Season 3, Episode 7

"Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?" ... "Of course."

It's the Etiquette Episode of ExemplaryDM Podcast! It's a bit of a spiritual successor and followup to the beloved Player Penetration episode from Season 2, Episode 7. This is also an extension from our Player Tip of the podcast from Season 3, Episode 6, Part Two.

In this podcast we open to discussion good and bad manners for DM's and players at the table, with some great ideas on how to improve and smooth out behavior at your gaming table. We briefly discussed such behavior in our previous podcast's Player Tip of the Podcast, but found so much more content, we decided to dedicate an entire episode to it.

First, a trio of emails to cover:
  1. "Effusive praise from Michael, monster design"... from Andy
    1. Do we fudge monster stats? Yes. Do we try to make it fun? Yes. 
    2. Fast paced, dynamic combat is what most players tend to prefer. Higher damage, lower HP.
    3. Remember that combat is not just about monsters, but about environment, hazards, terrain, and plot.
    4. How tactically smart are your monsters supposed to be? Low intelligence creatures shouldn't necessarily be tactical warfare geniuses. You as the DM know better than to provoke that opportunity attack, but your monsters don't.
  2. A Michael Sponsored Email from Michael of Michaelton to be read in a British accent 
    1. Podcast.
    2. Foreshadowing to the gadgets...
  3. Exemplary Local Game Stores recommendations from Erns.
    • A reminder that we mostly play D&D4e, but we try not to be system-specific, and we're big proponents of adding rules to your game that seem to be lacking, especially the ones we come up with. In conclusion, if you're not having fun playing D&D, it isn't the rules system. 
  4. Hey-oooo!
When sharing this podcast, please remember our regular Player Tip of the Podcast: don't be a dick. Seriously. Take it EZ on the Pass Aggro if given the opportunity.

Discussion Points for D&D Table Etiquette:
  1. The first rule of table etiquette for players: “Be ready”
    1. When in combat, when it is your turn, be ready to go.
    2. Umbrella term for the rest of these.
    1. Dice and UP-TO-DATE character sheet. 
    2. James, William's Pathfinder DM: I personally get very frustrated with people showing up to the game with a "Give me everything I need so that you can entertain me" Wastes so much time and really is just the wrong attitude for players to have. As a DM, make that known.
  3. Note  about tangents: http://skarr.obsidianportal.com/wikis/house-rules this puts the whole table in charge of being responsible for a productive night, removing the DM vs players for attention span relationship. 
    1. Everyone is responsible for keeping us on track, not just the DM. A sense of ownership makes people care.
  4. James: For me the biggest issue is being ready when your initiative comes around.  I really dislike having to rouse someone from their phone because its their turn and they go "Okay, what's going on?" Or Twitter, Flappy Birds, FriendFace, etc. For me, if you are at the table, you should be paying attention.  Have the courtesy to bow out temporarily if you need, but when you are there, be present.
    1. Especially if you're in a healing/buff mode in combat.
    2. Should the DM keep track of PC hit points?
  5. Veteran player on new player relationships - There is also a very fine line between suggesting good options to newer players, and browbeating them to perform the actions to set up your character in combat for example. It is very easy to be misunderstood there, as a veteran player. As a DM, you do want that veteran, experienced ally at the table, but be aware of his or her interactions with n00bs, because it is a reflection on you as the DM. 
    1. Make sure your veteran players are using the phrase "one possible action" "you may want to consider" or not “the only smart move is to do this” or “you’d be an idiot not to…”. 
    2. Make sure you or your veteran players are explaining why something would be good, but without “mansplaining” it or belittling new players. Just to emphasize that it is their decision... empower them
    3. This is also very relevant for the DM to player relationship. Don't be an overbearing or judgmental DM. Avoid the sarcastic "really." Make sure you're being kind, keep the choice in their hands. 
    4. Be patient, and be more patient to someone who is trying, as opposed to caring.
  6. Body odor. If you’re going to have the hygiene of an old west prostitute, Give it a whore’s bath or a spritz of lemon water before stepping back out into the saloon between tricks. Seriously though, you will be sitting next to multiple other humans for a few hours, don’t be nose deaf.
    1. It is a very difficult conversation to have with a friend to tell them that they reek
    2. If for example you came to D&D right after performing analingus on an asparagus farmer, use some mouthwash first. 
  7. Some foods and drinks are not table-friendly, some are.
    1. No messy BBQ. 
    2. No corn nuts
    3. No easily tippable cups
    4. But also, keep in mind that if you’re planning on cooking during the early phase of a D&D session, that you are careful not to use blenders, slapchops, pressure cookers, food processors, deep fryers, espresso machines, live animals, or anything else that would be loud and fool the DM into thinking that you’re not listening to his carefully prepared environment descriptions. Smoothies are delicious, but not for making during D&D.
    5. Be aware of dietary restrictions, whether they be choices or allergies.
    6. Good Southern table etiquette things like slurping, gulping, chewing with mouth open... Be aware of the noises you create while masticating.
  8. As the host, make sure you have shit taken care of, get a sitter: a dog sitter, cat sitter, toddlersitter, grandma sitter, little brother/sister sitter, bird sitter, whatever it is that is co-habitating with your house that is determined to be a dick during your campaign. 
  9. Good etiquette to meet each player as they enter, never been a fan of the "we're in the basement, just let yourself in", which is rather creepy and also the plot intro to several pornographic films. Greeting people at the door is a proper way to be like the guys on Cheers.
  10. Again, the #1 rule of D&D etiquette - be ready. Get your shit together, as a DM or Player.

