In this week’s episode of Board Gaming with Education, Dustin is joined by Hamid Printer, to discuss running tabletop roleplaying games at a library or other youth programs. Hamid shares some amazing tips for beginners and veterans alike on how best to run a tabletop roleplaying game at your local library. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to get more content from Board Gaming with Education!
- Episode Topics (timestamps are for podcast episode | video time stamps are available on YouTube)
- Board Gaming with Education Introduction: Board Games for Learning at BGE – 00:00
- Who is Hamid Printer – 3:20
- What are TTRPGs (Tabletop Roleplaying Games)? – 5:48
- How Easy is it to Get Involved in TTRPGs or D&D? – 7:32
- First Steps to Getting Started – 14:20
- Other Tips for In-Person and Virtual – 22:06
- Dustin Challenges Hamid to a Game of The Emoji Challenge – 40:27
Check out Hamid’s Kickstarter “Malfunctioning & Malicious Magic Items.“
Hamid’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hamid.printer/
Thank you to Purple Planet Music for the wonderful contribution of their songs “Soul Train” and “Retro Gamer” for our Sponsorship and Interview Segments. These songs can be found in full on this music archive. Also, thank you to Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) for his creative commons 4.0 contribution of “Getting it Done” for our Game Segment.
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Board Gaming with Education – Tabletop Games for Learning – 00:00
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Who is Hamid Printer – 3:20
Hamid Printer is a Senior Services Youth Specialist at the Toronto Public Library, where he oversees a number of system wide youth initiatives. He holds a Bachelor of Science, and Masters of Information degree from the University of Toronto as well as a Bachelor of Education from Trent University. An avid gamer, some of Hamid’s favorite games include Ghouls and Ghost (Sega), Plague Inc. (Ndemic board game), and Dungeons and Dragons. He has created and run a number of programs related to gaming that explore how the use of game can help to introduce audiences to education topics in a tangible way.
What are TTRPGs (Tabletop Roleplaying Games)? – 5:48
Hamid defines tabletop roleplaying games and introduces Dungeons & Dragons:
So dungeon dragons is a role-playing game that typically takes place in a fantasy setting (like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones). And what you do is up to you and it’s an open world, where players work together collaboratively in a party, and they go off and they have specific goals, objectives, or quests that they want to complete. And there’s usually a dungeon master or a Game Master. So they’re the narrator of the game. Their job is to describe situations, environments that the players find themselves in, also help direct them. And then they also take on the role of all the characters that aren’t [the] players.Hamid Printer (Episode 142 of the Board Gaming with Education Podcast)
How Easy is it to Get Involved in TTRPGs or D&D? – 7:32
Hamid shares a free resource from Dungeons & Dragons to get you started. Hamid also gives some tips for new players and how to introduce them to the game. One tip is to give the players options, so they still feel like they have agency. Also, set up some pre-generated characters for your players!
Dustin and Hamid also get into a discussion of railroading — where players are forced to take a certain action based on the limits of the game and story. They also talk about using carrots (rewards) and sticks (punishments) as ways to encourage players to take certain actions in the game.
First Steps to Getting Started – 14:20
Hamid shares some tips to first getting started as a game master/dungeon master/facilitator:
- Play the game as a player a few times first.
- Read through the rules, but prioritize understanding the character sheet because you will need to explain this to your players.
- Use some pre-generated character sheets from online.
- Consider your audience! Is it for children? Adults? Mixed-aged groups?
- Consider space and size– D&D works best between 2 and 6, and you can potentially double up with teams to
- Keep in mind set up time (30 minutes), playtime (1-2 hours), and clean-up time (30 minutes).
- How are you going to run the sessions? One-off with new players every time? Will the same players play each week? Hamid shares an example of how we ran a six-week introduction to the D&D series.
- Let your players know you are new!
- Check out these two videos to get an idea of how simple it can be: Community Dungeons & Dragons and Dad Plays D&D with his Three-Year-Old Daughter
Other Tips for In-Person and Virtual – 22:06
Hamid shares some other tips for game masters/dungeon masters/facilitators:
- Set expectations for your play space by defining certain behaviors that should be encouraged and avoided.
- Hamid shares some tips for using roleplaying games with kids that are non-combative or non-violent combatant storylines.
- Use Roll 20! It is an “online virtual tabletop for pen and paper RPGs.”
- Be aware of access to technology when running programs virtually.
- Use technology as a mechanic as part of the storyline!
- How are you going to run the sessions? One-off with new players every time? Will the same players play each week? Hamid shares an example of how we ran a six-week introduction to the D&D series.
- For larger group sizes try a narrative thread with choices and obstacles.
- Keep it as simple as possible, and potentially use some pre-generated stories.
- Create some toolsets for players like player board cards, magic trackers, etc.
Dustin Challenges Hamid to a Game of The Emoji Challenge – 40:27
Dustin challenges Hamid to a game of The Emoji Challenge. Check out our YouTube Video for a visual representation of the game.
Running Tabletop RPG Programs at a Library and other Youth Programs feat. Hamid Printer – 142
Transcript automated and provided by otter.ai. [Using this link helps us continue to use this transcription service for future episodes.] Disclaimer: This is an automated transcript and may have errors in grammar, wording, and/or word choice.
Dustin Staats 0:00
What’s up edgy gamers On today’s episode we are talking about running tabletop RPG games in a library setting or any other kind of program. We’re talking with Hammad and we’re going to discuss some early beginner tips as well as look at some expert tips. Some things maybe you have not considered if you’re already doing something similar. So let’s jump into the episode.
