The Lich

The Lich

a small phylactery containing role-playing ideas and spirit

#RPGaDay 9: Beyond the game, what’s involved in an ideal session?

Delay Note: Days 5+ were delayed to match September because I got completely owned by some kind of infectious disease for about a week. Verdict is still out on what it was, but as one of the possible scenarios was dengue, no chances were taken. After that was over, I then played catch-up with my life for the rest of August, which brings us to now. (And then disaster strikes again and I lose my laptop, but I’m back on the train now.)

Some of my friends would say this is “Trust,” while others would say “Communication.” My first instinct is to throw out my usual buzzword, “Dynamic,” as in table dynamic. I’m going to try something here, though, and try turn around a word which may at first elicit a negative reaction; the ideal session requires Submission.

Hear me out. Every year in this city, local traffic gets worse. My friend in Australia reports the same, and we often discuss the matter, by which I mean we complain a lot. Two years ago, however, he throws this whammy at me while I’m talking about horrible drivers: “the traffic system only operates if absolutely everyone submits to it. Traffic is a system of submission, not dominance, and that’s why we keep failing at it.” It took a few minutes to process, but I saw the truth in it — pretty much every time I’m in inexplicably terrible traffic, it isn’t for any other reason than that there are jerks up ahead who are weaving through the cars and forcing everyone to slow down so they can cut ahead and “win” the traffic game. In fact, there was one time I got caught in what looked like a hellish gridlock from afar because of roadworks, but since the construction crews had placed barriers forcing every car to stay strictly in their lanes without switching, it also doubled as the fastest and most painless trip I’ve ever taken down that highway. That night worked because we were all forced into submission because even big driver egos can’t crash through concrete barriers.

Combine that traffic anecdote with roleplaying, and you’ll have my complete statement: roleplaying is a system of submission, not dominance, that only operates if absolutely everyone submits to it. (… Are you still following me?)

By this I don’t mean we arbitrarily prop up a single player to rule over all of us since that flies against the statement that absolutely everyone must submit. This includes the GM, who I know is often the most excited to share carefully crafted stories and to see players take on their roles in that story. However, submitting to both one person and embracing only one person’s narrative will, just like traffic, cause frustration. Narratives –our thoroughfares through the story– in a system of mutual submission must be shared; in an ideal game, the GM also submits to the player’s desires and attempts to respectfully weave in their narratives into a shared collaborative fiction no one person has ownership of. Players aren’t excluded in this responsibility. Players, on their end, watch or listen for cues about the table –like being mindful of approaching cars– taking care to create or attach to story elements, respectfully weave in the narratives forwarded, and encourage players who seem to be shrinking. Most importantly, everyone takes care to not be fooled by any idea that any one person is more important than the others at the table. None of us is an ambulance or a self-important politician. Much like how driver egos ruin the roads, an overweening ego at the table will eventually, in the long run, seek to control the narrative and kill the fun.

So that’s my answer: Submission makes for the ideal session. Without it, even trust and communication won’t work. Ever tried to communicate when one person’s mind is already set on ideas of who is correct and who is in the right and what makes the best story? You won’t get far unless everyone submits, trust me.

#RPGaDay 8: Hardcover, softcover, or digital?

Delay Note: Days 5+ were delayed to match September because I got completely owned by some kind of infectious disease for about a week. Verdict is still out on what it was, but as one of the possible scenarios was dengue, no chances were taken. After that was over, I then played catch-up with my life for the rest of August, which brings us to now. (And then disaster strikes again and I lose my laptop, but I’m back on the train now.)

Even today, I still don’t have a Kindle. When it first launched, the Kindle represented to me something anathema — a book without tactile features, lifeless and dead. It would have no smell, no texture, and worst of all, no fixed page numbering, and thus no standardisation even within a single edition of a text. As a teacher, that last trait put the nail in the coffin for me on digital books; I need page numbers because page numbers let you perform a book’s primary purpose, which is to share what is within it to others. (Otherwise, why is the book written at all?)

