Some thoughts and questions from a relative newbie


#1

I’m going to take a second here at the outset to sort of shamefacedly say that I intended to look this over a few times, revise it, etc. etc. before posting, but life‘s been rough the last few days and I think I just want to get it up here. So I apologize if there is anything dumb or if there are any glaring typos, and I will try to amend it if so. There may also be additional questions coming at some point when I have had more time to think. Please forgive my haste in this.

Basically I joined the Gauntlet relatively recently and have very much been enjoying participating, but having jumped in with both feet and possibly without any goggles, I have found certain things to be confusing or overwhelming, and I thought perhaps if typed them up and put them here other people who were new might find that some of the information would be useful to them as well. So here is what I have so far, and I would appreciate not just any answers people have to the questions, but any general feedback on what I have written up, as I am exhausted and sure it could use a bit of work. Thank you all!

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Notes from a Newbie:

Narrative games. They are the best. At least that’s what I think so far, having had about a week of experience with them. There are a thousand things I could say about the goodness of the games and of thee Gauntlet specifically, but I’m assuming anyone who reads this either already knows or will soon be experiencing the joy of discovery, so I’m making this post about the stuff that I think would have/will help me (and hopefully other new people) experience those joys without some of the confusion that goes along with throwing oneself into something big and complicated without basically any preparation whatsoever (heh). So. Without further ado, here are some things I would love to get some wisdom on from veteran Gauntleteers:

  • PBtA games: popular, and, as far as I can tell, generally awesome. However, it does seem like even among the most mainstay game mechanics there are some variations among what things are called and how they work, and I’m not even 100% sure I’m right about which things are the mainstays. A concise general guide to PBtA games, ideally with some examples of the most common variations on the main gameplay features, would go a long way towards helping someone like me build confidence. I’m sure there are guides out there, but as a lot of what is on the internet is crap, I’d feel better reading things soecifically endorsed by Gauntleteers than just browsing and hoping I happen upon good ones. :slight_smile:

  • Dungeon World, Masks, Monsterhearts… These seem like some of the most popular games, with variations/skins of them going on pretty much all the time. Quick guides to these, perhaps with links to or synopses of their most popular skins, wohkd be super helpful. If there are other games people think should be in this category, that would be great to know, too!

  • Lines and veils are such an excellent idea, as are all of the Script Change Tools. However, as I recently discovered, sometimes things come up in games that one might not expect, and while of course that’s exactly where the X-Card should come into play, sometimes people freeze up. I’m in the process of making a more comprehensive list for myself, and I’d love to hear from anyone (and especially anyone who has a fair amount that they use) whst they would consider best practices are for figuring out what should be a line and what should be a veil, how to word things to indicate that a game-world version of something might be okay while the real-world equivalent might not (i.e. suicide as a line but playing a race where winking oneself out of existence was considered a perfectly normal way to leave the world being okay - I just randomly made that up, so I apologize that it’s a clumsy example), and just any other advice people want to throw in.

  • Waitlisting best practices… oy. I have so much trouble deciding what to get on the waitlist for. I’m interested in so many games. Often there will be more than one in the same slot and I’d be interested in playing either, but they either both have short waitlists or one has a short one and one has a long one, but the one with the longer one is the game that I’d most like to play. How does one decide? Other dilemma: joining a waitlist for a month-long campaign, but noticing that there is a one-off that conflicts with a single session that you REALLY want to play and haven’t seen listen any other times. Waitlist both? If you get the longer campaign, just give up on the so-desired one-off?

  • Gamebooks: for the Big Famous Games (Night Witches, for example), often most of the players have played it before and have the playbooks, so the folders of game materials tend to be limited to playbooks for character types, basic move pages, and maybe a supplement or two. I understand that there may be ethical considerations in just posting the whole games, but is there a way to find them in a read-only format or something for those of us who want to be thoroughly prepared and don’t really know what’s going on yet?

