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Interview Time!

Interviews are the best way to eavesdrop on two friends talking! I kid, but I think this is why we like listening so much, because it feels good to hear people enjoying each other’s company.

This interview covers homeschooling, dungeons and dragons, being a father and raising children. I’m sure you will enjoy it as Nick interview me, Jonathan. But in reality, we’re just talking.

May your story continue!

For more from Raised on DnD, check out their website!

https://raisedondnd.com/

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Building the Young Ones

Hello!

I am Jonathan and welcome to Sojourners, Awake. I build young men and women into leaders and storytellers.

Sojourn – travel a day together under the sun

Two things that children have always done well are Fun and Faith. No matter how old we become, I believe that there is still room and time to access that eternal child and grow in your fun and your faith.

By teaching tabletop roleplaying games, I build up young men and women into storytellers of their values all the while, making their own home made entertainment.

Fun!

Listen to my podcast and subscribe to my newsletter. If you are in the area, meet me at our friendly local game store. There you can join my class or register for a gaming retreat.

However you choose to sojourn with us, as always, may your story continue!

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Listen to Actual Play and Storytelling Podcasts

Last week, I was at a birthday party. Naturally, I brought up Dungeons and Dragons as a topic. Someone there understood the reference, but then asked me “but how do you play?”

Nowadays, we understand tabletop roleplaying games through references from our favorite streaming shows. But less of us know HOW the game is actually played.

And that is why I refer to listen to actual play podcasts.

Here are a few reasons why I think listening will increase as a medium for entertainment.

Active Engagement

Radio Shows – do you remember this? Chances are, you probably don’t, because no families sit around the fireplace and radio, listening to their favorite story. Stories like Abbot and Costello, Roy Rogers come to my mind, but I know there are hundreds more. FDR spoke his fireside chats and we all listened. Radio, unlike television, requires everyone to pitch in with their imagination. With the sense of sight not being appeased, I believe listening to a show helps the audience participate more with the entertainment.

Better Stories

Here are a few things I do have in my life: cable, movie theaters, dvds, or more than 2 streaming services. There are a lot of great movies and shows out there, but lately, the stories are starting to smell of recycling. I have been more entertained by listening to someone “rewrite” hellywood’s stories rather than actually watching the movies. With actual play podcasts, I get a fresh story, because I’m certain the players at the table simply want to have a good time, make each other laugh and get a chance for a few good moments in the game. Ironically, this translates into better storytelling than a multimillion dollar company of experts.

Thanks for reading this bit of a rant, but also a call to action. If you want to be happy, get into the habit of creating your own entertainment. Make art – a simple expression of linguistic creativity and do so with friends. Lately, my favorite entertainment has been doing just that through my podcast Sojourners, Awake!

Take the time to visit these creative works below who have brought me inspiration.

For me, the best time to enjoy a podcast is while driving. I also listen while doing chores like laundry and dishes. Sometimes I play the podcast while making dinner. I’m sure you could make room today for one of these great stories in your day! If you enjoyed this writing, leave a comment, or share with a friend. We need more creative works in the world.

May your story continue!

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Recipe for Adventure Design

Homebrew Adventure for busy gamemasters and homeschool parents

 

Time is a commodity and I hope to show you a simple adventure design to inspire you to prepare less for your tabletop roleplaying games. If you are a busy gamemaster, or a homeschool parent want to write up an adventure for your children, then enjoy this recipe and have fun homebrewing your own in the future! If you want to skip to the pdf version of this adventure, scroll to the bottom of the screen.

Note that I often call “player characters” as “sojourners.”

Ingredients

  • A Villain appropriate for the player level
  • A Target the villain threatens
  • Villain Action Zero (instructions below)
  • A Secret Ingredient! (it’s magical)
  • Villain Plan
  • Player Character Motivation
  • Player Steps
  • Final Showdown Location

Here is how to work all of the ingredients into an adventure!

This is a Level 1 Adventure Recipe

First, pick a villain that you are comfortable roleplaying. Skim through a manual of monsters. Let’s choose a bullywug captain for this example. He’s a bullywug stat block, but you will add a cool weapon and more hit points to increase his challenge.

Next, pick a target. This will be a person, place or thing the villain threatens. I think of a small fishing village named Songbird that recently moved near the bullywug’s swamp. They are peaceful, simple and often hunt in the swamp to make ends meet. For surefire motivation to complete the adventure, consider having some if not all of the player characters from this location.

Next, decide on a villain action zero. Every story has a conflict. The villain, in this adventure, makes a move that starts up the adventure. In this case, the bullywug captain has possessed the swamp and believes no one is allowed to hunt there. He has a problem in that his forces are not enough to drive them away, so he leaves his tribe and makes a journey into the wild to gain aid from a fiend. In the meantime, he allows a troll family to watch over his tribe for payment of frog flesh. All of this action happens outside of game, but over time, the player characters may discover the plot. When you design your villain action zero, consider that you are creating problems for the players to solve.

Now you may choose your secret ingredient. Browse through your favorite 5th edition book and choose a spell. Any spell! This spell is the way in which the villain accomplishes their mission. For this example, let’s choose fireball. Using fireball as inspiration, I decide then that the bullywug captain makes a deal with this fiend that if he provides acolytes to serve this fiend, then he can learn 3rd level fireball which he will use against the village. Ta da!

Next, establish the main motivation for the players. When designing a motivation, I encourage you to assign the main motivation to the players. Allow them to develop their characters over time, within the game and story. But if you assign them a basic motivation, it ensures that their characters will care about the adventure at hand.

Then, set up the 3 step villain plan. These are the events that will occur for the villain to reach their goals. Finally, develop 3 steps for the players that will guide them to defeat the villain and accomplish their goal.

Player Character Motivation

  1. The PCs desire to establish peace in Dugget’s Swamp.
  2. Add any specific player goals as well. Example: The ranger wants to make her first kill with a monstrous beast. The monk wants to discover the lost relic of Dugget’s Swamp.

Adventure Initiative with Player Steps and Villain Plans

Using the steps and the plans, you can write up an adventure. The adventure plays out a lot like combat where each party makes an action, back and forth, until the conflict is resolved in the final showdown location. Keep in mind, that of course, this is only an adventure outline. Naturally, the players will drive the story through their character’s actions and the game master narrates the outcomes. Nevertheless, preparing an outline provides leverage points for the players to access in case they require guidance. With the adventure outline, you are simply preparing the outcomes and the responses of the villains in case the players take the most probable route.

