Choosing Happiness

In one of my favorite classes I took for my MBA, Leading Change, we learned that if you want to affect change, you must first change yourself. The simply underlying premise of that is that no one will be willing to listen to your ideas about change unless they see you actively participating and willing to make changes yourself. I finally decided to make a personal change: I chose happiness and quit my job.

An example of how I spent my time at work…running in several directions.

This will come to no surprise to those that know me well, but I had been miserable at my job for quite some time. During my time in UNR’s MBA program, whenever we had to give our short introductions at the beginning of a new class and semester, I would always say where I worked and for how long (this was a requirement). When most people heard this, they would always say “congrats” as I had been at my job for over seven years when I started the MBA program in January 2014. My response to these “congrats” was always to give a very heartless reply of thank you or some sarcastic comment like “not really.” Considering that that had been my response going back four years, I am really surprised it took me that long to quit.

I was already unhappy with my job when I started the MBA program. I was working long hours with little to no appreciation. One of the reasons why I decided to go back to school and get my MBA, although a minor reason, was so that I would stop working overtime (it wouldn’t be unusual for me to put in 10 hours a day, and even come in over the weekend). I also used to jokingly state that no one, not even my immediate boss, fully understood what I did at my job. However, directors of multiple departments all knew who I was and would often come and talk to me because they knew I had answers. But how sad is that? Feeling so unappreciated but knowing that, essentially, everyone at your company knew you and knew you had answers to their questions.

The stress of my job was also incredible. There, in all honesty, was enough work for three or four full time employees in the Reno office, and for two full years of the last four I worked there, I was a team of one. There was another team that did what I did in another office, but all the decisions (I mean ALL decisions) and test review all funneled through me regardless of where the testing took place. There was a lot resting on my shoulders and I really didn’t have a support system in place to help with it.

The first of the last major straws was when the only other person on my local team was laid off early last year. She was a tremendous help with corralling the other remote teams as well as leading the way to unifying our program testing and firmware request tracking portal. Quite frankly, she babysat those teams quite a lot. I was also completely hands off with the new tracking system we were going to use for a couple reasons: she was there and would most likely be tackling it and because I had effectively and efficiently handled everything through email for many years. However, when she was let go, now I had to not only do my job, which was already too much at the time, but I also had to take over babysitting duties and figure out this new system. It was the babysitting duties that really got to me.

I am not exaggerating when I call them babysitting duties. Super simple questions bombarded me constantly. I will not go into them in-depth, but several of them were along the lines of “Hey, there’s a new bill coming out soon for Argentina. Should we prioritize Argentina firmware?” If they would have spent five seconds thinking about this, they would come to the correct answer of yes, we should prioritize firmware that covers a new bill being released. But, instead, they would spend more time asking me this question and questions like this every day, multiple times a day even. This was by far one of the most infuriating aspects of my job.

Another major point of contention, that was along a similar note, were other departments asking me the same questions repeatedly. Or, my favorite, asking me to make decisions that were completely outside my actual duties and were the responsibility of the department that was asking. Compound this regular occurrence with my frustration at having to babysit professionals who supposedly knew what they were doing and held in regard as such, and I was basically a pot that was boiling over. But, I kept with it all the while falling farther and farther into anger and depression.

During this time, and shortly after I graduated with my MBA, I started streaming video games over twitch. I chat with myself constantly while I play video games and I figured other people might enjoy my commentary. I did aspire to becoming a twitch partner and eventually making some money through it. However, money was never the main driving force as I only ever envisioned making $20 or so bucks a month playing games on twitch. The main reason for starting this was to have fun. And, in the beginning I was having a lot of fun.