Board Gaming with Education 0:25
Board Gaming with Education, a podcast for anyone curious about how games and education mix, we explore various topics like game based learning, gamification, and board games, and the impacts they have on learning. here’s your host, Dustin Staats.
Dustin Staats 0:40
All right, before we get into the episode, make sure you subscribe and tap the bell below. This is one way to stay up to date with Board Gaming with Education through these video cast episodes. Or if you’re on a podcast, make sure you subscribe to our podcast. So I want to share some updates with you with Board Gaming with Education. First up every Wednesday, we also go live to have a casual chat, a stream and we play some games. We’re always looking for guests. So if you’re interested, send me an email podcast at Board Gaming with Education COMM And we’ll get you on the show. We also like to end that shell with a game. And with that game as an audience, you’re able to engage with us live. So really awesome way to check out some games that might be useful for your learning environment, have some fun and play some games with us. Also, if you sign up to our website Board Gaming with Education comm if you register you receive 500 complimentary edgy gamer points, that’s a welcome bonus that you can use those points on future purchases. So make sure you sign up there. Also, we’re doing a couple other updates that you can find more information on that in our newsletter Board Gaming with Education COMM But I’ll share it here really quickly, are looking for other contributors for resources to help us with expanding our resources at Board Gaming with Education COMM And also, we’re going to be launching a board game crate. So that is an opportunity to help you get set up, whether that’s at home for some games or in your learning environment. Or if you’re an after school program, or if you homeschool. So it’s a box of different board games. And it’s a curated selection based on your preferences. There’s a short survey you complete, and we curate a selection of board games specifically for you. So those are some updates with Board Gaming with Education again, make sure you subscribe, tap the bell, some best way to stay up to date. And let’s get into that chat with Hamid. All right, so I want to talk about something that Hamid talks about at the end of the episode. But I want to share just really quick right up front, it says Kickstarter happening right now malfunctioning and malicious magic items. Really cool project. It’s about different magical items that your tabletop RPG group might stumble upon. And some of these items have some malfunctioning things. So the art looks really cool, really awesome looking magic items here, you can take a look at the all the items that are available. And check out the Kickstarter, and he’s got some rewards and different stretch goals that he wants unlocked too. So check it out. And let’s get into the conversation with Hamid.
All right, so welcome to another video cast episode of Board Gaming with Education super excited to be joined by Jaime printer. Today, he’s going to talk to us about tabletop RPGs and Dungeons and Dragons. So I’m excited because my experience with tabletop RPGs is pretty limited. But I know how powerful they can be for youth engagement. And also I love to use some of the mechanics in my classroom. So I’m excited to chat more about you maybe pick your brain a little bit about your experience. But before we do, would you mind Introduce yourself a little bit?
For sure. So my name is Hameed printer, I’m a senior Youth Service Specialist at the Toronto Public Library. So that just means that I do a lot of admin work on system level projects on my portfolio. I’m in charge of teen spaces, volunteering and placement students across all 100 of our branches. And before that I was a children’s librarian. And I also have a background in teaching. So I used to do Elementary.
Dustin Staats 4:16
Awesome. So when I this is good. I like to throw questions in here. I didn’t prep before. So when you were an elementary teacher, did you use any, like game, game based or gamification or any games as a part of your teaching?
I did. So it was before gaming. I’m dating myself now to sport camp before gamification was like really a thing. And so I would try and incorporate a lot of interactive elements. So I’m working with younger children. It’s like the best way to get them to learn. So, for instance, we made a Monopoly board I remember I think it was a great to classroom that was learning about community spaces. And so it was a good way where we basically rebuilt the community around the school using monopoly and then they could go around and then the different like, cards like that had information that they could use. So I have been doing it. But at that point I wasn’t focused on. I didn’t have it in my mind that I was trying to gamify anything. It was just, oh, this is a cool idea.
Dustin Staats 5:13
Yeah, I mean, that’s super awesome. I think what I find talking with teachers, they realize, and when you talk about game based learning gamification, and talk about that journey, a lot of us have used stuff like that without realizing, oh, we were incorporating game based learning, we were using gamification techniques. So it’s really cool. I like that idea of using monopoly, especially for second graders, like, you don’t need a super intricate game mechanic, but it gives them the opportunity to kind of get up and explore and kind of see this as a tangible thing. Yeah, that’s really cool. So let’s, let’s go into our topic, would you mind? So we’re gonna chat in a little bit about this. And I know when I first got into tabletop RPGs, I did not realize how many there are out there. So would you mind kind of sharing what is so what is Dungeons and Dragons? And then what is the broader idea of tabletop role playing games?
For sure. So dungeon dragons is a role playing game that typically takes place in a fantasy setting. So think like Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones. And what you do is you it’s an open world, where players work together collaboratively in a party, and they go off and they have specific goals, objectives, or quests that they want to complete. And there’s usually a dungeon master or a Game Master. So they’re like the narrator of the game. Their job is to describe situations, environments that the players find themselves in, also help direct them. And then they also take on the role of all the characters that aren’t, you know, your players. So they would be the village person that’s going to give you information, they’re going to play as the bad guys. So that’s typically how it works. And a lot of role playing games, use our days as a mechanic. So you’d roll the dice, and that would give you information on how successful your character is at completing a task that they’d mentioned that they want to do.