Gadgets of This Very Night  Podcast:

EncounterGame within a game: Legend of Legaia, Chronotrigger and every JRPG.  Caravan from Fallout: New Vegas. Poker in FarCry 3. BioShock pipefitting minigame. Horrible Mass Effect minigames. Quidditch in Harry Potter. Used occasionally, or maybe just once. Bond played Baccarat. Then, make the PCs do something else while playing. A great way to make the players feel like the characters do in a tense encounter.

Character Concept: Gizmo the Warforged (robot) Artificer, a battle-scarred robot who creates gadgets and seeks to avoid melee combat.

Adventure Hook: Focus on the plot impetus of the Encounter of the Podcast, for example: a side quest to talk to someone, who never would talk to a stranger… unless it was at the game-within-the-gaming table. A mission to coolly infiltrate and blend into the game environment and make contact with someone, rat out someone, seduce someone, or convince someone that a rumor is true or isn’t true. "It's only true... if you beat me at this game..." Your campaign world does not have to include a casino in order to get players to play games.

Magical Item of the Podcast: Ebony Fly - practical, but giant horrifying transportation. Specifically from some D&D source material, but useful when you want to force the PC's to choose between beneficial logistics and horrifying the normals. They have to use it stealthy, discretely and infrequently, lest they be associated with it. Like the floating space poop in Star Trek IV. Nobody wanted to be associated with it.

Player Tip:  Don’t be a dick … and you can avoid dickitude by… listening to this podcast. Use it to open up a dialogue and potentially start the conversation on player etiquette at your table, including but not limited to, a very passive aggressive to point someone’s behavioral flaws at the table. Just Kidding of course, don’t be passive aggressive.

DM Tip: Top 11 Game AIDS as per request from listener Michael F.
  1. Status markers - W: signature flags, C: bottle top rings, also: magnetic bases
  2. Turn keepers - W: notecards for initiative, C: dry erase
  3. DM Screen (for cheating!)  Personalize this with landscape images of your terrain currently, etc. 
  4. Camera (for interrupted sessions) 
  5. Overland map
  6. NPC names list
    • NPC profiles list 
  7. Micro - That night's session notes, including notes from previous sessions. Who is carrying what? Who said what?
  8. Macro - Keep overarching plot points up to date in a reference doc somewhere, so you can keep track of important details.
  9. Project Blocks (from your local hobby store) foam bricks for making structures. W posted a build thread for something and have posted pics in the past of large, light, easy to build structures. As far as terrain goes, there are many options and probably another podcast’s worth, but the idea would be to try and use different ones as much as possible. 
  10. Food, for focus, attention occupation and energy. Mike n Ikes, especially. 
  11. BONUS: A podcast to give you gadgets and ideas to help break your writer’s block or give you inspiration for new twis ts and turns etc. Like this one?
Big Thanks for music, once again big thanks to the Diablo String OrchestraThe Kobolds, our listener Chuck for the intro to the gadgets of the podcast jam, and mega-fan Joshua Bentley for voice-overs galore (@voiceofthebigjb).