I love hardcovers the most. When I lived in Canada, obtaining a hardcover roleplaying book was as simple as heading over to the nearest Chapters (D&D) or placing orders online through (where I got all my Exalted books, next day free delivery). In the Philippines, however, that simplicity ended. When I first moved here, the local customs offices defied the international Florence Agreement that the Philippines had signed into which states that books, all books, are to be duty-free, and when they saw the large and expensive (for a book) RPG titles I was importing, they stuck their greedy knives in me with glee until an order from the Department of Finance, which was disseminated to the public to use against corrupt officials, was handed down banning the tax of, finally, all books. Still, it was several years before that manifested, so between my love for fixed page numbers and the reality that bringing in books was too expensive, especially for the smaller indie titles, a compromised was formed: PDFs.

I still don’t have a Kindle, but my iPad is now my roleplaying repository with a library that perhaps rivals my collection of hardcovers across two continents. I’ve become so used to these digital copies now that I even browse them in ritual at night, in bed, before I sleep, something far too difficult to do with a hardcover book. That I made that shift so completely still surprises me.

My hardcover collection still slowly grows, but now no longer at the same pace as my digital one. Digital files have also helped me finally rid myself of the kind of book that cause me the most trouble — pesky softcovers! So I can take hardcovers and digital now, but no paradigm shift will ever get me to accept a softcover gladly.

No to softcovers!

So, it was my birthday.

And now that I am home, it is time to rate this birthday. However, to begin, thank you everyone for your greetings and company today; I am not one to make spectacle of my birthday, but this year your well-wishes were timely and restorative.
Really, thank you.
This was not an easy birthday to step in to, which is unusual. Nominally, I accept my lumps in August and am hardy by September, but events this week which have made where I live a very unsafe and unpleasant environment altered that pattern for the worst. I have done my best to circumvent the issue and to limit my exposure to its cause, but it has affected me nonetheless and made me less charitable toward other people. This also marks the first year in a decade I did not put a primer up for the usual dedication mechanics for my “feast day.”
Reflecting from the end of the day, however, I can truly say the issue is behind me. A course of action is selected, and a great day was had. I spent the beginning watching Apple and Sony press releases, the middle sleeping for nearly the entire day, and the evening in comfortable confine with a group I need not put up aires or defenses around. We played SeaFall, a game that touches much of my desires and sensibilities and is pretty to boot, and achieved much in terms of progression and story. That we embarked upon our 15-game-long campaign of it on my birthday is an honour and privilege I am lapping up and soaking in.

 ‘Lo! The beautiful character portraits of SeaFall!

It has been a day of good sleep, good company, and great greetings. The night before, I had steak with my family; I was sung to over breakfast; I was sung to upon entering the classroom; and I was half-sung to (but received cake also) over long-anticipated board games. Facebook friends worldwide greeted me as did my fictional crewmates in GranBlue Fantasy. It is almost embarrassing how touched I was by the pre-recorded voice-acting; I listened to some again and again in the middle of the night and felt loved by pixels. (Sad.)
So while the start was rough, I can honestly say that this has been a very special birthday. I’d prefer quieter ones as I get older, but this one came when it was needed. So, once again,
Thank you everyone. May all your days feel as special as this one did for me. Why limit ourselves to birthdays, after all?

#RPGaDay 7: What aspect of RPGs has had the biggest effect on you?

Delay Note: Days 5+ were delayed to match September because I got completely owned by some kind of infectious disease for about a week. Verdict is still out on what it was, but as one of the possible scenarios was dengue, no chances were taken. After that was over, I then played catch-up with my life for the rest of August, which brings us to now.

So this is a lot of text blocks.

In highschool, my regular Dungeon Master was conducting a psychology experiment using the table as a blind test group. Underclassmen, the rest of us, none of us knew until we were finally saying our farewells and moving away to separate countries. “By the way…” it was mentioned, together with a brief explanation of what the study had been about. “Psychoanalysis,” he said, but never told us what was learned about us. All he shared was that the stimuli and relative safety of the table to explore difficult themes and create otherwise extremely stressful situations (we died about an average of twice a night) created a window through which an examiner could glean very interesting data as players began to blur the lines between “What would the character do?” and “What would I do if I were in this situation the character is in?”