  • The sojourners must discover the presence of many tribes, conflict and understand that resources are limited in the swamp.
  • Under the threatening rule of the trolls, the bullywug tribe panics. Before the captain returns, they capture a player ally from the village to serve as a meal.
  • The sojourners must rescue their ally from the troll cave and discover the alliance.
  • Now the captain returns and instructs the tribe to raid a nearby lizardfolk tribe to gather resources and recruit them as acolytes to the fiend.
  • The sojourners must warn the lizardfolk tribe to prevent the spread of the bullywugs influence and discover the plans for fireball attack. 
  • Upon the fishing village, the tribe attacks, and the bullywug captain releases a massive fireball to destroy the fishing village once and for all.
  • The sojourners must stand against the attack upon the fishing village and defeat the captain.

Now that you have design an outline for the adventure, choose your Final Showdown Location. In this case, we should use the fishing village, Songbird, for this location. Drive the players towards this location by designing the villain to make their final action against the target. Your locations should be somewhere the players have investments, whether it be a person, place or thing. As you are the world builder, you can make sure the villain shows up to this location to have the final fight.

For this simple approach to developing adventures, browse your list of 5th edition spells for inspiration for the actions of your evil villain. You might choose Mental Prison, Polymorph, or Contagion. Don’t worry about the statistics for how the spell works so much as concerning yourself with inspiration on how the villain accomplishes their goals. Fill in the blanks anywhere the text has been underlined and gather your players together.

May your story continue!

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Improve your Improvisational Skills as a Dungeon Master

There is plenty of information on how to better prepare for your tabletop roleplaying games, but what about how to better improvise during the session?

I have learned a few tips from people who think quickly on their feet and I think these techniques can help you improve your improvisational skills in each of your games.

These techniques will help the game move along and make the story have a natural flow; use them often enough and they will become second nature to your game master abilities!

What is Improv?

Wingin’ it, making it up as you go, responding on the fly, faking it till you make it, improvisation – all of these silly phrases define a performer creating content on the spot and under the pressure of an audience. In these techniques, the game master is the performer and the players are the audience. Improvisation, like any skill, can be developed with practice. 

Two Techniques – Making Connections and Perspective Shifting

Improvisation can simply be done by gathering information from the table. You can do this by either connecting disparate objects or shifting your perspective.

Make Connections through Randomness

In stand up comedy, one of the most used techniques is to take a random topic from the audience. After one single word is accessed, the comedian takes the word and riffs off of that word into their bit. TTRPGs have forever used random tables for this very technique, for indeed, it generates a new thought, topic, encounter or idea into the mind of the gamemaster. However, the skill of improv comes into play as the game master draws the connection between the current situation and the random topic.

Here, the gamemaster is stuck as the players wander around the tomb. Despite the preparation made beforehand, the game is slowing down to a painful crawl through an empty space within the setting. The Gamemaster has nothing else prepared, so they grab a random table and roll the dice – the dice points to the word “crocodiles”.

There are three connections the game master can make between the current situation and the word “crocodiles”. 

Fight!

At first guess, one would think draw up 1 crocodile for each player and fight to the bloody finish. The crocodiles are hungry or mad, and if fighting is fun, then this works to continue the story.

Another choice is to incorporate the random word as some feature within the setting. In this case, the players arrive in the next room where a large statue of a crocodile stands in honorable worship during a ceremony. This provides some exploration for it requires further investigation on the player’s part. Now, the story can continue through the tomb as the players explore and introduce their own actions in the setting.

The final option is to use the random word to start up a social encounter. In this case, the players find an archeologist who made camp while selling crocodile based products. It’s all of the supplies available that a player would find in the rulebook, but with a crocodile theme. Clothing – but made from crocodile skin, a longsword, but inlaid with crocodile bone. Mechanically, all of these items grant a +1 bonus when used for or against all things crocodile.

In conclusion, use this improv technique of accessing a random word and connecting it to the story through something to fight, explore or interact.

Shift the Perspective by Listening

The second technique, like the first, uses the power of randomness, but rather you listen to the player’s talk through the story in order to fuel your next improvisational encounter.

While your players are plotting their next adventure, listen to the direction they are taking the story. One player speculates that there will be traps located in the dungeon, so he prepares a few methods to disarm them. Another player laughs about the last encounter she had with the shopkeeper who swindled her into buying a potion of giggling. The players all talk about the dungeon preparation and mention that after they get done clearing out the dungeon, they want to go back and inform the baron that they will escort him on a dangerous mission.

I’m prepared for the dungeon encounter, but I want to use my improvisational skills as well, so while the players are talking I scribble down three words.

Trap

Drink

Enemy

I heard the word “trap” so I plan to deliver a trip wire that releases a swinging scythe. I make sure to place it well hidden in a long hallway bridge and deliver the blade to not the person who trips the wire, but the person behind them. And I make sure to put many of these wires in each tunnel, hoping that the one time the player forgets to check, the trap delivers a dangerous attack!

I heard about the potion of giggling and think that a great opportunity for it to be used is to set out food and drink in the guards room. I’ll make sure to describe the guards taking it easy, but ready to defend if the players are spotted. This spread of food and drink might prompt the player to use the giggling potion to incapacite a few guards.

I also heard something about the players wanting to help the baron on his dangerous journey across the wilds, so I make sure to have the players discover that the castle owner plans to send an envoy to attack the baron. This last piece of the improvisation helps me connect this dungeon to the next adventure. Now the players have some intel on the quest they already want to embark upon.

Closing Thought

I know you spend hours preparing for your sessions, and as well as you know your players, you can’t possibly prepare for everything. Improvisational skills such as making disparate connections and listening to the perspective of the players will help you improve each session as well as build the skill of improvisation.

May your story continue.

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Happy New Year from Jonathan

Welcome Sojourners!

Enjoy this end of the year update! I have a few things in production and in planning.

As a gamemaster and dad, I always have my kid’s campaign running. While the games are not produced, I still like to post blogs and articles on realization I make while playing D&D with my children. This is something that binds us together and we enjoy as a family.

Sojourners Awake also produces a storytelling podcast Anchor and Spotify host the podcast as well as Apple. We cruised past 3000 listens this year, for a record breaking 503 listens in a month. The podcast hosts 14 hours of gaming a month, 9 volunteers of gamemasters and players and 3 series. We also have 3 series archived for binging. Subscribe and leave a rating today to support the podcast!

I’m very excited about this! You can now Follow me at Gumroad where I post products for game masters! If you are interested in investing in your role as a gamemaster, you can purchase pdfs, videos and audio content to improve your storytelling. This is a great way to support Sojourners Awake and partner with me on what kind of content to create in the future.

