A Letter Concerning our Next RPG Table and More
Apologies for any leftover oddities from the copy and paste from the email.
Greetings and thank you!
If you're receiving this, then you opted to include your email address in the survey on our next tabletop roleplaying game (RPG) opportunity. This game will focus on inviting new players to the hobby, support infrequent players, and have single session (or "one shot") play opportunities. In the process of surveying, I was thrilled to hear from people who want to run their own games that are open to the public, many of whom will receive this email.
So let's get to it. First I'll share the results, then options for the new table, and lastly what Vault can do to support those interested in running games (which also explains my draft Code of Conduct that is attached).
Also, apologies for the length. Skim and skip as desired.
1 / The Results
There are hundreds and hundreds of RPG systems and endless genres and sub-genres. Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition (D&D 5e) has brought scores of new players to the table. This survey was worded to respond to that interest and, frankly, to build on the brand value of the current D&D incarnation. The High Fantasy in Wild Lands option definitely rose to the top, with a sizable second place going to Steampunk. With this in mind, I will be leaning into a wilderness-heavy game with dangerous elements out in the world to explore, solve, and combat with some rustic NPC interactions.
Even among those that preferred one of the other settings, Wild Lands is still a rather popular second choice. If primary choices are valued at 2 points and secondary choices at 1 point (less excited about), then we get a spread like this:
D&D Wild Lands at 26 points
D&D Steampunk/Magicpunk at 11 points
D&D Urban Focus at 8 points
Call of Cthulhu with a Noir Pulp focus at 8 points
Call of Cthulhu Small Town: 0 points (womp womp)
Note: One respondent indicated the same option in both primary and secondary slots, slightly skewing the second graph.
2 / The New Table: The Wild Lands, Scheduling, & Other Details
Campaign settings could include:
The Frozen North
The Spine of the World mountains tear at the grey sky to the south. Those forbidding chasms harbor cruel white dragons with hordes of coin. Giants roam the crags and threaten the meager pockets of civilization called Ten Towns. There, villagers whisper of Underdark slavers that would carry you beneath Faerun and sell you for a shining gem or worse. For a pint or two of grog, hear from Durregar the Drunk in the Whistling Gallows Inn of those who sealed away a demon army beneath Easthaven two centuries prior...
In the northernmost edge of the Sword Coast lies Icewind Dale, a region of yet uncharted danger. Travelers come for the precious stones still untapped by the wealthy city miners of Mirabar to the south, fishers prowling the ice-crusted lakes for fish with bones like ivory, and those that would make coin off the backs of them that risk their lives. Bryn Shander is the largest of the Ten Towns that wrap around the lakes of Maer Dualdon, Lac Dinneshere, and Redwaters. Some come for a chance at wealth, but many come knowing they will not be followed by that which chases them.
The Jungle of the Dead
Once the Chultan kingdom ruled over the tropical penninsula, their soldiers rode massive beasts of scale and feather and they allied with avian humanoids known as Aarakocra. An evil power rose, converting the people of the city of Mezro and fracturing the kingdom which fell to invaders and disease. Now, the penninsula of Chult is overgrown with sluggish rivers winding through it. Pirates have taken to its coasts and harbor in hidden caves, claiming treasure or blood against those that trade with the Merchant Princes of Port Nyanzaru or that mine the dangerous veins of gold rumored to lie in the smoldering southern mountains. But beware, the undead are endless in number and they are not the only dangers to be found in the jungles of Chult.
Chult and its people are survivors in a dangerous land with a deep history, both beautiful and painful. The human kingdom for which the Penninsula is named is meager compared to its former grandeur, but are proud to have rebuffed would-be colonizers. The ruins of that kingdom lie hidden with untold treasure and guarded by unknown dangers. The Amnish colonizers mostly hail from the city of Baldur's Gate and continue to maintain sporadic outposts. Shield dwarves once held mining towns, but threats of which they fear to speak forced them out; now they fashion blade and plate from the bones of the great beasts of the surface. The cat people called Tabaxi, regal bird-like people called Aarakocra, and traders from abroad also walk Port Nyanzaru's streets, while the goblins and more peculiar creatures are said to live in the undead infested jungle.
Bone, Stone, and Darkness
Beneath the surface lies a massive cavern system known as the Underdark. The fell kingdom of the Dark Elves or Drow reigns, worshiping the Demon Queen of Spiders, Lolth. Deep Gnomes, or Svirfneblin, mine gems for their own treasures and happily trade with top-siders. Meanwhile the Gray Dwarves called Duergar trade in slaves and worship their humorless deities while building cities of impenetrable dark stone. Many strange things lie in the Underdark and through cunning, fortitude, and no small amount of luck, perhaps you will be able to survive there.
This campaign supposes there are many wanderers in the Underdark--escaped slaves, lost souls, soldiers fled from their posts, merchants seeking trade routes--that come and go or maintain a tenuous outpost. Players will have a minimum of resources as they creatively describe and use their environment to overcome obstacles, strange monsters, and the unknown.
Now, tell us...
What game sounds enticing to you?