The message I heard was, “If you pay close attention to people during tabletop roleplaying, you can form a hypothesis on personality traits those people may possess.” I went to college with that in the back of my head, and though I didn’t get to roleplay again until my second year, I started watching people immediately and paying attention to their relationships, body language, and tonal inflection. When gaming began for me again, I shifted to looking for the differences between who people normally appeared to be and what choices they made when under crisis, noting also who thought differently, who clashed, and who had a Freudian preoccupation with large swords throughout campaigns and genres. Hanging out outside of games and adding my new layer of observation during games taught me a lot about my friends and even prepared me enough that I was unsurprised by the choices they made when real life crises emerged. I could, with relative accuracy, predict the people I played with!

A caveat, I feel, though. As I took this knowledge and helped with other studies on the relationship and application of roleplaying games and psychology, it became very clear to me how important it was to not mistake these predictive patterns for real theory. It is dangerous to assume one can learn a whole person or even that person’s core through a single medium — people are more complex than that, and so is psychological theory. One has to keep changing the variables — the table, the genre, the system, the environment — in a myriad of ways to check if results are repeatable or else one walks away with an incomplete and often faulty perception of someone. I’ve seen this happen, and I dislike the lazy intellectualism anything less than true rigour suggests.

Anyway, what is significant about this skill is that I now use it professionally as a teacher — I watch students as they work to figure out their learning styles, I note their responses to stressful stimuli and how anxiety affects their test scores vs practice, and form predictive patterns and teaching strategies around their individual quirks. I won’t claim that it tells me about their true self, but it is a skill that makes my work simpler and more fun (sometimes we are even able to tell who likes whom before the kids are even aware. Caveat: teachers are the most horrendous gossips). In games now, I use it to design tables that won’t give me headaches; I actually champion very much the idea that a group needs to carefully curate a table before play and that failure to do so at the very start is a recipe for disaster that even communication won’t solve. In Canada, it meant keeping our street’s two GMs away from each other, and even here on another continent that seems to hold true also. (Anecdote: it’s always GMs because of their big heads, always.) It’s even given me a semi-reliable method to predict which couples will stay together for the long haul! Come to my classroom sometime, and I’ll teach it to you.

Anyway, that’s the story of how RPGs taught me voyuerism and voyuerism keeps me in a career! See you tomorrow.

#RPGaDay 6 – Most amazing thing a game group did for their community?

Delay Note: Days 5+ were delayed to match September because I got completely owned by some kind of infectious disease for about a week. Verdict is still out on what it was, but as one of the possible scenarios was dengue, no chances were taken. After that was over, I then played catch-up with my life for the rest of August, which brings us to now.


The funny thing about this story is that the whole idea began with pretty heavy resistance.

Here’s a non-secret: at Gamers and Gamemasters Philippines, we don’t always get along. We have ideological fights sometimes, we have feasibility fights the rest of the time. When Anglekite was first brought up, we had a little of both. Some people didn’t think a Dungeon World game would achieve the pull required to fill the seats needed for a long-con game, others mistook Dungeon World for D&D and didn’t like how we’d be pandering to the mainstream, and another few said (pretty fairly) that we should just make our own content for long-term gaming.  It was an idea that almost didn’t make it out of the meeting and nearly fell off the shelf from general inertia, but it found its champions and became a major focus for our summer program. (April here is summer.)

I spun this tag-line in the marketing —

Copy of G&GApril_small

16 players
4 tables
2 days
1 apocalypse!
Will your decisions save the world or doom it further?

(I still think it should have been called The April Apocalypse. Art was painted by my sister, inspired by Anglekite‘s cover.)

