Thursday Night Gamer


A Pencil, Paper, and Dice Gaming Blog

Pencil and Paper Games in the Age of Computers.

In this day of computers and very intense computer games, one may wonder why do pencil and paper games still get published? What is it about them causes people to still be drawn to them? These are very good questions with very good answers.

Personally, I think a big driver is variety. While there is a lot of different video games, one thing pencil and paper games have is that there is a greater variety of settings and concepts. You want to play cowboy and aliens? Or maybe you want to play time traveling dinosaurs? Someone just needs to write it down and there it is. For a computer game, someone has to not only create the setting for example, they have to be able to code that into a working product. In some ways making materials for a pencil and paper game are easier. Computer games also in some ways tend to be very alike in certain aspects. Many first person shooters while visually different seems to have the same basic controls. Which make complete sense. While a pencil and paper games can have completely different controls if you will. Heck there are game that do not use dice, although most of them tend to do so.

Another reason I think is that pencil and paper games tend to be more open ended. As long as the person running the game allows it, you can really do anything. Want to have a magical talking toad? In a computer game, that might not be an option. You want to create a long crazy backstory for your character? In a pencil and paper game no problem, where in a computer game, backstory is whatever the designer of the game decided, if there is any. Pencil and Paper games tend to have more depth in them, although I would be the first to admit that is not always the case. You want to do a certain action not covered in the rules, sure you can try in a pencil and paper game. In a computer game that is not really an option.

In the old days of my youth, pencil and paper games had community and computer games generally did not. Today of course many if not all online games have some sort of community. However, I think that the pencil and paper community tends to a more diverse group and in many ways stronger. While you can play pencil and paper games via a virtual tabletop setup on a computer, the traditional face to face gaming provides what I believe a more satisfying social activity. Your view on that of course may vary. For the pencil and paper gamer, the social group tends to not be as linked to a certain game. For example in the gaming groups I have had, we played D&D, Traveller, Rolemaster, Champions, Savage Worlds, etc. It didn't matter what the game was, rather our little social group was more important than the game we were playing. I've played online games and for the most part, I do not believe I have gotten the same social gratification that I have gotten with face to face pencil and paper gaming. I am curious what has been your experience as gamer of either computer games, or pencil and paper games has been?

I guess you could say that I while computer games are fun, I certainly had more fun doing pencil and paper games. How about you?


Time to Start Thinking about Gaming again

This will be quick, but I wanted to muse about the fact that I want to start gaming again. You see for the past three years, my wife and I have been RVing full time. One thing no one ever really says is how much time is eaten up dong that full time while working remote full time. Much like normal life, there is always something to do when I got off work and then on the weekends, forget it. We had to do laundry, go food shopping, dump the waste tanks, get water, and generally get stuff done that we could not do during the week. So I did not really get any gaming in.

Now that we stopped RVing full time, and now that we have the house more put together, I think I am finally ready to start gaming again.

Of course what are my options for gaming? They are of course pretty much the same as anyone else:

  1. Find an in person group to play with
  2. Find a Virtual Table Top game to join
  3. Start a Virtual Table Top game for other to join

I would say generally speaking either the of the virtual table top options is going to be my best option. It sounds funny but I do not even know about how to find an in person group. Hell for that matter, I am not even sure if there is a local game store here (I would think that there is something). Besides even before I started the Full Time RV life, I was pretty much down to doing Virtual Table Top games.

You see Virtual Table Top games are just at this stage in my life easier to arrange. There is no travel time for me to another person's place nor do other people need to travel to my place. Which means it easy to just game for a few hours and not have it impact other things I want to do so much. I will miss the social interaction that can only come from a face to face game but sometimes one has to make certain concessions.

It does make me wonder about you my readers. How often do you game? Are those games on a virtual table top or are they in person sessions? (or maybe a bit of each). If you do in person gaming, have you ever had to look for a new group recently and if so how did you find them? (almost anytime I had to find a new group for in person play, I know I have had to go the local game store and look at postings.). Finally do you guys have a preference for in person games or virtual table top games?

Since I will be doing a virtual table top, I plan on taking a new look at my options. If there is any option you think I should look at please let me know.


Virtual Table Top Selection

It has been three years since my last virtual table top (VTT) game. I know the last time I did VTT selection, I ended up using Roll20.net. Now I could just be lazy and just go back to it, but I thought it would be good to go though an evaluation process of some sort.

So, I think the first important thing is determine what is going to be important for me to have

  • Runs on Linux
  • A Easy way to find available games and gamers
  • Support to run the games I want to play or easy to adapt to them
    • Savage Worlds
    • Traveller
  • Price
  • Easy to use

The first item is of major importance to me. You see, I do not really do MS Window nor Apple's MacOS. So whatever is chosen has to be able to run well on Linux. If it run under Wine, that is fine but I do not want to have to try run it under a virtual machine of some sort.

It should have an easy way to find games. After all what is the point for me unless I can find the games I want to play. I am quite sure you also find this of importance.

