of Frankenstein and the mad scientist Mary Shelley. Everyone loved it.
About a year after that, I discovered and then started running a game called Danger Patrol. It is a game where the table creates a Flash Gordon-esque 1950’s pulp sci-fi adventure. It is a very improvisational game where the GM only comes to the table with a title of the adventure and the character sheets. The game is more of a collaboration where the GM improvises the game based on the bits and pieces collected from the player’s comments and character traits. It’s a game that makes players a little nervous at the beginning because they are used D&D and Pathfinder which are a little more rules heavy. By the end the players are laughing and having fun. The last time I ran this, I used the title “The Crystal Crypt” and the players created something completely different from the time before when I used that title. It is always exciting and keeps everyone engaged, because the players don’t know what the GM is going to use.
However, as Smalerie pointed out when you GM, the players around you are key to the success of any game you run. I can’t wait for Try an RPG day, I hope it brings more women to the game table!
The first game I ever played was about 7 years ago. It was a game my cousins had played for years, and I had always wanted to play with them. It is also one of the most convoluted and complicated games ever made: Rifts by Kevin Siembieda (distributed by Palladium Games). My husband agreed to play with me, and one of the cousins who played introduced us to our GM (he is now one of our best friends, and we consistently play games with him). The GM made me a custom character, a half-succubus by the name of Rinn. She’s still my favorite character ever. Husband made a Body Fixer as he has medical knowledge, and Cousin made a Psi-Stalker (these things are crazy, check out the link).
The game was really fun. We had some back story, and some set up. The rules were certainly something to get used to. The skills in Rifts are very very specific, and unlike most games, you roll 2D10 and have you get UNDER a certain number in order to succeed. I think if it hadn’t been my first game, I would not have been able to get the hang of it! During the course of the game, we all had fun, got to know our characters, and the menfolk had some libations.
Later in the game, something happened that will live on in infamy around our table. It has become an inside joke that gets yelled at each other at least once every few sessions of any game we play. We were approached by someone who told us we had to get in a car to meet the guy who would be giving us our quests (DM’s old PC he played for years with my cousins and some of their old friends). Cousin decides his character wouldn’t get in the car. Husband and I spend several minutes, in character, trying to convince him to get in. Finally, we give up. Turns out, we join a party in progress with some pretty crazy characters. One of these is a big nasty guy called a Grackletooth. Well, Cousin starts ranting that his character doesn’t like them, he hates all D-Bees (dimensional beings). Husband, GM, and I all look at each other, confused. “You’re not there, you didn’t get in the car?” Cousin says he pulls out his gun to shoot the Grackletooth. “But you didn’t get in the car.” Tells GM that they need to roll initiative, he’s going to shoot the guy. “YOU DIDN’T GET IN THE CAR!”
We decided to end the game shortly after that. Now, if someone says they want to do something, but they’re elsewhere in our game, we all yell, “YOU DIDN’T GET IN THE CAR!”
My first time GMing a game actually happened 2 weeks ago! The GM from the previous story, who I’ll now call Friend, and Husband have been ragging me for years now to run my own game. Friend is our main GM, we have another friend who will run games for us occasionally, and Husband has run a few games as well. I, however, have felt overwhelmed and intimidated by the prospect. When Diceacorn and I came up with the idea for Try an RPG Day, I took that as a sign that I had to try to run a game. And so, after much discussion with Husband about which game I should run to get my feet wet, we settled on Apocalypse World by D. Vincent Baker and Meguey Baker (they’re based out of Northampton, MA and have written several games).
Apocalypse World is a game we’ve played several times, and one I was comfortable running as a lot of it is collaborative. The MC (Master of Ceremonies; AW’s version of a GM) asks a lot of questions about the setting, but still throws monkey wrenches in the works. Husband chose the playbook (class) The News and practically recreated Ruby Rhod from The Fifth Element (and yes even used the name). Friend chose the playbook The Faceless, an interesting non-verbal killing machine named Ghoul who lives by the whim of his mask. Together, we created their world, and the threats they face.
At the end of my first session, I was nervous. It had gone well, but I was up against some veterans. It was a relief that they had nothing but praise! We have now played 4 sessions, introduced a third character (a DMPC, meaning it is a player character I control, but we created together), and I am feeling more confident in my role at the head of the table! I am extremely excited to run a game come April 29th. It will not be Apocalypse World, however. I will be running a module of my favorite game in the whole wide world, Numenera. It’s a beautiful and simple game created by Monte Cook and I can’t wait to bring it to you all! I will also be running a couple of quicker “game on demand” style RPGs so that people who drop in have a chance to participate!
Featured Game: Gloom
Our featured game this month is Gloom by Atlas Games. This is one of our absolute favorite games, and has become one the other Ladies enjoy as well! It’s a card game that has some really amazing see-through cards that you stack on top of each other. What is the point of this game? Gloom, of course!
You choose a family, make them as miserable as possible, then kill them off to get as many points as you can! You tell stories about each member of your family, using the modifier cards (such as Starved in a Storm) to stack on top of your family members, before playing an Untimely Death (Was Burnt By A Mob). You can also use modifiers on other players family members; these are generally positive (Was Married Magnificently) and will skew their points! The examples I used were fairly tame, a lot of the cards are borderline ridiculous.
There are several versions of the game, and they seem to be working on more! Thus far there is Vanilla Gloom (with 4 expansions), Cthulhu Gloom (with 1 expansion), Fairytale Gloom, Munchkin Gloom (2 amazing games rolled into 1), and Space Gloom (our new favorite version of the game)! We will have most, if not all, versions of the game, ready to play this Sunday! Join us, 12pm-6pm, at Comicazi!
And until next time, may you ever roll better than Meepleine!