There’s not much I can say else about what actually transpired, sadly, because despite having sat in the planning sessions and almost become the 5th GM to allow more players to join in on Day 2, I missed both days! The first day clashed with my booking for Les Miserables, so all I saw was ingress and egress of the event; and the second I spent last-minute covering for a sick DungeonMaster slated to run a game for the D&D Adventurers’ League (we paired Anglekite with the launch of the Curse of Strahd season). The end of an epic I helped Kickstart! The excitement as the Pyrewurm blazed across the skies! The handing out of certificates I helped create! I missed it all! (But I managed to give a very nice group and a young boy a good time in Barovia, and made amazing friends doing so, so scales balance.) The anguish!

But, even without perceiving the events myself, I knew the excitement in the happy faces after still hanging around and in photographs. I knew that we had helped do a good thing. And when we started seeing other groups make big plans — our host, Ludo Boardgame Bar and Bistro, held successful events for Watch the Skies, and our partners, D&D Adventurers’ League Philippines, put together the first D&D Convention, coined Conclave,  in the country ever — I knew that fighting for Anglekite to exist and giving up what was perhaps my only break in the year was utterly worth it. Anglekite was phenomenal, and so were Watch the Skies and Conclave. The other idea, making our own content, is still in the works and scheduled for next year, and I’m sure that will be awesome also! (Especially if I get to participate this time!)

Ah, but all in all, Nosfecatu tells the story better as the guy who made it happen, so read his side too.



#RPGDay 5 – Stories Groups Tell of Your Character

Delay Note: Days 5+ are delayed because I got completely owned by some kind of infectious disease for about a week. Verdict is still out on what it was, but as one of the possible scenarios was dengue, no chances were taken.

When I was a teenager, the philosophy at the table was to utilise player skill to survive the narrative. Fastidiousness was rewarded with furtherance of plot, unveiling of story, and deeper investment into the machinations at hand. Sadly, we rarely made it very far. Sometimes, we went through upwards of four character deaths a long night. Each time the party completely faltered, the DM packed up the narrative and gave us a disappointed look — he was never going to tell us that particularly story again, and he was never going to reveal to us, who had failed, how it may have ended. Like defeated gladiators, we returned to our pens after and spent the week at school discussing strategy and ideas.

In college, that paradigm changed with GMs who put more stock in telling the whole story than in adhering to the rules of survival. Suddenly we had characters who lived out the year-long campaigns that ran from Fall to Summer that grew with us and became zeitgeists of those years, reflections of us whose traits we absorbed year by year. If in high school my identities were being ground and reconstituted and my growth was measured in how long I could keep each idea alive, in college I deepened my sense of self through role-playing by adapting a single idea through a washer of different ideas, story hooks, and inter-relationships.

However, because those characters were reflections and because, for the most part, they eventually became parts of me as I also changed with their inclusions, the stories about them outside of their eras fade and the group instead tells stories about you. As a player, because identity was a large part of what I played for, that was always the fate of my character stories.

But as a gamemaster, the ideas were all different. I didn’t need to create only the characters I could stand to keep in my skin for a long time; I could create caricatures, facades, fools, and annoyances! I did, and those are the characters I am remembered for.

The Devil Box by Richard Pett gave me my first NPC boobytrap – Lumbie, a half-goblin, half-troll hybrid who is incredibly useless and yet extremely integral to the successful conclusion of the adventure. While I had already peppered my players with my interpretation of Eberron’s fallen noble race, goblins with cloying and high-pitched voices who wore stolen whitewashed fences as ridiculous masques, nobody was ready for how utterly banal and stupid the “last scion of the great shaman line,” Lumbie, was going to be. I foreshadowed it gingerly in the goblinoids’ reactions when they realised that the only way to contain the chain devil their people were charged with was with Lumbie’s help, and the players did give me a few raised eyebrows when the goblins revealed that they had sold Lumbie to a circus… but once they actually bought back Lumbie and in his incredibly stupid presence for more than five minutes, I knew I had done my job right. The party had to babysit him, change his diaper, try to reason and communicate with him… and the goblins? Were very happy to conveniently not be there whenever Lumbie had an emergency.

“I hate Lumbie.” My brother told me after being his primary caregiver for the adventure. Even today, the easiest way to make his face contort in disgust and accusation is to go, “Hey, remember Lumbie?”

My brother will never forget Lumbie.