Wednesday at 6pm, other options as needed
I'm aiming for a September game launch with sessions being scheduled for Wednesday at 6pm and possibilities for Saturday 1pm or 6pm sessions. I will aim for three hour play sessions, but this is ultimately up to players. Friday evenings and Sundays at 4pm may be occasional sessions to accommodate player schedules (but they are currently occupied in my schedule). I can run longer sessions, but try to accommodate busy schedules.
All of these offer exploration of the unknown with a twist and support sojourn-themed sessions. In each, we can have something like a home base where characters can rest and craft things (especially for players that are not attending) and fairly high traffic allowing players to jump in and out. Some of these may sound familiar to certain players, but the overarching plots will, in a way, be stripped out allowing for open travel and character-driven play. Particularly engaged players may consider splitting off to play the full campaign loosely associated with these (Storm King's Thunder, Tomb of Annihilation, and Out of the Abyss respectively). The upcoming Waterdeep campaign and the Curse of Strahd campaign can also freely spin off of these too.
This can be overwhelming so I'm setting it aside for now. I will maintain pick up and play characters and will aim to incorporate backstory elements into the game world for regular players to tap into.
100% Optional Fee
If you are in a position and would like to support Vault, we maintain an optional payment structure. Some players have been unabashedly adverse to this notion and some have seen it as perfectly sensible. We are in the business of inviting people to the table, not turning them away. To that end I have chosen to leave this decision entirely up to each player. We also respect the time and skill of running the table and organizing these kinds of games, so fees do help fund game play resources and game master time.
For those that are interested, you can pay for services in person with cash or card, or you can pay through our online store here. Infrequent players can use the "Pen & Paper Guild Membership, Basic" or "Regular Session" options, while weekly and more players may be interested in the "Pen & paper Guild Membership, Core" or greater tier which can cover yourself and friends.
For most of you, that's it! I'm happy to answer questions and am excited to hear from players!
For Game Master's or the intrigued, keep on to Section 3!
3 / Support for Game Masters
First of all, I am system agnostic. If you want to run a game, what that game system is, the setting, player expectations, those are all up to you. The demand has predominantly been for D&D 5e, but I am no autocrat nor a slave to the fashions. We are also running Call of Cthulhu: Pulp Cthulhu on Sundays (a system I'm rather fond of) and have run Dread, Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, Monster of the Week, Pathfinder, Star Wars d20, and Star Wars (Fantasy Flight). We have materials for dozens of other games, too.
Second, I maintain and strongly encourage using an X-Card at the table. To learn more about the X-Card, click here. Here is an introduction GMs can use to explain the X-Card to players:
I’d like your help. Your help to make this game fun for everyone. If anything makes anyone uncomfortable in any way… [ draw X on an index card ] …just lift this card up, or simply tap it [ place card at the center of the table ]. You don’t have to explain why. It doesn't matter why. When we lift or tap this card, we simply edit out anything X-Carded. And if there is ever an issue, anyone can call for a break and we can talk privately. I know it sounds funny but it will help us play amazing games together and usually I’m the one who uses the X card to protect myself from all of you! Please help make this game fun for everyone. Thank you!"
I believe that the X-Card maintains a respectful and positive environment between players and gives players a powerful tool to manage their Game Master in a healthy way. I've also drafted up a Code of Conduct if you wish to use or adapt it, that can be provided upon request.
Here's what I can offer, no questions asked, no other guidelines expected:
+ Recruitment support through Facebook, Meetup, Twitter, and G+. I also will freely recommend players to tables based on style, game system, and space as I regularly receive message from potential players.
+ Our G+ Community: Pen & Paper Guild of Northern Arizona to share session summaries (player or GM generated), articles, and other content. I have found G+ to be an easier forum for community management, article searching, and the like than Facebook. These can be cross-posted with blogs or other formats.
+ Events on the PlayWithVault.com calendar as well as other community calendars for open events.
+ Long-term lending of hard copies for various rulebooks, supplements, and the like and access to DRM-free RPG resources (generally in PDF form) currently in the Vault library.
+ Access to miniatures, playmats, and other resources on long-term lending basis (with check in) currently in the Vault library.
+ Provide a short list of businesses for public gaming venue hosting that I've already vetted.
+ A complimentary "Core Pen & Paper Guild Membership" per month.
If you are interested in running a table that includes the option for players to pay "Guild Fees" to Vault (as described above), Vault will be in a position to:
+ Purchase of rulebooks, campaign guides, and the like specifically for your table and for active GMs to use and keep as arranged between the two of us (or other invested parties).
+ Purchase miniatures, standees, and other supplies specifically for your table as arranged between the two of us (or other invested parties).
+ Support Kickstarter projects, DriveThruRPG purchases, Bundles of Holding, Humble Bundle RPG bundles, or other products that are of interest to you and will be supportive for your game or future games.
+ Provide marketing support for other projects you have that can fall under a "Friends of Vault" description.
I would be interested in bringing together GMs if there is interest in sharing an overlapping game world as has been suggested by Jordan and I myself have considered. As a group, we have a lot of options and that is very exciting. I want there to be more space for face-to-face gaming and I am happy to support others in the process. I can coordinate a meetup for Game Masters if that is desired, just let me know!
Thank you to those that kept reading. Also throw questions my way.
Here's your cake!
Vault: Bringing Back Game Night