So I’m a week-and-a-half behind on this post, and much of the RPG blogosphere has picked up the thread and run with it already. I blame work, NaNoWriMo and a general lack of sleep for the tardiness of this response to this post. Here’s what I have to say on the matters at hand:
Book Binding: I’ve only had a handful of books fall apart on me. This is amazing since I currently own hundreds of RPG-related tomes, and have had about a thousand RPG books pass through my hands in my lifetime. The most memorable was my GURPS 4e books. I bought the two “main” books together and the binding came loose within days of purchase. While greatly disappointed, I found that the margins of the pages were wide enough for me to three-hole punch the paper and throw both books together into a single large D-ring binder. It worked out well for me since the two books were numbered consecutively and I never could remember where one book stopped and the other picked up. Now I have them all together and it makes for looking up rules easier. More of a blessing than a curse. The other book that fell apart on me was my AD&D 2e PHB. That’s mostly Dan [REDACTED]’s fault, though. He was cheating and I caught him, so I felt compelled to huck the book across the room at his head.
Doing Voices: I don’t do voices. I can’t do voices. Despite some acting background in junior high and high school, I just can’t do them. I suppose if I practiced enough, I could do a few, but it’s not worth it to me.
Breaks: We game (almost) every week from 6 PM until we get tired (which is usually around 1 AM.) That gives us a solid 7 hour session. We usually take a single break about halfway through for snacks. People are free to wander away from the table for drinks, snacks, bio-breaks, etc. as they wish, but we like it when people do so when they’re not involved in the direct action at the table.
Descriptions: I love doing flowery, fantastic, detailed descriptions. I’m a fiction writer, so this comes naturally to me. However, I’ve found that if I go overboard, there are two reactions. The first is that my players think that every little detail is a clue to something. The second is that when they latch on to some detail, they tend to forget that I have more to give them. This causes them to forget or ignore something that is more important than something else in the description.
Balance Between Being True to a Character and Being a Dickhead: I can’t comment on this as I’ve never seen this happen. I guess I have seen it happen in online “role playing” games such as World of Warcraft, Everquest and text-based MUDs, but never at the table.
PvP: This happens from time-to-time and it always sucks. It usually (but not always!) ends a campaign cold. There are a few times where we’ve worked past it, but not often. As a player, I don’t enjoy it much and try to avoid it. As a GM, I don’t care much, so I’ll allow the players free reign. They have to stay within their character concepts, though.
Explaining My RPG Hobby: Here’s the spiel that I give: I play role playing games. They’re a type of game where there is no defined winner. Instead, everyone at the table is involved in a cooperative storytelling experience where one person, the game master, runs the world, monsters, determines rewards, plays the role of shopkeepers and everyone else in the world, and adjudicates rules. Everyone else at the table plays a single character, or role, and they work together to overcome the obstacles the game master places in front of them. It may sound like a game master versus the players kind of situation, but it’s really not.
Alcohol at the Table: We’re all mature, responsible adults. Sometimes a beer (or three) is necessary to get into the mood to play after a long and stressful week at work.
Absent Players: In the past, I used to keep everyone’s character sheets in my campaign folder and dole out the missing players’ characters to people actually there. More recently, we’ve fallen into the habit of “the absent player’s character is doing ‘research’ while he’s gone.” I prefer the first method to the second, but that’s just me. It can mean character death while the player is absent, but that’s a known risk if you allow other people to play your character.