For different groups at different times, the characters people remember: from Remnants, Cador Hare. From Out of the Abyss, Shuushar the Awakened.

If you ever get the chance to run Out of the Abyss for your party, ham up Shuushar. Give him voice, take away his self-preservation instinct, have him lecture the party constantly, let him display powers he will never use. Trust me, it’ll be worth it. They will never forget Shuushar.


#RPGaDay 4 — Most impressive memory of another’s character

While my brother is one of the most memorable players I know, this won’t be about him.

My table has been exploring Legend of the Five Rings again lately, and what makes Rokugan here in the Philippines different from Rokugan as I played it in Canada is that there is legitimate interest in the Mantis Clan outside of marveling at their deadly proficiency with the bow. If you’ve ever taken a look at L5R, you’ll realise that it is not a very Japanese setting, not truly, and more a strange hodgepodge of Asian-like, or dare I say “Oriental,” cultures living together under a “Japanese-y” emperor. With the Unicorn Clan, you have the Mongols; the Scorpion, Thailand; and with the Mantis, you have a sea-faring island culture roleplayers in the Philippines feel affinity to.

(Nosfecatu, for instance, is always talking about running a Mantis-centric game in which he uses his vast research of what life was like in the pre-colonial Philippine Islands.)

It’s with this in mind that we walk into this story. While three of us decided to take our one-shot characters forward into a semi-ongoing travel campaign, our fourth player, Gelo, wanted to really explore the different cultures of Rokugan, and so planned to change his character with each new arc. Gelo’s a fun-loving player and who really wanted to dig into the social dynamics of the world, so when we traveled to Mantis lands, he took on the persona of a young lord wanting to increase his financial standing and please his easily-influenced, nouveau riche young wife in the process. All this is of course standard fair for the idea of switching, until his first scene when suddenly Gelo transforms from player to fully immersive actor on the table! Two players strive for an introduction with him by buying him a drink, and it initially looks as though he’ll accept and call them to his table, but instead what he does is quietly order everyone else to leave the tavern. Then he suddenly hurls their offered jug of sake to the ground beside him! “Tell me,” he growls within the very edges of civility, “Do I have the appearance of someone who can not afford his own drink? Do I seem to you someone asking for your charity?”

Mon_MantisThe roll of the head, the intensity in his eyes, and the aura of machismo emanating from him is exhilarating. His body language is not Gelo’s. You can tell the other two players are taken aback at this subversion of what ought to have been an easy introduction between player characters. But this is the young Mantis calling the shots, not Gelo. He orders the most expensive drink in the house. He gives no easy ground to anyone trying to ingratiate themselves to his character. He makes everyone work for it, forces them to come at him through his wife, his weakness, because he’s now a living, breathing part of the world whose rules we must obey. Our antagonist for the session, a Crane samurai seeking to drive the prices in Mantis lands back into Crane favour, does the same in exploiting that weakness until a meeting is called between the two economic rivals.

Now, typically in Rokugan, when it comes to social manipulation, the Crane have the upper hand, and that’s moreso true here given that our GM is very proficient with the Crane clan. But Gelo matches. The Crane begins by dragging everyone into the Crane game of social niceties, enforcing norms that obviously benefit them. The Mantis finds reason to force the conversation out in the open instead. The Crane takes the opportunity to toss verbal daggers and aspersions, but gets caught in a trap set by someone else that the Mantis capitalises on. When the Crane tries to delay to recoup, the Mantis taps his fingers on the table impatiently. It is unnerving how irritated he is. When the Crane tries to save face, the Mantis clicks his tongue in annoyance, “Tch. Are you telling me that the mighty Crane Clan with all its riches admits they cannot afford the price? That they ask the Mantis for a discount?” The words drip with the venom of disappointment and echo with the sound of someone disillusioned by how base this Crane is making her clan appear.

The meeting ends with nothing left to be said but that. We leave. The Crane kills herself. The session ends not long after, and Gelo returns to us as Gelo, not the Mantis lord.

But we all remember the Mantis lord.

