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2018 is upon us. With the new year comes the tradition of self-betterment. Sure, the majority of resolutions aren’t followed through. Most people don’t even make resolutions anymore. Instead we sit behind the cynical idea, “Why should I only make goals at the start of the year when I could make goals year round?” You’re not fooling anyone, you’re not making goals at all. You’re just saying that to be cool. (And it’s working, I think you’re cool.)
Today I want to propose some resolutions that are more fun. They’re related to this wonderful hobby, after all. Here are 4 resolutions for your roleplaying hobby. I’m sure there are readers who do all these things every year, but these are all new to me and I’m excited to make them goals for my 2018 in the wonderful world of tabletop rpgs.
1) Play A Class You’ve Never Played Before
In both Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons I’ve been quite consistent with my class choice. I started with a fighter back when I was in grade 7 and I stuck with that class for a long time. The class was simple and its strategy was sound: “that is big man, me hit big man with sharp stick.” Eventually I branched out and tried something new, a ranger, and let me tell you… it wasn’t nearly as impressive a change as I initially thought it would be. My ranger was ultimately a fighter with a bow and certain enemies they specifically don’t like: “that is green man, me shoot green man with sharp stick.”
I’m guilty of this even last year when I started a campaign as a cleric, got eaten by some sort of swamp monster, and resurrected as a barbarian. It’s in my blood, I want to hit evil big monsters with sharp sticks. However in 2018 I want to play a class that never even picks up a weapon. “What’s a sword? All I know is my magic spell book.” My knowledge of Pathfinder has grown exponentially since I’ve started DMing it and now I can’t believe I went so long only playing one class. There are a lot of interesting and cool classes out there to try out, so if you’re like me, make your 2018 about trying something completely new.
2) Play A System You’ve Never Played Before
It seems this article is about me admitting to a bunch of my tabletop hidden shames. The only roleplaying systems I’ve played have been Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and Fiasco. (One of these is not like the other…) I started playing with 3rd Edition DnD and then that transferred over to Pathfinder when 4th Edition came out. Since then it’s just been the go-to game for my friend group. We knew the rules, we enjoyed the game, and we didn’t really find the need to try other systems.
Now that my knowledge of the roleplaying world has grown I realized that I’ve been playing the wrong game for what I like to get out of my tabletop experience. I’m not really a dice chucker, I like getting into a character and interacting with the imagined world around me. Thanks to people from this blog and other people I’ve met, I’ve discovered a lot of awesome systems I can’t wait to play.
On my agenda for 2018: Viewscream, a Skype based survival horror rpg, End of the World, a game where you play yourself trying to escape the end of the world, Worldwide Wrestling, that one is pretty self explanatory, and Ten Candles, a horror system a friend of mine is running that I’m purposely keeping myself in the dark for. Any others I should check out? Let me know in the comments.
3) Incorporate Physical Props Into Your Game
Recently I’ve been feeling that our games of Pathfinder need to feel a bit more tactile. Picking up dice and throwing them down on the table is nice, but it doesn’t really help fully immerse a player into the game. Props can go a long way in making players get themselves into the game in ways they never would before. It requires a little bit more work from the GM, but it’s worth it for the experience it provides yourself and the players.
If you’ve never made a prop for one of your games before the first place to start is with simple letters or scrolls the players receive. Imagine the look on their faces when the innkeeper says a letter arrived for them and you pull an actual letter out for them to read. They’ll each want to take turns reading and it makes the experience more believable for the players. It may not seem like much, but for the moments they’re reading the letter it’ll take them away from the table and actually put them in the world in which they’re roleplaying.
For me, the prop I’m going to be starting my 2018 with is actual healing potions. We always have people question the effects of healing potions in Pathfinder. My plan to fix this while also immersing my players is buying a bunch of small jars and putting the required amount of d8s inside and labelling it with the matching healing potion. I’m excited to see their reaction when I pull one of those out at the table.
4) Run A Campaign Outside Your Comfort Zone
I have only recently started running sessions of Pathfinder, starting with the Mummy’s Mask Adventure Path. That book provides the adventure, but as I’ve gotten later into the campaign I’ve felt more comfortable going off book and providing my own story and twists to the adventure. It’s with this that I get to my true tabletop resolution of 2018. I want to run a campaign outside of my comfort zone.
Running a dungeon is where most DMs start. I was one of those DMs. A dungeon is straightforward encounter and the namesake of the game. However my love of the game came from all the roleplaying encounters that I was put in outside of the dungeon. One of my first loved campaigns involved me and another playing being in charge of a small city. We had to deal with negotiations with neighboring cities, balancing the city economy, and making sure the citizens were happy. It may sound dull, but it was an awesome roleplaying experience.
Dungeons are comfortable to me. Political intrigue is not. My goal for 2018 is running a campaign based entirely on political intrigue inside of a nation’s courts. If you’re a DM and you’ve been visiting certain themes in your campaigns, why not try something completely new? Try something outside of your comfort zone and maybe you’ll discover talents you never knew you had.
Now if anyone asks you what your resolution for 2018 is you can respond with any of these. They may give you a few bizarre looks, but in the end a resolution is just for yourself. A goal inside of your hobby is still a goal, so why not use a tradition as a reason to play even more of what you love playing? I know that’s my plan for this next year.
Justin Cauti is a writer and Twitch streamer. He plays board/roleplaying games on the internet at http://www.playingboardgames.tv. Follow him on Twitter for updates on his boring life and writing projects @LeftSideJustin.
Artwork Courtesy of JEShields, whose work can be found at https://www.patreon.com/jestockart
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.