The RPGrrl's Blog

{October 9, 2010}   All RP, All the Time!

So, I am currently involved in two all-girl D&D groups. Girl Game 1 (which I will probably rename, or let the players come up with their own team name) met for our first session this weekend. We were down one player, MIA, but the other three were there and raring-to-go!

In the week leading up to the beginning of this game, I e-mailed several resources to my mostly-new players. Before I detail what I sent, I have to thank the large and incredibly talented RPG blogging community for the helpful hints and tweaks they have released into the wild gaming world. There are so many of you out there, sharing and doing your bit to make gaming better!

I had decided early on that, since all the gamers wanted to learn the D&D 4th Ed rules, I needed to direct more focus on the role-playing aspect of the game, and deflect it from the roll-playing and combat.  I really wanted the girls to invest a lot of thought into their characters: their back stories, their personalities, and how they were going to play them at the table.  I sent them all a pre-game prep e-mail which explained that all they needed to prepare before the first session were elements of their back story, and included a link to Your Character’s Old Job from The Sorcerer’s Skull, to help them understand how whoever they were for the first 20, 50, 200 years of their lives can and should influence why they decided to become adventurers, and what sort of adventurer they became.  Also, I took a page from Gaming Brouhaha, who adapted Mouseguard‘s BITs for 4e.  His house rules really spoke to me as a useful thing to include in my campaign.  After the links and explanation of why I was including them, I copied out an old back story from one of my previous characters.

I was really pleased with the response!  We had some slight technical difficulties and two of the players didn’t get the message until very late in the week, but we managed.  When we sat down, each player took a turn telling her back story, which was loads of fun!  Then we took a break from personal narratives and explored the borrowed BITs in more detail, each player explaining how and why they came to have these beliefs/instincts/traits.  After that, I explained to them a little more about the world we were playing in, and told them the next part of our character building exercise was that they would do some shared story telling for me.  I wanted each of them to tell me how they had met one of the other party members.  Before I could even finish explaining the exercise, they launched into a raucous retelling of the bar fight during which they all first laid eyes on one another.  We had a grand time!

All in all, with a little bit of visiting, but a whole lot more character exploration, we were at it for three hours.  Not a single die was rolled.  In fact, I found out all their races and classes ahead of time and printed off randomly-generated character sheets for all the players so we wouldn’t have to take the time to roll up their characters.  I often find that players, especially new ones, get really hung up on all the numbers on those sheets (especially when they’re the one that fills them out).  I was a little worried the random sheets wouldn’t go over well, but to my surprise (and relief!) all the players were happy to adopt them, and even glad I’d printed out full sheets so they didn’t have to do all that page-flipping!

I do have to say, though, that the random character generator of the demo version of D&D Insider regularly spits out characters with one 20 ability score, usually one 8, and mostly 10s.  This caused a little discussion around the table — our cleric was “randomly” rolled with a 20 wisdom and an 8 intellect, for example.  What’s more, with that 8 for intellect, that meant her religion skill was at a minus value!  “So you’re worldly-wise, but not much for the book-learning,” I offered, which she laughed at.  “More specifically, you’re a do-er.  You learn by watching and doing, and you’re naturally inclined to be good at herbalism and spiritualism, but not dogma.  You can commune with your god wherever the moment dictates; you don’t need to go to a specific building or recite a specific prayer.”  We were all pretty happy with that conclusion.  I’m planning on buying a subscription, and hoping the full version has more customizability built in.

All in all, I felt it to be one of the most constructive character-generating sessions I’ve ever been involved in.


[…] as a way to introduce her to the group, since the other three players were all present for the backstory/RP session I blogged about […]

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