Dustin Staats 6:59
That’s awesome. And just to kind of want to talk about a couple things you mentioned dice as a mechanic. And that is something that another guest in I’ve used in the classroom, just like something super simple like that, I had a really big day. And I use that in my, my university level classrooms, and we would just toss it around the class, like it was a foam die. So it, you know, it got my students attention. It’s something pretty novel for them, too. But that’s something I would suggest as a teacher, if you can incorporate dice somehow, to kind of bring some novelty to the classroom. But you also mentioned so we were talking before, again to you and I want to bring this up, you mentioned when you were using Dungeons and Dragons, and you first discovered it, and I kind of experienced the same thing. I’m a little overwhelmed. You mentioned that there’s like, in the book, they talk about food consumption per day. But then I watched a video where this father was playing Dungeons and Dragons with his three and a half year old daughter. So could you speak to maybe how easy it is for either players or dungeon masters or game masters to start picking up and playing tabletop? RPGs or Dungeons and Dragons?
For sure, yeah. Like you mentioned, when I first got in, I got the rulebook. And actually I have a right over here. And it’s pretty massive. Sorry, my screen is being blocked. It’s pretty massive, which is the coast. So they’re the publishers of dungeon dragons, they actually put out a trimmed down like a slim version of the ruleset, which is free. So it’s great because you can go to their website, you can download it, it’s almost like basketball or soccer where you don’t, as long as you have one thing, you don’t need all the other things to run. So it makes it insanely simple to get into in terms of rules, you don’t want to get cut down in the weeds. In terms of consumption, like how far people could travel per day, you essentially want to set up a scenario where you have a group of people that need to overcome some kind of challenge or accomplish something and you just let them run with it. And so an example that I probably use later on this as well as let’s just say you need to get from point A to point B. And there’s a bridge along the way. And there’s a troll that saying, well, you need to pay a toll. So that could be your whole game where you throw your players down and like okay, your goal is to get to the other side of the country. It’s divided by this raging river that can’t cross aside from this one bridge. There’s a troll that’s guarding that space, and he won’t let you pass unless you pay the toll. What do you do, and that can literally just be your setup. One thing that I mentioned, especially if you’re a new person, who’s either running the game or as part of the game, is because it’s open world, you get stuck in this Paradox of Choice where you’re not sure what you can do. There’s so many options that you don’t know what to do and you get stuck. And so what I do with new players as a dungeon master is I’ll give them a couple of options. So we’ll say you know, you’re at the you’re at the toll. Do you want to pay the troll? Do you want to attack the troll or do you want to find another way around? And that way the players still have agency they feel like okay, well, I know what to do and it guides them They don’t feel like they’re just being told what to do like you’re railroading them and saying, well, you have to do this. The rules, the trim down rules are a lot less intimidating than than the book that I just showed. And they’re worth a read. But you basically just want to pick up the the core dynamic, which is, you know, how a character sheet is set up. So that gives you all the information about a player, um, learn a little bit about their abilities, and then just the general like, what can you do on your turn? So those I say, would be like the three core tenants that you want to pick up?
Dustin Staats 10:28
Yeah, that’s awesome. I love the suggestion of providing players with the options because for me when I first started playing tabletop RPGs, and I had a pretty good GM. We didn’t play Dungeons and Dragons. My first tabletop RPG was this GM made version of a tabletop RPG called at the time is called northern realms, I think he’s renamed it. But he, he was able to give us options, because as a board game player, I’m very familiar with structures and systems and not not being able to do anything I want to which you can essentially do in a tabletop RPG. And you mentioned railroading, which is I think, important, and something that maybe kind of just talked about briefly. And could you explain a little bit what that means.
So railroading is a term where you’re stuck on tracks, you have a definitive starting point, a starting point and end point. And it’s typically whoever is the Game Master, they have a story that they’ve come up with. So they want you to get from here to here. But they’ll say you have to follow their specific path to get there versus players might, you know, go all all around. So you want to make sure that players do have a sense that they can do something. So if let’s say a player rolls the dice, because they want to do an action that maybe you hadn’t thought of if they roll well. And normally their character would be able to do that. You don’t want to say well, no, because it doesn’t fit what I want you to do. So it can be demoralizing for characters that can be frustrating as well, if or for players, if they’re trying to play this game. And they’re only allowed to do things that you have set out for them. One pitfall that a lot of especially new dungeon masters fall into is you’ve come up with a story, you know, all the encounters and bad guys and information queues that you’re going to have set up, the players don’t know any of that. So they’re coming to the space, they have no idea what they’re going to encounter. And so let them do whatever they like. So an example of this is I’m going to keep using the troll bridge as my as my example. You might have this, this bridge, and you’re just like, Okay, well, even if there’s no troll, I want them to cross the river. And I’m going to get them to do this. Well, I’ve had players in similar situation where they’re like, I’m not going by that bridge, because that’s theirs, it’s the only feature I see, there’s clearly something there, I don’t, I don’t want to risk it being a trap, let’s figure out a different way to do this. And then they’ll find like a sapling, and they’ll try and make a catapult out of it. So we’ll spend like two hours doing this stuff. And in your mind, you’re just like just crossed the bridge. This is literally the setting before the actual game. So terms are eroding. Like, you don’t want to force your players to do something that they don’t want to do. Because the biggest thing is it’s a shared experience. So if they’re having fun, then you’re doing a good job. If you force them to do certain things, then you to take away a lot of that fun, but giving specific options as well, where you can say, you know, there’s a bridge that’s over here, so you can try and cross it. Maybe you want to check beforehand to see if there’s any traps or any markings around it that indicate that it’s unsafe. So you can still steer them in a certain way. But you don’t want to say you know, you have to go take this bridge.