I even branched out to streaming tabletop roleplaying games and board games. It is quite difficult to get a full group together for tabletop roleplaying, especially when most people involved already have another dedicated group. But, we were able to get a couple sessions together and it was quite fun. With streaming board games, however, I really felt I had found my niche. If we are to gauge success in streaming with the number of new followers you get over an amount of time, then board game streaming was my most successful endeavor. I got about the same number of followers in less than half the amount of time it took by streaming video games alone. I truly felt that that was going to be awesome; streaming video games on some days and board games on others, all the while entertaining those that chose to watch me/us play.

However, the anger and depression would also come to ruin that. I started streaming video games less and less. I just didn’t have the energy or desire after work to do anything but sit on my ass and veg in front of the TV. I’d do this instead of streaming one day, but then it would span into two then three. I sit here now, writing this all down, while several months have gone by without a regular planned video game stream. I have had the random ones here and there, but there were pretty much one offs, and I haven’t gone back to them.

Board game streaming has been another struggle. I had a consistent group for several weeks in a row, but there were only three of us. While we had a lot of fun playing and streaming, we all would much prefer to find a consistent fourth of even fifth player. And here’s where my anger and depression really came to a boil over point. I had planned a massive combination of stuff. I was going to do a huge, lengthy board game stream over a weekday I had off (President’s Day), do an unboxing of a brand, spanking new board game I kickstartered (Rising Sun),

I went all out with the Rising Sun kickstarter. I think I bought most of the extras.

and bring in a couple new board game streamers (though they are expert board gamers as it is). However, due to some miscommunication and a winter storm it didn’t happen. Not only that, but I took it personally. Very personally. So personally, that I wrote emails that basically said I’m done with our friendship. Yeah, I took it too far. My friends, who are very dear friends to me, did not deserve that. I was way out of line and I realized it.

At this point, what could I do to make a change that will break me out of this cycle of anger and depression? I knew, and had known for quite a while, that I wanted to quit my job. I had gone as far as I could in my current position with my current company. I knew I wouldn’t be able to utilize my MBA there and I also had a strong suspicion that I wouldn’t get promoted again. Basically, I felt I was at a dead end. I knew that quitting would help reduce the stress, anxiety, and anger I felt, but I was still hesitant to pull the proverbial trigger.

Family that I visited last summer in Minnesota knew that I wanted to quit then and encouraged me to do what would make me happy. My parent, who I visited for Christmas, also knew that I wanted to quit and encouraged me to do what would make me happy. Friends from Japan that I visited in Las Vegas for New Years also knew that I wanted to quit. It seems that whenever I hung out with or around close friends or family, how miserable my job was making me and my desire to quit was obvious. However, I still didn’t.

The tipping point, I think, was when a trusted co-worker, and someone who I greatly respect as both a co-worker and mentor, came to chat with me about strange behavior one of my vendors was expressing. He sat down and asked the usual “How’s it going?” Obviously, my response wasn’t very masked because he then asked, “How’s it really going?” I hadn’t seen him for at least a month or two at work, but he immediately knew something wasn’t right. He told me that no job is worth my health and that I probably should find another job. This solidified what I knew I had to do, quit my job. You always know that your good friends and family will have your back when it comes to making large decisions when they, and you, know it is for the best. However, when someone who you haven’t seen in a while immediately knows that you need to make a change and voices that, it is time.

So, I finally hit my breaking point and chose to be happy. It was the correct choice for me to make. I have been wearing a smile ever since I handed in my letter of resignation and a rather large, heavy weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

Without needing to worry about work, I finally got back to the mountains for snowboarding.

In anticipation of my eventual resignation, I have been going through salesforce training which I really enjoy, hoping to pursue a career in that direction soon. However, I also made sure that I had a few months of expenses saved up so that I could take my time and decompress. It’s been barely two weeks since I quit, and I have finally started to relax and stop thinking about work. I do feel that it is going to take a few more weeks before I completely break the mental chain that is still tethered to my old job, but I know that I will get there.

I can finally say that I think the future is looking very bright for me. And after so many years of living in the dark, I am not sure what I am going to do with myself, but I do know that I will be much better off for it.