I write for Roleplaying Tips! I love producing articles and have a few featured in their newsletter. Johnn Four created the Five Room Dungeon Model and let me tell you, this revolutionized my gaming preparation.

I love supporting other creators that help game masters. Tabletop Audio has been a constant source of inspiration for my games, and provides the background music and ambiance heard in the podcast. If you want to support them, visit the site, or become a patreon supporter. You can also support with one-time donations via paypal.

Speaking of creators, Halfling Hobbies is the go – to resource for your Dungeons and Dragons games. This article was the post I read that CHANGED my understanding of TTRPGs and led me down a long dark path of worldbuilding.

I hope to start a neighborhood game here this year. I hope to hit 10,000 listens by the end of the year. I am very much looking forward to creating workable content for game masters and players to use to make memorable stories around the table. I hope great things for you this 2022! Whether you are a game master, player or somewhere in between, please sojourn with me and as always, may your story continue!

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Multiple Intelligences and Table Top Role Playing Games


In 1983, Howard Garner wrote a book entitled Frames of Mind. He proposed that there were multiple intelligences in which to excel rather than a singular intelligence measurement, say as in an IQ test. I practice this theory in that children possess all 8 intelligences in a quiet way and by learning, they access and grow their preferred intelligence. Since playing tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs) such as Dungeons and Dragons, I determined that all 8 intelligences can be accessed while playing this kind of game. And in that way, we are all brilliant.

In our family, we homeschool, and you may think of this as the DIY of education. We also play Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, as that was the game we first learned. By blending learning styles such as Garner’s, along with TTRPGs, here is how I think the game brightens our children’s intelligence. I will only explore 6 styles in this post and plan to show you how each child may use all 6 styles to learn through playing table top role playing games.

Naturalistic – these children can store tons of data in their brain and at the same time, understand systems. All of the plants, animals, planets, stars, and humans mix together in their mind with concern for the parts making up the whole. Naturally, they are good at understanding any system, since they fascinate themselves with our first big system of nature. One of the lures of TTRPGs is the worldbuilding, the creation of a fiction world with laws and powers that resemble our own. Sometimes this creation can feel so real in the mind, we are then free to “wander” about in it and influence it from the table. This naturalistic way of learning provides moments of exploration in the game, seeking to understand how the small village in this kingdom fits in the larger continent of your fiction world. They are also the most likely to collect items, relics, books and animals. They love adopting pets.

  • Action: allow these learners to collect and build their own systems such as pets and shops.
  • Action: allow this learner a diary to classify discoveries in the fictional world.

Linguistic – these children excel in verbal skills. Through writing, reading, and speaking, they fill the game time up with all of the literary devices that enhance a story. Players can generate a backstory for their character. Without much effort, these learners love to write up their character stories as they play. They also enjoy telling the tales of creation, destruction, gods and powers, rise and fall of empires right down to the homely hamlet in the wild, communing with an eldritch force that threatens to overthrow all we think we know.

  • Action: allow these learners to assist with writing up a short narrative of the lore in your fictional world.
  • Action: allow this learner to write up a 10 sentence narrative recap of the last session.

Visual/Spatial – The game master can incorporate physical items in the game to stimulate visual learners. Maps, physical puzzles, miniature toys, and image depictions of the the villains are all examples of ways these learners enjoy the game. They often have a “photographic” memory as well and can easily remember what they saw. The other component of their brilliance is understanding the physical distance between two objects. They will enjoy travel, plotting courses, acting tactically in combat and visual artistic depictions of the game world.

  • Action: allow these learners plenty of visual examples of your descriptions. Include maps, letters and pictures as often as you can in the game.
  • Action: allow this learner to assist in setting up the terrain or map on the table.

Kinesthetic – Anyone who learns by moving their body may not want to sit for an hour and play a board game, much less a tabletop roleplaying game where so much is left up to the imagination. However, it is easy enough for a game master to collaborate with those who learn through movement. Rather than using jumping and running, remember that kinesthetic learners also learn through their manual dexterity. Including tactile information, such as physical maps, terrain, toy miniatures and dice is a sure way to enhance their learning experience. Allow them to stand up while playing. Allow them to act out their scenes in person. Allow them to continue the roleplaying game outside afterwards, for in fact, they will learn the best, the more often they move. When playing TTRPGs, most children will need something to fidget with during the game, might I recommend modeling clay, since it is dynamic, but also silent? Consider taking the roleplaying game to a new level by setting up a live action scavenger hunt, or puzzling game of Twister.

  • Action: allow the player to stay in motion at the table by moving miniatures, or drawing pictures.
  • Action: Ask this player to assist by rolling for the monster in combat.

Auditory/Musical – With the ability to primarily learn through processed sound and rhythm, these children will be the first to enjoy ambient background music, read aloud poems, clever word play, and live action bardic inspiration. Consider that these children might not always make eye contact, or even seem engaged. Because they learn primarily through hearing, they will make an attempt to shut out the other senses, by looking down, remaining still. When they do express themselves, they might stand to speak, annunciate clearly, or even be shy if they don’t understand what is required. Much of the game is listening to the game master describe through words, requiring a level of auditory learning.

  • Action: allow this player to restate in their own words what the game master describes. This helps the quiet child engage in an appropriate way and engages the other children in a second round of listening.
  • Action: Spend 30 seconds describing a pirate ship and then ask this player to verbally describe what their character sees using their own words.

Logical/Mathematical – Much of TTRPGs involve strategy, logic, probability, and you may be surprised to know that math is at the heart of every game. Learners who excel at this enjoy puzzles, clearly defined answers, binary options. Often this is called “optimizing” and looks like the learner keeping their character sheet up to date, pre-rolling sneak attack damage, or commanding the team during combat. They will be the first to examine the rules and the first to make an attempt to challenge them! They enjoy the game best when the information is clear, objective and goal oriented.

  • Action: for the sake of the table, clearly state the options, risk, reward of the quest and allow the learner to win the game by discovering loop holes and flaws in the villain’s plans.
  • Action: allow this player to assist with difficult rulings by resourcing the handbook and their own logic.

Conclusion

In this short and simple explanation of how the Multiple Intelligence Theory is proved in playing tabletop roleplaying games, I hope to have encouraged you as a parent or educator that this kind of play is remarkably beneficial in children’s learning development. I also hope that you may intuit that playing TTRPGs also keeps adult’s brains plastic and resilient with regards to learning. Overall, play is the best way to learn and build understand between us and even, our own world.