Dustin Staats 13:23
Right, right. There’s this idea. And I guess, board games, too, is dangling that carrot in front of the player, right? You want them to work towards that carrot? And how can you help them realize that carrot is there, I suppose. That’s something so one thing that we did with gamification in the classroom is lean into this narrative based learning and use world it’s worlds XP is a gamification toolkit we, we used. And we created opportunities for students to kind of experience the story and learn the end of the story. So that’s kind of the motivation for the students. So I kind of want to maybe shift into a new topic too, because you’ve ran these at libraries and in communities in where you’re at. What are the first steps you would give to someone that’s kind of looking to do this? Maybe they have a little bit experience with tabletop? RPGs? Or maybe they have very little, what would you suggest for them to? Or where would you suggest for them to start?
Yeah, I’ve Um, I’ve done it in person before the pandemic. I’ve also done virtual so I can talk about both but we’ll start with with him person because they’re two different animals. So the first thing that I would do is I would go to Wizards of the Coast to get that free rule set. If you have an opportunity I recommend to anyone if you have a friend who runs it, jump into a game because then you get to experience that you understand it better. It’s like playing golf, like watching golf isn’t the most exciting thing in the world. But if you’re playing, it’s a little more fun. And so you want to have that experience when you’re planning for yourself, you know, what certain points are you have that experience as you know, a new person coming in. So you understand what your audience is going to go through, I’m quickly going to check, I have some notes to make sure I don’t forget anything. In person, there’s a number of considerations. So in terms of playing, it’s great because you get a sense of what it’s like both as a player and as the game, you want to pick up the rules. And you want to just read them through quickly. The main thing, as I mentioned before, is character sheets. So character sheets, is this sheet with a ton of different numbers and writing on it, they can look very intimidating, it’s actually not too bad if you break it down. So understanding what that’s like because you’d also have to explain that to your players or participants that’s coming in. For anyone at home, who is looking at a character sheet, the way it’s broken down, it’s almost three columns. So the first column on the left hand side is abilities and bonuses that your character get and you’re rolling. The middle is like your bread and butter. So that’s your your health, your inventories, the things that you’re carrying, and then your weapons. So that’s like, the main part you’re gonna focus on the right side is information about your character and abilities. So that’s like the easy way of going through, the rules do go through character creation. And all you really need to know about that is you mix and match three elements. So three categories, which is race, class, and background, race is the type of creature you are. So I’m gonna use Ninja Turtles as an example. So you can be a turtle, you can be a rhino, you can be a rat, you can be a human. And then your class is, that’s where you’re gonna get a lot of your abilities and your upgrades. So if that’d be something like a wizard, or a fighter, so as you level up like in a video game, that’s you’re gonna get more of your stuff. And then the third element that you’re going to mix in is something called your background. And that is just general information about what you’re doing before you started venturing. And when you choose your background, it gives you your starting money, it gives you some extra items in your backpack, and it gives you some extra abilities. So that’s like the Coles note version of like a character sheet. So you want to go through the rules, understand the character sheets, and then also look through what the actions are, they’re explained really well in the rules. So if it’s someone’s turn, like, here’s everything you can do, just like in a board game, when it’s your turn, you want to know what what elements you can do. In terms of character sheets, I mentioned, you can download the rule books for free on their website, they have pre made character sheets as well. So you don’t have to make them. Because that can get complicated. You can just pre download them. Once you have all those resources, and you become acquainted with it on a number of other things that you want to consider are your audience. Are you doing this for adults, teens? children? Is it a mixed group, like you’re doing all the demographics, is it open to everyone. And then you also want to consider space and size. So dungeon and dragons.
Typically, it runs bass between two to six players, because you can manage everything. So if you’re in a community center, or if you’re in a library, and you’re used to doing programs with 50 people, this may not be the best one, or it might be something that you want to tack on to say a regular gaming program. So you’ve had board games on one side, and then anyone who wants to participate, it’s on the other side. So two to six people in person, you can double up so you can get people to work in teams. So you can get up to 614. You don’t want to go beyond that. Because again, with a lot of new people and a lot of content to inform, it can get really complicated. And then one of the other things that I would recommend is making sure that you time everything out. So having at least half an hour set up half an hour of cleanup time and then a minimum two hours in between. So that those two hours just to make sure that you can answer questions, set people up the buffer time, or you wouldn’t have time to set up regardless. But you also, I haven’t worked in committee spaces, I know that things pop up, and maybe you get delayed in getting to programs. So it just gives you a little more space. Once you’re there. You’re okay. And then I guess the final thing is figuring out how you’re going to deliver the information. So what time are you going to do it? How are you going to present the information? Is it going to be a series is it a one off? When I ran it myself in my library did an introduction to dungeon dragons mine was open to anyone who wants to join. And it was structured in six series. So what people knew like every Tuesday evening, come down for like a month and a half. And at the beginning I did 20 minutes which is just here’s general information about the game. So one week was here’s everything you need to know about character creation. The next one is everything you need to know about magic systems and then you jump into the game and play and so what that allowed me to do is they got a little more information right off the bat. So they’re more comfortable once we do start playing to start playing. But then also people are coming in late because we’re doing it after school so I know you know getting to another space can take time they didn’t miss any of the actual gameplay. Awesome
Dustin Staats 19:44
yeah I love that tip is the the 20 minutes you share, like part of the game but it’s like just going over stuff that is maybe new to players like I think if I would have a 20 minute introduction of the magic system and On a separate day that as a 20 minute introduction to characters, right, that would not overwhelm me as a player. And then also, just from the practical side, people are late. So you can wait till people come and you have everyone there. Yeah. And I want to go back to the character creation. So you mentioned, like the background. And then I would also say that one thing, because I did my first GM game, and I am 100% happy to help my characters come up with their characters and help them walk through that process. So if you are a new player, definitely talk to your game master, because they are probably more aware of the rules than new players are. And also, you don’t need to know your backstory right? When you start, right. You can always develop that as you go, you can just know like a little bit about who your character is. But then kind of build on that as you as you go through your, I guess your adventure? For sure,
yeah. So there’s these things called session zeros, where before the game, you meet with your game master, and then you can go over a lot of information with them helping to build your character. I recently did that with my group. So I’ve been playing with a group of friends during the pandemic, and we completely reset, we’re back to level one, we sat down, we did that process, we also went through the background, only because they had been used to it at this point. So we’re like, okay, we can do it right now. But I like asking a bunch of funnier questions like what’s a tangible fear that you have, like, Are you afraid of spiders, because that helps them roleplay it’s a it’s a very small questionnaire, it’s not like you’re developing your backstory, but everyone has some kind of fear. So if they say that they’re afraid of bees, it’s a character trait that their their character can play out. But then for me who’s running the game, I can say, you know, you’ve come across this field and bees flying around. And now it’s a challenge when otherwise you say, Oh, I don’t care, I’m gonna walk past these things. But you have one character who’s completely terrified.
