Behind the Screen: Roleplaying the process of training…

2009 February 2
by Dante

As a Dungeon Master, often it makes sense to handwave events that are deemed too dull, too boring, or happen too often to “waste” time on during the gaming session. Over the weekend, I had an “a-ha!” moment that made me realize why letting some events like class training, cleric prayers, or other character specific events have their moment in the sun is important.

Learning by Doing

For those of you that don’t know, I am a somewhat experienced martial artist (as is Vanir). I have been training in Shotokan Karate for the last 18 years or so, and as a result I have had an opportunity to train with some very interesting people. After relocating to my current job, I was told of a sensei in our area that is one of the greats, so I sought him out to train with him.

Now, that in itself correlates heavily with most roleplaying games: the student seeks out a very skilled teacher to train him further in his chosen craft, but over the weekend I got the opportunity to participate in a few classes for their club’s annual “spirit training”. This involved an early morning training session with his entire school (around 30-40 people showed up) packed all in a tight little room to train intensely from the hours of 6 am to 7 am all week long. (I only participated in two days due to schedule conflicts.)

Stupid Ranger and I settled around 40 minutes away (during rush hour), so that meant I got the distinct pleasure of rising around 5 am to get ready and make the trip to the training session.

OK, that’s great, but how does it affect being a Dungeon Master?

It’s actually quite simple: if I was a player character and my DM simply just hand-waved my morning training rituals, the character development just wouldn’t have been the same. The whole experience of training in that way, with that group of people vastly improved my outlook for those days. I was tired and sore, but upbeat and mentally energized at the same time. This would’ve looked somewhat odd from a player’s perspective to just jump into that state with nothing more than a comment like: “Ok, ok, you get up and do your training in the morning, let’s get back to the plot” from the DM.

Putting yourself in the shoes of your character in a real way by acting out their training regiment from time to time, or asking the DM if there are any heightened opportunities for class training with others or a seasoned instructor nearby can provide an opportunity for roleplay and fun. Dungeon Masters should be open to this type of interaction and seek it out, it makes a big difference in the quality of your character development.

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