May your story continue.

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Dealing with Imposter Syndrome as a Dungeon Master

Kung Fu Panda

Imposter syndrome can be described as doubting one’s self. I have heard many artists and professionals dealing with this phenomenon, including many game masters who sit behind the screen and wonder if they are doing their best, or even if they are worth the game.

In this blog, I have a few ideas to address imposter syndrome and help game masters move through it and onto the reward

First idea: imposter syndrome comes and goes in waves. I hope you can relate to this. Sometime you feel on top of the world in success and for some reason, another time you will be crippled with doubt wondering why you even try. Imposter syndrome is not something to be cured inside of you, but rather a storm to be weathered outside of you. Rather than doubting yourself, consider that the conflict of doubt originates from outside of you. In the same way, I wouldn’t blame you for getting wet while walking in the rain. The rain of doubt falls on the most amazing game masters as well as … you. If you start thinking of doubt as an outside source, then you will not blame yourself when you weather through this storm of imposter syndrome. And like the weather, this too, shall pass.

Second idea: imposter syndrome is just that – a syndrome. We don’t know why or where it comes from so we call it a symptom of something else. May I propose that at the moment you experience doubt, that you are on the precipice of something great? Remember as game masters, we design monsters before the treasure. The reward always follows the battle. In every struggle, there is victory. Doubt stands there to cripple you, but in reality, it’s only standing in front of the spark of reward. When you start to realize that reward always follows battle, you will find yourself actually getting excited the moment that doubt arrives in your mind. Roll initiative.

Third idea: don’t forget to look for the reward. Imposter syndrome, self doubt, anxiety, shame, and other monsters do not naturally grow within you and their goal is to cripple you as an artist, as a creator, as a game master. You will weather the storm, you will slay the dragon, but you may fail to look for the treasure after this storm of doubt.

Example: I love the movie Kung Fu Panda. If you haven’t seen it, it is a great lesson in dealing with imposter syndrome. Though he comes from lowly state, Po practices, serves and cares for his team. But suffers from one problem – self doubt. Along the quest to the treasure, Po had practiced with diligence, served with humility and cared with love for his team. By the end of the movie (spoilers!), Po, discovers that his own self is the treasure which he sought. He learned his generous presence already satisfied the team. After his doubt was weathered, he then took ahold of his skills and defeated the enemy with ease.

As a gamemaster, you are the reward. For the game, for the story, and for your players. After you have done all of your work, service and shown care for your players, the only thing that can really defeat you is doubt. And believe me, it will try.

So, to you game master, I see how you have practiced the rules, you have poured over pages of story and graciously set aside the time and energy to bring fun to those around your table. And notice this: they keep coming back for more fun. You are doing it right. The only weapon that can take you down now is doubt. Weather the storm, slay the dragon and be the reward.

May your story continue!

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Make a List

Today, we have so many apps and tools available at our fingertips. How far away is your smart phone from you right now? Maybe on the table, a docking station, or upstairs on your bed, or possibly in your hand at this very moment.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Have you ever seen someone tie a string around their finger? This old trick reminds the person that they wanted to remember something in particular and the out of place string wrapped around their finger reminds them of that memory.

Since we don’t normally keep strings on our finger, it can serve as a reminder to get something done. And we need reminders, otherwise, the day drifts into hours passed and minutes spent until the cycle completes and we witness the sun sinking behind the western wall with the same pressing feeling that we didn’t get anything done.

May I suggest setting aside all of the screens for a moment and do this one simple thing: make a list. Grab a mundane piece of paper, a blank one that allow you to freely express your handwriting. Retrieve a pen or pencil, depending on whether or not you like to scratch a hard line through your editions or buff them away with an eraser. Place the instrument on the paper.

Write anything that arrives at the top of your mind. Lay everything out on the hospitable parchment which holds all of the space for you. Without consideration, pour out your hearts desires, whether it arrives as a grocery list, unpaid bills, goals for schooling this next year, dream vacations or something you have been meaning to say to your mate. Deliver it up to the paper.

Watch in wonder, as your breathing changes. There it lies before you in honesty. Your thoughts, now in broad daylight, appear before your overarching witness. Whereas before, the jumble of activity in your brain looked more like a soup, this collection of words map out the recipe for how you think, how you dream and how you feel. Appreciate this feedback.

Photo by Alex Azabache on Pexels.com

Finally, it all of it’s glory and imperfection. Post it. Not for anyone else to see, but give it just enough light to oblige your attention on a daily basis. You will thank that list many times over as it holds your thoughts for you. For now, my friend, your mind begins to create. Without clutter, and without encumbrance, it sets itself alight with the wings of the spirit and begins to fashion a life for you with the list in view.

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Homeschool like a Dungeon Master, Share a Story and Find your Values

Back in the 80s, my family homeschooled. I remember the days of workbooks, reading assignments, playing outside and household chores. During 2020, everyone in the USA experienced a sort of homeschooling. This landed most everyone staying at home with their children while performing online calls with teachers and classmates. My family of 5 was already homeschooling during this time so not too much for us changed. Although I remember that homeschooling usually involves playdates, field trips, and trips to the library, during this crisis, we aren’t truly homeschooling. That being said, I do think that this time can provide some much needed reflection on how to identify our values. As I mix together tabletop roleplaying games and homeschooling, think about your own values that you have had time to realize.

When I thought a little more about our situation, I realized that homeschooling is so much more than completing your textbook at home as if it was a sick day or if you were snowed in and the country shut down. During this time, we played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons, having no real place to go and recreate anymore. Quite a few people joined me with online calls as well and we had a great time. So I thought of some ways that home schooling was a lot like playing Dungeons and Dragons.

First, I decided to identify my values with homeschooling. As of now, we live in the information age. Find an opinion on a topic, and I’ll find a counter opinion. Find a truth and I’ll expose it as a lie. Find a fact and if we dig deep enough, science is just science and nature is just nature. Even reading through history, I’ve discovered that there are many takes on what happened in the past based on perspectives and sometimes, editing or omission of information.

Dungeons and Dragons can be a lot like that. When the story teller describes a scene of welcomed oasis in the middle of a scorching desert, they’re not going to give you every detail of information. Nor will each player experience the scene in the same exact way. When I’m done with my description, I ask each player to then ask me a question about the scene. This tells me #1 what I failed to inform and #2 what the players pay attention to in settings.

  • Do I see any animals?
  • How deep is the oasis?
  • What time of day?
  • Does anyone look thirsty?