Dustin Staats 21:53
That’s funny, yeah, it kind of creates an extra dynamic. And then as a, as a Game Master, you can lean into those things and bring them into the story in the future, right? Because you know, you have some secrets on their characters.
There’s two other things that that came to mind in terms of if you’re running this in person, and one of them is setting up expectations. So we were talking about backgrounds, and you don’t really need it. To begin with, I’d recommend if you’re doing in person doing one off, so a one shot or one off is you just play one game, it’s self contained, then it’s done. But let people know at the beginning that what your expectations for the game are. So it’s this is for first level players, you can feel free to be honest, and say, you know, I’m new at this. And so as we’re playing through, maybe something will happen in the game. And I might not know the rule. So we’ll come up with a decision and we’ll move on. And then you know, we can look at the stuff afterwards. And so that helps with a lot of things you don’t, if you have people coming in, that are just excited because they like playing, maybe they want to help and they’re trying to correct your own rules, they can actually stagnate what you’re doing. So you want to give those expectations as well as like behavior, like what is disruptive behavior. You know, you don’t want to be disrespectful to other players, you don’t want to talk over other people, you also want to explain why that they’re disruptive. Because if you just say don’t do this, you know, it can go in one ear and out the other. Again, people are excited. And in that excitement, they might do things that they don’t realize that they’re doing. But if you say you know, I don’t want people talking over other people, because we want to make sure that everyone’s heard, then that’s really good. And then the other thing, speaking of character creation, as I mentioned, you can get those pre generated characters that you can download online. When you bring people into play program, don’t let them bring in their own character. So I’ve made this mistake where I had someone command to like, I was running this first player like first level session, and I had a character who person that came in, they had a 12 level miniature character, like, well, for the game I’m playing like a B can actually be hurtful. And you’re playing this one character who’s like, you know, on his way to becoming a god. So if you have these pre generated ones, just so you know, you can choose between what we have here. And the rationale for that is we want to make sure everyone’s in the space, they’re on equal footing. It also is great because you understand those characters, like you can look through them. So then I would recommend, you know, let people choose. And then they can introduce themselves. So they can say, you know, I’m a rogue Hobbit. And then after they introduce themselves to the group knows, then you can also say, you know, as a hobbit, this person has an extra ability where if they roll a one, which is the worst, you can roll, they can roll again. And so then you can tell them what’s going on. And you’re not blindsided by someone saying, Well, here’s my character, you know nothing about them, or they might influence the game in a way that you’re not expecting. So there’s two other considerations you want to keep in mind when you’re doing in person. The last one is and this is because I work in a library and I’ve worked at schools. There’s three pillars of gameplay for dungeon dragon or general role playing games, and that is combat socializing and exploration. So dungeon dragons comes from our history of Wargaming. And so when most people think of dungeon dragons, they think of you know, combat, which is great, that’s my favorite part of the game. But that could be problematic in a community setting or depending on In your audience, younger players, you don’t want to include violence or combat. There’s other ways around that. So in terms of socializing, and exploration, there’s there’s tons of things that you can do. So you can create danger using traps, you can pre create challenges with with riddles and puzzles. If you did one combat, there is non competitive combat non combat, if there’s a non violence combat that you can do, so maybe your players are in a tournament, so they’re still fighting, you’re still using those same dynamics, but it’s in a game setting. So they, they just want to make sure that they can get top ranked, they don’t want to, like actually hurt the other person that they’re competing against. So there are ways to incorporate it where you don’t have you can make it you know, child friendly.
Dustin Staats 25:43
Right, right. Yeah, those are good tips. And then so let’s go into virtually what are some tips you have, I mean, we all kind of learned a lot this past year. But what are some tips you have, as far as getting a game going for your library or community center or school virtually?
