Monthly Archives: June 2017

Role-playing 302: Personal Development Through Role-playing

Previously in this series, I have discussed how role-playing helps you build the skills required to work successfully as a team. Today’s article will touch upon this but will mostly be focussed on how role-playing can improve your workplace skills through personal development. As ever, I might return to this topic in the future, but for now this will do.

There are three primary areas of personal development that role-playing can help with; empathy, organisation and creativity.

Empathy synergises with the communication aspect I have discussed before but goes deeper. Empathy is the ability to understand, and feel, the emotions and experiences of others. To some extent it relies on imagination, but it also builds off of your own experiences.

In-game, empathy is developed through role-play. By the very nature of role-playing, your character will end up in situations that you have never encountered. Depending on how you approach character creation, your character may end up being wildly different to you anyway, further increasing your opportunities to build upon your ability to put yourself in the shoes of other people.

Out of game, this makes you a far more sympathetic (and empathetic) person. Because you understand more about how other people are feeling, you are able to relate to them better which helps you to build effective relationships with others far faster, and encourages your colleagues to place more confidence in you and your abilities.

Empathy in general is great as a tool for developing your communication skills because it can help make you aware of the effects of what you are saying and can help you realise how to alter your vocabulary and conversational tone to improve your relationships with others.

Organisation, much like in the previous article, is about keeping track of useful information. In this context, however, it is less about organisational methods, and more about memory and personal organisation.

A large amount of the organisation required in-game is related to the internalisation of rules and character abilities/history, even more so for the GM who has to keep track of plot points, background characters and the like. Whilst everyone has their own method for remembering these things, all of them improve memory skills, internalisation procedures and recall speed.

I feel I should point out that a lot of the memory skills involved are developed through repeatedly using the data, but they are transferable.

The final area of this article is one that I feel is important in every aspect of life but I’ll explain here how creativity can help you specifically in the workplace.

Role-playing, by its very nature, is an improvisation, a creative exercise. Through play, you’ll develop confidence in your ability to respond to unexpected situations, your ability to alter your role in a team as needed and your ability to solve problems, whilst also learning how you prefer to express yourself creatively.

Out of game, and specifically in the workplace, having confidence in all of these skills means that you are able to react to the shifting nature of the workplace, moving between teams smoothly, and knowing that you are able to solve problems by yourself if required. Creativity also lends itself to leading others and inspiration, making it an important leadership skill to possess.

As an outlet in, and of itself, creative exercise (writing, reading, painting etc.) is a fantastic way of coping with emotional problems and creating support groups to help you deal with anything you may not be able to face alone. Indulging yourself in this way means that you have a more positive outlook and are able to perform your duties better in the workplace.

The above is my brief overview of the benefits of role-playing for individuals in the workplace. If you have any thoughts on this, please let me know in the comments.

Advertisements

The Beginning of Things #1

At long last, here is the first instalment of my serial fiction featuring the characters I have introduced through a series of prologues. A .pdf is available here and will be updated as the story progresses.

If you have any comments or criticisms, let me know.

Enjoy!


The setting sun shone in through the large windows and warmed the pale marble floor under her feet. Around her, the sounds of quill on parchment gradually faded as the students left. Within minutes, she was alone in the Grand Library.

Caelynn Selasthrin, her auburn hair pulled messily back and her ink stained fingers trembling with fatigue, desperately wanted to leave the Library as well. She had been here for three days already, grabbing short naps where she could, and eating what little she had brought with her.

“You really should leave, you know.” The deep voice carried on the still air, causing her to jump. She looked up from the research scattered on the table and rubbed her eyes.

“I don’t have time.” She said, stretching out her spine. “I need to find what I’m looking for, much depends on it.” The priest approaching her smiled, the weather-beaten skin on his scarred face creasing along well-worn laugh lines.

“That’s what they all say.” He stopped at the edge of her table, folding his hands into the sleeves of his plain robe. “I’ve been a librarian here for a long time, and I’ve seen all sorts pass between these shelves. You, Caelynn, are not a researcher.” He cocked his head and looked at the scattered books and papers covering the wooden surface in front of her. “You have works on five different subjects, presenting thirteen points of view and collecting the results of at least two insane geniuses.” He sighed. “Please. Get some rest.”

“No. I need to find this, Raez. I need to. I just don’t know where to look.” She looked around, gesturing towards the shelves. “There is so much to go through.” Her shoulders slumped.

“What are you even looking for?” Raez’s voice was quiet and he placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.

“Lassin’s Rune of Protection. Master Gerund needs it for something and he said it was here. Somewhere.” She paused as a broad smile split Raez’s face. “What? What is it?” The priest said nothing in return, merely pointing at the ceiling. She looked up and her eyes widened.

Lost among the mosaic depicting the end of the Cataclysm, but plain to her trained eyes, a grand rune, undeniably a master rune, was hidden in the exact centre of the library’s roof.

She groaned and slumped forwards on the desk, her head cushioned on her right fore-arm.

“Are you sure this wasn’t a test? It’s not easy to forget where it is.” Raez said, struggling to contain his laughter.

