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The Board Game Geeks

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Tabletop gamers, with their numerous experiences dealing with all sorts of precarious scenarios, diabolical traps, and formidable opponents, often consider themselves above and beyond the paltry offerings of board games. This statement's validity, though existential, may be overestimated, in some cases. The most likely source of this possible exaggeration would be the scope within which one has been exposed to board games in general. For those whom the term exclusively conjures images of the 'Monopoly Man' and 'Trivial Pursuits', I'd like to take the opportunity to broaden your horizons with what I consider to be one of the most respectable and well-categorized collection of board gaming know-how on the internet:

http://boardgamegeek.com/

Even those with previously experience or knowledge of the relatively obscure selections presented upon the site, it's worth noting that a healthy collection of a few quality, engaging board games can complement even the most die-hard tabletop gamer's arsenal. In fact, quite a few of these offerings can provide an experience quite difficult to reproduce without such a specially-designed box of equipment. 'Ultimate Werewolf', for example, can provide entertainment for a large party with a group role playing experience for up to 68 players. The 'Arkham Horror' materials, on the other hand, serve nicely as an introduction to the world of tabletop gaming for the uninitiated. In any case, it's always pleasant to surprise your group and/or break up any possible monotony with a nice, informal board game.

Common Pitfalls of Tabletop Gaming: Apathy

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To better illuminate the purpose of this post's title and content, I'd like to start by elaborating upon my usage of "apathy". It is, within our relevant context, a loss of interest in a specific facet of tabletop gaming (as opposed to disillusionment with the entire convention). Whether that be a specific role (Host/Player), game (WH40K/D&D), genre (Hyper-Realism/High Fantasy), or some combination of the three. The disinterest in these factors, while unique to any given situation, can range from a gradual erosion in general enjoyment, to a sudden, overwhelming abhorrence for all things relating to the offender in question. Such gross reactions, though seldom, can serve as the catalyst for the disbandment of an otherwise stable group; a fate I hope to help circumvent with the possible alternatives/remedies listed below.

Options for the Burned-Out Host

Hosting responsibilities tend to be rather inflexible; that is, once a group has designated one of their own as "The Host/GM/DM/etc.", they tend to retain the position for most of the foreseeable future. While this may be in the best interest for the Players and/or the group as a whole, a few months (or even years!) of this can leave even the best of us jaded and embittered.

Edit: Case in point (http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2010/12/13/)

So, before quitting in a huff, try these first:

-Host Rotation
Ideally, your group would be cycling between each others' places of residence, but even if your abode is the sole locale available for gaming, the duties of running the actual sessions can easily be rotated on a regular basis. To implement this plan, all one needs is a concise, written summary of the overarching plot and the key details/events pertaining thereof. With this blueprint as a guide, each Player can create their own minor details that make up the bulk of play time; instilling a mechanic not entirely unlike the traditional game in which individuals sit around and take turns adding improvisational chapters onto an original story one of them had initially started.

-Schedule Change
Has running the same genre/system/theme for a year or so drained you of your vitality? Perhaps some communication with the Players is in order. If they aren't receptive to the idea of switching games mid-campaign, offer the possibility of adding another day of gaming to your schedule, reserved specifically for a new, fresh style of play (barring the implementation of yet another day of gaming, perhaps a rotation of content within your existing schedule could be negotiated?).

-Skip a Session (or two)
Sometimes nothing beats stepping back and recollecting yourself (tactfully done, of course). The promise of new, freshly inspired content after the lapse in activity will certainly win over even the most staunch objectors.

Options for the Burned-Out Player

-Friend Swap
For the typical purveyor of tabletop war gaming, the prospect of forming and assembling an army is one of great commitment and dedication. Unfortunately, this investment of resources can be quite regretful, if one finds themselves suddenly dissatisfied with their forces. This may be inflicted by a seemingly drastic change in game play rules or a simple matter of stagnation. In any case, your options are admittedly limited, but a trusted friend with similar interests may be open to the idea of temporarily trading figurines; permitting you both a new experience and a deeper understanding of the game in question.

-Concept Change
If you've been consistently stuck as the burly, hard-hitting tank of your gaming group, perhaps it's high time to try your hand the squishy, nimble ranged fighter. If the other Players simply can't do without their veteran damage sponge, an alteration of mere aesthetics or role playing style may do. Instead of the usual dashing, armor-clad paladin that absorbs punishment with a collection of iron and magic, the role of a drunken, uncouth man-mountain of prodigious muscular fortitude could be a refreshing change.

-Skip a Session (or two)
Much like the Host, a properly excused leave of absence can work wonders for one's creatives processes. Just make sure whomever is in charge of your character's actions in the meantime has both of your best interests in mind (or is an impartial party, in the very least).

It's my best hopes that you've found the above material to be informative, concise, and sufficient in preserving the integrity of your group's collective enjoyment. The loss of passion for something that once fascinated yourself and others is truly a terrible thing and I'm happy to do what I can to avert/correct such malady.