  • General Gauntleteering management… For people at the Patreon level, Gauntlet stuff seems to be spread between Slack, Discus, Google Hangouts, Emails, and the calendar website. I’m not going to lie here… I lose track. Especially because the calendar app doesn’t have options to order by date or filter by what one is attending or waitlisted on, etc. and, at least on most of the browsers on most of the devices I use, the add to Google Calendar button doesn’t actually work. I’ve been trying to use a planner, but I am probably going to switch to a cork board or something… but I still fear I will miss things. I’d love to hear what people’s processes are for making sure their calendars are kept in order and that they’re not missing any information that might have been sent via any of the available channels? Relatedly, do people tend to print things (i.e. the basic moves available for a game, etc.), or just have better screen management skills than I do?

So that’s what I’ve got so far. I know it’s a lot, and I hope that’s not too troublesome. I’m just really excited for the day when I can hop into a game I’ve never heard of and not feel nervous being in over my head. I do recognize that the people running the games are always happy to explain, and everyone has been very kind and patient, but I would still like to feel confident on my own. :slight_smile:

Thanks so much everyone!


#2

Hi, I’ve also only been around the Gauntlet for a short while so I fully empathize with all your points.

The one I quoted is the one that I’m still dealing with. I feel like I’m being rude/disrespectful/entitled or whatever by showing up to a game that I haven’t even read the book for. However, when I’ve done exactly that (show up with no knowledge) it has worked out fine and everyone involved was very cool about it.

So, yeah, I don’t want to buy the book for every game I sign up for but there maybe can be a middle ground in there somewhere. I dunno. :confused:


#4

Hey Pearl! I’m glad you assembled your thoughts. I’ll try to answer what I can, but I’m not speaking for the Gauntlet or the mod team here, just as another member.

  • Game summaries: it sounds like a nice idea that some of our more seasoned members might volunteer for, but honestly there’s plenty of APs and primers on the indie darlings out there, like you mentioned. I don’t think it’s something we particularly need to address. Exploring the games and learning about them is part of the experience, which takes me to…

  • Sharing game books: there’s an implied idea that the facilitator will introduce the players to the core concepts of the game and explain the rules on the first session, and from then on the play materials (playbooks and movesheets) should be more than enough to keep a group running. It has been the case in my experience. It’s perfectly fine to go into a game not having read the book at all. The way most PbtA games are written, as far as I know, make it so they can be run without the players necessarily needing a copy of the book, and I’ve seen other systems take this approach, like Good Society.

  • Safety tools: one line that I often use is “real-world racism”, which implies a contrast to “fantasy world racism”. I often say “it’s ok if other characters say ‘well you know how elfs are’ and things like that” when stating my line out loud. I think that’s a good enough format for any content that is ok to happen as long as its dressed up as fantasy. If you’re playing in a game that has anonymous line and veil input, you could just type “real-world [thing] (fantastical [thing] is ok)”. The key factor in deciding whether something is a veil for me is whether I think it could be interesting to have that thing be a part of the story, but it’s still something that makes me uncomfortable. To use my former example, racism could be downgraded to a veil for me in games where race could be a fitting source of tension and drama. As for the X-card (or even Pause or Fast Forward in Script Change) there’s really not much we can do for a player if they don’t speak up. It’s very hard to read cues through Hangouts, so we have to be proactive in looking out for our comfort. It’s perfectly fine to belatedly X-card something after you catch your breath to make sure the issue won’t come up again and just pile on what happened before. It’s also fine to X-card or give a warning at the earliest sign of discomfort rather than waiting to see if it will turn into something worse.

  • Waitlisting: what I personally do is I just don’t overlap at all. It might result in a slower gaming month, but it saves me the trouble of juggling games. If someone decides to overlap, then I recommend not going beyond two games, and making sure at least of them has two or more people below you. As for one shots x campaigns, it’s complicated. I’d take a look at how much the campaign suffers from having a character drop out for a session before deciding whether to skip one or drop out entirely in favor of the one-shot.