“Of course it was a test.” Caelynn’s voice was muffled against the fabric of her sleeve. “It’s always a test. He’s been testing me ever since I got back to Scour with that caravan.”

“That’s just his way. You know what can happen if your magic isn’t applied properly.” She raised her head and stared at him

“I know, I know. I know I struggle to focus on things sometimes, I know that elves don’t make natural rune-carvers, I know that the tests are for my own safety. I just wish he would stop telling me that.” She sighed. “Sorry. It’s not your fault. I’ll sketch the rune and put these things back before leaving.”

“I’ll put the books back. Just go and rest.” Raez smiled. She couldn’t help returning the smile as she pulled some parchment towards her.

“Thank you.” She said, sketching the rune swiftly.

Raez began to silently tidy her desk as her hands drew smooth, sure strokes on the parchment.

As she put the quill down and craned her head to check her work against the original, he stepped away and made a shoo-ing gesture with his hands.

“Now go.” He said, smiling. “Sleep.” She nodded wearily and collected the few things on the desk that didn’t belong in the library.

“Thank you, again.” She said, standing. He nodded and grabbed a pile of books from her table as she started to walk out of the library.

The double doors opened smoothly at her touch and the golden sun painted the courtyard in shades of amber and bronze.

At this time of year, Temple Court was still busy in the evening. Students and faithful alike filled its numerous courtyards and meeting spaces.  The Grand Library, with its ornate façade, formed the entire south side of this particular courtyard and looked onto the unassuming rear of the Temple of Knowledge. Statues of both the Guardian and the Seeker, the two deities of knowledge, were recessed into alcoves along the temple wall and stood silent vigil over the Library.

She breathed deeply, enjoying the warm summer air, and started walking down the steps. The sounds of the city surrounded her and wrapped her in their familiar embrace as she crossed the square. The smell of food from somewhere nearby caught her attention and she realised how hungry she was.

Without really thinking about it, she changed direction, heading for the little café she favoured. Honeydew and Bramble was a small establishment, unknown to most and tucked away behind a few university buildings, that served a wide variety of traditional halfling pastries, as well as the honeyleaf tea she had thought she would never find again when she left the Starspire Forest.

It didn’t take her long to get there and sit down with a bramble-berry tart and a pot of steaming tea. She closed her eyes and inhaled the sweet smell of the infusion, smiling with satisfaction.

“Looks nice.” A sibilant voice said nearby. She opened her eyes and looked at the copper-scaled dragonborn standing next to her table. There was an air of lazy authority in the stranger’s voice, and a stiffness to her bearing, that betrayed an expectation of obedience.

“They usually are.” Caelynn replied, her tone guarded.

“Elenia Moondharrow wishes to see you.” The dragonborn said, reaching into her pocket and dropping a sealed roll of parchment onto the table. “She awaits you in her tower.” She turned to leave. “I wouldn’t keep her waiting.”

Caelynn froze as the dragonborn left, her hand hovering over the parchment.

The Protector of Stability. She thought. What does she want with me? She began searching her memory, desperately looking for something she might have done that would result in being summoned by the head of Scour’s secret police and one of the oldest, and most powerful, members of the Twelve.

She closed her eyes and gritted her teeth, reaching for the missive. Without pausing, she broke the wax seal and unrolled it.

Caelynn Selasthrin, I need someone with your knowledge for a mission of utmost importance. Your tutors suggested you as a possible candidate and have given me permission to offer you a once in a lifetime opportunity.

 I can say no more about the mission other than that it is dangerous, but vital for the continued survival of the city. You will be well compensated for your troubles and I believe the experience will give you ample opportunity to practice your skills.

If you wish to take me up on my offer of employment, bring this letter to my tower and show it to my assistant. He will know what to do.”

She put the letter down and ate her tart as fast as she could, unwilling to keep Elenia Moondharrow waiting.

Battle Maps: The Pleasure Barge

The pleasure barge has yet to be finished, but is open to adventurers seeking shelter.

The middle deck, comprised mostly of a large ballroom and galley (in addition to an entrance hall), is ringed by a narrow gang-way that provides access to the ladder leading to the wheelhouse on the top of the barge. The crates here are full of furniture parts and ornamentation.

The bottom deck contains the engine room (complete with functioning boiler) and a yet to be installed spa/bath area. The crates on this deck are full of tiles and plumbing.

The top deck provides beds for special guests (as well as the master bedroom and attached vault) in addition to a mezzanine. Opening the crates on the top deck reveals more furniture parts and ornaments.


The map is designed to be printed on a single sheet of A4 paper with each square representing 10 feet. It was created in GIMP using assets from the Dunjinni Archive.

Pleasure Barge

Gaming with Anxiety

I’ve written about mental health on here before but this week I’m going to be addressing the subject of how anxiety affects me in a table-top context and how I cope with that.

If this isn’t something you want to read, or if it is something you find upsetting, feel free to click away from this page.

