At the start of the year I decided to try and make a robot. However, while I was thinking about making a robot, most of the work that I did this year actually circled around a club I was making after school.
Since the capstone should be something that reflects 80 hours of work, I decided to present on my club. I also think that a liberal-arts driven capstone demonstrates my time here better than a STEM focused one. The Dungeons and Dragons club was a group of people that were largely gathered first quarter and then socialized in their groups. Three separate groups were made, and they changed evolved as the year progressed. I was interested in fostering a community and making an enjoyable environment that people could relax in. D&D gives a framework for interaction and gives people a bond that other relationships can more organically form around. I’m proud of the community I’ve fostered, and hope that it will continue next year.
This document outlines the process by which the groups were made this year. This also outlines a way that interest can be organized next year.
This document shows some of the preliminary community building.
This shows some of the work that I put into making an enjoyable experience for the group I was in charge of (I was in charge of one of the three groups, contributed to another, and the the third flourished without me).
These are the rules that my group followed, but more than three other systems were integrated as the year progressed.
(info available upon request)
These are resources which might help groups work more easily in the future.
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. 2d ed. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 1972. Print.
D&D is a largely story driven game, and Joseph Campbell wrote guides to stories well. While D&D is a system that is largely driven by the players, the GM is the person who decides who they will run across and what they will encounter. Also, there are seminal events that happen in stories that can be adapted to the context of Dungeons and Dragons. It is interesting how characters sometimes stand out in games, by how the players value them and their importance to the story arc. Sometimes important characters are completely abandoned. The importance of using characters that instinctively stand out is just as much for the players to feel like they’re a part of the story as it is for the GM to help the characters build a story they’d enjoy.
Cook, Monte, and Sean K. Reynolds. Numenera. S. L.: Monte Cook Games, LLC, 2013. Print.
The Numenera system has a couple of interesting benefits that differentiate it from many others. It is meant to be played like a pulp-science fiction novel (akin to Star Wars in many ways). While many of the themes are science based or science driven, the world itself has no science. There are no explanations for their miraculous devices, they simply function. Mechanically, this system gives a system driven on expenditure (not unlike the classic spell system of Dungeons and Dragons). Stylistically, this is meant to show how an adventure for a hero gets progressively harder through the story, regardless of the difficulties they face. Another interesting mechanic is that experience points (the way characters progress) are awarded when players discover things. This creates an environment where the players have to ask questions and explore the settings rather than solely focus on attacking.
Dungeons & Dragons,. '4'. Elemental Evil. N.p., 2015. Web. 22 May 2015.
This podcast shows a live stream of a D&D game that takes place during comic-con. It’s an intentionally entertaining game, something that is fun to watch and to (it looks like) be playing as well. The game is set up in a very theatrical way, with an open game board so that it’s easy to watch. The gameplay itself is comical, with large reactions and abstract encounters. Everything can be interacted with, and the GM does a good job of making sure that everything benefits you from having been interacted with. The players themselves are mostly writers and artists, so they have awesome backstories and the plot is well formulated.
"Horror Roleplaying Part 1. Setting the Mood." Dice of Doom. 21 July 2010. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.
This source explains how to foster a different setting for D&D. More often than not, players don’t worry about their characters. They’re divorced from the game play and the experience is more to be enjoyed than to be thrilling. The post is written about what to do to set the mood. They recommend a room that is inhospitable; poorly lit or heated. They also recommend setting a more somber mood during game sessions. While this premise is fun it’s not likely to work at D&D at school. Most of the time, games are treated as games; not as anything serious. This is a fun circumstantial game play method.
Iron Kingdoms Core Rulebook. Privateer, 2013. Print.
Iron Kingdoms is a tabletop RPG system that works off of 2d6 (two six sided dice). The idea behind the system is that rolling two dice gives a better probability (7 is the most likely number) rather than a d20 which has equal probability from 1-20. Iron Kingdoms is derived from wargames, so rather than using the grid setup which D&D uses the players measure directly from their miniatures in order to decide how far characters move. Another interesting part of this system is that spell casters aren’t limited in the spells they can cast a day but by the points of spells they can cast each round. This system works because spells do about as much damage as other types of attacks.
Mearls, Mike. D&D 5th Edition Players Handbook. N.p.: Wizards of the Coast, 2014. Print.
Fifth edition simplified many of the mechanics in D&D to try and make them more instinctive and less about hours of study. They got rid of many of the small modifiers (+2 attack from flanking, +2 to attack and -2 to armor on charge, separate armor class when surprised), and put everything into a new mechanic called advantage. Instead of adding small circumstantial bonuses to the attack rolls, the player rolls to dice and takes the higher one. Another simplification is the elimination of feats. In 3.5, a character gains a feat every two levels, which adds an amazing amount of diversity and complexity to the game. However, feats are troublesome to navigate and require specific paths to get to more beneficial abilities. 5th edition replaces that with greater diversity inside of each class.
"Pathfinder_OGC." Pathfinder_OGC. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. .
The Pathfinder system is built off of the open format game license. This allows for the Pathfinder core rules to closely mirror those of D&D while at the same time distancing themselves subtly. Some of these subtle differences are names of gods and some terms that each of the companies have copyrighted. PFSRD made more powerful characters than 3rd edition by letting species play a bigger role in development, and also by letting all of the classes have more abilities at first level. Also they have systems in place that allow for specialization into very specific areas. However, as the system expanded over the years, not all abilities were play tested and balanced in comparison to each other. This created a situation where extremely powerful characters could be built by stringing disparate material together.
Peterson, Jon. "History: Forty Years of Adventure." Dungeons & Dragons. Wizards of the Coast, 19 May 2014. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.
Rather than explaining gameplay, this source focuses on the history of D&D. It outlines the war games that D&D came from, and how it was publicized through magazines prior to its release. However, this is a timeline for D&D, not tabletop role playing games overall. While it contains valuable information about how the setting developed and D&D propagated itself, it doesn’t show how other companies followed D&D to make similar games. Regardless, this source functions to show how long the game has been around and how many people and hours of work went into continually building the company, but it also shows through the number of items produced that there was a continuing market for theses games, and that each edition (while different) was purchasable in and of itself.
Quick, Jeff. "Front Page." Sakuru. Pbworks, 1 June 2014. Web. 22 Nov. 2014.
This is a website explaining a specific world of D&D. Most of the rules are the same as other D&D systems, but the spells are slightly weaker and there are more miscellaneous benefits attributed to classes. Sakuru is heavily inspired by the work of Miyazaki, so the world is heavily based off of legends and slowly growing magical powers. Items that have been in use for generation begin to gain powers from the fact that they were used in those ways. Similarly, nature spirits come purely from the age and power that the elements have accumulated. By prioritizing found items, it encourages the players to explore rather than develop themselves. The website provides information about the world and system rather than a scenario itself in the hope that players will largely guide the way they interact with people. However, such an open scenario often causes a lack of drive that makes the game lack the long story arc Joseph Campbell would say we all instinctively look for.
Rhem, Scott. "The Angry GM." The Angry GM. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.
The Angry GM is a blog that focuses on teaching GMs how to play their role more effectively. The role of GM is to lead the story; the person playing it is responsible for the setting and for the actions of all non-player characters. Since the job is so central, it’s the one that requires the most preparation and understanding. Angry GM talks about some of the ways stories can be made more engaging and for how GMs can prepare for what the group’s encounters will be. He does this comedically and through many curse words. However, this source also represents how a GM helping text can be written. They’re important, but it’s often hard to keep the attention of teenagers. Texts like this may help.