These example questions prompt me to continue on with the description before assuming I know what they want to hear. It’s not that there are no caves nearby, but only that none of the players really care if caves exist. Theoretically, if a cave existed in that scene, no one remembers or their brains just simply blocked out the info so they could see what gave them interest.

Now tie this back into homeschooling. We see what gives us interest. And these lenses help inform our view of the world. The practice I’ve implemented is asking the children more questions. What do you see? What do you notice? What would you like to know more about? What questions do you have about your reading?

The next point is that on the opposite end of the table, the reason Dungeons and Dragons works as a collaborative story telling game is because every player and the story teller agree to share the same reality.

When the story teller describes a rickety rope bridge over a river of snapping crocodiles, the players then share that reality by testing the bridge, attempting to fly over using magic, befriending the crocodiles by feeding them a prisoner. You get the idea. If the players disregard the narrative by announcing they walk along the bridge with no consequence then the information given by the story teller is invalid. Now, some story tellers will then describe the consequences to the players careless actions, but even then, the players have to continue to agree that what the story teller describes is the same story they play in their minds.

Along with sharing the narrative, players agree to enhance the narrative by adding dialogue, describing responses to the sway of the bridge, tossing a rock down to the crocodiles to see how hungry they might be. This not only agrees with the narrative collectively, but builds a world that can further expand into another story. Like roots from a seed, they expand out and down to create a system of thought with a story.

Homeschooling requires agreed upon values. Teaching your kids at home is not just about handing them information to memorize, although most of study can be about memorization, kids love trivia! Teaching values using rhythms of life, routines and honoring choices with consequences impart the worldview that one is to adopt. How we spend our resources defines our values and homeschooling can really drive a person to identify the treasure they protect, the values of their life. Once they agree upon those values, then watching a child enhance them is one of the most innocent and beautiful events in creation. Their radical adherence and promotion give radiance to the value, arguably increasing its worth. Stop and take a minute to think about what you have found important during this time of repose.

Values are the last of ourselves to remain in the flames of trial.

Dungeons and Dragons. Homeschooling. I’m sure that like myself, you have little teachers in your life that show you the path. Gardening. Photography. I hope that when the rats begin to crawl back into their wheels, that when the bright lights and hum of activity increase back to “normal”, that you have made friends with your values. Shelter them. Grow them. And teach your kids to love them as well.

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Life lessons from playing Dungeons and Dragons

[Or more about how we are story formed]d201

Maybe you have seen the 20 sided dice show up in pop culture lately, or heard the name of the world’s best role playing game. I don’t know about you, but most of my childhood was spent fantasizing about other worlds, adventure quests, role playing as a different creature, and leading my siblings into that realm. Books like The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Chronicles of Pyrdain, Redwall, and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH all deeply influenced my choice of games played. And like my childhood imagination, the game is all about telling stories of adventure. Around 2017, I suddenly had an enormous amount of free time handed to me via losing employment. That’s the opposite of striking it rich. However, in many ways, I have confirmed some powerful principles in life through researching the world of The Forgotten Realms and such, in the game Dungeons and Dragons.

  • Perception is seeing what’s there
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Open your Senses

While adventuring through Middle Earth or the Forgotten Realms, stopping to take a look around goes a long way. The game is at it’s simplest form a series of ability checks your adventure makes in progression of the game. The dice roll determines percentage of success (by the way, the game is also great at building your math skills!) Just know that your adventurer will not usually be handed information without asking for it. However if you venture out there and look around, there’s no limit to what you can find. Quite simply, If you’re not looking, you won’t see anything! Life is first accomplished by investigation, perception and taking in what’s in front of your, or even better, looking behind the curtain. Take a lesson from Curious George.

  • You are not as resilient as you think you are
The Hobbit Battle of Five Armies 2
Help is for the Strong

As I researched the game, the rules of adventure, it surprised me at how few hit points it took to knock an explorer unconscious. 3 swipes from an raging ogre, 2 bites from a bloodthirsty wolf, or even a fall from a slippery ledge would issue enough damage to end the quest. At first, I thought, “how can you get through a campaign alive if the adventures have such limited resources on health?” But the more I thought about it, I realized that that’s pretty much how it is in this world as well. It’s easy to believe our health and stamina are invincible, but as we traverse through danger, we can only take so much damage to our bodies and minds before we find ourselves chronically ill, in a hospital, or mentally used up that we are only able to take one day at a time without caving into darkness. Of course in D&D, the answer to maintain health is partner up with healers, choose your adventure appropriately (don’t chase down the level 14 dragon if you are a level 2 rogue!) and quite simply: learn to rest.

  • Rest goes a long way and helps you stay alive

You heard it! Quite a bit of the game is going to sleep, resting and vacationing from perils in the wild. The sojourners will head to an inn, the kind old hermit woman in the woods, the hall of a great lord and enjoy the peace and quiet until their wounds and minds heal.  I’ve worked in hospice most of my nursing career and have witnessed so many people engaging in life with only 1 hit point to save. I’ve watched fellow colleagues give all to work and leave no room for rest before chasing down another week of work. I myself have fallen prey to the lure of working overtime instead of tending to my bleeding soul. Really folks, learn to rest, vacation, veg-out, unplug and the like. And really rest. Not staring at your phone swiping through an app, but rest that truly unplugs you. This will be different for everyone and I can’t recommend http://www.personalityhacker.com enough for the resources they provide on discovery of your personality and how it rests. If the travelers forget to rest, they certainly will not be prepared for the next skirmish around the corner, and may suffer death.

  • Sorry, there is always room to fail
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Though you fall, the story continues

In the game, every attempt the hero makes, whether choosing to convince a law master to set your party free or take a stealthy stab at an unsuspecting goblin guarding the bridge, it is all determined by a roll on a 20 sided dice. Rolling a 20 is automatic success! However rolling a 1, despite any bonuses your well-developed hero might have, is a total and devastating failure. Ugh, this is a humbling lesson because rolling a 1 does not care how much you have previously achieved in success before this roll. Imagine investing thought and time into developing an adventurer all the way to level 6, being careful to rest, wise about the pursuits, perceptive of the surroundings, planning each battle strategically and then make one unlucky move and fail. It happens. You will spend years at a church investing into the heart of the people and the mission only to have someone turn on you and your family and find yourself kicked out of the tribe. You know why it happened, but you didn’t think it was worth splitting fellowship. Or you pour your heart and soul into a company, promising your family that it will pay off and everything looks great for the promotion that will make life so much easier and then they hand the offer to an outside hire and terminate you because you are now overqualified for any other place in the company. Or you look left, look right, proceed your vehicle through the intersection and still find yourself injured in bed and without hope of healing. Should I go on? You fail your boards, you fail the relationship and find yourself sobbing on the floor of an empty house with even an emptier heart. Grief is really mourning something that was once loved and is now off limits for you to love. Your love is no longer allowed. Or at least it must be changed into a lesser version of that love. It hurts. However, at the end of every failure, there’s always another chance to roll the dice. Try again. Rest, heal up, start over, but please don’t stop playing the game.