My anxiety in this context revolves around social matters, so experiencing it in the safe space of a table-top game actually helps me to develop coping mechanisms that allow me to deal with anxiety away from the game. Hopefully these methods can help you if you ever find yourself in a similar situation.

The primary result of my anxiety is the consistent feeling that I’ve been rude, or otherwise acted inappropriately. Typically this is because I think that I’ve spoken over someone, or that my actions in the game have worsened their experience.
The only way I’ve found to deal with this (in addition to the general one I will explain below) is to carefully think over what I’ve done that could have prompted this feeling. Usually, when I’m doing this, I realise that what I’m worrying about, in a previous situation, was not as bad as my mind tells me it is. I can then use that realisation to persuade myself that I haven’t done anything wrong, and that there is no reason for me to be upset, to varying degrees of success.

The other most common result is, if you pardon the phrase, performance anxiety, specifically that I messed up in my portrayal of my character, that I wasn’t true to previously established facts and behaviours.
For me, table-top role-playing games are all about the story and the role-playing, so when I feel like this, I worry that I have ruined the game for everyone else around the table. This is harder to ‘get over’ than the previous example but it is still possible to do so.
My main method for coping with this is to consider what actions I undertook in the session, and what I said, and incorporate them into the character. At the end of the day, everything I do in-character is an opportunity for character development and by considering what I’ve done, my character can change in unexpected ways.
I’ve also found that keeping an in-character journal helps with this.

The third result that I’m going to talk about today is that I worry about having held up the game, or that I have otherwise detracted from the experience for the person who is giving up their time to run it.
The only solution I have found to this is one that also helps with all of the above.

To wit, ask someone in the group, whether a player or the person running the game, whether you have done what you think that you have done. Hearing that you have no foundation for your worries from someone directly involved with them, in my experience, helps to assuage said worries.

Obviously, all of these coping mechanisms have a fluctuating level of results and sometimes don’t work as much as I would hope them to, but it is useful to still enact them to bring a little peace of mind.

I know this is a little short, but it isn’t an easy subject to talk about, so I hope this has helped you gain a little understanding into some of the effects of anxiety.

If you find my coping mechanisms useful, or have your own, please let me know in the comments.

Review: Dragon Age Roleplaying Game

Your humble author, a mere scribe in the service of the Chantry, was recently tasked with conducting an in-depth review of the impressive document compiled by the fine folk of the Green Ronin publishing house. This document, titled ‘Dragon Age Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook’, purports to be able to cover any eventuality that the peoples of Thedas may encounter in their everyday lives.

It is my hope that my examination, as presented here, will allow you to be able to draw your own conclusions regarding the veracity of this claim and the importance that the text places upon the heroes it strives to portray.

Presentation

The first noticeable thing upon opening the tome is the clarity of the text and the clear layout. Whilst this scribe has some niggles concerning the organisation of the work itself, for the most part it is a pleasure to read and to reference as needed.

Full colour art is lavishly displayed throughout and both chapter and heading breaks are clearly demarcated. There is little to say about the layout and general art design of the work, save that it is polished to a high degree and complements the paper stock.

The information contained with the book is well organised and excellently indexed leading to little time wasted when searching for relevant information. In many ways, the work mirrors that of the Chant of Light and with a little study could easily become as familiar a text among those who are required to know it.

Setting

The continent of Thedas is well documented, thanks in no small part to the tireless efforts of Brother Ferdinand Genitivi, and some of that information is reprinted here. While by no means presenting a detail analysis of the known world, the work presents a comprehensive overview of the peoples that make up our land, their cultures and some of the more prominent organisations.

Because of the easy availability of information concerning Thedas, I will say nothing else save that the information contained within will answer the vast majority of questions you may have.

Mechanics

In darkened rooms and smoky bars the continent over, it is possible to find groups of people engaged in a most peculiar activity. When conflicts become difficult to require resolution, Thedosians employ their own, unique method that I have been lead to believe is known as AGE, or the Adventure Game Engine. AGE refers to the principle of rolling three six-sided dice to resolve almost all problems. Depending on the numbers rolled, the ‘test’, as most problems are known, succeeds or fails, with some dice combinations resulting in so-called ‘Stunt Points’ that can be used to gain extra benefits.

Thedosians use the common six-sided dice for everything, applying and subtracting modifiers as necessary. This approach presents a simple, but streamlined, process to conflict resolution and one that is easily understood.

This humble author has been informed that, in practice, the three classes the work divides Thedosians, from every conceivable background, into work extremely well and present a wide variety of scope for an accurate representation of the people that inhabit Thedas, whether human, elf, dwarf or qunari.

For those concerned with such things, mages utilise a system they call ‘Mana Points’ to cast Circle-approved spells.  The document itself lists several non-approved spells, but this scribe was reassured that no-one would actually cast them.

Conclusions

Green Ronin’s work is an incredibly robust document that provides all the information needed to construct the lives of any number of Thedosians. Using their unique AGE mechanic, conflicts and tests of any kind can be resolved swiftly and simply, allowing more time to be spent enjoying Thedosian life and the experiences inherent within it.