Magic the Gathering: a humbling experience

I know it has been a while since I last posted a blog and I apologize for that.  I kept telling myself I would blog something and kept pushing it back until I completely lost sight of it.  With school starting up again this week, I will try to add blogging to my schedule as I work on my homework.  With a regular schedule or homework, which will cut into my video game time, I will be able to add in time, when not gaming, to post various blogs here and there.  Without further ado, let’s dive into it.

Image credit:
Image credit:

While “camping” with my WoW guild high up in the mountains at a lovely home (can it be called camping when we rent a house?) I had a very humbling experience.  While we basically rented the house so we could have a weekend of board games, the only game I was looking forward to playing was Magic the Gathering.  I had constructed a blue deck a while back and felt it was quite powerful.  I had painstakingly built it over the course of several hours, pondering which cards to keep and how much mana to include.  After playing a few times solo to get a feel for how much mana I would get and the cards to go with it, I felt it was pretty solid.  Boy was I wrong.

My friend brought his various magic decks and we duked it out.  First I went against his red deck.  I do not think I have ever lost so quickly in my life.  It had been a while since I played magic last, and I did think my deck was good, so I was expecting to at least put up a decent fight.  Yeah, that didn’t happen.  It didn’t happen at all.  I played against his red deck several times; don’t think I did any damage to him.  It was truly sad.

The cards I got were actually quite powerful, if only I had the necessary mana to play them.  Or, when I did get some of my cheap monsters out, he killed them almost instantly.  By the time I could play anything substantial, I was down to next to no health that I just forfeited.  I ended up forfeiting a lot.  Clearly this powerful blue deck I built was just no match for the rapid fire pace a red deck utilizes.  So, he offered to play his black deck which he said takes longer to build up than his red.  I said sure and we duked it out a few more times.

The banes of my magic existence.  Image credit:
The banes of my magic existence. Image credit:

Perhaps what he meant by “takes longer” is different than mine; his black deck was pretty darn fast.  Ok, so maybe it took one more mana before he destroyed me, but he was still able to get everything out way before I could play much.  You see, my deck was designed to counter spells, commandeer my opponent’s monsters, and use sorcery to arrange my next few draws so I can get exactly what I need; pretty much a typical blue deck.  However, my friend, with his “slower” black deck was able to completely nullify, with one card, my deck’s main highlights.

The card I am referring to is Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver.  Somehow he was always able to play that Planeswalker on his third turn, and immediately employ their ability to make me exile the top three cards from my deck.  This especially hurt when it occurs immediately after I put the top five cards of my deck in the order I need them to be to play the cards in my hand.  Essentially, once this Planeswalker made its way into play, it was game over.  I started forfeiting once it came out as I had zero ways to counter.  On top of Ashiok, my friend also played Jace, Memory Adept, who also has an ability to make me discard cards from my deck.  It was truly frustrating.

This brings me to a couple points.  One, I clearly don’t know how to properly incorporate Planeswalkers into my deck as I only had one Jace in my deck whereas my friend had four Ashioks and four Jaces.  I thought, incorrectly, that you could only have one copy in your deck and only can only play one Planeswalker period.  I have no idea why I thought this, but I did.  Clearly, if I want to incorporate Planeswalkers, I need to have multiple copies of them so that I have a higher chance of drawing them.

The other point is that playing your deck out a few times solo gives you no idea how it will play out in a match.  Since all the various colors all play differently, playing your deck out solo will not show you how to adapt to the other play styles of the other colors.  It will also not show you how to adapt to other players and their play styles.  So, in my opinion, if you want to play magic the gathering, you need at least one friend who also plays who is able to and willing to help you develop a deck.

What has been your experience with magic?  What colors are your favorites to play?  Please leave a comment and/or share on Twitter.

Cycling between campaigns

As I have mentioned a few times, my gaming group is currently playing through two homebrew campaigns with the occasional adventure path offshoot.  In the first video blog I produced, I asked a question about how, those of you who are playing multiple campaigns at the same time manage or cycle through those various campaigns.  I wanted to bring up that issue again and discuss it a bit further.

