Friday Guest Post: Bookmonkey

A while back I asked for guest post submissions, and from now on I’ll be throwing them up on Fridays as they come in.  I still have room for plenty more, so if you have something you want to talk about and need a place to do that, drop me a line.

Our first Guest Post comes from Kirk MacLoed, of the Clan MacLoed.  Enjoy!

XPerience and the recommended reading list

Years ago, after I had left gaming in the world of Dragonlance and was seeing the end of my brief affair with Battletech on the horizon, I came across the first edition of Vampire: the Masquerade.

Now hold on a second – I’m not going to spend this post lecturing on about how fantasy gaming is merely a stepping stone to the more advanced Storytelling system of the world of White Wolf (besides, I’m currently enjoying an exploration of P’Tolus, so there you go), but am instead going to give you one of my favourite tips as a GM.  But first back to Vampire.

The book introduced me to a new modern world, in which you took the character of the monster and got to stand on the tops of buildings, watching your humanity ebb away, and also girls seemed to be interested in the game (Including a young lady who would end up marrying me).  But from a GM perspective, the thing that stood out for me was the recommended reading list.

You see, the book gives a list of movies and books (and in later supplements other games, both RPG and video) as well as music that could be used to show readers what this strange new World of Darkness was supposed to feel like; including movies like The Crow, and books like Interview with the Vampire (remember, this was the ’90s).

Immediately I showed this list to my Battletech friends and found that on average they had seen about half of the movies and read about a third of the books.  Suggesting we check out some of the other films before playing the game I got a modest turn out and overall we had a pretty good time, but no matter how many times I said a movie or a book was great, I couldn’t get some of my players to check it out.

Until I realized I could bribe my players.

Here’s the thing, players will do almost anything for extra XP – and being a decent guy who tries not to take advantage, I chat with my players ahead of time and figure out what they have and haven’t seen (or read, or played) and then tell them I will give them extra XP for every additional book, movie or game they read.

From the player’s point of view, this is some easy XP.  Instead of waiting all week for me to get around to our next session they can simply pick up XP by reading Game of Thrones or watching the new Conan film (HEY! If I had to sit through it so do my players).

From the GM’s point of view, you get a group of players who now have all sorts of common points of reference to your game world, allowing you to crib descriptions, costume and weapon ideas, heck even plot points (if the players are interested) and greatly increase the quality of your game.

In the end, the experience of the game is what counts, and giving the players homework that they want to do benefits everyone.  Also, sometimes they recommend stuff to you that you might never even have heard of before.

Kirk (Bookmonkey) MacLeod has been inflicting his views about various TV shows, Movies and Books to all who are interested for the last two years at his own blog,