Saturday, March 10, 2012

Dwimmermount After Action Report

Last night was my second foray into the world of gaming via Google+ and it went very well indeed. My players this week consisted of Jason Azze, Ryan Browning (who filled in for someone who couldn't show), Robert Conley, and Michael Curtis (who also filled in at the last minute for someone who couldn't show). As you might have guessed from my parentheticals, the roster for the 3-hour session didn't finalize until close to start time, as several people I'd tapped to play had something pop up that prevented their participation. I blame myself for this; I didn't plan very well in advance and that likely contributed to the chaos. For future sessions, I'll try to do a better job of assembling players and alternates several days beforehand.

I had a lot of fun last night, both because I didn't feel as ill at ease with using video chat for gaming as I did the previous week and because I had a really great group of players. Jason played a fighting man named Martin, Ryan played an elf named Felren, Rob was a magic-used called Argyll, and Michael was another fighter named Rake. Once again: no clerics! Because Ryan had played the previous week and because his new character was an elf, I made the assumption that he was an associate of Locfir the Astrologer, Tavis's character from the week before. That assumption gave Ryan the excuse to use any information he recalled from the previous week in last night's session. As it turned out, it didn't matter all that much, since this group went in a different direction, exploring rooms the other party did not.

One thing I really have to give the crew last night was how thorough and cautious they were. They reminded me quite a bit of my home players. They used every trick in the old school playbook -- 10' poles, iron spikes, etc. -- to avoid falling prey to traps and other hazards. As a result, none of them died, which is fairly impressive for 1st-level PCs who spent three hours in Dwimmermount. Of course, as I mentioned before, the first level is filled with lots of empty rooms and oddities, so careful players can avoid many dangers. It also helps that the bulk of the monsters on the level aren't clustered around the early chambers, so you have to delve pretty deep into it before you encounter them. Neither group I've played with on Google+ has yet done that.

Last week, Zak suggested we make use of an online whiteboard called Twiddla to handle mapping. This worked quite well night, as you can see from this screenshot:
Among the highlights of last night's session were:
  • A battle with some orcs
  • The discovery of the Gallery of Masks
  • Hiding from some spiders wandering on the ceiling of a nearby corridor
  • Fighting some eldritch bones in a chapel dedicated to Mavors (a similar scene is depicted by Jeff Dee on the Kickstarter page)
  • Exploration of the Hall of Memories
  • Finding stairs down to Level 2
  • And, of course, looting a secret treasury
I had a great deal of fun. It's not quite the same thing as playing face to face, but it's not far off. There are also two other benefits I noticed. First, I have a much larger pool of people with whom to play. Distance is not an impediment. Second, because you have to be sitting at your computer to stay engaged, there's little temptation to get up and wander away, distracted by something you see in the other room. As a result, we got in a very solid three hours worth of play, with very little downtime. That's not to say there weren't occasional, brief, friendly digressions -- I'm not a proponent of 110% deadly serious gaming -- but last night further proved to me that Google+ is a very viable platform for tabletop gaming. I look forward to future sessions with great anticipation and have a feeling that, even after the Kickstarter has ended, I'll continue to use it as a way to play with people with whom I wouldn't otherwise get the chance.

15 comments:

  1. James, this sounds like a lot of fun. I would love to be considered for the next session! Could you let me know?

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  2. Old school rules help with getting a decent session in with just three hours to play. Might have to try Google+... :)

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  3. Darn the fickle dice gods, hope to get in a session of Dwimmermount soon! :)

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  4. For the record, we stalwart adventurers true descended to Level 2, thereby setting the benchmark for future Goggle+ players. We've glimpsed with our own eyes what awaits you in the depths.

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  5. You'll find that the discomfort diminishes each time you play. By my fifth or sixth session it seemed as natural as a tabletop game.

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  6. Agree w/ Roger. Other then minor technical issues the biggest problem I have found is there are too many interesting games running on g+ for my schedule to handle.

    If anyone's interested in playing a g+ game here is the Constantcon calendar.

    https://www.google.com/calendar/b/0/embed?src=j249bmftq1f1qkrgqu2cei5l44@group.calendar.google.com&ctz=America/Chicago

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  7. Any chance you could record one of these? I'm a new-to-the-old-school DM who'd love to know if what I'm doing stacks up to the way other folks run things.

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    1. Hi Unknown. While it's not Dwimmermount you can find some recordings I've made of our AD&D G1-3 games here: http://vimeo.com/album/1747378

      (The only other Google+ Hangout RPG recordings I have been able to find - at all - are here: http://rpg.brentnewhall.com/category/lets-play-an-interesting-rpg/.)

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  8. It was a lot of fun thanks for running the session.

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  9. Although distance does have it's advantages. I mean, your Dwimmermount sessions start 11:30am the day afterwards for me... <grin>

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  10. Egads! That map! It's so... neat and tidy! :-D

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  11. @James - I'm really glad to see your finally dipping your toes into G+. It is truly one of the best things to ever happen to tabletop gaming. Its helped me to become a better DM, allows me to play any game system I want, and has introduced to many new friends across the world. Just yesterday, I ran an AD&D1e game in Castle Amber with players in Michigan, England, Finland, and Australia. The only downside is trying to find time to play everything!

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  12. Twiddla looks pretty interesting. Did you update the map while playing? If so, did that slow down your game?

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  13. I just started using Google+ for gaming two weeks ago. I've found it quite viable for long-distance sessions with (so far) up to three players.

    As not everyone in the group has a camera we've been using voice chat plus google docs. Also, gaming with people long distance means we have to coordinate time zones...

    Maximum session length so far has been 3 hours.

    The main difficulty has been occasional tech issues (like a mike feedback incident that created echos for a minute or two, or me accidentally turning my mike off...)

    Twiddla sounds interesting though - haven't tried it.

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  14. Hey, Jason from Twiddla here.

    Since you didn't mention it in the article I wanted to make sure you knew: We'll hook anybody up with a free account if you email us your username and let us know you're using it for gaming.

    (also try typing 3d6 into the chat to see what happens!)

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