  • General Gaunteleteering: Yeah, Slack and the Forums can get overwhelming (we don’t really use Discord that much). I’d advise just putting the hard notifications on the g_hangouts channel on Slack and filtering the Forums for game posting if it seems like too much. As for making a schedule, I always put whatever game I sign up for on Google Calendar as soon as I RSVP. If I’m waitlisted, I don’t put it in my calendar, I just make sure to hop into the My Account page on Firebase (the calendar site) and check if I’ve been bumped up. I also make a point of looking out for the RSVP emails (I know we receive different ones, but there’s one specific type that says you’ve made it into a game’s list). I also make sure to refresh my inbox every so often to see if there are any backlogged emails from facilitators. Gmail has always put them in my main inbox automatically. As for Hangouts, in my experience not a lot of games actively use the Hangouts Group Chat, it’s mainly a place to post the link when it’s time to play. Sometimes a group invitation get’s lost in the web, so it’s important to check your Hangouts page about ten minutes before the game to make sure you didn’t miss anything, and keep an eye on it to see if the link will come through.

I know it’s not the easiest thing out there, but I think it’s something you just get accustomed to in time. I hope I’ve helped clear some doubts!


#5

I had this experience too, but found that by going to the root of the scheduling site, you can then log in with your Google credentials, give it permission, and then magically the add to calendar buttons work.

I may not be explaining that well, but hopefully it’ll work for you!


#6

Welcome, Pearl!

PBTA games: there are tons and tons of variants, so it’s tough to say what’s ‘standard’, but in general if you’ve got the hard hit/soft hit/miss nested within some sort of Move structure, you know what you need to, and the rest is plug-ins to emulate whatever genre you’re shooting for. MOST of the variants use some version of 2d6+stat to generate those hits, but there are diceless variants, MC-less variants, dice replaced by cards, etc, so just keep the most basic basics in mind and you’ll be fine. Having played Uncanny Echo, and did just fine, you’ve got the basics no problem.

If you check the Gauntlet Play Aids folder, you’ll find Keepers and player material downloads for dozens and dozens of the most-played pbta games, and that’s a great way to get an overview of what’s expected of players. In general it’s the core playbooks and Moves you’ll need to know, with anything over and above that being totally optional.

I wouldn’t worry about Waitlisting a bunch of stuff, often overlapping, as long as you’re diligent about cancelling out of anything that doesn’t fit your schedule any more. Especially when you’re new, you’ll get a lot of your first runs off the Waitlist, so use it liberally. Also remember that Gauntlet GMs take the ‘open table’ philosophy very seriously, so you should feel empowered to jump right into sessions of whatever ongoing games you can get into! We’re all playing with the understanding that we may have drops, especially because we’re running weekly, and are all prepping with the possibility of having one-off PCs join our games.

In general, the playbooks and list of Moves including Agenda/Principles should be all you need to on-ramp any well-designed pbta game. Whenever I get nervous about this, it helps me to remember that it’s a specific assumption of pbta play that the MC/GM Moves are supposed to be mostly opaque to the players(“Make a Move but never speak its name”). If you’ve read the player packet, then you’re as Thoroughly Prepared as you need to be for a game with an even halfway-decent MC/GM. I never presume my players have read the full rules text, even of the most popular go-to games.

As far as managing your information flow, here’s my tips: as others have said, set your Slack notifications to push you updates on g_hangouts and need_players and mute the rest. Drop out of channels you’re not getting anything from (if anything super-useful does pop in one of them, it’ll usually get called out in the more general ones). Don’t worry about Discord, we really only use it for very occasional debriefs, Gauntlet Games Now mustering, and Gauntlet Con. On the Forums, if you haven’t seen it, my greatest discovery was the little button bottom right when you list the New Topics that lets you dismiss them ALL AT ONCE, auto-muting them for future notifications. I just right-click to open any topics I AM interested in, and nuke the rest with one click. It’s made handling the Forum way, way less time-consuming. Hope that helps! FWIW, you did just fine in our UE game, no one would have known you’re new to this if you hadn’t let us know. I’m happy you’re here and so enthusiastic about playing with us.


#7

Thank you all for the great replies! I hope to respond ro each personally soon rough personal times right now have me not at my best) but wanted to at least express appreciation in the short term. <3


#8

Technically Gauntlet Con uses a different discord server. But same thing applies, you don’t have to worry about it until October (Gauntlet Con).