#RPGaDay 3 – Proudest Character Moment

So I had actually planned to talk about a Bubblegum Crisis 2033 campaign in this space, but after gathering all the proper graphics and editing them to fit, the true moment-to-be-discussed lodged itself in my head. Do excuse me as I restart.

Instead of BGC, we’re going to talk about a RIFTS: Chaos Earth game.


Chaos Earth was a post-9/11 publication for RIFTS that took the setting to the apocalypse that created it. The focus of the narrative within Chaos Earth was to honour the efforts and dedication of heroic firefighters, police officers, and military personnel as they rescued civilians caught in the multi-dimensional firestorm that ultimately destroys modern-day civilisation. Our game of it was played in a quiet corner of the University of Windsor student centre, and despite the American flag on the cover of the book, the story took place in an unnamed part of Ontario-Quebec.

Patriotism, of course, abounds in these kinds of games and swells because we live on the border with Detroit, so everyone else plays a Canadian. I decide otherwise and, to the disgust of my fellow players, take on the role of a genetically augmented and massively large American soldier — Theodore Jefferson Russel, or T.J. Russel for short. He’s there on loan to support the Canadians because America helps its allies. He also cheerfully tells them that at every opportunity. At this point, I’m pretty sure all the other characters (and players) hate him (and me), so spreading the goodwill of AMERICA begins as an uphill battle.

Yes, I even talk like that in character while puffing out my chest and holding my arms out so it looks like my shoulders turn at my elbows. Apple pie. Freedom.


The GM starts my character out with a damaged mech, citing that because of my massive size, parts have become increasingly difficult to come by. T.J.’s never phased by such news, and is more than happy to let existing parts and labour go to other soldiers and pilots who need it. He takes the opportunity to, on the march, talk to absolutely everyone about how great and noble Canada is, and how AMERICA will not let them down.  It does mean, however, that our first rescue mission happens with T.J. lacking access to a power suit — but he performs admirably enough by helping the team of PCs rescue some refugees from a collapsing building. Since T.J. is so strong and has the D&D equivalent of a Constitution score of 30 (I’m not even joking because RIFTS), he does this by holding up a collapsed support beam with his back until absolutely everyone gets out. AMERICA.

That’s not even the moment I’m going to talk about, but it is the moment that wins T.J. the trust and support of his Canadian allies. I think it’s also when my hammy performance starts eroding the apprehension of the other players against having an AMERICAN character there. Our technicians fast track repairs on T.J.’s Glitterboy (Powered Armour, also a real name because RIFTS) and even paint an American flag on it just in time for us to meet our first real inter-dimensional conflict — a stolen, rampaging Atlantean spider-mech armed with a nuclear payload!

If I didn’t win my table over with T.J. before this conflict, here’s where I do it. T.J. goes toe-to-toe with the Atlantean spider-mech with the support of the party, but our main efforts are on guiding our refugee column away from the danger zone. The pilots of the spider-mech reveal themselves as escaped slaves of the Atlantean Empire; the spider-mech is their only defense against being recaptured and they don’t trust anyone because brutal slavery has been their whole life. Their priority is getting rid of us fast. They fire a nuclear warhead at us, and T.J. uses his action to pick up the less armoured PC beside him and throw him past the blast radius! The missile hits T.J. at ground zero, we calculate damage. I pray. The dust settles and the blast destroys the mech, but T.J. is still alive to climb out of his suit. It’s him alone, now unarmoured, facing down the alien spider-mech.

All of T.J.’s monster stats are in his Endurance and Strength (he’s seriously probably immune to radiation because RIFTS), but after hearing the aliens’ story, he stops and relies solely on his more human qualities. In the quiet of the explosion, before combat can resume again, he calls out to the aliens and engages them as fellow refugees. Runaways. People seeking safety and a home to belong to. He speaks to them about the Underground Railroad and America’s emancipation of slaves. He recites to them the words written at the base of the Statue of Liberty. He tells them that there exist peoples and nations here dedicated to truth, justice, and freedom. Who stand against tyranny in all its forms. In earnest, as a man who lives and breathes and truly embodies the ideals of America the Good, he invites them not just to join them as companions, but to begin the road to citizenship and the guarantee of equality. I nearly kill my throat maintaining his baritone through this whole spiel of nearly over ten minutes, but it moves everyone at the table so much that the aliens (turns out they were people with pointed ears like most first contact alien cultures), exit their spider-mech and accept the care and hospitality of Canada, America’s most precious ally and stalwart partner in freedom and other AMERICAN ways.