The initial idea behind the two campaigns we were running was to give the GM from our main campaign a chance to play as well as time to prep.  Since it is a homebrew campaign it takes longer to prep since they have to come up with everything.  We would play one for a bit and then move back to the other.  This worked fairly well for a while.  However, due to a relatively high kill count in the initial main campaign, and the secondary campaign’s GM letting us spitball it quite often, the secondary campaign quickly became an additional main campaign.

We were all thoroughly enjoying the second main campaign and we finally completed a major story arc (something about stopping a beefed up Glabrezu from destroying our country… you know, typical day’s work).  However, this meant we were playing the second main campaign for a year, without going back to the other one.  On top of that, one of the other players really wanted to run Mummy’s Mask, on the promise that we would only run it for a few weeks to get through the first book.

Image credit:
Image credit:

Those few weeks turned into a couple months.  While we all still had a lot of fun (well, some of us, two characters I made did die), we weren’t sure which main campaign we would be going back to once our Mummy’s Mask adventure was done.  We took a vote, and since the GM from the initial main campaign was really looking forward to running again, we went back to it.  This brings me to the main issue I had and am looking to get some suggestions or answers to; how long should you go between playing major campaigns?

We went a whole year without playing one of our main campaigns and I am now thinking that that is just too long.  Almost none of us remember what was going on before we broke for the other campaign.  I didn’t remember anything about my character.  We did ask for and the GM did put up a summary of what happened, which did help refresh our memories.  But, again, I am of the mind that a year and a half (we almost went two years we think) of a break from one campaign is just too much.

So, I am personally thinking, and will be bringing it up with my gaming group, that we try to aim for three to six months of sessions (factoring in that we play every week), or shorter, before jumping back to our other campaign.  I think this should allow us to get some stuff accomplished and move the story along, and allow us to keep our other characters and what they’ve done still within memory.  Granted, I am not a stickler that would demand we hop over to the other campaign once the six month limit has been reached.  I just don’t want to go another 18 months without playing one of our main campaigns.

What do you think?  Is this just par for the course when playing multiple campaigns?  Do you think three to six months in one campaign before switching is a good idea?  Do you have other ideas or suggestions on how to handle hopping from one campaign to another?  Please leave a comment and/or share on Twitter.

Make a boring game fun again, play a different character

As I mentioned a bit ago in my blog about taking a break, I had been away from WoW for about a month.  With my vacations and vacations from other guild members, our raiding was pretty much put on hold until the new patch dropped.  To be honest, I really wasn’t even thinking about playing again.  I was just done with the game and my Mage (note: I am a terrible Mage).  However, as one of my friends was thinking about bringing his Mage up to shame me in the dps ratings, I was thinking about hoping over to my only other level 100 character, my DK.  I wasn’t having much fun playing my Mage and with another guild mate bringing up one, I just thought now might be a good time for a change.  So, for most of last week, and over the 4th of July weekend, I spent a good amount of time playing my DK and getting his ilvl up high enough to start seeing Hellfire Citadel, the new raid content.  And I have to tell you, playing something new can make a boring game fun again.

My Death Knight in World of Warcraft
My Death Knight in World of Warcraft

If the prospect of my and a friend essentially switching roles, he currently raids on his paladin, I don’t think I would have even bothered playing again.  However, I had a great amount of fun playing and learning how to dps with my DK.  Since I have almost exclusively played a ranged class since I started WoW back in February 2005, that’s when I rolled my Hunter Kanzto (haven’t played him in four months…), trying out a melee character was a whole new experience for me.