Yeah, so virtually, my experience is the platform called rule 20, which is free. So it’s great because you just sign up email and password, same as you know, every other account. And it has a ton of functionality. There’s a lot of pluses and benefits. So for me as a, for me running the game, or you know, someone out there who’s trying to create one program for the class or the community center, it’s amazing, because you don’t have to worry about a lot of the extra things that you do in person. So you don’t have to worry about making a map, you can just download one and put it down. Yeah, you don’t have to worry about making characters, you could just drop them in as well. So that makes things a lot easier. And then once you create something, so I have a murder mystery that I created for my group. And I’ve done it in a way where you know, multiple people could be the murderer. And so once I’ve, I’ve made it once, I can reuse that as many times as they like. So it’s a lot of front end work, but then you can, then it’s just a matter of logging in, and it’s ready for you a lot of great benefits built in directories. So you don’t have to worry about rules. On the flip side, there are a lot more challenges being virtual, I think the biggest one is access to technology. And so this is both for participants, but also for you know, the person out there who wants to run the so I worked for a government institution, sometimes we’re not the best well funded. And so having access to a computer with a mic and a cam, is just something as simple as that for either yourself or you know, the person on the end can be pretty hard, I would say a microphone is should be required period like that should be your minimum threshold. And the reason for that is of world 20 has a chat feature you can type in and you can communicate that way. I know from personal experience, I’ve run sessions where there’s one or two players that only have chat. And it just slows everything down. And it makes it less fun for everyone else. Because it’s almost like you’re anytime it’s that person’s turn, all the momentum stops because you have to stop just because of the nature of it. Going virtual online, even if you have a mic, you don’t have that same participation that you’d have in person where if you and I are next to each other, if it’s on our turns, we could still be chatting but what we want to do, versus virtually you have one audio channel and you know, it’s it’s taken up by whoever is currently doing the turn. Chat is great for that where you can, you know, talk to each other in the chat to figure out what you want to do, but it doesn’t embrace the interaction that we’re used to that like a physical table.
Dustin Staats 28:25
Yeah. I’m just gonna say that, that that’s a good point. I, from my experience this past about two months now, I’ve been teaching part time and I think what works. Okay, I wouldn’t say it’s, it’s, it would definitely be better doing a tabletop RPG game if everyone had a microphone. However, I think if you do not allow anyone on the microphone, like let’s say you have like, not very many people, majority play, players don’t have access to a microphone. Or maybe you want to just try it out for part of the game where you only allow them to use chat. And then as the GM, you kind of take over the momentum and flow the game. I’ve just kind of noticed that that’s how it’s worked for me in my classroom. Like I’m just the be streamer. And I’m like, I’m like announcing what people are saying in chat and based on who says something first. That’s just kind of how like, some games work. I’ll say, Oh, this person typed it first. So it’s gonna they’re gonna get the point. But I don’t know. I’d be curious to see how that works. And also gives me an idea of like, as a GM, maybe you’ve all lost your voice, because there is a spell and you can see what what happens in the chat. I don’t know.
I like that. I I’ve actually been working with the teacher friend to figure out what to do with their classroom because they want to they have students that are interested in dungeon dragons, and they want to work it into their curriculum because we’re getting towards the end of the year. So they covered a lot of what they’ve done. biggest challenges I mentioned In person, you can get like between two to like 14 people because you can double up online, I would say you’re pretty much restricted to like that two to six, or only because it becomes really unwieldly. Especially since you don’t have these other engagement like you’re not physically there. So if you have more than that, it gets pretty complicated. So that’s a big hold back in terms of of online, with mics, and things like number of registrations, or number of people who can join registration is great, because you can outline what the session is going to be ahead of time. So if you’re promoting it online, you can have a registration process that says, you know, we’re accepting up to six people, we it’s best if you have a mic, and then you can send links out directly to those people, instead of it being an open platform, which prevents you from dealing with, you know, any random person coming in and causing, like, purposely causing problems. Yeah, teacher was though, classroom wise, though, I was talking to my teacher, friend. And what we came up with her group is because she has like 37 kids in her classroom going virtual, doing almost a Choose Your Own Adventure scenario, where they have a narrative thread, and they go across, and so they have certain goals that they need to achieve. But there’s barriers before each one. So the example that her and I were talking about, she has a grade six classroom was okay, let’s just say you, there’s someone that hires you to go fetch something for you, which is something called a fetch quest, you send your players off to get something and bring it back. So first, you have to go see them except you know, it’s a secret, they don’t want you to know what you’re doing. So you have to get past some cards. And then, so that would be your general setup a lot more descript than that. And then you open up to the class and you pull them in. So you give them those three options. Yeah, do you want to bribe the guard? Do you want to find another way in? Do you want to knock them unconscious, and then, depending on what they do, and might limit their reactions later on, so the next step that we had in the story that we developed was, okay, after they talked to this person, in secret, they’re going to go, and they’re going to make their way across the land to get whatever they’re getting. And they come across this, this river that is barreling down. What are they going to do? Well, if they bribe the guards, they don’t have money to say rent a boat to go across. And then now they need to figure out a different way. So you give them you know, three options as well. But now, one of the options was being able to pay for a boat, they don’t have that. So they’re restricted to two. And so we basically said, you have the story. It’s almost like a branching path, but not really, it’s still linear. They’re getting from point A to point B, but they have no choice and how they get there. And then what you would do afterwards is after the retreat, whatever they’re doing, then they have to make their way back. So you start off with every single resource that they need, and they have a clear objective. And then they get it and on their way back. Well, now, they’ve exhausted a number of resources. So if you get to a point where they’re at that river, they have no money, they’re tired from the track, so they can’t swim, then you can open up to the class and say, Okay, well, you know, we had options, but we can’t do any of them anymore. What do you think as a class we should do? And then you have them come up with solutions. So it’s, yeah, so it’s a way where you can incorporate a lot of people together using polls. And then you have segmented points where you can talk as a big group, you can do breakout rooms and have them come up with solutions and present them as you come back. But it’s nice because they get this journey where they don’t know what to expect as the going. But then on their way back. They know what they’re gonna face. So then when you get them to think about what are alternatives that you can do they they’re already primed to it?
