Saturday 6 June 2015

Preparing the gaming space

I had an exam yesterday that ended a course I've been on, so woke up this morning with a bit of a lost feeling as suddenly I had no study to procrastinate from.

Instead, I helped Husbit prep our lounge for tonight's Pathfinder game, something I've not done often since starting the course. And it got me thinking about the ritual of preparing your gaming space.

I suppose first I should try to explain what I mean by 'ritual'. I don't mean chanting, robes and inscense (although...), but rather carrying out an act, a set of actions, that puts you into the mindset requried for the next event. It's a very human thing and we all have hundreds of mini-rituals we probably aren't even aware of - like I get into work, get my laptop out, turn it on, wait for everything to be running, fill my water bottle, make a cup of coffee. If anything interrupts that, my morning feels weird. Or if I wake in the night and cannot get back to sleep, I get up and repeat the steps I take before I got to bed and normally find I doze off again. Or the act of making a distressed friend a cup of tea: we talk about tea as curative, but for me it's more that the act of carefully making a cup of tea for someone else helps me listen to them sympathetically - the act of drinking tea together cements a friendship. I'm not even that big a fan of tea, but sympathy-tea is very powerful.

I could go on. Ritual fascinates me. But probably not something for here and definitely not something for now.

So, Pathfinder tonight. We normally play here and I prefer that (even though when we play at Paul's (Kieran/Sam) it's normally because there's a concurrant barbecue or roast dinner).
So this morning I forewent a favourite Saturday ritual (sleeping in until Husbit wakes me with a cup of coffee and a kiss on the nose, then drinking that and a subsequent coffee whilst reading before finally deigning to face the day) and got up - caffeine-free - at a vaguely sensible time.

Step one was vacuuming the lounge. It's a chore I particularly dislike, but Husbit & I are both long-haired and we have a cat so it needs doing and the game is good motivation. Step two was tidying away non-gaming items (including all the texts from my course - adios!). Step three was obviously play with the kitty. A very important step. She's now sleeping in the bedroom, so we can get on with next tasks without her underfoot.

The undisputed queen of our gaming table
Which, actually, for me should be brushing my hair. I'm dressed but so lazy about brushing my hair at weekends.
It just takes so long
So instead I'm writing this ;-)

Before the guys get here, we'll have something to eat and check our roleplay stuff is in order (dice, obviously, and I have a folder I always bring to the table in habit from spending years playing without a table and needing a flat surface to roll on. It's got character sheets from various games and the intro to a couple of novels I was going to write when I was a teenager. Finally, Jvala's notebook: our GM gives us books to make notes in not only to keep track of the game but also so he can see how we're interpreting things. I'm allowed to keep Jvala's because 90% of what I write in it is transferred straight up here with minimal alteration - I try to write her notes like a diary because that's the idea behind the campaign). Once they've arrived, we'll all chat for a bit, then the table gets pulled out and the gaming board fitted over it (it's purpose-built and turns our small 4-person table into a 6x4 gaming table), then the games begin!

Oh, gotta go. Lost track of time and the guys have shown up early - with chicken! 

Happy gaming everyone!


  1. What an interesting topic - and it inspired me to add a comment.

    I run six groups a month of 6 -7 players each - so we always meet at our place.

    Ritual # 1 - make sure the kitchen is spotless for gamers to leave a mess in by the end of the day.

    Ritual # 2 - make sure the red wine is uncorked to breathe, the brie is on a dish to warm, and all the various snacks and food is prepped and ready for noshing.

    Ritual # 3 - Ready all player letters and other documents/hand outs for the days game that I've previously printed.

    Ritual # 4 - Review all of my GM notes from the previous session, get the Npc's names/personalities to the forefront of my brain.

    I didn't actually realize that I did these four things consistently every game day - until I read your post.

    1. I think most people do have little preparations that fall into habit. I like that you take the time to go through everything for the game. I don't know about you, but I really enjoy hand outs (we occasionally get issues of the 'Brevic Times' in our Pathfinder games, as well as letters and diary extracts and such things). Something about it gives an extra dimension to the game and it's a physical manifestation of the time and effort our GM puts in, which makes me feel really special.

      Red wine and brie - your games sound very civilised! :)