Thursday, September 17, 2020

Letting friends find their inner goblin

 During a recent meeting of friends over Zoom, we played one of my game poems, Wainscot Goblin. This was actually the first time I played one of the game poems I’ve written, which was pretty interesting all by itself. It also wasn’t a group of gaming friends, which may have made them the ideal audience for a game poem.

I’ve written about an earlier draft of the game poem in this blog. The basic idea is to create a little goblin that lives within the walls of a house by answering a series of questions. I got the idea of using the word wainscot from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy which uses the word to refer to a hidden society. Incidentally, I used the word wrong as far as the encyclopedia is concerned. It uses the term to mean a hidden society that still interacts with the larger society, like Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere or Vampire: the Masquerade. My goblins are entirely hidden.

Everyone had fun and there were plenty of whimsical ideas all around the virtual table and plenty of laughter besides. From the most fundamental stand point of ‘did the game poem work’ and ‘did everyone have fun’, the answer is yes. 

One of the things that I think helped was that basic concept was easy to understand, along with the format as well. 

One thing I realized afterwards was that one element of game play that I didn’t give the group was a way to interact with each other. If I have a chance to give them another game poem, I will give them that will let them interact with each other, not just respond to questions.

For instance, each goblin has four intrinsic qualities (magic, craft, wisdom and sacrifice) I could have had a player offer a problem to the next player and that player would explain how they would use one of their qualities to solve the problem.

Game poems are a quirky form but, more and more, I can’t help but wonder if they may be the most accessible form of RPGs. This was easy to introduce to folks who didn’t necessarily have a lot of RPG experience and for them to get into the game poem.

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