Dustin Staats 33:28
Yeah, that’s super awesome. I like the idea of giving agency to a larger group of people, right, and somehow creating that experience through polling or breakout rooms, something that we again, with the world’s XP, we that’s meant for a classroom, and it’s a tabletop like RPG, in a sense. And we were trying to think of ways to how do we get 30 to 35 students involved in a tabletop RPG? Right? Those are really great, great examples. So I want to before we kind of wrap up here, do you have any tips for someone that is maybe already doing tabletop RPGs that they might not have considered before?
Yeah, um, once again, I had a bunch of like, I ran a game recently and I was writing down stuff that I wanted to keep so I’ve notes on like GM tips. While I search for that, I’ll just say in terms of, you know, there’s a lot of benefits involved with dungeon dragons, especially in a classroom or library settings, because you could tie it easily into things like your curriculum, or if it’s a community center program programs that you’re doing. So if you’re doing a leadership program, or public speaking, you know, it’s easy to to branch off from these Here we go, I felt my notes. I think the biggest thing for any Dungeon Master is keep it as simple as possible. So in terms of story, you can get pre generated stories which I recommend to anyone. So instead of you having to come up with everything on your own, you can buy these these modules with these packs and you basically You go through like a script. And that way, you don’t, you don’t have to do as much preparation, you don’t have to come up with everything. You know what monsters are going to be there, you know what the storyline is. dungeon dragons has an essential kit and a starter kit, which are both really inexpensive. And if you purchase them like 20 bucks 20 $30 they come with a full campaign, they come with character sheets, they come up the rule books, so if you want something physical, those I always recommend, you can find tons of them online. character names, especially with new characters, new players, make them as simple as possible, you don’t want some crazy long name that no one can pronounce. Especially because everyone’s gonna, if you’re referring to that person that name, it becomes complicated and you as the DM in terms of complication as well. Things like using voices, I think, you know, everyone is familiar with critical role because of how big it is. And it I like critical role. But I don’t recommend that to anyone who wants to get a sense of what d&d is like, only because it’s almost like watching a video of professional chef cooking like this five star menu, and then you’re at home, and you’re trying to cook but you don’t have the same tools or knowledge. But you can still make a tasty meal at home. Right? So I wouldn’t recommend that I would actually recommend community did a really the show community did a really good episode. I think it’s season two episode 13 advanced dungeon dragons where they play a game. And so you can see what it’s like you were mentioning earlier, there’s that video where there’s a father playing with his three year old, which is great. I think those are going to be included in the show notes. So if anyone wants to take a look, it makes you realize how accessible everything really is. mechanics and rules don’t go into too much detail. Just make it simple. Like, here’s how movement works. Here’s how your actions work. Just let me know what you want to do. And then maps and pieces. You don’t have to go. Like you don’t have to buy tons of lavish things. I’m in the middle of like lunch. So I have come in pairs with me, which is not the healthiest lunch but so if you’re if you’re playing especially if you’re showing off, all you need is the rules because you can use like gummy bears as your as your bad guys or even your players. Right. So this is my Goblin. And this is my character. You know, you kill the Goblin you eat them. And then you can just draw stuff out on paper. And then if things are working well then you can, you know, buy actual miniatures and have a miniature with me. Yeah, you can buy like actual miniatures of characters. And you can play around but they’re not not necessary. So I think I think things as simple as possible. And then one great piece of information that I like sharing with with any dm is when you’re looking for things if you’re searching online if you need something really, really quick. So if you’re using an online platform, like rule 20, there’s a directory so you can search in that space. But you can go to Google and type in a term that you’re looking for, but include five e so five E stands for fifth edition, which is the current edition of dungeon dragons, it will take you directly to that bit of information. So if I’m googling fighter, then I’ll get like the dungeon dragons fighter. I’m not going to get the movie fighter
limitless searches and find exactly what you want. Or Same thing with wizard right. I’ll get the dungeon dragons wizard information. I won’t get a Harry Potter. Yeah, um, players are going to do what you don’t expect them to do. We talked about this earlier, where I had players that would not touch a bridge because they thought it was booby trapped and spent an hour and a half and just just crossed the bridge. So having a general framework of you know where you want them to be, or maybe who you’re going to encounter. But don’t stop them from getting there themselves. If you find out they’re not doing it, a great thing to do is introduce an NPC. So a non playable character, have someone show up who pushes the minister in direction. So have someone show up and just like, Oh, hi, new travelers? Are you guys headed to this town, I’m going to Let’s cross the bridge and you have them cross the bridge. And that showcases that, you know, it’s safe to you know, bring in external elements to show them that maybe there’s another way. I’m always try and get feedback, like building a feedback mechanism. So you can say, you know, what worked? What didn’t work? What would you like to see for next time? I like that last line, because especially if you’re doing it as a program, what would you guys like to see the next time you play? Like you’re suddenly hinting like you’re gonna be back next time when we run this program? Right, right, right. Yeah. Yeah, so those are like, I guess some of the the main tips that I would mention, I would say also, if you’re doing it as part of, you know, you’re a teacher or librarian, a community worker, if you can pair with someone because then you can debrief afterwards. So like, if you’re the one who’s running it, you’re in your head, you’re dealing you’re juggling a lot of balls, the other person can wash from an outside perspective, you could talk about what worked, what didn’t work, and then you can just build off of it next time. But don’t be afraid to include your participants in that conversation. Like what do you like? What would you like to see?
