What are Your Essential Tools for Good Gaming?

During the month of August, I’m participating in RPG a Day 2017. Each day I’ll answer a question, or my interpretation of a question, about tabletop roleplaying games. For those who have wanted your beloved UncleBear to get back into RPG blogging, this is the closest you’re going to get.

What are Your Essential Tools for Good Gaming?

There are three tools that I find absolutely necessary to a good gaming experience. These are completely independent of the system, setting, or genre of the game. When you are equipped with these things, it doesn’t matter whether you’re playing an award-winning game or some half-hearted homebrew. You will have a good game regardless of the quality of the game itself.

The first tool is creativity. This is not only the ability to find interesting stories to tell, it extended to discovering inventive ways to use the game elements. Latch onto some piece of the setting and develop it in an unexpected way. Look for the best way to utilize a smooth, well-designed mechanic or work around a broken one. Creativity is making the most of whatever resource you’re working with.

Critical thinking is the second tool. As a gamemaster, you need to be able to assess what players want, so that you can give it to them. You need to be able to analyze not just what abilities players characters have so that you can design challenges and encounters, but how the players are likely to use those abilities. And as a player, you constantly need to be able to solve problems that arise within the game, while filtering your ideas through the lens of your character.

The third and final tool is interpersonal skills. If you can cooperate and collaborate with other people, whether they’re old friends or people you just met at a convention game, you will be able to have a good game. You will be able to focus on what you have in common, determine how you compliment each other, and get over any differences you have quickly and calmly.

Because when it comes down to it, the tools that make for a good game are life skills. These are the things that you need to become happy in relationships and successful in careers. Games are just telling stories with other people and having fun. That doesn’t be so complicated compared to what we all have to do in order to navigate through the real world.

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