I no longer could plant my feet and cast anything and everything I wanted from as far away as possible.  Now I had to be in the thick of things, constantly moving while constantly trying to stay within range.  Some boss fights, that used to be a snooze fest for me, are now challenging due to the “new” (new to me at least) mechanic I had to deal with.  I even had to change up my action buttons a few times to get a more streamlined layout that worked better with constant movement.  I now have new found respect for those melee classes and players who always manage to do well in the dps race; I’m still not completely sure how you do it.

I also went a different route with how I was playing my DK.  While leveling, I was in a tanking spec and basically just outlived whatever I was fighting.  That’s pretty easy to do as DKs are notoriously difficult to kill.  However, taking things down just took too long.  After doing some google searching, I found a decent guide on how to be a DW Frost DK.  I not as unkillable as before, but I can take things down much quicker…well, quicker than I could in tank spec.  This brought on a new level of different and frustration for me.  Not only did I have to be next to the thing I was fighting, I now had to make sure I was doing everything right in order to survive.

Now, chances are that I am as terrible a DK as I am a Mage, but I do enjoy the challenge of figuring out what I need to do and when in order to maximize my dps as well as survivability.  What switching up a class and role did for me was make WoW different, fun, frustrating, and kind of new again.  If only my friend who hurry up and hit 100 with his Mage (he’s at level 98 right now) and gear them up so we can officially swap out for our raids.  Though, to be honest again, I did raid last night on my Mage and did have fun with it.  Though, the whole while I was talking about how much fun my DK is.

Playing something new can make old, boring games new and fun again, though your mileage may vary.  If I had to level my DK from 55 to 100, I never would have even tried.  But, this does work in other settings as well.  If you do not like or are bored with you D&D (or other systems) character, talk to your GM about rolling up a new one.  It can definitely change how you feel at the table and make the experience more enjoyable.

Have you ever given up on a game only to go back to it and play a different character?  Did it make the game fun again?  How about with a tabletop roleplaying character?  Please leave a comment and/or share on Twitter.

Dragon Age: Inquisition Part 1

This is part one of at least a two parter…I will try not to make it three.  It ends with character creation as there are a ton of choices and I had a lot of fun going through it.

I finally get around to playing Dragon Age: Inquisition.  I have played the previous installments, the first one a couple times through.  I really enjoyed the first game and being a Warden.  While I thought the second game improved a couple things, one of which was combat, it did feel anti-climactic when compared to the first game.  You weren’t a Warden and you weren’t really continuing the adventure from the first game.

This is the first game I am playing on my Xbox One.  I tried using the Kinect for a while, but I don’t really care for it much.  I really haven’t had much time to console game recently and that is a shame since console gaming is where my heart is.

I am very excited to see that I can be a Qunari in this game, I have always wanted to play one.  I am going to play a rogue this time around which is something I haven’t played before.  So, first time race, Qunari, with a first time class, Rogue.  I am also going to leave it on Normal difficulty because I get very frustrated with my failures in more difficult settings.  I do try to get as many achievements as I can, but I always skip the difficulty setting ones.

I am really hoping that I can be a Warden again in this game.  It made what you were doing in the first game more fulfilling.  You were a force in the world trying to defeat the evil menace.

What did you think about Dragon Age 1 and 2?  Which one did you prefer?  Please leave a message and/or share on Twitter.

Gaming Breaks

In the course of being a gamer, we sometimes get completely engrossed in one game and ignore all others.  This is why, in a video I will be posting later, I mention that I haven’t had much time, if any, to play games on my various consoles.  I got completely engrossed in Elite: Dangerous on top of actively tackling garrison missions daily in WoW.  However, my recent vacation to the great cities of Boston and New York City allowed me to get away from gaming.  I could have gamed while there, but I didn’t bring a laptop that could handle those games and I was far too tired after waking around all day to even think of playing a game.  I have been back now for a two weeks and I still haven’t thought about online gaming.