The game ends with us finding our way to the mega-bunker that will protect these people from the worst of the apocalypse. The scenes all close with everyone celebrating Christmas Eve together. T.J., someone tells me when they find that bunker in a separate campaign, although he never does find his way back to AMERICA, becomes so beloved by the settlement that its greatest landmark is his statue at its entrance.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


#RPGaDay 2 – Best game session since August 2015?

I’m going to cheat here because I actually already wrote about this session back in January. Part of living with a teacher’s brain is constantly deconstructing experiences to seek out evidence and points of growth — both in yourself and in others. As such, while I’ve had the pleasure of many a grand times with gaming this year, particularly after I joined up with a local community dedicated to sharing the fun of the TRPG hobby (Gamers & GameMasters Philippines), the “best” sessions for me are those in which I can detect individual evolution. With that criteria, two major events come to mind:

1. My Last GMed Game of 2015 (click this for the full write-up)

DSOATTraditionally, I’m a ponderous person whose great claim to player action is what has been called the “seven session set up” in which I lay down the seeds for an amazingly air-tight gambit in the first seven sessions of a game… and cascade from there. It’s an operation that requires lots of time and forethought, and it belies my preferences on both sides of the GM screen. So the idea of running an unplanned game complete with character and world creation all in just 4 hours? Unthinkable! Doing so as a public game during a Gamers & GameMasters event? More so unthinkable! But what amazed me was that I didn’t just manage it once (albeit at 5 hours), but twice when I ran the same set up with different people, a different world, and a different quest entirely at the January G&GMs event “New Beginnings”! Now, when I doubt my abilities or mistakenly think myself hedged in by habit and shyness, I have two tangible moments that I can draw upon to tell myself that, “Yeah, I can do this! I can grow and run games for people I’ve never played with before!”

2. The APEC Week Esteren game

So in November last year, dignitaries from the world over including Barrack Obama crowded into our already crowded city to have a giant conference that, since the country wanted to hide its hideous traffic issues, also resulted in a surprise week off for most people and, thus, an impromptu Shadows of Esteren mini-campaign (3 sessions) hosted and run by my good friend, Mahar. Now this is a massive turning point because, admittedly, our first Shadows of Esteren campaign ran into some issues given that we didn’t really communicate expectations and that Mahar had yet to entwine his dramaturge profession (that guy who researches a text’s context to align the actors and directors with the ideas of the author and the period of the piece) with his tabletop techniques, but I had been witnessing his steady growth in adopting both and creating his own style from it, so knew this one wouldn’t be a problem. What I wasn’t expecting was just how much he’d break free from the idea of “steady growth” to let himself soar as the GM of these sessions! There’s been non-stop growth from Mahar as a GM since that point, but I’ll always remember that week as the pivotal point of his apotheosis and my best Esteren experience to date.

#RPGaDay Collation Post

So I wrote my #RPGaDay 1 post before actually explaining what was going on. The idea of #RPGaDay came to my attention when it was linked in my main local TRPG chatroom which I share with Philgamer, Nosfecatu, and other hobbyist bloggers. The actual idea behind it — posting once a day on a gaming topic for the whole of August — comes from Runeslinger whose aim is to bring these posts in aggregate to “people that you know are curious about games and gaming” so that they no longer just have to take your word for it — it’ll be everywhere, online, and easily accessible through the use of the #RPGaDay hashtag. While I’d be hard-pressed to call The Lich “easily accessible,” this seems a fun activity to do in community.

For anyone wishing to jump along in (trust me, retroactively is fine too), this is the graphic outlining all the prompts:


And here is the ongoing list of my #RPGaDay posts: