Sunday, December 9, 2012

In Which Angela Rants About Good DMing... And Bad DMing.

If you've all read my geek posts, you'll probably know that DM means Dungeon Master. This is the person who runs a Dungeons and Dragons game.
Some of you will also know that I'm a DM, a D&D player, and I belong to a Dungeons and Dragons group.

As such, I feel like I can rant about DMing styles without too much grief. If anyone reading this is a bad DM, don't despair- your players love to make fun of what happens in your game.
Actually, players love to make fun of what happens no matter what it is.
It's just fun like that.

I know quite a few good Dungeons and Dragons DMs. My Uncle Erik is an incredible storyteller, and my mother always makes people laugh. My friend's dad used to DM for our D&D group, and he could keep a story going without people goofing off too much between turns.

Let's break down what makes each of these people a good DM.

My Uncle: He's really good at describing things, especially zombies flying apart when you hit them. This just makes you want to keep playing, because you want to know what happens next. It also means that certain people (*cough*me*cough*) can randomly get scared of zombies possibly attacking them in a basement after an encounter where said thing happened.

My Mom: She's silly, and she's not trying to confuse you with what's going on. If you have a question, there's a 75% chance that she'll answer it. Her games are more open ended... You have the choice of what to do, which adventure hook to chase, etc.

My Friend's Dad: He left things incredibly open world wise, and he always encouraged you to create your character's backstory. Things that might seem trivial at first (but were fun) later turned out to be major components of the story which left you feeling like you discovered something huge by yourself. He also made sure that there wasn't much Out of Game talk.

So now you know what, to me, makes a good DM. A little silliness, good storytelling and good description, and being able to let the characters do what they want while still going forward in the plot (and keeping the out of game talk to a minimum.)

Unfortunately, even though I know these amazing DMs, the majority of the time that I play D&D it's with one of two rather... Unsatisfactory DMs. We'll call them Friend One and Friend Two. Friend One is very much a player character type person, and has a hard time getting into the DM mode, and Friend Two is too focused on the plot and controlling the game to let the characters make choices.
Let's break these down as well.

Friend One: Is too focused on combat, and is likely to get carried away on a tangent (but gets irritated when the players do so, not to mention when we make fun of the game.) The upside to this person DMing is that we definitely do get a lot of experience points, and everyone more or less knows to stay on topic.

Friend Two: Is way too focused on the plot of the game. Friend Two treats the game as a story, and the players as characters he's trying to force to do one thing or another thing, which just makes us antsy (and turns at least two of us into instigators). The upside is that Friend Two doesn't mind us making fun of the game.

And now you know what frustrates me. Being too serious about the game (it is a GAME, after all), and trying to control what your players do.

And then there's DMs like me who never think to prepare stuff ahead of time (other than a rough plot outline), so they just make whatever the heck they want up while the players go through the game.
It's not the best, but it's not the worst, either.
Then again, I am biased.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

In Which Angela Discusses the Importance of Tolerance and Kindness

Salutations my friends and followers.
Er... Blog followers, that is.

Today I'm actually going to talk about something important. I am well aware that this isn't fair at all seeing how I haven't blogged in months, but it's something that has been affecting my life quite a bit recently.
That is, toleration and kindness.

We live in a world where there are billions of people. We live in a country where there are people with different beliefs, different political views, and different opinions. Individually we have to examine our views every time they're challenged and see exactly what we believe in.
With so many different views and opinions, we have to be willing to tolerate them.

To make this point clear: Tolerate doesn't always mean you have to accept the views themselves. There are certain subjects (for example, religion), where one just doesn't accept someone else's view into the way that you yourself view the world.
But we do have to tolerate them.

There are so many different people, and it isn't fair for us to simply mark off the people as wrong or bad because they think something different than we do. It isn't fair to be cruel to someone just because they believe one thing and you believe another. Especially if you're in the majority, it isn't fair to expect someone to put up with you just because you're "right" and they're "wrong" (and you're in the majority, so how can you be wrong anyway?).

Same goes for if you're in the minority, by the way. I just have a habit of picking on the majority because they can do the most damage.

Everyone has the right to believe whatever the heck they want to. It's undeniable that sometimes beliefs are wrong- the idea that the world is flat, for example, or that we have to sacrifice everyone born on a Friday, or that we have to worship all the purple paperclips in the world. They're just wrong.
But with the exception of sacrificing people, we have to tolerate the beliefs. If they aren't hurting anyone, if they're not doing anything but giving someone something to believe in, then there is no problem with them. It's better to believe in something than nothing, and if this is what they believe then more power to them.
And to the purple paperclips.

I myself am a Roman Catholic. This is how I have been raised up, and this is how I'm living my life. I consider it the correct thing to do.
However, I know quite a few people who are protestant, and not catholic. To show an example (and not to pick on anyone) (just kidding, I'm totally picking on nontolerant people), there are two types of those people.
The type who accept that this is what I believe and are happy to know me anyway (or unhappy to know me, but it doesn't matter what I believe 'cause they're jerks and just don't like me)...
and the people who refuse to accept the fact that this is my religion, that this is what I believe, and are insistant on trying to convert me because they can't let me be "wrong".

I'm not friends with those in the second category.

Speaking as someone who has been on both sides of the equation, yes. It feels great to be trying to correct someone if you think they're wrong. However, it's simply frustrating when you're the other person. Besides that, the person who is doing the correcting comes off looking like a huge jerk.

So, please, tolerate each other.

The second half of this post will hopefully be shorter, and has to deal with the (thankfully) commonly loved ideal of kindness.
That is, play nice and share with others.

I can guarentee that everyone has something about themselves that they don't like. If you are unkind you're just growing that, encouraging negative thoughts, and just being a destructive force. There are very few, if any, people who applaud people who are mean to them.
So, please. Be kind. Appreciate the people in your life. Whether or not they're jerks, or unkind, or whether you agree with them or not, they're there for a reason. Maybe it's just to show you exactly what sort of person you don't want to become, or maybe it's to help you become the person you're ultimately going to be.
So be kind. Say nice things. Share what you have, and listen to both sides of the story.