The VTT should also have either some sort of support for a game I want to play or it should be easy to adapt to a game I want play. Right now the short list is Savage Worlds and Traveller. Any VTT should be able to run those games without too much effort. I am not saying that if I have to do some work it is a no go. Rather I am saying that It should not take me too long to make the modifications to play a game I want.

Price is also a factor here. Is there a set cost, what is it? Is there a subscription cost? If so what it? When considering cost, it is not the number that I am concerned with but rather what am I getting for my money. Basically is the VTT worth the cost that I am paying?

Finally, I think the VTT should be easy to use. I should not have to fight the interface to either play my game or run my game. I remember using GRIP a long time (yeah that was eons ago) and besides working only on Windows, I know I had a fight with the interface more than once. So any VTT I use should not make me want to throw my hands up and say "I Quit!". If I want to say do a map on the fly, it should be easy for me to do that. I should not have to worry that the players go somewhere I do not have planned.

There are things in the VTT that I do not care about. Things like having it handle all the rules for me. I don't care if you can do fancy things with maps. As long as I can put a basic map and use the VTT, I am going to call it good.

Well that is the short list of requirements. Do you think I missed anything? What is important to you for selection?


PDF Only Gaming

I have to say that I am in a bit of a bind these days in terms of gaming. As I have mentioned in another post, after three years of RVing full time, I am once again in a house and can game. When my wife and I decided to do the RV, we had to get rid of a lot of stuff. One of the things I had to do is get rid on 95% of my physical gaming materials. The other stuff we stored at a relatives place in boxes. Then about a year or so ago, we got news that the bad weather had destroyed the storage area that we had our stuff in. While a lot of stuff did survive, one of the things that did not was the rest of my gaming stuff.

The only saving grace is that almost everything I had in Physical Form I also had in PDF form. Hell I even had a lot of stuff that was only in PDF format. I know I got a lot of stuff in PDF because it seemed pointless to have physical copies of things that I would only use once or twice. Or for that matter stuff that would only be used for reference.

All that means that to game again, I will be forced to use only my PDFs. I just don't see the point in trying to acquire the physical books again for most of it. The only book I might get again is the Savage Worlds main book, since Savage Worlds is the game I will most likely be playing. For other games, I will just have to use the PDFs. Which begs the question on how?

Right now for me, there are only three options

  1. Use the Laptop to View
  2. Use the Phone to View
  3. Print them out

Considering where I am at, I do think that I will mostly be doing gaming via some sort of virtual table top software, the choice of which will be another post. So that said, the viewing on the Laptop seems to be the most practical. After all I am going to use it to for the VTT so why not just use it to display the rules. If I was doing face to face gaming again, I think I would use the phone initially. Although I think the phone screen is small and some sort of tablet would be better. I could use the laptop but I think that is a lot to just haul around and large screen tablet would be the best choice. As far as printing stuff out, the only things I would print out is my notes, quick reference material, and character sheets. Otherwise it would be the laptop or phone. I know with VTT games, I have printed out the adventures I was going to run so I could make easy notes on them.

How about all of you? Do any of you game just with the PDFs? If so, how do you do it and do you have any tips or tricks?


Why Thursday Night Gamers?

Greetings fellow gamers! It has been a long time since I your humble host have written any sort of gaming blog.

You see I use to write a blog call the The Bone Scroll and I use to run the RPG Circus podcast. Both of which had run their course and have been defunct for several years. So why you may ask am I starting up a blog again?

For the last three years, my wife and I have been RVing around full time. We had no home base instead we traveled around the southern part of the United States. During that time I no longer gamed. RVing fulltime takes a lot of effort and time. When you combine that with working fulltime, there is no time to game in capacity. Now of course we once again have a house to live in. While there is still much work to be done, we are finally at a point where we can once again do things. One to things I want to do again is game. So I thought one of the things I could with that is talk about why I like gaming, games I have enjoyed, and my path to gaming again.

So why the name of the blog, Thursday Night Gamer? I wanted the blog name to meant something to me. I could have tried to use the name of my previous Blog or Podcast. I thought about it deeply but neither name seemed right to me. Besides I had given up both domains a long time ago and while I could regain the domain I use for The Bone Scroll, I just did not want to deal with the fact that some else had it for a while. After all who knows what spam or traffic I might get. So a new name was in order. Brainstorming ideas, I thought of bunch of different names. The one that really spoke to me was this one, Thursday Night Gamer. You see many years ago a had a gaming group. We were made up of a variety of people but core group was centered around a single friend of mine and a bunch of other people he knew from academia. We did a lot of different games from Traveller to Call of Cthulhu RPGs and various board games when not enough people were available. You see we were all very busy people, which made it hard to find a day that many of us could even play. I am no sure how it happened but it seems like Thursday night was the time that made the most sense for us. I know no one wanted to play on Fridays or the Weekend but I can not say why any other day of the week was out except Thursday. So it became known as the Thursday Night group. I spent many a Thursday gaming, so it sort of made sense to me to select Thursday Night Gamer as the perfect title for my new blog. I hope you all agree.

In the coming days and weeks, I hope to produce article that all of you will enjoy in some way. If there is anything you ever want me to talk about, please feel free to let me know.

The Thursday Night Gamer