Image Credit:
Image Credit:–540228.html

This brings me to the topic I wanted to talk about, taking a break.  Taking a break from our regular routine of gaming can be quite refreshing.  It opened up more free time than I thought and I found myself looking for things to do.  I caught up on some TV shows (I can now say I have watched all of Breaking Bad), but I really was kind of bored and didn’t know what to do.  Kind of a good problem to have, no?

The added benefit of my new found free time is that I was finally able to look towards playing some console games again.  I truly have a huge backlog of games I still have to play.  While I will most likely continue playing Dragon Age: Inquisition until I beat it, I still have the original Assassin’s Creed to beat (just need to do the last couple kills).  I even bought a PS4 and Bloodborne because I kept reading so many good things about it.  If I was still spending all my time online gaming, Dragon Age and Bloodborne, along with a couple other Xbox One games I have, would still be unopened.

This doesn’t just apply to video gaming.  Sometimes we need to take a break from our board game groups and our tabletop roleplaying groups.  The break helps us realize how much we enjoy and how much we get out of our gaming groups.  Fortunately for me, the breaks I get from my board gaming and roleplaying groups are because people are out of town.  I really enjoy these groups, and believe I could go without the breaks (not regularly gaming during the week completely throws my schedule off), however it is most likely that these shorts breaks I get keep everything fresh and fun when we get to game again.

What do you think?  Do you take breaks from your gaming routine and find yourself with a lot of free time to enjoy something else?  Do those breaks allow you to go back to other games that you still need to play?  Please leave a comment and/or share on Twitter.

Pathfinder Character Creation

While I was out on vacation, a misfortune befell me.  I made a classic mistake of not leaving my character sheet before I went out of town, knowing that I was going to be missing a session.  So, needless to say, while I was in Boston and New York City on vacation, my fighter was killed.  He was a Viking archetype fighter and I really enjoyed playing him, but now I have to make a new character.  This video is a brief look into the process I go through when making a new character.

The first thing you need to do is make sure you have all the necessary books available in some format before you start making your character.  I find Ultimate Equipment to be an awesome, must-have book, but even more important than that is having the Core Rulebook.  The character I am going to make is a 20 point buy, level 5, two trait fighter.

The first thing I come up with, when creating a new character, is a concept.  For this build I am going with a two-weapon fighter named Comm Red (yes, like comrade), who is going to fight with a hammer and sickle (yes, this is a reference to the Soviet flag…I couldn’t help myself).  He’s going to use the sickle to trip you and then he is going to hit you in the head with a hammer.  After I come up with the concept, then I start building the actual character.

For this character, instead of starting with the stats and building everything on down, I am, instead, going to start with the feats.  The feats are going to be the most important thing for this build that I need to focus on because I need to make sure I get the correct ones.  There’s a whole tree for two-weapon fighting, so I am going to start there.

I am happy that I looked at the feats first because the start of the two-weapon fighting feat tree, Two-Weapon Fighting, requires a Dex of 15.  Had I not looked at this first, I might not have put enough points into Dex and would have needed to redo my stats.  The other feats I need to focus on are those for tripping, since that is a major part of my fighter’s concept.  The start of that tree is Combat Expertise which requires and Int of 13, which I probably would have also skimped on.  I am really glad I looked the feats first instead of building my stats, because I would have made several mistakes due to my unfamiliarity with two-weapon fighting.

Even though I mentioned I would post this on Friday or Saturday, that was 12 days ago.  I reference my vacation in the video and decided I was going to post the two videos I took on vacation first.

As I mentioned in the video, there might be an archetype for a two-weapon fighter.  There is.  It’s in the Advanced Player’s Guide and called Two-Weapon Warrior.  Instead of going with that archetype, I just built a straight up two-weapon fighter.

As promised, here’s the scans of my Happy Camper character sheets.

First page of my fighter's character sheet
First page of my fighter’s character sheet
Second page of my fighter's character sheet
Second page of my fighter’s character sheet
Third page of my fighter's character sheet
Third page of my fighter’s character sheet








I did make a mistake with my armor choice, as having Armor Training 1 allows me to move full speed in medium armor.  I will be looking for medium armor to rectify this error, though doubt I will be able to get any before we tackle the final dungeon in Mummy’s Mask book 2.