  • Little guys win, sometimes
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Nothing makes you braver than the fear of losing a loved one

You know what though, sometimes you do roll a natural 20. And win big. With superhero powers. Just like the natural 1 doesn’t discriminate failure to only failures in life but also to very successful adventures, so the natural 20 roll hands a good luck charm to those adventures starting out with very limited resources. That’s what I love about the game. It keeps the adventures humble in this large and threatening world. Even the bold remember that they too, bleed. Conversely, the promise of a bulls eye, or getting rookie of the year calls out to everyday ordinary people to step out their door and make something happen in the life around them. The first time your level 1 adventure does the perfect acrobatic and slays the fiend in one fell strike encourages them to keep going! The first time your novice cleric attempts a healing against all odds as the princess is bleeding out, and magically brings her back to life, it’s encouraging! The first time your stealthy rogue sneaks into a locked dungeon and rescues the entire party from a hungry giant, it’s encouraging! Unexpected winning can happen to you too, but you do have to roll!

  • Not much adventure happens if you just sit on the couch
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With that being said, as Gandalf said to a polite and everyday ordinary hobbit who had just finished breakfast “I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.” Dungeons and Dragons is such a great game because it involves a world where everyday people with stories and backgrounds can start as level one adventures and set out to make a difference in the world. A great campaign is not one where your party simply demolishes an orc stronghold, but one where the orc stronghold is demolished and the dam freed, bringing the river back into the town, boosting the economy and encouraging free-trade in safe lands once again. Now the adventures are heroes that make the world a better place. And that’s the principle, we are all formed by the stories we tell ourselves and the stories that connect us to each other and into the world. We sing songs, share dreams and relay tales, but none of that will happen if you choose to bypass the quest to the comfort and safety of your own home and hearth. Really though, we are wanting a world of adventure so we can tell those stories by the fireside one day. As Gandalf the wizard wisely said, “do you suppose, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck just for your sole benefit?” Get off the couch and off the phone, leave behind your pocket handkerchief and share an adventure with folks who enjoy your fellowship! Because life is not just about a solo trip, but a party-shared adventure that changes the world. Prepare, be wise, use all your resources, enjoy your quirks and roll the dice!

May your Story Continue!

Worldbuilding Recipes

Sojourners, Awake!

Wonderful Places

Wonderful Places possess the ability for an adventure to expand out of this place. Think of the recipe as an adventure within an adventure in which the players can continuously explore.

Ingredients

  • A Memorable Name
  • Location in the World
  • Purpose
  • Notable People
  • Rumors
  • Knowledge
  • Opportunities
  • Secrets

Instructions

Name: Mama Leina’s Sweet Meats

Keep the name easy to remember if you want the place to be remembered.

Location: Located within the lower city of Bochen, in the Southern Territories. This stand alone shop is found on Fiscken Way between the Harpie’s Call and Church of Hope.

Places are usually found within 3 bigger places. Continue to build out from one location.

Purpose: This roadside barbecue stand provides fresh off the grill meats of all kinds. Folks stop her for a quick eat or walk over from across the road from the Taverns Call. Once a week, Mama Leina smokes the latest cuts and sells larger portions.

This quick blurb helps you remember why this place functions and will make for dynamic gameplay.

Notable People: Mama Leina, a human woman, has lived in Bochen all of her life. As a widow, she runs the shop with her daughter Sallyanna and her son Phile.

These people will be center stage when the players interact with the place.

Rumors: Feral cats linger around the shop. Some joke the sweet meat special involves feline depopulation.

Make sure to deliver the rumor before the players invest too much time into the place.

Knowledge: Mama Leina’s shop is 88 years old, and began as one of the first shops in Bochen to feed the builders during city construction. Sweet Meats can be purchased cheaply.

Grant the knowledge to players so they can make informed decisions about the place.

Opportunities: Phile, her son, has been drafted into the Sons of War and his company is low on provisions. She wants someone to break through the fighting lines and supply the company with rations.

Here is the moment of decision in which the players will determine how much they will invest into this place.

Secret: Asking for the purple blood special will grant a character a purple coin from Mama Leina. The purple coin can be used to gain an appointment with the Purple Shaman down the road. The purple coin can be seen hanging from a hidden necklace under her blouse. It must be returned to her once the appointment convenes.

Secrets make the places more memorable and can provide more opportunities, people and other places to explore!

As you can see, mix and match your ingredients to create your own recipes for wonderful locations!

May your Story Continue!

Curing Fear by Having Fun

The best way to avoid failure is simply not to try. Partly true. But I wasn’t satisfied with that answer. I needed something more authentic.

Working at a summer camp, I see over 200 kids a week. We hand out beads for certain accomplishments that campers can string together as a memoriam of their times this summer. Specifically, I pay attention to their fears. I do this because, for each kid that confesses a fear and then faces it at the camp, they will an award called the “bravery” bead.

Fearing failure is real and some of us experiencing the crippling anxiety wondering up to our task and sometimes backing out of the endeavor for no other reason than we can’t bear to make a mistake.

This last year I quit my 15 year career as a nurse – and I was scared. I became a nurse because I love helping people, but also because it’s a job that didn’t require a lot of hunting. Frequently, agencies are understaffed, so job security was high. It was safe.

Instead, I got my life guard and high ropes course certification. Have you ever saved a drowning victim? Or watched a 11 year duck under the pool and wonder how well she can swim? Have you secured the harness on a little one and sent them flying through the air 100 feet off of the ground?

Even now, my hands and feet tingle as I type. Heights. Swimming. Not safe.

I was scared to life guard mostly because I didn’t want to have failed the testing. Swimming that long without a break really requires constitution and I wasn’t sure if I could do it. High ropes course is terrifying because strapping in wrong, tying the wrong knot can spell accident and injury very quickly. What if I made a mistake?

What if I made a mistake by quitting nursing? What if I was wrong about the choices I made about my body and the bodies of my family?

Here is what I have learned about fearing failure. When I dig deep into my consciousness, I find that at the base is a lack of trust in my decisions. I don’t trust myself. I trust others and can outsource their minds and hearts to tasks like watching the pool during free time or strapping in a camper, but not me. I can trust someone else to tell me what medicine to take, but not my own judgement. Ultimately, I don’t trust myself. And that scares me.

After thinking on this for a while, I did come to one conclusion on my path to wholeness. Even though I don’t trust my judgement, I do trust “having fun.” When I am having fun, my eyes light up, I smile and time passes quickly. A gentle child awakes and steps to the front of my personality and truly, outshines the fear of failure or anything.

Perfect love, perhaps? At the least, it is a sincere love of fun.

And that was my hack: get serious about having fun. Do it well. So, whether nursing, raising conscious children, standing for freedom, tying a knot, pulling a swimmer from the deep end, or job searching – have fun. I know I can trust that.

One of the ways I have fun is writing on this blog, writing for www.roleplayingtips.com and producing Sojourners, Awake! podcast. Thank you to all my friends who play along and especially those who listen.

Listen to my most recent episode!

May your story continue!

Wake up to Adventure!

If I only have 10 minutes to prepare a game, I spend all of my time developing the Incident. I think that once I start off with a strong incident, the players will generate their own fun and develop the story. From that point, I am simply responding to their actions and a session finishes well.

Here is an article on designing two kinds of adventure hooks in your games!

To begin a session, describe the opening scene as the PCs wake up, whether it be on the road, in a bed, or resting in a dungeon. Use anyone of the following, roll at random, or make up your own! However you do it, find a way to describe enough of an exciting incident to encourage the players to continue the story!

  1. The PCs find themselves adhered with a sticky substance that imposes the conditions grappled, restrained and blind. While sleeping, a horrible neogi excreted a hardening slime over their bodies. By morning, the PCs are encased in a hard shell just in time for a monstrous gray render to show up to feed. Challenges: escape the shell, survive the gray render, retrieve supplies (if running away).
  2. Smoke billows from a nearby fire. The PCs wake up risking suffocation. Escape is challenging due to the extend of the fire. One top of that, an NPC calls out for help among rubble, flames or blinding smoke.
  3. Sick! A failed constitution save results in the poisoned condition for next 3 days. Allow a new constitution save at the end of 3 days to see if the PC recovers. If the PCs find or make a cure, the constitution save can automatically succeed after 3 days. This is great to use after the PC knowingly did something disgusting.
  4. Restless night’s sleep. Sleeping outdoors, in the wild or anywhere that’s not a bed means the GM requires a constitution save for the PCs to gain the benefits of a long rest. Otherwise, a short rest is only obtained. This produces a grittier game for 5th edition, but provides a more interesting adventure as the PCs brave the great outdoors. Consider granting a hermit background or a ranger class advantage on these constitution saves to feature their ability to survive the wilds. But if you do so, when the PCs return to civilization, have the ranger or druid roll to see if they can gain a long rest while sleeping on cushy beds in a castle.
  5. A night hag sat on the PC’s chest all night, infusing them with horrid nightmares. However, the night hag miscalculated her clock and the PCs wake up to her still present in the room. Even if combat doesn’t occur, the situation is hostile, so have everyone roll initiative to see how the encounter resolves.
  6. Well Rested, but all of the supplies are gone! A fey creature laughs, leading the PCs to their goods safely stored in Leomund’s Tiny Hut. The fey creature makes a deal to release the spell and return the supplies.

Waking up can be exciting! Listen to my storytelling podcast while we play D&D 5e.

May your story continue!

Playing Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition with a little more risk and a little more reward.

Three ways I negotiate with my players

The Lost Mines of Phandelver was the first D&D adventure that I purchased and played. Naturally, I started out as the dungeon master and have continued that path for many other adventures. I started a storytelling podcast called Sojourners, Awake! while keeping up with my children’s homeschool game. Since 2017, I have included a few highlights to the game as hallmarks for my particular style of playing. You will see how each of the changes I made revolve around a simple principle – the character sheet holds value and each player can use it to their advantage. I know my players appreciate these modifications as it enhances storytelling and makes for an adventure that effortlessly continues session after session.

High Risk High Reward

As the game master, I produce challenges for my players to solve. I set the stage and leave it up to them on how they choose to engage. As they try out solutions, they might fail. And if they do, I have used “high risk high reward” as a way for the challenge to continue despite a failed dice roll. Understand that I see the character sheet as a player resource that they can use to barter with the gamemaster. This works for our game, because I see 5th edition like a deal between player and game master. On one hand, the game master possesses power to describe outcomes, but players have these resources on their sheet and they want to win the game. I call them for dice rolls and skill checks and if that doesn’t work, the player usually fails – unless they ask for a “high risk high reward”. If they invoke this feature of our homebrewed game, I will then allow the challenge to continue at a price from their character sheet. This can be subtracting their armor class, deducting hit points, dropping a weapon, or exposing their flank to a hungry monster. After we both agree on this deal, the player gives up their goodies, and the game master allows them to keep on trying. Keep in mind, this is still a gamble, but it is a way to keep the player in the game for as long as possible. The higher the risk, though, the higher reward I grant in case of success. This keeps me on my toes and prepared to describe a really great outcome.

More reading on High Risk High Reward

Add some difficulty to spellcasting

Some spells in 5th edition simply happen. The player states they use this as an action, and the spell takes effect. I have found that for some instances involving high stakes, it makes more sense to make this simple spell a challenge. Spells like this may be Cure Wounds or Commune with Nature. These spells normally occur without any cost or try. If I want to up the ante in the game, or display a dire situation, I might call the player to a few skill checks or costs from their character sheet in order for them to proceed. Of course, I first inform the player that the setting it anything but normal, and in fact, there is a great resistance to their success. So, in a particular case of challenge, the player may choose to proceed with the spell at a cost, or back out given it’s challenge.

An example of a unique situation would be casting cure wound under heavy fire. Some combat scenarios involve heavy artillery, or intense lava heat, or suspiciously grievous wounds. Before the player chooses the action, I pause the situation and inform them through their character’s senses that casting this spell would come at a cost to them or the party. Then, the player still possess agency in making their choice.