Dustin Staats 39:46
Yeah, I think that’s a huge point is I mean, as a teacher, I, I always implement a pre mid and post survey to my students just for my own benefit and asked like, What do you expect from this class? What do you want to learn? And then mid class ask? Are we meeting your expectations? What’s working? what’s not working? Is there anything you’d change? And then the last part is like, how did it go? I think that’s super important. And then I like to point, if you have someone to debrief with, that’s like huge, because you’re going to be able to work through not just in your head, but out loud, what’s working and what’s not working. Cool. So we’re gonna move into our game. But before we do you have any last words of advice, or anything we didn’t talk about that you want to kind of bring up and share.
Um, if you’re going in person, one of the things I’d recommend is if you can create some tool sets of just things that you can hand out to players. So just like a board game, if you have a player turn card that says, you know, on your turn, this is the different actions that you can do. Or if you know there’s magic in the world, if you have a tracker that shows you know how many spells you have left, it makes it a lot easier, because that’s something that you don’t then have to track as much as the game master. But it also gives your players a little more agency where they’re, they’re the ones in charge of managing what their characters are doing. And those you can easily find online. And I we actually linked so I created some resources, I have a PowerPoint that I did when I made on when I did my presentation at work like years ago when I first ran off, and I have a modified character sheet. And so the way the character sheet works is I have a listing of the different actions that you can use. And then next to it is just that middle column that I mentioned of the character sheet, which is here’s what weapons you have use what’s in your backpack is your health. So it’s like that’s your your main chunk. And then you can play with that and just regular dice rolls, you can if you’re starting off, you can ignore some of the bonuses, which simplifies things, and then you can ease people into it
Dustin Staats 41:42
that way. Cool. Awesome, really awesome. So we’re gonna move into our game, I actually usually prep the guest on what game we’re playing, but I forgot to prep you so it’s gonna be a surprise. We’re playing something that is new to called the Moji challenge. Cool. So I’m going to share some emojis with you and you have to guess what it is. And if you’re listening to this on the podcast and not over on YouTube, feel free to play along with us by trying to guess what emojis I used for the answers. So I’m not going to tell you like the topic or subject. I just want to see if he gets it. And then if you need a hint, I will tell you the topic or subject of the Emoji Challenge, or the essence case, example. So the first one is ice ice, baby. Got it. Castaway. Oh 242
This one’s harder. This one’s a little bit more difficult. I wanted to warm you up with some easy ones. Know what you want. Okay, so hint is it’s a brand like a company. Starbucks. Starbucks. Yeah. Oops. Next one. I might need a hands on this one as well. I think the hint might give it away but we’ll go We’ll go with a broad hands and say Disney. Oh god Sleeping Beauty. I think I think this might be the last one. Right The one more concert hard. What do you see an emoji? plunger man and a cart.
A plunger? A man that uses a plunger and it’s a video game.
video game. Okay, so person who uses the plunger janitor Kart.
Dustin Staats 44:23
Mario Kart? Mario Kart? Yeah. This last one. Cats. I mean, it could be it could be cats.
Oh, no. I was gonna say Tiger King. But that’s those that’s not even accurate to what the pictures are.
Dustin Staats 44:43
I mean, I only have so many emojis like worthless. So the actual actual movie is it Oh, I give a hint the movie so the actual movie isn’t completely accurate to the Moji
lying King I understand the cats in them. So Marvel’s Marvel movie? Oh, Black Panther, Black Panther. Yeah. Awesome. So I think way off. You eventually got them all though. So that’s good. Awesome. So, Hamid, thank you so much for sharing your tips. I know I learned a few things that I’m going to be trying out myself. And I know you have a Kickstarter coming up. So would you mind sharing a little bit about that? And well, it should be maybe live or just finished when this comes out. But hopefully we get this out. One, it’s still running. Would you mind sharing a little bit about that? And if anyone wants to reach out to you? How could How might they do that?
Yeah, so I’ll talk about the project, then I’ll give you my Instagram handle. So I am working on a Kickstarter called militia malfunctioning and malicious magic items. So whenever I play d&d with my friends, I want to give them magic items. But I found that any magic item you had usually had some kind of benefit to it. And I thought, well, what if I want to give you something that was made by an incompetent wizard, like he’s the one who crafted it doesn’t work correctly. And so it just will blow up in your face. So if you’re smart user, you know, you can use it to his benefit. But if you aren’t a smart user, or you don’t investigate your stuff, then it’s something funny will happen. That can be or may not be detrimental to you. And so it’s a list of it’s a deck of cards that have a number of different items that you have. They’re all full of puns. So I have a one, one, which is revenge blade. And when you roll an even number, you double damage because you know you’re getting even. So just things like that. So yeah, it’s a project that is basically here’s a whole bunch of items, they work and they work well if you know how to use them. But if you don’t, if you’re not expecting them, and if you’re expecting to use it normally, then it’s going to blow up in your face. And I have an awesome artist who’s going through. I mentioned earlier, it’s nice having extra things that you can hand off to players. So I actually have a toolkit, that’s part of it as well, where you have a spell tracker for spells, you have a turn card for everyone else, there’s a section on like how health works if you die, or you’re unconscious, how does that work? So all the different elements, something that you find on a dungeon master screen is like a more mobile card version of that as extra tools. So that’s that’s going to be coming out soon, or may have already finished.
Dustin Staats 47:26
Yeah. It’s time travel. Yeah. And then how if anyone wanted to reach out to you or kind of learn more about what you’re doing?
Yeah, so I can be reached out on Instagram. My handle is at HMI dot printer, Hamid ha mid printer like printing, and they can send me a private message. I’m always happy to reach out and talk to people.
Dustin Staats 47:50
Awesome. Cool. So thank you. Thank you so much again, Hamid. And good luck or good job on the Kickstarter project. Thank you. Thank you for having me. This is fun. Awesome.
Board Gaming with Education 48:05
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