I also double dipped into Weapon Focus.  First one was to give me a +1 to trip with my sickle.  The other was to open up Weapon Specialization for the hammer as Weapon Focus is a prereq.

To give you an idea how crazy I am with my extensive character sheets, my Magus, which I mentioned in the video, covers seven character sheets.  Yes, I am insane.

What do you think about the Happy Camper character sheets?  Do you think I did my feats correctly?  Are there any I should have taken?  Please leave a comment and/or share on Twitter.

Thoughts about An Act of God and being a nerd

Another video from my time in NYC, but instead of broadcasting from the beautiful Central Park, I am coming to you from my hotel room.

I went to the Broadway play An Act of God starring Jim Parsons from the Big Bang Theory.  I want to do a quick review of the play and tie it into the topics I discuss on my blog; basically being a nerd is cool..ish, but definitely awesome.

The show was fantastic, truly funny from the beginning to the end.  Jim Parsons started off by making a joke about how God was coming down to possess the body of Sheldon Cooper.  This ties into why I think Jim Parsons was able to have his own Broadway show and that is because of the success of Big Bang Theory, a show l love.  The show does have some negative stereotypes of nerds, but the passion they show for “nerdy” things in the show is definitely true in real life.

Because nerd culture is kind of the new thing, Big Bang Theory is incredibly popular.  Because of the popularity of Big Bang, Jim Parsons was able to land his own Broadway show and be awesome.  There’s a lot of humor in the show where the premise is God came down to have a chat with us.  He is flanked by a couple angels, Gabriel and Michael, who have their unique roles and tie everything into Jim playing God and going over his new 10 commandments.  There is a bit of politics in it, but regardless of your political affiliation, it was very funny.  He goes through the creation of the universe and it was awesome.  I definitely recommend this show to anyone looking to see a Broadway show.

It was in Studio 54, which provided a fantastic venue to see a show like this.  Definitely picture worthy, but, unfortunately, no pictures are allowed.  It would have been worth it to try to sneak one, but I am a rule follower and didn’t risk it.

Again, basically the popularity of nerds and nerd culture contributes greatly to the success and popularity of Big Bang Theory, which then allowed a cast member of that show to have their own Broadway play.   Without the existence of nerd culture, I do not believe Jim Parsons having his own play would be possible.  10 years ago I don’t think this would be possible.  While there were nerdy shows back then, none really brought nerd culture to the forefront as Big Bang has.

If you have had a chance to see this play, please leave a comment and we can start up some dialogue.  If you agree with me on how nerd culture being in leading to this Broadway play happening, please leave a comment.  Comments are always appreciated.  Thank you.

Learning to Adapt

We all game differently.  While playing a board game, roleplaying it up, or playing a video game online, chances are we are playing something while in a group.  And not all groups are the same.  In my board gaming group (going on nine years now) everyone at the table has a fairly strong personality.  This carries over to my roleplaying group as a lot of us are in both groups.  However, this isn’t the case for all groups all the time.  Sometimes we are thrown into a different situation and we have to adapt to those around us.

This adaptation can be as simple as toning down the amount of curse words; I admit, I have a pretty dirty vocabulary at the gaming table.  However, if I am with a group where they don’t appreciate colorful language, or there are kids around, I need to tone it down and I do.  I do not complain about it and the group doesn’t need to keep reminding me about it either.  I do it because it is polite and I want to keep gaming.

This carries over into roleplaying groups as well.  Not everyone in the group can be super boisterous all the time.  Depending on what everyone is playing, we might need to drastically tone down our conversations in and out of character so someone else can have their turn in the spotlight.  Some GMs might not appreciate a lot of side talk while roleplaying is happening.  Others might require you to pay very close attention to what is going on as they will only give you a few seconds to decide what your character is going to do on their turn.  Again, this requires us to adapt to the situation.