With Commune with Nature, I might prepare an adventure hook for the players as the druid casts the spell. I inform them that sudden darkness takes their sight and vicious howls fill their ears, calling for your blood – do you still proceed? If the player takes the bait (who could resist?), then they know that upon casting the spell, that they are not entering into a simple spell, but that there is a force to reckon with before succeeding. Giving psychic damage equal to spell level x d6 is a good starting ante. Sometimes, I might call for a skill check not to cast the spell, but to maneuver through the terrain, withstand the environment or avoid an obstacle. No matter what new challenges I add to spellcasting, I harken back to the original principle that makes my game so much fun – despite the challenges, everything on the character sheet is negotiable for trade in order to continue the story. Add a special reward, like an adventure hook, at the end of an otherwise easy task and your players will enjoy the game!

Allow breathing room in worldbuilding

When I set out to world build, I start small. With a single idea, town or person, I only outline the basics of the setting. As the story unfolds, and the player characters make decisions, my world building projects start to expand. Rather than allowing myself to become overwhelmed in describing the setting, I make room for the players to ask question about the scene. As they explore, they can ask a detailed question about the scene regarding something that I didn’t describe. If reasonable, I conclude that detail is now included in the scene! In other words, the players use their worldbuilding skills to negotiate in telling the story.

As you walk into the inn, the sweet smell of incense billows out the door. The cult noisily chants in the corner. Behind the desk, a young woman sits in an oversized chair and looks at you nervously. The stairway leads up to the second floor.

Notice how I didn’t include the young woman’s ancestry. In my notes, I wrote down that she is a human. But as the players explore the room, one of them asks if she might be an elf. I think that this could be likely as there is an elven grove just 20 miles away from this town. Since I didn’t specify her race specifically, I conclude with the player that yes, she is an elf.

The player smiles and says, “perfect”, I would like to speak to her privately in elvish and see if we can learn anything about the cult in the corner.

Since I left out details in my descriptions, this allowed a little breathing room for the players to ask question that supports their character’s abilities. Everything is negotiable on the character sheet and since, the NPC could likely be elvish, the player character can proceed with their exciting plan. This also helps the players world build with you and so further invests them into the game and story!

Listen to the podcast Sojourners, Awake!

  • What about your games?
  • Do you see the character sheet as a game piece the players can negotiate?
  • Do you tell a story as well as play a game?
  • What ways do your players participate in the worldbuilding?

Thank you for sojourning with me today,

May your story continue!

Getting Unstuck as a Game Master

A common problem between the screen and the game

I had to call a tow truck the other day. My car was stuck and I wasn’t going anywhere. It is frustrating to feel helpless, but I’m grateful for the 24/7 service that we have.

Also, yesterday, I had a serious case of mental block. I couldn’t seem to conjure up any ideas for my table top roleplaying game. The session date creeped around the corner and still, I felt stuck.

Getting stuck happens, it is expected. I know this because the tow truck company is still online and ready to drive. Getting stuck in a game should be expected as well. But when we get stuck, how can we get unstuck?

So do we quit? Leave the campaign idle on the roadside? This happens more often than not, I assume. But let me offer some answers for getting your game back on track by asking 5 questions when you are stuck.

Listen to my Storytelling Podcast!

Do I have permission?

Permission can be External – notes, slips, certificates, permits, from sources of people and organizations, can be one time or ongoing like subscriptions, or memberships. It can also be permission from the group. For a gamemaster, you don’t need a certification to play, but you might need to check in with the group to make sure they still want you as the gamemaster. Being stuck might mean you take a break, or let someone else lead for a change.

Permission can be Internal – it deals with imposter syndrome and asks do I belong here? Barriers to permission include fear, guilt, and resentment. Be alert that this is an ongoing process requiring maintenance on your part. Keep believing good things about yourself because faith in your abilities is sometimes poorly perceived from your point of view.

Action step – review the table talk and ask everyone if they want you to game master. Make a list of 3 things you are good at and 3 you can work on. Practice positive talk and recall your past successes. Read this article on Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

Do I have clarity?

Can I define the desired outcome? Does the goal need refinement? Do I have clarity of values as well as the vision? Values are internal, deep seated within us – requires alignment.

As a game master, you might be tempted to believe that the outcome of the game relies wholly on the dice or the chaos of the player’s actions. This is true, but the outcome of playing a game and finding enjoyment is up to your values. Do you know how you want to feel after a game? Can you state the kind of game you want to run?

Know that it can be so easy to search the internet for “other” table’s measurements of success – from amazing mini collections, to full time artists at the table, to amazing voice acting. All of theses values are wonderful, but are they your values?

Action Step – write down in 1 sentence what you want to accomplish in a game session. Tell someone what you want to complete in the time it takes to wait in line at the grocery store. Write down 3 values of your gaming experience that are required for you to have fun.

Do I have Skills?

Experience is the ongoing process that teaches. Ask yourself if of where you need to improve. I have found that I get stuck not because I’m a bad at playing games, but because I lack skills on writing, creativity, knowledge of geography, or how money works. To get unstuck, I may need to improve my real life with education that will translate in to a richer gaming experience.

Action Step – learn a new language, take a class on baking bread, volunteer at a hospital, read a book on war tactics of the 1800s. Subscribe to a you tube channel on candle making or ask a friend to teach you how to save money and build wealth.

Do I have Resources?

Resources can include Money, Tools, Space, Energy and Time. While not an expensive hobby, investing in a good podcast, patreon, or gaming group will bring inspiration to your experience. Tools may include a shiny new dice set, but also investing in a manual on how to run combat encounters. Another great questions to ask yourself is how much room do I need for mistakes, or am I lacking time to prepare for games? Do I need to involve another gamemaster? Don’t forget about improving your physical health!

Action Step – identify time wasters and call them out. Eat nutrient dense food, Expect to make mistakes and plan for time to fix them. Ask for help from other GMs.

Do I have motivation?

What is my Why? What do I want? Motivations barriers can include lack of resources (especially energy and mental stamina). What happens if I meet my goal, and what is the reward? I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep the reward at the forefront for motivation. Without rewards, motivation will plummet. But if you don’t even know how to define your reward, you won’t see it when it arrives.

Action Step – Remember that Living Organisms Move (and that includes you!)- Remember that Motivations often Follows Movement. Motivation can hide under poor health, so make sure you are referring back to the other 4 questions when asking this one. Read this article on Finding the Reward

Which do you think you get stuck in the most?

Keep moving!

Getting unstuck is a task well worth the learning, because getting stuck is going to happen in any project, relationship, dealing or goal. You can ask yourself these questions any time you are stuck, or even when you simply feel stuck in any part of your life, not just games. So the next time you feel the mental block and see the blank sheet of paper, write down these 5 questions, ask yourself, and get unstuck.

May your story continue!