Survival Tips for the Horror Gamer

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For those interested in the 'horror/suspense' genre of role-playing games, I can attest, despite my limited experience in the matter, that it can be a very engaging and memorable experience, especially when conducted with a suitable ambiance. That said, it's also worth mentioning that these sessions can be wrought with frustration, as the gritty, visceral combat typically provided by most systems can be quite hazardous to a player character's health. Which is why, in a game like 'Call of Cthulhu'* where the average lifespan of said character is comparable to that of a mayfly, some pointers are needed to stay on top of things. With this in mind, I, with the aid of a number of my tabletop gaming acquaintances, saw it fit to spend a uneventful evening compiling a list of general 'pointers' for lengthening what meager lifespan your Host has seen fit to provide your avatar in this world of fictional terror.

*Given special mention due to the fact that this list had originally been conceived to serve as a general guide to playing said game. Veterans of the Lovecraft mythos will no doubt spy quite a few quality tips born directly from this initial focus.


-Always carry one more magazine than you expect to use.

-Have you just inherited a mansion whose previous owner went mad, died horribly or simply vanished? Never ever sleep in the master bedroom, explore the unmapped caverns beneath the cellar and never try to find the source of that insane piping-sound going on at night. In fact, never ever visit the mansion in question.

-Wimps fondle guns. Real Men fondle Doomsday-devices.

-Conduct investigations while the sun is still above the horizon. The common idea that night is the proper time for sneaking around and committing B&E is even deadlier than The Thousand-Faced Rotting Bubble-Person From Beyond ever could be.

-The abandoned mine never is.

-Always bring a handgun, that way you can make sure that one of your friends will be in no shape to run when your group is chased by outer-dimensional hunting-creatures, thereby giving the horrible being something other than you to munch on. Hopefully.

-If in doubt, empty the magazine.

-Old Nazis never die. Period.

-Reading books is for the colleague you keep locked up in the nice room with soft walls.

-Never become good friends with University professors. They are the living embodiment of trouble. In fact, watch out for people whose job is to read books, specifically old books, or 'tomes', as they like to call them. They always want help after having summoned The Horrible Horror with a Shady Reputation. Helping them will get you dead right quick or, at the very least, insane. Surreal happenings or outer-dimensional summoning may be commonplace in their lives; better not make it commonplace in your life.

-Never let your less-than-sane colleague carry the explosives.

-Never go abroad. If you, for any reason, have to go abroad it better not be as a crew member on an expedition.

-An autopsy-room is not a "safe place".

-Egypt and Antarctica kills off more investigators each year than cancer does.

-Any dark strangers offering you gifts and favors should be avoided like the plague.

-Always bring explosives. Not pansy explosives like grenades, instead bring bundles of TNT. Going to your cousins wedding? Great! Just remember to pack the TNT. TNT is good for some many things, like blowing up blasphemous temples or horrible proto-masses. Failing that, TNT makes great firewood for your final bonfire.

-When contemplating ways to execute your mission: think "Overkill".

-Never join a cult or sect. Enough said.

-Sleep is only a bad substitute for caffeine.

-Curiosity did not kill the cat. Some unspeakable horror did. Not only that, it also turned the cat inside out, had pseudo pods grow from every orifice imaginable, gave it a taste for human blood and made it six times larger than before. Now the cat is coming for you.

-Any offer to let you "Experience the Other Dimensions" should be tactfully declined ... with a shotgun blast.

-Stay well away from mountain cabins. Every mountain cabin comes with an obligatory psychopath. Some cabin-retailers may allow for the psychopath to be exchanged for an Unknown Horror Existing in Far Too Many Dimensions. Beware cabins!

-If you have no social skills: try 'physical interrogation'.

-Try not to live your life in England or New England. In fact, you should probably move to Sweden, a country where Mythos activity seems to be quite non-existent.

-There is no such thing as "too many guns".

-Avoid anything that can be associated with the words 'ancient', 'elder', 'forgotten', etc. I cannot emphasize this enough. Contracting Ebola is far more enjoyable than being torn to pieces over the course of seven years by the Ancient Guardian-Monstrosity.

-Gasoline. Refueling cars is only its secondary use.

-When dealing with beings of incomprehensible power, tread lightly. If you suddenly decompose, burst into flames, explode or suffer otherwise along similar lines you know you have done something wrong.

-On the other hand, if you deal with beings of incomprehensible power you are a right git and deserve nothing less. Steer well clear of Outer Gods, Elder Gods, Old Ones, etc.

-When you enter a government facility and the toilet-doors are marked: 'Men', 'Women' and 'Other' you might want to reconsider your position.

-Always save the last bullet for the moron who got you into this.

-If that moron isn't you, aim for the legs. If you're going to be eaten alive, so are they.

Technical Difficulties

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Having some trouble typing and submitting comments on the blogs of others for the time being

I'll do what I can to rectify this unusual issue and resume my regular supportive activities as soon as possible.

Edit: I believe I've fixed the problem.