This carries over into games like WoW too.  During MoP while we were working on taking down Garrosh for the first time, the guild, as a whole, was on edge and didn’t appreciate screw-ups.  There was very little chatter at all while we were attempting bosses we hadn’t killed yet.  However, after we took down Garrosh and everyone one else quit until WoD, the new guild I joined was all about messing around.  They had taken down everything on a more difficult tier so they were more about having fun and helping everyone else out.  It was incredibly fun raiding with them.  Everyone was constantly throwing out jokes or saying complete nonsensical things to get a laugh.  The raid leader would even modulate his voice to add to the entertainment.  Had I ran with them with the mindset I during my old guild’s first Garrosh kill, I wouldn’t have had as much fun.  I had to adapt to their playstyle.

A picture of the Settlers map my friend took when she was at Strateicon this past February.
A picture of the Settlers map my friend took when she was at Strategicon this past February.

When heading to a gaming convention or trying to get into competitive play, multiply this need to adapt 100 fold as you will encounter all sorts of different people with a wide variety of personalities.  My friends who go to gaming conventions always share stories about some of the people they met at the gaming table.  They would go from wisecracking at one table to complete silence at the next.  They were always adapting to their fluctuating situation.

The adaptability you can learn from gaming with different groups is invaluable in everyday life.  If you are trying to branch out and experience new things and meet new people, finding a gaming group might be the way to go.  You’ll have something in common with the new people and you all will be there for the same thing; gaming.

What is your experience with different gaming groups?  Were some very open and joking often, while others were very on point and serious?  Please leave a comment and/or share on Twitter.

Thoughts from Central Park

Some of my thoughts on tabletop roleplaying as I sat down for a brief rest while walking through Central Park.

To me, making a character in Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition is very different from Pathfinder.  I found the transition from D&D 3.5 to Pathfinder to be very seamless and easy and the order of everything is the same or very similar.  With 5E, I felt that I was flipping back and forth between the sections a lot while generating my bard.  This is mainly related to the background that you generate for your character.  While I do like the background system, I didn’t realize that there were more specific backgrounds depending on what class you were playing; this is good as the generic, random one I generated initially made zero sense.  However, having the “archetypes” closer to the class section would make more sense to me, and would have helped streamline the character building process.  This disjointed feeling is most likely due to lack of experience with 5E.

One definite positive for 5E is the stunningly beautiful artwork found throughout the books.  To me, 3.5 lacked art.  There was plenty in the books, but, especially with the monster manuals, you could go a few pages before seeing a picture of some hideous beast.  A good GM could fill in the description holes, but having a picture is very nice.  Pathfinder did an incredible job with this; every monster has a picture so you know exactly what you are dealing with.  Pathfinder also did an incredible job keeping all the information on a monster on a page.  You don’t have to flip pages to get the rest of the description nor are multiple monsters described on the same page; this is very handy.

However, the artwork put into 5E is another notch above the rest.  Wizards did an amazing job with it, and a lot of my friends, on their first flip through the books, commented on how beautiful it was.  I think this beauty is a definite boon for tabletop roleplaying books.  If someone is on the fence about what system they want to play, they will most likely choose a book with good artwork.

This brings me to my final thoughts; all the systems that are currently out there.  I primarily want to try several systems, Monte Cook’s Numenera specifically.  Whenever we have a break from one of our lengthy campaigns, I always want to fill the gaps with one offs or short campaigns from other systems.  Unfortunately we always seem to settle for more Pathfinder.  Not that there is anything wrong with Pathfinder, I just want to branch out more.

For those watching that have played numerous systems, how do you do it?  Have you found a method that works for playing different systems simultaneously?  Do you play, say, Pathfinder one week and then Numenera the next and rotate between the two?  Do you play one for a month or so before switching over to another for another month?  Please let me know if the comments.