On Friday night, several members of the Gamer Assembly ran a panel at PAX East called “Fix Your Tabletop RPG with the RPG Doctor and the Gamer Assembly”. Going into it we had very little idea about what to expect. We had seven people on stage with microphones, and we all had a total blast answering questions and telling stories.
Truth to tell, we did precious little prep work for the panel. We each got an intro slide that Brent typed up, and we added games to the communal list of games we had experience with. We decided to leave as much time as possible for audience questions.
We found that our panel ran opposite the D&D Next playtest, so we had no illusions that we’d fill the hall. It turns out our timeslot was a blessing in disguise, a fact that we realized later in the evening. Knowing what we were up against, we advertised a bit through GA and a few random tweets. Suffice to say that the marketing machine wasn’t in full swing for the panel, though we did pool our resources and put together a door prize filled with random gaming goodies, from Traps Too to Volume 1 of the Call to Assembly to the 4e D&D Red Box to a Gamer Assembly tote bag.
We arrived at the room our requisite 30 minutes in advance, which gave us time to actually meet each other. Most of us had only talked online, so I loved having faces and mannerisms to attach to names. The Enforcers in the Merman Theater were awesome by helping us set up, getting us settled with a mic check, and taking attendance once the doors opened.
Opening The Doors
We had no idea if we would have more audience members than panelists. Turns out we had nothing to fear on that front. We had 68 people in the audience, and once things got rolling we had over a dozen questions asked over the course of the evening. Every question made us think, which made me really happy.
We felt our way through pacing early on, so things may have dragged a bit. Once we had everyone form a line at the microphone we kept things rolling fairly well. At the end of our allotted time, we had gotten to only 5 or 6 questions, but our Enforcers told us we were fine to keep going.
We ended up going an hour over and answering every question that came up. It turns out the room was scheduled as overflow for the Friday night concert, but the main theater still had plenty of seats left. Going last had its advantages, and I loved being able to field every question that came up.
We had a great crowd with great questions. I’m not going to go through all the questions, as some of them were very campaign- or group-specific. After attending the Campaign Doctors panel on Saturday, many of the same questions came up from a larger audience, so I think we covered most of the common issues GMs and players deal with.
It struck me that a large percentage of the questions focused on “How can I help the GM do this?” That question speaks to the large portion of gamers out there who understand that RPGs can’t exist as a zero-sum game. The group forms the backbone of the game, and acting selfish at the game table can bring down an otherwise great group. That goes doubly for GMs. The game “belongs” to everyone sitting at the table; it’s not the GM’s game exclusively. Leading with “How can I help?” brings home that mentality.
Hearing that question so often at the panel raised my spirits and gave me great feelings about the people involved in tabletop RPGs.
Chatting with and working with such a diverse group of talented people here at the Gamer Assembly and in our audience on Friday has shown me that some aspects of tabletop gaming hold true no matter if you’ve been playing for 30 years or if you’ve just picked up your first set of rules that morning. First among these? Player selfishness has no place at the game table.
Thank you to everyone who came to hear us speak. An even larger thank you to those of you who stood up and asked questions. We couldn’t have had as great a time without your input. If you want to continue the conversation, feel free to join us in the Gamer Assembly chat, or you can contact most of us via Twitter.
We’ll see you next year, if not sooner.
- Wombat (@twwombat)