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Live Streaming Online D&D?

TL;DR: Would you watch us play virtual tabletop D&D live?

Today, four of us gathered on Skype and Roll20.net for our first session of online virtual tabletop D&D. Loyal listeners will recognize that this was a necessary evolution of our gaming, as Chad (the more handsome of your exemplary hosts) moved across the country. Even our optimistic hopes  for this remote gaming session were exceeded. It was a goddamned blast. How many times did one of us say, "This is really a lot of fun"? A shitload of times, that's how many.

William was the DM, and Chad, Ian (our podcast co-host from Season 1) and Hunter (who has played IRL with us many times) kicked off a new campaign in William's existing campaign setting.

Roll20.net, if you haven't heard of it, is amazing. We've tried virtual stuff before -- from online tabletop platforms like RPTools' MapTool to Skype + webcams. Roll20 blew it all out of the water. So easy.

As the DM, William needed only a couple hours to whip up maps and assets for a complicated prison escape -- more than what is realistic for a veteran DM to put together on his own dinner table, but not by much. As players, Chad and his cohorts took brief moments (maybe 15 minutes?) to set up their tokens and a couple of macros. We learned a lot as we went along, with a dozen "AH HA!" moments as we picked up on the highly intuitive interface. So easy.

As a DM in roll20, it is super easy to search inside the app for token, graphic, even audio assets, and immediately add them to the game. Even when Ian found a suggestion for how his sword would look, William was able to quickly upload the image to the game and place it on a table, label and all. So easy.

While we were playing, Hunter started broadcasting us using XSplit and Twitch. Like we wrote on Twitter earlier today, out of the blue, four people joined the stream and started interacting with us. (Hunter was a popular League of Legends streamer once upon a time.)
7hawk77 (Hunter): Campaign just started, we were recording the videos just to have but we might be increasing stream quality/webcams/whatever if people would be interested in it
Goldpublic: It is presently good quality compared to a lot of twitch d&d streams. Adding player cams, either way, it's good as is with voice & map but faces would be good too
7hawk77: thanks for the feedback, yeah we will work on that. Streaming the campaign was just an afterthought so I think we will have to wait till the next time for webcams
Then, our anonymous online viewers helped us out in our first session with moving from one map to another. TECH SUPPORT FTW.
Staypufty: You gotta drag the player flag from one map to another. 
7hawk77: Thanks  
Staypufty: Nah, enjoying the stream. I use roll20 to DM for a group.
Yeah, we got it figured out.
Goldpublic: success
» good 1st game session, fun listen, enjoyed the personalities and PC's
7hawk77: Yeah, thanks for tuning in. Hopefully we will be streaming once a week
Goldpublic: will look up your podcast
We honestly had no idea there was an instant anonymous audience for livestreaming this, but, by its very nature, the online virtual tabletop lends itself to much easier viewing than webcam-based viewing of real tables.

Like Hunter (7hawk77) said online, we do hope to do this weekly. The plan now is to take advantage of our usually super-lazy Sundays. With 7hawk77 acting as our public relations spokesman on Twitch -- as well as playing the satyr bard Sedris -- is it worth the effort and exposure of live broadcasting our online D&D sessions? We think so; now we're just waiting for you to agree with us.

Would you watch us play virtual tabletop D&D live?

Disclaimer: We are in no way affiliated with roll20.net, its creators, or its development. We have not been paid to endorse this product (though we would happily accept their money if they offered it). This is unsolicited customer feedback. Also, it is a fucking awesome product that we enjoyed tremendously. Give them money so we can do more things with it. Or just give us money. Either way, if you've got money lying around, we want in on that.